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Court Sort
Understanding Florida’s Court System
SS.7.C.3.11: Diagram the levels, functions, and powers of the courts at
the state and federal levels.
Distinguish between the levels, functions, and powers of courts at
the state and federal levels.
Recognize the powers and jurisdiction of the state and federal courts
are derived from their respective constitutions.
Compare the appellate and trial processes.
Trial Courtroom
Courtroom A
Appellate Courtroom
Courtroom B
On your Court Sort Chart, make notes about the pictures above.
What items do you see in one that might be missing in another?
2 Courtrooms, Big Differences
Trial Courtroom
Appellate Courtroom
Review: Steps of a Trial
Bailiff/clerk opens
the court session.
Closing arguments
for the
and the defense.
gives rebuttal
Judge enters the
courtroom and
introductory remarks
to jury.
Opening statements
for the
and the defense.
cross examination of
witness for the
Judge provides
specific jury
instructions prior to
jury deliberation.
Defense’s direct
Jury deliberates and
determines verdict.
direct examination of
Defense’s cross
examination of
for the
Decision is
Appellant/Petitioner: party seeking reversal of a
lower court decision.
Appellee/Respondent: party who won in the
lower court
Marshal opens the
court session.
Written decision
provided; no
required timeline.
Judges enter the
courtroom and
provide opening
dismissed to
conference about
the case.
Appellant/petitioner begins
oral argument.
Judges/Justices may ask
questions during.
is permitted rebuttal.
The Appellate Court
begins oral argument.
Judges/Justices may
ask questions during.
Legislative Branch – Makes the law
Executive Branch – Enforces the law
Judicial Branch – Interprets and applies the
Three Branches of Government
The judicial branch is
divided into two parallel
court systems: federal
courts and state courts.
Two Court Systems
United States
What does “jurisdiction”
Constitution of
Legal authority a court has
to hear a case.
the State of Florida
Federal courts deal with issues
granted to them by the U.S.
Constitution and federal law.
State courts deal with issues
granted to them by their
constitutions and state statutes.
They also handle legal issues not
granted to the federal courts or
denied to the states.
Where do courts get their power and
The Constitution
outlines our
…and the courts
protect our
The Role of the Courts
Today, we are
going to focus on
Florida’s court
In addition to being divided
into federal and state
…courts are then
broken down into
trial and appellate
Trial and Appellate
Florida’s courts are divided into four levels:
Florida Supreme Court cases are sometimes appealed to the U.S.
Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court is sometimes referred to
as the the court of last resort.
And then they are
divided into trial and
appellate courts.
District Courts of
5 Districts
Circuit Courts
20 Judicial Circuits
County Courts
67 Counties
Florida’s Courts
A challenge to a previous legal decision;
District Courts of
5 Districts
Circuit Courts
20 Judicial Circuits
County Courts
67 Counties
What is an appeal?
The role of the courts is to interpret and apply the law.
Trial Court
Appellate Court*
Judges sit individually
Panel of judges
Juries are present in certain cases
No juries
Prosecution/Plaintiff or
Petitioner/Respondent or
Attorneys call witnesses and present
exhibits as evidence.
Attorneys submit briefs and present oral
arguments on legal or policy issues; no
witnesses or presentation of evidence.
First opportunity for a case to be heard.
Establishes facts.
Determines if the law was applied
correctly and/or if the trial was fair.
*Appellate courts do not rehear the case over again. Appellate courts focus on
questions of law.
Civil courts hear disputes
between private parties
(individuals or organizations);
initiated by individuals or
Criminal courts hear cases that
are criminal in nature as defined
by the Florida Legislature.
Initiated by the state government.
Criminal offenses are divided into
misdemeanors and felonies.
