Earlier this month, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved a bill designed to accelerate the foreclosure process in Florida. Republican, Kathleen Passidomo, sponsor of HB 87, frames the bill as a way to speed up the foreclosure process while ensuring due process. But, lenders and borrowers alike are fearful of some of the Bill’s provisions.
The current Bill, which is a revision of a bill that died last year in the Senate, provides liability for entities that wrongfully claim to be holders of or entitled to enforce lost notes. Thus, the Bill might provide an incentive for the “foreclosure mills” to have their paperwork in order before filing suit. However, this penalty of perjury is not a new concept to the judicial system. The problem has not been whether there is a penalty for perjury, but rather whether a judge will deem evidence to be fraudulent. Discovery requests that attempt to uncover facts and evidence related to the validity of a lender’s evidence are almost always objected to on grounds of relevance. And these objections are rarely overruled when challenged in court. The borrower’s only hope is that the evidence (usually related to transfer of a loan) is defective on its face. In which case, the evidence is usually just disregarded as flawed–rather than deemed fraudulent.
The Bill would also require homeowners to show cause as to why a foreclosure judgment should not be entered when the lender appears to have its paperwork in order. This is problematic because some court systems have a knack for disregarding the rules of civil procedure in an attempt to read between the lines and judge a case before the issues have been fully developed. Some fear that allowing judges more discretion, at the expense of bright line rules of procedure, might lead to more wrongful foreclosures.