Professor M.C. Mirow’s lead-off essay points out that while Spain devoted considerable resources to its New World possessions, Florida almost always was considered a region of minor, albeit strategic, outposts. Thus, its system of justice never fully developed into the standard structures of Spanish colonial government. Military governors, occasionally assisted by legally trained advisors known as asesores, acted as judges. The question of whether local municipal officers—known as alcaldes—served as magistrates remains an open one. Regardless, there were numerous tribunals in Spanish Florida. Litigants and officials recognized jurisdictional divisions and utilized distinct procedures for different kinds of cases, and criminal and civil matters were handled in ways consistent with Florida’s membership in the colonial Spanish world. In their administration of Florida, Spanish officials generated numerous documents. As Mirow notes, many of these have yet to be explored and remain waiting for researchers in archives in Cuba and Spain (and, increasingly, on the web).
University Press of Florida
Florida, Courts, Spanish Period, Colonial Courts
Courts | Law | Legal History
M.C. Mirow, Spanish Courts, in FLORIDA’S OTHER COURTS: UNCONVENTIONAL JUSTICE IN THE SUNSHINE STATE, (Robert M. Jarvis, ed., Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2018).