Divisions of Court
The 15th Judicial Circuit is comprised of five (5) Circuit Court Divisions and two (2) County Court Divisions pursuant to Local Rule #1, 1994.
The 15th Judicial Circuit encompasses all 2500 square miles of Palm Beach County and operates out of the Main Judicial Complex in downtown West Palm Beach, the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach, the West County Courthouse in Belle Glade, and the Criminal Justice Complex in suburban West Palm Beach. The 15th Judicial Circuit operates under the direction of the Chief Judge and Court Administrator pursuant to the State Constitution, Florida Rules of Court, and Judicial Administration Rule 2.010. Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners provides funding for facilities, personnel services and operating expenses as mandated by Florida Statute 43.28.[external link]
The 15th Judicial Circuit is a general jurisdiction court with thirty-five (35) Circuit Judges presiding. The County Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction with nineteen (19) County Judges presiding. The number of Circuit Judges and County Court Judges are dependent upon population with certification by the Supreme Court and legislative authorization.
Each of the twenty circuits in the State of Florida has a Court Administrator and a support staff to assist the Chief Judge/Judges in day-to-day operations which include, but are not limited to, all areas of management, including personnel, finance, court programs, data processing, jury, intergovernmental relations, acting as staff for judicial committees, and other duties that may from time to time be assigned by the Chief Judge. Florida Rules of Court and Judicial Administration Rule 2.050(9)(d) provide for the Circuit Court Administrator.
The 15th Judicial Circuit consists of five (5) cost centers. Rather than view the circuit as just one court, the circuit is comprised of five (5) departments, including four (4) courts and an administrative department, defined as follows:
Trial Court Administration, in conjunction with the Chief Judge, oversees all judicial and non-judicial matters arising within the 15th Judicial Circuit.
Probate Court governs procedures in guardianship, expedited judicial intervention concerning medical treatment, and all probate matters.
Civil Court proceedings are governed by Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. These rules apply to all actions of a civil nature and all special statutory proceedings in the circuit courts and county courts except those to which the Florida Probate Rules or Claims Rules apply.
Family Court (Family/Juvenile) is that division of the circuit court system having jurisdiction over adjudicating all domestic matters including divorce, child custody, support and visitation. It is coupled generically with the Juvenile Court, which consists of juvenile dependency/delinquency.
Criminal Court is the court where all evidence relative to a criminal cause is received and considered. Through the trial procedure the criminal court determines both the facts and the law in a particular case. There are two (2) divisions within criminal court; County Court presides over misdemeanor cases and Circuit Court presides over all felonies.