Geographically the Middle District of Florida (FLMD) stretches over 350 miles from the Georgia border on the northeast to south of Naples on Florida’s southwest coast. Three of the six largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the state, namely, Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando are within the district. The Clerk’s office headquarters is centrally located in Orlando with additional divisional offices in Tampa, Jacksonville, Fort Myers and Ocala.
Demographically over 10 million people, more than 57% of the state’s population, reside within the district. Fifteen of the twenty most densely populated counties in the state are in the Middle District. In all, thirty-five of Florida’s sixty-seven counties make up the Middle District. Florida’s population has increased by about three million each decade since 1970 and now stands at approximately 18.4 million permanent residents, a 171% increase over the 1970 estimate of 6.8 million. Additionally this state, and the Middle District in particular, is a primary tourist and convention destination adding millions of visitors to those numbers. In 2006 the number of tourists visiting Florida reached 84.6 million, one half traveling by air. That is equivalent to about 232,000 visitors per day. Additionally more than 900,000 temporary residents, the “snowbirds,” reside in Florida for several months each year. Florida’s population has increased nearly twice as fast as the nation during the 1990′s. The U.S. Census bureau projects that Florida will soon become the third largest state behind only California and Texas.
The Middle District of Florida (FLMD) is one of the busiest federal district courts in the nation. In fiscal year 2009 a total of 9,646 civil and criminal cases were filed in FLMD. Approximately 83.6% of those were civil cases. There were 622 weighted case filings per active judge in FY 2009 placing FLMD first among the nine districts of the 11th Circuit and fifth nationally out of 94 districts. The caseload per active district judge in FLMD is over 30% above the national average and 45% above the Judicial Conference standard of 430 new weighted cases per year. FLMD has been officially designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Enforcement Area (HIDTA) by the Department of Justice. In FY 2008 the district had the sixth highest number of criminal defendants charged with drug related offenses (excluding marijuana offenses), and the tenth highest number of defendants charged with fraud related offenses. These two categories of offenses accounted for 67% of the total criminal defendants charged in FLMD.
Currently there are 14 full time and ten senior district judges in FLMD. There are also 14 magistrate judges serving in the district. Tampa has the most judges with six district judges, two senior district judges and five magistrate judges. Orlando has four district judges, three senior district judges and three magistrate judges. Jacksonville currently has two district judges, four senior district judges and three magistrate judges. Ft. Myers has two district judges and two magistrate judges. Ocala has one senior district judge and one magistrate judge.
Rapid population growth in FLMD has placed great demands on the federal judiciary and court staff. In order to keep pace with that demand new courthouses in Tampa, Fort Myers, Jacksonville and Orlando have been built and opened within the past ten years. The George C. Young Courthouse and Federal Building in Orlando is currently undergoing a complete $50M renovation in anticipation of housing the Bankruptcy Court and other federal offices