Chip Parker: Magistrates May Euthanize Senior Judges in Foreclosure Court
The Supreme Court of Florida has decided that non-judge magistrates will be hearing foreclosure cases in addition to retired senior judges. The new Amended Rule 1.490 would expand the use of general magistrates as an alternative to the use of senior judges to assist in processing foreclosure cases. This could mercifully spell the end of senior judges in Florida, which could help restore some confidence in our judicial system.
Don’t get me wrong. I doubt the magistrates will provide any greater level due process than the microscopic levels afforded to homeowners in the bizarro world of retired senior judges overseeing Foreclosure Court. However, if a homeowner does not want his foreclosure case being decided by a non-judge, the homeowner may object, and there need be no legal basis for an objection.
The homeowner must act fast because the objection must be made 10 days after the Order of Referral to Magistrate is entered. If a timely objection is filed, then the case is referred back to a judge (or retired senior judge).
The Amended Rule 1.490(c) does nothing more in the 20th Circuit Court in Lee County than to memorialize exactly what that Court has done, on the record, for the past four years, literally thousands of times. It’s as though the Supreme Court asked the 20th “how have you been handling this rule?” Sadly, I’ve never found it enough to simply object, but have always appeared at the hearing in further support of my severely suppressed due process rights. Always remember three things: 1) Never go into court without a court reporter, 2) Maintain control of the argument, and 3) Evidence wins lawsuits, so proffer well and best of luck to those who will find themselves in the next generation rocket docket. At least the magistrates won’t have the clearly unconstitutional powers that the senior judges take through color of law. They will have to submit their recommendations to an assigned judge (or will they?).