Florida’s Foreclosure ‘Rocket Docket’

by on States

We’ve discussed previously the massive backlog of foreclosure cases in the country today, with virtually every region in the country having to deal with thousands of foreclosures pending in the system. This backlog depresses prices and just eats up time and money – prolonging the inevitable for some and also making banks less likely to lend to other homebuyers.

Florida, one of the hardest hit states in the nation by the housing crisis, has devised a solution to the foreclosure surplus that exists in the Sunshine State. Using retired judges to work on a temporary basis, Florida has created foreclosure courts that are designed to hear only foreclosure cases – and at an average rate of one case every 15 minutes.

A panel of civil judges used by the 4th Circuit in Florida will hear foreclosure cases in an effort to eliminate the 300,000 pending cases as quickly as possible. Each case will also be given no more than 15 minutes, with all complicated cases requiring more time being sent to regular civil court.

Defense attorneys are up in arms for the most part, claiming that the ‘rocket docket’ does little to protect homeowners who need to use the courts to fight for their properties – something very difficult to do in 15 minutes.

Others, though, state that the court is mainly for those cases in which the borrower does not wish to defend the foreclosure. In those cases, the proceedings can move forward quickly, clearing up time and space for other cases.

We think getting rid of the foreclosure surplus is a must for most states, since unpurchased foreclosures do not generate any income or revenue for banks – and that just means banks are more reluctant to lend to homebuyers and investors who can jumpstart the housing market and the economy. The shortage of time, however, is something that should be looked at in order to avoid harming homeowners’ chances to defend their properties.