St Johns County: In search of a judge

St Johns County Clerk of Court Brandon Patty is on a mission to gain an additional county court judge; a measure he says will help cure “unacceptable delays” in our local court system. 

Patty said in a press release from his office that the county court system is overly stressed.  At this point, he believes that an additional judge is needed to help deal with increased demand.

“The county has fewer judges than counties with similar populations,” Patty pointed out during last month’s meeting of the St Johns County legislative delegation.  “COVID-19 has worsened the issue.”  

St Johns County has not received a new county judge since 1974 despite the rapid growth experienced throughout the past decade.  Patty claims that increasing the number of judges in the county is a prominent issue and that he has support from organizations and leaders in the community such as the Board of County Commissioners as well as the St Johns County Chamber of Commerce.

In response to Petty’s request, Senator Travis Hutson and Representative Cyndi Stevenson filed identical bills for the Florida Legislature’s upcoming session; SB-816 and HB-417 asking for an additional county judge.

“We have heard loud and clear from the community on the self-evident need for an increase in judges,” Hutson said in the release.

“Although this will be a tough budget season, an increase in judicial capacity is essential to meet the needs of our growing county,” Stevenson added.

“I am thrilled a bill has been filed in the legislature to increase county residents’ accessibility to the courts,” County Commission Chair Jeremiah Blocker said.

Patty says that the legal community and businesses in the housing community support this proposal.  The St Johns County Bar Association, the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the St Johns County Board of Realtors, the Northeast Florida Builders Association and Flagler Health+ are all lending their support, according to Patty.