The Florida Supreme Court
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The Florida Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of Florida and is located in Tallahassee, Florida. The Supreme Court was established in 1846, when Florida was the least populous Southern state and now in its fourth building location in the third largest state in the nation. The Court is comprised of seven Justices and oral arguments are typically heard during the first full week of each month.
Backstory and Context
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There are eight marble columns that surround a replica of the Florida Supreme Court's seal. The seal is made of white bronze and is embedded into the floor of the rotunda. The elements of the seal include the Latin phrase, sat cito si recte, meaning "soon enough if correct"; 18 stars which represent Astraea, the daughter of the goddess of justice; the letter "F" for Florida; Lady justice and an eagle. There are two copper eagles located in the rotunda space, designed by Panama City artist Roland Hockett. The eagles in the seal and the copper eagles represent justice and freedom.
Oral arguments are typically heard the first full week of each month, except for in January and July. The courtroom is open to the public and there is seating for 164 people. All oral arguments are broadcast on The Florida Channel (WFSU) and on the Court's Facebook page. The courtroom houses the portraits of the majority of the former justices which are hung on the left and right sides of the courtroom. The attorneys present their arguments and answer the justices' questions from the podium in the center of the courtroom. Oral arguments typically allow 20 minutes of attorney’s arguments per side. The marshal and clerk are also present during oral arguments. The schedule for oral arguments is available on the Court's website, www.floridasupremecourt.org.
The seven justices live in different areas of the state of Florida. The role of the Chief Justice is to manage the state's judicial branch of government and is a two-year position. The justices sit in order of seniority on the bench, with the Chief Justice seated in the center.
Our library is the oldest state-supported library in Florida and exists to serve the research and information needs of the Florida Supreme Court, the Office of the State Courts Administrator, and lower Florida courts. Members of the general public are also able to use the resources of the law library to conduct legal research. The library contains more than 130,000 volumes, including an extensive selection of Florida legal materials, many going back to before statehood. The library is open Monday through Friday, 8:00-5:00.
The Library's Rare Book Room
The collection of books began in the 1820s. By 1845, when the Territory of Florida ceased to exist, and the State of Florida formally entered the United States, the library was named in the state constitution as a part of the judicial branch of state government. Most of the books you see on these shelves were bought new by the library and have been kept, and used, ever since. Since we now have many laws and many published opinions of the justices, these books are used only rarely, now. They continue to help the justices see and understand the broad picture of how Florida law has developed over the past two-hundred years. Their ability to do this helps our justices create more fair and accurate judgments and opinions for the people of Florida. This collection remains useful and helpful as the Florida Supreme Court interprets the meaning of our laws.
The Lawyer's Lounge
This room is an area for attorneys to wait before and after the oral arguments but also serves as an overflow area for when the courtroom is at capacity. On the walls hang the portraits of the current justices and those portraits remain in this room until the justice leaves the Court.