Each of Florida’s 20 circuits has a Trial Court Administrator which is selected by the Chief Judge subject to concurrence by a majority of the circuit and county trial court judges. The current Trial Court Administrator, Deirdre Dunham, was appointed in 2022. Her responsibilities include setting goals for the Circuit in coordination with the Chief Judge, developing and implementing management policies, analyzing court operations and case management strategies, measuring court performance, interpreting statistical data, and coordinating relationships with court stakeholders including local government agencies, community service providers, members of the legal community, and the public.
The Trial Court Administrator exercises general administrative control over all support activities of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) such as budget and personnel management, information technology services, facilities planning and management, security management, grants administration, and purchasing.
The AOC employs non-judicial staff members who perform a myriad of functions to assist the judiciary with case management; maintenance of judicial calendars and schedules; court reporting; interpreter services for non-English speakers; and coordination of experts who perform court-ordered psychological and other types of evaluations.
Additionally, the AOC supports the judiciary in the daily operations of court management in each division of the circuit and county courts, which include problem-solving courts such as Adult Drug Court, Delinquency and Dependency Drug Courts, Domestic Violence Drug Court, Veterans Treatment Court, Human Trafficking Court, Criminal and Domestic Violence Mental Health Courts, Early Childhood Court, and support programs including Child Support Enforcement, Family Court Services, Family Self-Help Program, Drive Legal Program, and the Civil Process Server Program.
Court Operations consist of the Circuit and County Civil, Circuit and County Criminal, Family, Unified Children’s Court, Probate, Domestic Violence, and Appellate divisions. These divisions also include problem-solving courts such as Adult Drug Court, Delinquency and Dependency Drug Courts, Domestic Violence Drug Court, Veterans Treatment Court, Human Trafficking Court, Criminal and Domestic Violence Mental Health Courts, and support programs including Child Support Enforcement, Family Court Services, Family Self-Help Program, Drive Legal Program, and Civil Process Server Program. The work performed by court staff in each division provides support to the judiciary by developing goals and implementing policies, planning day-to-day court operations, ensuring operational efficiencies by monitoring and evaluating court performance measures, and developing emergency management plans.
The General Magistrates Division assists the judiciary in the effective and timely disposition of cases. General Magistrates are appointed by the Chief Judge to hear cases and make findings of fact and recommendations in reports submitted to judges in the Family, Circuit Civil, Unified Children’s Court, and Probate Divisions.
Office of Child Support Enforcement
The Office of Child Support Enforcement is comprised of Hearing Officers appointed by the Chief Judge who preside over matters involving establishment, enforcement, or modification of child support.
The Mediation Division provides an opportunity for parties to resolve disputes in lieu of going to trial. In-house mediation services are offered in the Family and Unified Children’s Court Divisions of the Circuit Court, and the Civil Division of the County Court. The Division also utilizes a blind assignment process to designate private mediators and arbitrators upon request by the parties.
Court Interpreters provide verbal interpretation of certain legal proceedings for non-English speakers and translation of court related documents, recordings, or other evidence to ensure due process.
The Court Reporting Unit ensures a record of words spoken in court is created, preserved and, when necessary, timely and accurately transcribed. These services are provided by independent contractors managed by the Unit.
Under the direction of the Trial Court Administrator, the Executive Office team sets goals for the Circuit in coordination with the Chief Judge, develops and implements management policies, analyzes court operations and case management strategies, measures court performance, interprets statistical data, and coordinates relationships with governmental agencies, community service providers, members of the legal community, and the public.
The Administrative Services Division is responsible for providing oversight of centralized financial support services for the Circuit. The Division plays a critical role in ensuring the Circuit’s fiscal accountability, transparency, efficiency, and compliance with state and county requirements. The Division is comprised of four units: Fiscal, Cost Accounting, Budget, and Grants Administration.
The Grants Administration Office is responsible for identifying local, state, and federal grant funding opportunities for the Circuit by collaborating with judges, court managers, court partner agencies, and community organizations. The Office, which is housed in the Administrative Services Division, is also responsible for administering and monitoring all grant awards.
Court Information Technology Services (CITeS)
CITeS provides, develops, and maintains a secure and effective information technology and audio-visual infrastructure for court operations and public access.
Facilities Planning and Management
The Facilities Planning and Management Division oversees all design, construction, improvement, and maintenance of Circuit facilities. The Division works closely with county officials and external vendors who are responsible for the maintenance, management, planning, and site acquisition of court locations.
The Office of Security Administration serves as the liaison between the Circuit and the Miami-Dade Police Department Court Services Bureau and other local and state law enforcement agencies. This Office also conducts criminal background screenings and monitors contract adherence of Miami-Dade County contracted security personnel. The Office responds to matters involving the security of court personnel, visitors, and property, and recommends security improvements and enhancements.
The Human Resources Division manages the Circuit’s recruitment, selection, and pre-employment screening activities. The Division also maintains employee records, facilitates employee benefits enrollment and changes, manages attendance and leave records, processes classification actions and payroll transactions, and facilitates employee training and education. Additionally, the Division provides employee relations assistance and guidance to judges, court managers, and employees. The Human Resources Division also ensures the Circuit’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Procurement Division coordinates the purchase of goods and services necessary for the ongoing operations of the Circuit. The Division also maintains an accurate inventory of court property and facilitates travel activities of court personnel.
Office of the General Counsel
The Office of the General Counsel is responsible for providing effective and timely legal services, advice and counsel to the Chief Judge, circuit and county trial court judges, the Trial Court Administrator, and AOC directors and managers. The Office of the General Counsel is staffed with members of the Florida Bar who exercise professional judgment and discretion in their assignments. They conduct legal research to determine the applicable current law, draft opinion memoranda, and draft orders. In addition, they draft contracts, handle litigation matters, and develop and assist in the implementation of circuit-wide policies and procedures.
Office of Government Liaison and Public Relations
The Office of Government Liaison and Public Relations is the point of contact for all inquiries from members of the public and the media. The office assists in producing informational materials, coordinating special events, and preparing news releases and managing the Circuit’s social media presence. The goal of the office is to promote public understanding and enhance confidence in the judicial system. The office works closely with the judiciary, senior court management, and court directors and interacts with various governmental agencies.