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Measure would provide each circuit judge a law clerk

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Rep. Mike Beltran

Rep. Mike Beltran

A Tampa-area lawmaker has filed a bill that would require the state to assign a law clerk to every circuit judge.

Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Riverview, filed HB 617 on November 21. The bill has yet to receive committee references and there is no Senate companion.

The two-page bill would create Section 26.032, that would state (1) “Each circuit court judge shall be provided a law clerk.”

Section (2) would specify that each law clerk receive “as salary the amount indicated, based on the population of his or her county, with pay adjustments and benefits according to those provided to other state employees.”

The bill goes on to describe a six-tiered base pay scale that would start at $64,000 for law clerks who serve in counties with up to 49,999 residents, and climb to $76,900 for clerks who serve in counties with 1 million residents or more. The latest figures from the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability show that there are 606 circuit judges in Florida.

In January 2022, the Judicial Management Council’s Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases proposed sweeping efficiency measures based on a federal model with more judicial control of cases, tighter rules for discovery and depositions, and tougher sanctions.

Critics warned that, unlike the federal system, Florida circuit judges lack their own law clerks and typically manage larger caseloads.

Beltran, a Harvard Law graduate, serves on the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.


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