History of the Court
History of Florida's First District Court of Appeal
In 1957, the Florida Legislature created three district courts of appeal to assume a portion of the appellate jurisdiction of the state court system. It located the headquarters of the First District in Tallahassee and gave the Court a territorial jurisdiction which encompassed thirty-seven counties ranging from Escambia County in the northwest, to Nassau County in the northeast, to Volusia County in the southeast, and to Levy County in the southwest.
In 1979, the Fifth District Court of Appeal was created reducing the First District's territorial jurisdiction to thirty-two counties. The thirty-two counties in the First District are: Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Nassau, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington
The first headquarters of the First District was in the Independent Life Building located on Jefferson Street in Tallahassee. In 1958, the Court moved into headquarters in the Supreme Court Building in Tallahassee. In 1981, the Court moved to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Tallahassee. In 2010, the court moved into its present headquarters on Drayton Drive. Periodically, the Court hears oral arguments in the different counties within the district
Originally, three judges sat on the First District Court of Appeal. They were Chief Judge Wallace E. Sturgis, Judge John T. Wigginton and Judge Donald K. Carroll, all of whom are now deceased. Although the size of the panels which hear each case remains at three, the number of judges on the Court has grown steadily through the years. There are presently fifteen judges on the Court.
Jurisdiction of the First District Court of Appeal
The jurisdiction of the district courts of appeal extends to appeals from final judgments or orders of trial courts in cases that either are not directly appealable to the Supreme Court or are not taken from a county court to a circuit court; and to the review of certain non-final orders. By general law, the district courts have been granted the power to review most actions taken by state agencies in carrying out the duties of the executive branch of government. Finally, the district courts have also been granted constitutional authority 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.
As a general rule, decisions of the district courts of appeal represent the final appellate review of litigated cases. A person who is displeased with a district court's express decision may ask for review in the Supreme Court of Florida or in the Supreme Court of the United States, but neither tribunal is required to accept the case for further review and the overwhelming number of requests are in fact denied