Civil Court Appeals

In Florida, the lower courts – that is, the trial courts – are the circuit courts and the county courts.  Depending on the nature and type of legal proceeding, a litigant will initiate a lawsuit in one court or the other.  The appellate courts in Florida are the circuit courts (appellate division), the five district courts of appeal, and the Florida Supreme Court.  Depending on the nature and type of review proceeding, your appeal will be initiated in one of these appellate courts.  In federal court, by contrast, the trial courts are the district courts, and the appellate courts are the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which is the judicial circuit applicable to Florida, and the U.S. Supreme Court, which is the highest appellate court in the federal judiciary.

Although the Florida Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in Florida, appeals to that court are rare because, for the most part, they are discretionary.  Except for a few exceptions, there is no right to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. Appeals to the Florida Supreme Court are typically made, or should only be made, to resolve (i) queries of great public importance in Florida or (ii) conflict among decisions of two or more district courts of appeal that affect the uniform administration of justice in Florida.

The Florida Legislature has divided Florida into five appellate-court districts, which, given the limited nature of appellate review in the Florida Supreme Court, act as courts of last resort for the review of most orders in civil or criminal matters emanating from county or circuit courts (that is, the trial courts) within their respective districts.