The State of Florida is divided into 20 judicial circuits, or areas of jurisdiction, which encompass the circuit and county courts of the Florida State Courts System. The Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, serving Miami-Dade County, is the largest in the state and the fourth largest trial court in the nation. It's 123 Circuit and County Court judges serve a population of over two million in a 2,000 square mile area. Eighty judges preside in six Divisions of the Circuit Court and 43 judges preside in three Divisions of the County Court. Chief Judge Bertila Soto provides direct Judicial Administration for the circuit and county courts. Court Administrator Sandra M. Lonergan manages the Administrative Office of the Courts, whose primary purpose is to provide support to the judiciary and maintain the efficient operations of the court. Judges are assisted in the annual disposition of approximately 800,000 cases (including civil traffic infractions) by senior (retired) judges, General Magistrates, hearing officers/traffic magistrates, mediators and support services. The Eleventh Judicial Circuit has been innovative in implementing numerous Programs and Services to assist in effective case management and resolve problems which impact the court and the community. Examples of such programs which were pioneered in Miami-Dade County and which are now in effect in other circuits statewide are: Drug Court, the Domestic Violence Division, family and landlord/tenant mediation, parenting/child education classes, traffic court magistrates, witness coordination, and video jail arraignments/bond hearings.
The Eleventh Judicial Circuit has four main courthouses which house circuit and county court judges, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Clerk's Office and other court-related personnel: the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, where circuit and county criminal cases are heard; the Dade County Courthouse, where circuit and county civil and probate cases are heard; the Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center, where family and domestic violence cases are heard; and, the Juvenile Justice Center, where juvenile delinquency and dependency cases are heard.
To provide the public with greater access to the court, county court judges also preside in five full-service branch (or district) courts throughout Miami-Dade County and hear the following matters: misdemeanor cases, traffic matters, municipal ordinance violations, civil matters not exceeding the sum of $5,000 (small claims), uncontested and simplified dissolutions of marriage, and non-criminal domestic and repeat violence injunction matters.
The Clerk's Office is principally responsible for records management and enjoys a close working relationship with the court in maintaining support to the judiciary. It provides a number of services to the public at the main courthouses, the branch courts and other facilities in Miami-Dade County, including collecting traffic and parking fines, filing pleadings, providing case information and issuing marriage licenses.