$192,650 for an Early Child Representation Program in Miami. June 1, 2000 Regular News $250,000 for sexually violent predator civil confinement cases. (The Jimmy Ryce Act, passed in 1998, allows civil confinement of convicted sex offenders after their prison terms end.) The budget also includes $193,062 in new money to pay retired judges to sit in the circuit courts and $18,950 for retired judges’ work on the Fourth DCA. “The legislature recognized that the court’s budget is pretty tight, and there is not a lot of room to shave dollars off of that and we are appreciative of that,” Palmer said. Revision 7 The legislature also appropriated five positions and $462,477 to the Office of the State Court Administrator to assist with the implementation of Revision 7, approved by voters in 1998 and which requires the state to provide the bulk of funding for the courts. “We see this next year as a threshold year in terms of development of policy and development of budget recommendations to begin substantial implementation of Revision 7,” Palmer said. “This basically gives us the tools to go in and do a better job of planning for the upcoming session.” Palmer said the legislature also appropriated $5.7 million for an Art. V Conflict Counsel Demonstration Project and $2.5 million for Art. V Contingency/Small County Extraordinary Case Expenditures. He said those programs are also part of the implementation of Revision 7. “One of the issues the counties argued was a problem in articulating a need for that constitutional revision was that a lot of the small counties could not afford to pay some of the exceptional costs that are associated with certain cases conducted in rural counties with limited tax bases,” Palmer said. The contingency fund will cover those extraordinary costs which would occur if, for instance, a small county was forced to conduct a Ted Bundy-type trial, he added. The court this year also asked the legislature to join with the judiciary in undertaking a comprehensive study of the juvenile delinquency system, similar to a recent effort undertaken in the area of juvenile dependency. The legislature responded with $125,000 for delinquency court improvements, which will be added to other resources already dedicated to the area of juvenile justice. “In the appropriation for staff in the Delphi project implementation, some of those resources will be devoted to looking at judicial workload in the juvenile division of the courts,” Palmer said. “We are also just in the pre-planning phases of how we will go about that study.” Other new spending in the court system’s budget includes: $212,675 for maintenance at the Supreme Court. $133,245 to paint the exterior of the First DCA. $753,500 for foster care review. Courts get 12% funding boost $352,992 for DCA maintenance and upkeep. Of that, the First DCA will get $185,637, the Second DCA gets $42,955, the Fourth DCA, $98,000, and the Fifth DCA, $69,720. $500,000 for model family court pilot projects. Courts get 12% funding boost Mark D. Killian Associate Editor The Florida Legislature has given the state court system an approximately 12-percent increase in its overall budget, including healthy pay raises for judges and 116 new positions, but no new judgeships. The new budget — which includes $36.5 million in new spending — also provides substantial funding to address the system’s workload issues and upgrades to court facilities, particularly at the district courts of appeal. “Overall, the court’s budget was increased by approximately 12 percent,” Chief Justice Major Harding said. “The legislature funded many workload and pay issues that needed attention. In addition, the judges received a pay increase.” What was not funded, however, was the 43 new circuit and county court judges certified by the Supreme Court as needed this year to deal with rising caseloads. “We understand from the House floor debate that education, health and human services and tax relief were the legislature’s priorities,” Chief Justice Harding said, noting, however, the lack of any new judges “will in all probability slow down the processing of cases through the system.” The judicial pay raises were part of a last-minute budget compromise between Senate President Toni Jennings, R-Orlando, and House Speaker John Thrasher, R-Orange Park, made public three days before the end of the regular session. Supreme Court justices will receive a raise of 3.4 percent to bring their annual salaries from $145,083 to $150,000. DCA judges will see their pay go from $130,576 to $138,500, or 6.1 percent. At the trial courts, circuit judges will see their pay rise from $117,010 to $130,000, or an 11.1-percent hike. County court judges will go from $104,018 to $117,000, or 12.5 percent. State Courts Administrator Ken Palmer said the $289.6 million and 2,890 positions appropriated for the courts will meet the system’s core needs. The court had asked for 3,325 positions and $307.4 million. “We’re certainly extremely gratified for their addressing a number of issues, including compensation, not only just for judges, but also marshall assistants, staff attorneys and some other court staff who received substantial raises,” Palmer said. Palmer, however, said he is disappointed lawmakers did not see fit to increase the number of judges, especially since the court had “worked very, very hard on a new methodology for weighing court workload.” Following a request by the legislature, Palmer’s office applied, in part, a new Rand Corporation developed “Delphi-based” caseload weighing system to assess judicial workload to help determine the number of new judges needed. “It took us a little over a year to undertake the study, and we had the involvement of [the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability], and they ultimately endorsed the results of the study,” Palmer said. “But obviously the legislature did not have the money to do everything we wanted, and certification was not one of the things that wound up being funded.” The budget, however, includes $233,681 and three positions for the operation of the Delphi-based caseload weighing system. New Positions While there will be no new judges this year, the court system did pick up 116 new positions. Forty of the new employees will work to ease trial court workload issues. “Basically, those positions will be allocated on some type of formula to the trial courts just to fill in the gaps in terms of priority needs that [the circuits] have for staffing,” Palmer said. “It could include case management personnel, administrative personal in the finance and accounting area, deputy court administrators, those types of positions.” Of those 40 new employees, the Third, Sixth, 10th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th circuits will get new court technology officers. The other circuits were provided with chief technology officers in prior years. Seven more new employees will be assigned to the Fourth Circuit, and where the remaining 24 new workload employees will go has yet to be determined. Another 27 new hires will go to work in the state’s drug courts — which was a priority of the Governor’s and will provide for the operation of drug courts now in all 20 judicial circuits — and 20 will be assigned to family case management operations. The legislature also provided $132,502 and two positions to study the workload of the Supreme Court, and $241,128 and four new positions for appellate court workload issues. Capital Outlay The legislature also appropriated funds for a number of fixed capital outlay projects, including $11.6 million to continue work on the planned First DCA annex building in Jacksonville and $2.6 million for completion of the Fifth DCA building. Other capital improvements called for in the budget include: $88,270 for court interpreter services. $1 million for the Second DCA, which Palmer said needs to find a new home for its Tampa branch office because the 13th Judicial Circuit is set to reclaim space it now rents to the Second DCA when the current lease expires. “So we are planning ahead to make sure they have adequate facilities for that branch,” Palmer said. $1.45 million for small county courthouse facilities. $465,000 for an elder justice center in Plant City. $1 million for model dependency court pilot projects in the Fifth, 10th and 17th circuits.