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Florida’s District Courts of Appeal were established in 1957 to provide a thorough review of verdicts made by lower courts in the state. These reviews are conducted by multi-judge panels. They ensure that no errors were made during the original case that would violate current laws. Florida has five District Courts of Appeal located in Tallahassee, Lakeland, Miami, West Palm Beach, and Daytona Beach. Most appeals in the state never make it to the Supreme Court but are resolved by these three-judge panels in the District Courts of Appeal. Prior to 1957, The Supreme Court fielded all appeals until the workload became too immense, thus the need for the District Courts of Appeal.
Florida’s Courts of Appeal have the power to “issue the extraordinary writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus, as well as all other writs necessary to the complete exercise of their jurisdiction.”
The purpose of the District Courts of Appeal is to correct any errors made during the original case. A multi-judge panel (usually three judges) review the case to provide clarity and consistency in how the law is upheld. During the appeals process they review the original documents and evidence of the case, they also hear oral arguments and read prepared briefs before making their decision which is called an “opinion.”
Generally, their opinions are the final review in appealed cases. Although the losing party has the right to appeal it again at the Supreme Court level, most requests are denied.
The mission of Florida’s Judicial Branch is to “protect rights and liberties, uphold and interpret the law, and provide for the peaceful resolution of disputes.” The District Courts of Appeal uphold this mission by making sure that trial court decisions are sound and just.