The Supreme Court unanimously held in Telli v. Broward County (SC11-1737) that Florida’s chartered counties (a county charter could be considered its constitution) have the authority to impose term limits on all county officers. While this seems like a straightforward proposition, it is a fundamental shift in the way that the Supremes have applied the state constitution to restrict term limits of county officers until now.

The rule in Florida has been since Cook v. Jacksonville , 823 So.2d 86 (Fla. 2002), that the state constitution is the sole source of qualifications and disqualifications for those county officers created under the state constitution. The rationale, stated simply, was that as the constitution provided for qualifications of constitutional officers; since only certain officers were subject to term limits under art. IV, sec. 4, the lack of express terms limits for constitutional county officers meant that such term limits were not authorized. Since the Florida Constitution provides that each county shall have a sheriff, a tax collector, a property appraiser, a supervisor of elections, and a clerk of the circuit court, the jurisprudence of Cook provided that each of these officers could be reelected indefinitely, unless the constitution was amended.

The Telli court receded from Cook, and held that the broad powers afforded to chartered counties under the constitution include the power of counties to impose term limits on their officers. What other qualifications can also be imposed locally by chartered counties remains to be seen.

The Expression of One Does Not Have to Exclude All Others

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