Circuit and County Court Jurisdiction
Florida currently operates under a two-tier trial court system of circuit and county courts, established in 1972 with the adoption of Article V to the Florida Constitution, which defines the jurisdiction and organization of the Florida State Court System. In the circuit and county trial courts, factual disputes are resolved, either by jury trials where verdicts are rendered by the people, or by non-jury or "bench" trials where a judge decides the issues in the case. In general, County Courts, sometimes called "the people's courts", are courts of limited jurisdiction where minor criminal (misdemeanor) and civil cases are heard. In the Circuit Courts, which are the highest state trial courts in Florida, major criminal (felony), civil, family, juvenile and probate matters are heard. (A legal description of circuit and county court jurisdiction is detailed in the Florida Statutes.)
The Eleventh Judicial Circuit has 80 circuit court judges and 43 county court judges who are elected for six-year terms. At the end of this time, judges may run for reelection and serve additional terms. Chief Judge Bertila Soto provides direct Judicial administration for the circuit and county courts of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. These courts are divided into several divisions, each of which is headed by an administrative judge.