HISTORY OF THE

 

FOURTH DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL

 

 

The Supreme Court of Florida was the only appellate court in this state from 1845 until 1956. Three district courts of appeal were established by Article V of the Florida Constitution in 1956: the First District in Tallahassee, the Second in Lakeland, and the Third in Miami. Due to the increase in the number of appeals filed, the Legislature created the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 1965, and located it in Vero Beach. It encompassed Orange and Brevard counties in the north through Broward County in the south. In 1967, the Legislature relocated the Fourth District to West Palm Beach, and the Court moved to its permanent site on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard in 1970.

As Florida’s population grew, so did its number of appellate cases. In 1979, the Legislature divided parts of the First, Second, and Fourth Districts to organize the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach. In doing so, the geographic area covered by the Fourth District was reduced. It now hears appeals from the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Nineteenth Judicial Circuits, which are composed of Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties. Only three appellate judges comprised the Fourth District in 1965; now there are twelve. The workload of the court has also increased from 480 cases at its inception, to 5084 cases filed in 2006.