The Broward County clerk of court wants Florida Supreme Court justices to take up a dispute about whether the state has unconstitutionally underfunded the clerk’s office. Attorneys for Clerk Brenda Forman filed a notice this week that is a first step in asking the Supreme Court to decide the issue, according to documents posted Friday on the court’s website.
The 1st District Court of Appeal in May ruled against Forman, overturning a decision last year by a Leon County circuit judge. The appeals court said the case focused on portions of filing fees that clerks are required to send to the state, with the Legislature then diverting part of the money to other purposes. The ruling said Forman argued that the “diversion of fees resulted in her office being so underfunded that it was unable to perform its constitutional duties.”
But a three-judge panel of the appeals court said Forman “failed to prove her office was unconstitutionally underfunded because she failed to put forth any evidence that the alleged lack of funding impacted her ability to meet her constitutional duties or impacted litigants’ constitutional rights.”
“The supreme court has distinguished between operational underfunding versus constitutional underfunding, explaining ‘while this Court has stated that
Florida’s court system is operationally underfunded,'” the panel ruled, “‘we have not determined that the judiciary is underfunded
to the point of it being a violation of the constitution.’” The decision also found that statewide performance measures for court clerks are not an appropriate tool to measure whether the Clerk is unconstitutionally underfunded. “These standards, which were promulgated by the Clerks of Court Operations Corporation as directed by statute, are not constitutional requirements,” the ruling read.
The notice filed this week, as is common, did not detail arguments that Forman’s attorneys will make at the Supreme Court.
–FlaglerLive and News Service of Florida