Overview of the Sixth Judicial Circuit
As Florida's third largest trial court, the Sixth Judicial Circuit is recognized as one of the most efficient trial courts in the nation. The circuit is also recognized nationally for its automation leadership in support of court operations.
Sixty-nine judges – 45 at the circuit level and 24 in county courts – hear cases in the Sixth Judicial Circuit. The Sixth Circuit is comprised of Pasco and Pinellas counties and is located on the Central West Coast of Florida.
Of the two counties, Pasco is geographically larger, but smaller in population. In 2010 Pasco County’s resident population exceeded 464,600. Thirteen circuit judges and seven county court judges preside over cases in two judicial facilities, in New Port Richey and Dade City.
Pinellas County's resident population in 2010 was approximately 916,500. Thirty-two circuit court judges and 17 county court judges preside over cases in five court facilities in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, the largest cities in the circuit.
In the Sixth Circuit, cases are assigned to one of 13 Court Divisions, nine at the circuit level and four at the county level. The type of case determines the division designation, and then the case is randomly assigned to a judge in that division.
The circuit court is Florida's trial court of general jurisdiction. Each of the state's 20 judicial circuits incorporates one or more counties. Circuit courts have exclusive original jurisdiction in all of the following: actions in which the matter in controversy exceeds $15,000, exclusive of interest and costs; proceedings relating to the settlement of estates; guardianship; involuntary hospitalization; determination of incapacity; and other matters concerning court of probate; in all cases in equity including all cases relating to juveniles except traffic offenses. In criminal matters, the circuit courts have original jurisdiction in all felonies and in all misdemeanors arising out of the same circumstances as a felony that is concurrently charged. Also, circuit courts preside over all cases involving the legality of tax assessment, in the actions of ejectment, in all actions involving the titles or boundaries or rights of possession of real property, and in other actions not heard by county court. Family cases such as dissolution of marriage, child custody, visitation, domestic violence, and juvenile dependency cases are all heard in the Circuit Court.
The circuit court handles appeals from the county court except those appeals that may be taken to the Second District Court of Appeal.
The county courts are Florida's trial court of limited jurisdiction. A county court exists in each of the 67 counties with the county boundaries serving as the territorial jurisdiction.
County courts have original jurisdiction in all criminal misdemeanor cases when there is not a concurrent felony, and ins all violations of municipal and county ordinances. In civil matters, county courts have original jurisdiction in all actions of law in which the matter in controversy does not exceed the sum of $15,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and which is not within the exclusive jurisdiction of the circuit courts. County court judges also serve as committing magistrates.