Around two weeks from now, on July 1, 2011, things will be very different down at the foreclosure courts for Miami-Dade County. Seems the Great Recession has hit the judicial system here in Florida, just like everyone else, and they must make do with less funds now that the 2010 emergency funds have been tapped and spent.
The End of the Rocket Docket
And this, while foreclosures are still being filed in record numbers: 2715 foreclosures were filed in Miami-Dade County in the month of April 2011, and while the good news is that number is down from last year (almost 54% less), it’s still a whole lot of foreclosures to go through an already inundated court system.
In March 2011, the foreclosure filings setting before the Miami courts were almost 60,000 (58,000+ per the Office of State Court Administrators). With these numbers, the now famous Florida Rocket Docket was created specifically to deal with the overwhelming number of foreclosure filings. The Rocket Docket is over now.
Last Friday, Miami-Dade Judge Jennifer Bailey held a public meeting to explain what will be happening in Miami foreclosure courts, starting next month. (Judge Bailey may be a name that Florida homeowners recognize: she was the judge who tossed 15,000 foreclosure cases out the window because of irregularities.)
The New Miami-Dade Foreclosure Court Process as of July 1, 2011
These new budget-saving changes include:
- the retired judges that had been hired to hear the foreclosure docket will no longer preside;
- four (4) judges pulled from their own dockets will be assigned to hear foreclosure cases that are 24 months old, or older;
- volunteers pulled from local law schools will screen foreclosure case files for irregularities;
- paid case file screeners will no longer be employed by the county; and
- notices will be sent by electronic mail, saving time and money in keeping track of all that paper.
What Does This Mean to Foreclosure Defense and Florida Homeowners Dealing with Foreclosure?
While the Rocket Docket failed, its intent was laudable: find a way to efficiently deal with the unprecedented number of foreclosure filings effectively and efficiency. When the paperwork that has been filed cannot be trusted for its accuracy, then a real wrench is thrown into an already overwhelmed system.
The problems haven’t changed: lots of filings in the system, more filings every month, and paperwork that must be reviewed because of massive fraud concerns.
Bottom line, with the best of intentions, the Miami-Dade foreclosure process just got slower. No way around it.