Unless adequate safeguards are in place, court-related revenue other than filing fee revenue (revenue derived from fines, service charges, and costs) should not be dedicated to court funding but used to support other justice system partners.
One of the reforms brought about by the 1972 amendment to Article V of Florida’s Constitution was the elimination of the courts’ reliance on fines for funding. A return to such cash register justice would be a step backward for Florida.
Filing fees are a more appropriate source of revenue for the courts because they are more directly related to court workload and activity. Such funding is also considered more of a reasonable user fee and is paid by those who are choosing to avail themselves of court services. Filing fees are paid by litigants who can afford those costs. Those who cannot afford the costs still have access to court under protections provided by law.
Penalties and fines rely on judicial discretion to establish the severity of the monetary punishment. Isolating the discretion of a judge to impose reasonable punishment from the funding of the court prevents any pressure on judges to impose fines to fund the court budget.