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Courts and the Establishment of New CountiesFirst Act of the Territorial Legislature
An Act to regulate the Counties and establish Inferior Courts in the Territory of Florida Passed 6th August 1822 August 12th: 1822 Approved
1. Be it enacted by the Governor and Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida, That the aforesaid Territory shall be divided into four counties, two in that part known as West Florida, and two in that part known as East Florida, as follows, to wit, in West Florida all that part of the Territory west of the Choctohacha river, shall constitute the County of Escambia all that part of the Territory East of the said river to the Suwaney river shall constitute another county, to be called Jackson and that part of East Florida, lying north of the river St. Johns, and north of a line, commencing at a place called the Cowford, on said river, and terminating at the mouth of the Suwaney river, shall constitute a County by the name of Duval, and all the remaining portion of East Florida, shall be constituted a County by the name of St. Johns.
2. Be it further enacted, that, there shall be established two Inferior Courts, to be called the circuit Court, and be composed of one Judge each, who shall be appointed by the governor, and hold his office during good behavior, subject however, to be removed by the Governor and Legislative Council, or a majority thereof, and who before he enters upon the duties hereafter assigned him, shall take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and faithfully execute the duties of his office, without partiality, favour or affection.
3. Be it further enacted, that, the Inferior Courts so established, shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction, over all sums above Twenty, and under One Hundred Dollars, and appellate jurisdiction over, sums under Twenty Dollars, and concurrent jurisdiction in all Civil Cases arising, under the laws of this Territory over One Hundred Dollars, with the Superior Court, both in law and equity saving to all persons the right of appeal, or writ of error, from the Inferior to the Superior Court.
4. Be it further enacted, That if either party may desire to appeal from the judgment of the Inferior Court he may file his bill of exceptions to the opinion of said Court, praying that it may be signed, sealed and made a part of the record, and it shall be the duty of the Inferior Judge to inspect the said bill, and if it contain[s] the evidence or point decided correctly and precisely, he shall sign, seal and certify the same to the Superior Court.
5. Be it further enacted, That, should the party neglect to take an appeal, he may at any time thereafter, before the final execution of the judgment, procure a copy of the record, and if there be any error in the proceedings, he may assign said error, and present it to the superior court and should the Judge of said court be of opinion that injustice had been done, or that there was an error in the proceeding, he may award supersedias, to stop the operation of the judgment, until the matters thereof could be heard in the said Superior Court, the supersedias shall be issued by the clerk of said Court, and be obeyed by the clerk and sheriff of the Inferior Courts respectively.
6. Be it further enacted, that, the Superior Court shall have power to award a certiorari, mandamus, or prohibition which shall be obeyed by the Inferior Courts respectively.
7. Be it further enacted, that, there shall be appointed by the governor in each County a well qualified clerk, whose duty it shall be to record all decrees, orders, judgments, and other papers required by Law and to preserve all papers appertaining to suits in said Courts, and to Docket all causes as required by Law, and who shall take an oath faithfully to perform the duties which have and may hereafter be assigned him, and execute bonds in the Secretary's office of the Territory, or such other place as the Governor shall direct, in the penalty of Five Thousand Dollars with approved security, conditioned for the performance of the duties of their said offices.
8. Be it further enacted, that, the Inferior Courts shall be the offices of original records, for deeds, mortages, and other instruments, required by law to be recorded within their respective Counties.
9. Be it further enacted, that, the Inferior Courts shall have power to fine and imprison for contempts of their authority, provided the fines do not exceed Twenty Dollars, or the imprisonment six days.
10. Be it further enacted, that there shall be appointed a Sheriff for each County, who shall perform all the duties required by law, and before entering upon the duties of his office, shall take an oath faithfully to execute the duties required of him, without respect of persons, and execute Bond in the office of the Secretary of the Territory in the penalty of Five Thousand Dollars, with approved security, conditioned for the performance of his said office, or at such other place as the Governor shall appoint, which shall not be void upon the payment of the penalty, but remain in full force; and the Sheriff and his securities shall be liable to the suite of any person upon failure or neglect of his said duties.
11. Be it further enacted, that, all causes now depending and undetermined in any of the Courts in this Territory, shall be transferred at the election of the Plaintiff or Complainant, to either the Inferior or Superior Court-and it shall be the duty of the Clerk of any of the existing Courts to deliver over all papers relating to said causes, to the clerks of the aforesaid Courts, by the direction of the Plaintiff or Complainant, his or her agent or attorney and take their receipt therefor.
12. Be it further enacted, That, it shall be the duty of the Judge appointed in West Florida, to hold four terms in each year, in Pensacola, and two terms at the Big Spring, on the Chipola, and the Judge in East Florida, to hold four terms in St. Augustine-and at Jacksonville near the Cowford on St. John's river, two terms-to com mence at Pensacola on the first Mondays of September, December, March and June, and at the Big Spring, on the Chipola, in Jackson County, on the third Mondays of October and April-and at St. Augustine on the first Mondays in December, February, May and August-and at Jacksonville near the Cowford, on the first Mondays in March and November.
13. Be it further enacted, that, the said Inferior Courts shall have criminal jurisdiction, over all offences, against the Territory, in the Counties of Jackson and Duval-and that whenever any question of Law shall be involved, of difficulty, it shall be certified and adjourned over to the Judge of the Superior Court, after verdict and the sentence of the Inferior Judge, respited until the opinion of the next Superior Court shall be given, and the prisoner detained in custody, until it shall be made known to that Court.
14. Be it further enacted, that there shall be appointed two Solicitors, one for each of the Circuits aforesaid, who shall act as Attorney for the Counties and Circuit Courts, and shall receive each Three hundred Dollars as a compensation annually, and Five Dollars for every judgment upon an indictment for crimes, and misdemeanors and motions, to be collected out of the judgment against the Defendant, and should it not be recovered of the Defendant, to be paid by the Territory.
15. Be it further enacted, that the Judges aforesaid, shall receive for their Salary, Twelve Hundred Dollars, to be paid quarterly, out of the Treasury of the Territory upon a warrant from the Governor.
President of the Legislative Council
August 12th: 1822 Approved
Wm. P. Duval
Governor of the Territory of Florida
John Coppinger Connor
Clerk of the legislative
Council of Florida
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