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The Florida Constitution establishes a county court in each of Florida’s sixty-seven counties and a circuit court to serve each judicial circuit. Clay County is part of the 4th Circuit, along with Duval and Nassau counties.
The trial jurisdiction of county courts is established by statute. The jurisdiction of county courts extends to civil disputes involving $30,000 or less.
The majority of non-jury trials in Florida take place before one judge sitting as a judge of the county court. A large part of the court’s work involves citizen disputes, such as traffic offenses, less serious criminal matters (misdemeanors), and relatively smaller monetary disputes.
Circuit courts have general trial jurisdiction over matters not assigned by statute to the county courts and also hear appeals from county court cases. Thus, circuit courts are simultaneously the highest trial courts and the lowest appellate courts in Florida’s judicial system.
The majority of jury trials in Florida take place before one judge sitting as judge of the circuit court. The circuit courts are sometimes referred to as “courts of general jurisdiction” in recognition of the fact that most criminal and civil cases originate at this level.
The trial jurisdiction of circuit courts includes, among other matters, original jurisdiction over civil disputes involving more than $30,000, controversies involving the estates of decedents, minors, and persons adjudicated as incapacitated, cases related to juveniles, criminal prosecutions for all felonies, tax disputes, actions to determine the title and boundaries of real property, suits for declaratory judgments (to determine the legal rights or responsibilities of parties under the terms of written instruments, laws, or regulations before a dispute arises and leads to litigation), and requests for injunctions to prevent persons or entities from acting in a manner that is asserted to be unlawful.
Lastly, circuit courts are also granted the power to issue the extraordinary Writs of Certiorari, Prohibition, Mandamus, Quo Warranto, and Habeas Corpus, and all other writs necessary to exercise their jurisdiction.