Business Court Reopens – Time to Get to Work!
Chief’s Column // The Briefs, October 2019, Vol. 87 No. 8
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
– Margaret Mead
A mere 16 months after the Ninth Judicial Circuit reluctantly shuttered its doors, October marks the reopening of the circuit’s heralded business court division. The timeframe might suggest this was a simple, easy process, but reopening the division was in no way a small feat. Nor was it an accomplishment of the circuit’s efforts alone.
It was a tremendously difficult decision for former Chief Judge Fred Lauten to close business court. But, with its closing, he was able to leverage not just the resources of the court, but also the resources of our community. As the circuit shifted judges to the family division to ease the burden of expanding caseloads and long wait times, the community shifted its resources to advocate for business court. The collective effort was remarkable. Local attorneys, businesses, chambers of commerce, rotaries, and court users called and wrote their legislators and urged funding for additional seats on the bench in the Ninth Circuit. Many organizations traveled to Tallahassee to highlight the important contribution business courts make to the economic health and development of this state and strongly advocated for a dedicated business court in Central Florida. This reopening is a testament to what a group of thoughtful, committed people can accomplish together. Thank you for your dedication and the commitment you have shown the courts and this community.
The business court is a great example of what adequate resources allow the courts to accomplish. The purpose of the business court is to address business litigation cases in an effective and efficient manner. The procedures of the court streamline the process to bring cases to resolution in a timely and, frequently, expedited manner. A dedicated judge brings a higher level of expertise to bear on complex business cases, increases consistency in rulings on similar/recurring issues, and allows the court to be proactive in case management. As a result, business litigants experience a higher level of predictability and certainty, two key elements that are required for successful business planning and serve to attract business to the region.
We are excited for this reopening, but there is more yet for us to do.
Central Florida is a booming region. Our population grows at a net pace of 1,000 people per week. In the last 19 years, Orange County’s population increased by 54%, and Osceola County grew by 113%. Experts tell us the population in our region will approach 5.2 million residents by 2030. As a result, we anticipate that the circuit will continue to require additional judges to meet the growing needs in all of our court divisions.
While the Florida Supreme Court certified the Ninth Circuit for two additional seats on the circuit bench in 2019, only one seat was funded. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity that one judge brings to reopen our business court, but the needs are greater and growing. This year, the circuit anticipates an additional need for two more circuit judges and one county judge. As we prepare for another legislative session, I am hopeful that we can come together again as that thoughtful, committed group of citizens. I invite you to join me in continuing to support growth in our circuit and to advocate for the needs of the community we serve.
The Honorable Donald A. Myers, Jr., is the chief judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit. He was elected to the Circuit Court for Orange and Osceola counties in 2010 and served in many capacities in the circuit, most recently as a circuit court judge assigned to the domestic division and as the administrative judge for appeals to the circuit court. He has been a member of the OCBA since 1980.