The Foreclosure Mess: Florida Judges Can Do Better


In the face of banks’ rampant disregard for the law in pursuing foreclosures with false paperwork, the judiciary has started to emerge as the great defender of due process and the rule of law. For example, in October, New York put an end to the fraudulent document problem in its courts. Some Ohio courts started making similar efforts. And on Monday, New Jersey put in place rules to end document fraud in its system. New Jersey also called out major banks and demanded they affirmatively demonstrate that their foreclosure procedures are sound. This list of judges standing up for the system is hardly exhaustive.

In each case, the judges made clear they weren’t picking sides. They were merely enforcing the rules, making sure the banks didn’t get special exceptions unavailable to anyone else.

Split-Second Justice

Unfortunately, not all judges are responding to the foreclosure mess this way. Those in Florida have been particularly notorious, and new rulings show at least some members of the Florida judiciary seem more committed to speeding foreclosures through to completion than anything else.

For example, Florida’s infamous “rocket dockets,” in which a foreclosure case can take mere seconds or a few minutes to complete, continue. The Lee County court schedule for December shows two days with over 60 cases scheduled, two with over 25 and one with four. (No other days have cases scheduled.) Given the length of the court day, 25+ cases in a day amounts to at best several minutes a case. Attorneys defending foreclosures have taken several days to deal with just one.

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