News

Support Chief Judge Lauten’s Funding Request

Use this template letter to write to your local state senator and/or your state representative(s).

<Date>

<Representative Name / Address>
<Senator Name / Address>

We write today to express our concern with the lack of funding for new judgeships and the effect this has on our business community. We are fortunate to have highly qualified judges who are hardworking, devoted, and selfless with their time. But even the best, most qualified judges need enough resources to keep pace. Our judges’ dockets are dangerously overloaded, and the growth of our population and business community has
not been matched with new judgeships.

In 2000, Orange County’s population was just shy of 900,000. By the end of 2017, Orange County’s population had increased to more than 1.3 million, and by 2020, the population is projected to surpass 1.5 million. Even though our circuit has objectively qualified for additional judgeships, the Legislature has not funded a new judge for our circuit since 2006. As a result, Chief Judge Lauten has recently shuttered the doors of our Business Court and reallocated its judges to other divisions in need.

The greater Orlando area has built a reputation as an increasingly sophisticated business environment. Our Business Court was the first of its kind in the State of Florida – Miami, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale all used it as a model for their own. These cities, as well as ours, recognized that Business Court is an important economic development tool. Businesses come to the Orlando area because they see the benefit of greater certainty,
consistency, and efficiency in the resolution of their complex legal disputes. Much like Delaware attracts corporations with its sophisticated business courts and pro-business legislation, Orlando was developing a similar reputation in the State of Florida. Closing Business Court is a step backward. It impairs our community’s ability to attract, sustain, and serve the businesses that fuel our economy.

The closure of Business Court is a symptom of a much larger funding problem. All judicial divisions, not just Business Court, have struggled with inadequate funding for years. Orange County’s significant population growth has overloaded our family, probate, and civil circuit judges to the point where unacceptable delay is the new norm.

As Chief Judge Lauten has explained, some of our community’s most vulnerable—our children, our families, our elderly, and our injured—must wait extended periods of time for resolution of their cases. Frankly, with the existing level of funding, our court system cannot meet their needs. While it is critical for our judiciary to efficiently utilize the resources it currently receives, it is also important for our legislators to be forward-thinking and allow our judiciary to grow alongside our population and our business community. The only way to reverse the damage that years of underfunding has caused is to secure funding for additional judgeships. With that said, we respectfully request that you address the following questions:

  • Why did the Legislature decline to fund the new judgeships that the Florida Supreme Court objectively certified as necessary for our community?
  • What steps are you taking to either secure additional funding for new judgeships or otherwise alleviate the burdens that the judiciary and your constituents face?
  • What steps are you taking to fund and re-open our Business Court and reassure businesses that their complex legal disputes will be resolved with certainty,
    consistency, and efficiency?

We reiterate the need to fund new judgeships to keep pace with our community’s growing population and economy. We ask for a response within thirty (30) days on how you plan to alleviate the judiciary’s present burdens and prepare for future growth.

Sincerely,

_________________________ _________________________
Your Name / Title / Contact Information