Criminal and Civil Courts in Florida
Plaintiff (private party)
◦ File lawsuit
Who won or lost the case;
court can order the
defendant to pay damages
 Burden of proof is on the
plaintiff and the
preponderance of the
evidence* must be in their
favor (more than a 50%
probability; if it is more
likely than not that the
defendant caused harm or
loss, a court can uphold a
civil claim)
Prosecution (government)
◦ File charges
Guilty or not guilty;
incarceration and/or fines,
or execution
Burden of proof is on the
State (government) and
must prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that the
defendant is guilty
Civil and Criminal Cases
Disputes between
landlords and tenants
Insurance conflicts
Personal injury cases
Civil rights lawsuits
Misdemeanor – criminal
acts which carry a penalty
of up to one year in
county jail
◦ Driving under the influence,
reckless driving, trespassing,
driving on a suspended
license, etc.
Felony – serious criminal
offense punishable by a
prison sentence of more
than one year
◦ Burglary, child abuse, grand
theft, homicide, kidnapping,
Examples of Civil and Criminal Cases
You are going to receive a card.
Read the information on the card and use the info sheet
and Section V of the Florida Constitution to determine what
level of court is being described.
Highlight where you found the level of court in the Florida
Constitution and write the level of court on the back of
your card.
When instructed to do so, you
will need to find others who
are on your “court”.
Once you have found your
“court”, place the card on the
District Courts of
chart at the front of the room.
Circuit Courts
Court Sort
County Courts
Mandatory Jurisdiction
(MUST hear)
Discretionary Jurisdiction
(DECIDE to hear)
Court which only hears
original jurisdiction cases;
serves no appellate function
Florida’s Court System
Marco Bello sold his car to a friend for the price of
$18,000. Based on their written agreement, his
friend would pay $2000 now and the remaining
$16,000 the next month. His friend has failed to
pay him the money in the agreed upon time so
now Marco needs to take legal action.
Circuit Court
What state court would hear this case?
Teresa Smith was tried by a jury of her
peers and found guilty of first degree
murder. She has been sentenced to
death. Her case is now under review in
the courts. Which level of state court
would review Ms. Smith’s case?
Florida Supreme Court
What state court would hear this case?
Sam Wyland was caught burglarizing a store. The
arresting officer did not read him his rights and he
confessed to the crime after his arrest. After being
found guilty in the circuit court, Mr. Wyland
appealed his case. Which court would be most
likely to hear Mr. Wyland’s appeal first?
District Court of Appeal
What state court would hear this case?
Sara Robert’s neighbor was playing baseball
and the ball broke the handmade stained
glass window in her home valued at $2500.
She would like to take legal action to recover
the damage to her home. What court would
hear her case?
County Court
What state court would hear this case?
16 year old Michael Anderson has been
accused of the cyberstalking of a classmate
and making threats against this classmate.
In Florida, this is a felony offense. What
court will be hearing the State’s case
against Mr. Anderson?
Circuit Court
What state court would hear this case?
The Fourth District Court of Appeal has
declared a state statute permitting the
state to install red light cameras at traffic
lights invalid. The case is now being
appealed by the State of Florida.
Florida Supreme Court
What state court would hear this case*?
*The Florida Supreme Court has discretionary jurisdiction in this case. They
can choose to hear this case or deny the case.
Maria Silva has received a parking
ticket for parking in a prohibited zone.
Maria has taken pictures of the area
to document the lack of signage that
marks this area as a prohibited
parking zone. Where would she go to
contest her parking ticket?
County Court
What state court would hear this case?
Marty Nathanson was convicted of second
degree murder by a jury of his peers in the
First Judicial Circuit. He is now appealing
his case on post-conviction issues including
a claim that his attorney provided
ineffective assistance on a plea bargain.
District Court of Appeal
What state court would hear this case?
Trial Court Filings 2012-2013
Based on the chart, what
inferences can you make
about trial courts in the
Criminal State of Florida?
a. People serve longer
sentences in county courts.
b. There are high rates of
juvenile offenders in the
State of Florida.
c. There are more judges in
circuit courts in the State of
d. The first interaction most
people have with state courts
is at the county level.
Making Inferences