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Case filings hit record high in December

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Florida courts saw a record number of new non-criminal case filings in December and a record number of average daily filings in January as court activity continued to recover from last spring’s pandemic slump.

According to information from the Florida Courts E-Filing Authority, new cases filed in December though the statewide e-filing Portal hit 99,499, eclipsing the previous record of 98,402 in January 2019.

New cases averaged almost 90,000 a month for the first three months of 2020 before dropping below 70,000 a month for April and May as in-person court proceedings largely stopped and lawyers switched from working in offices to working from home because of COVID-19. The filing numbers have been slowly climbing since.

January saw 92,749 new cases filed. New filings do not include criminal cases, which are still initiated via paper submissions by law enforcement agencies.

Overall, there were 1.45 million e-filed submissions containing almost 2.18 million documents in December, both up slightly from December 2019, and higher than any other months except September and October since the pandemic hit. Filings usually decline slightly in the holiday months of November and December.

In January, there were almost 1.5 million filings containing almost 2.2 million documents. January’s average weekday filings hit 77,486, which surpassed the previous record of 76,920 for February 2020.

The Portal, which automatically serves documents when they are filed, delivered almost 1.54 million e-service emails in December and almost 1.6 million in January.

District courts of appeal had 9,105 filings with 11,014 documents in December, and 11,107 filings with 15,197 documents in January. The Supreme Court had 389 filings with 503 documents in December and 358 filings with 469 documents in January.

Lawyers remained the largest source of filings, accounting for 78% in December followed by filings from judicial offices at 14.6%. Process servers accounted for 1.9% and pro se parties for 0.9%. The remainder were other state agencies or officials filing reports and documents with the courts. On average, filings were docketed about three quarters of a day after being filed. Those figures were not immediately available for January.

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