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Florida Foreclosure Decisions Skewed Toward Banks

The Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board voiced strong condemnation of Florida’s newest “foreclosure rocket docket,” part of the state’s effort to plow through a backlog of cases in the wake of the housing crisis.

The problem was highlighted in a recent article published by The Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit investigative news organization. The piece detailed how the courts, working under explicit instructions from the state Legislature and Florida Supreme Court, are pushing quickly through each case, often by trampling homeowner rights and awarding thousands of homes to banks – regardless of whether the financial giants have the proper paperwork as required by law. As our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers previously noted, this new approach has compromised the entire court system, leaving borrowers overwhelmingly wronged.

The Sentinel editorial characterized it as a form of bribery, akin to banks slipping judges cash-filled envelopes in exchange for favorable verdicts. Were it that blatant, the public would be outraged. What’s occurring is less obvious, but potentially no less corrupting, as money is being funneled indirectly from the banks to the courts in order to keep the foreclosure courts open.

Right now, foreclosure cases are being heard in separate courts operating on $36 million allocated from Florida’s $335 million share of the national mortgage fraud settlement paid by banks. Judges are being pressured to clear these cases fast, before that money runs out.

This is especially concerning when you consider one of the primary reasons a backlog exists is because of the banks’ own shoddy and sometimes illegal actions – like robo-signing documents – in an attempt to win foreclosure cases that flooded the court system after the housing bubble. Florida was hit especially hard, and it’s worth noting too that the bubble was created by banks and mortgage servicers pushing inflated loans on unsuspecting buyers who couldn’t afford them. Banks then bundled those loans and sold them to investors without revealing the risk. Among those investors? The U.S. government, and in turn, taxpayers.

In other words, the banks’ money, paid as punishment for wrongdoing, is now funding a foreclosure system in Florida that almost always favors banks. The homeowners and public have paid the price for the greed of banks and mortgage servicers at every turn, and it continues to this day.

The Sentinel’s editorial board had some solid ideas for how to address these issues, starting with instructions to judges.

The panel urged the Florida Supreme Court to issue directives making it clear judges aren’t expected to clear these cases at all costs. Next, the legislature needs to find a way to supply adequate, steady funding so judges have enough time to make the right decision, in full consideration of the rights of all parties involved.

There is no question the backlog is being cleared quickly. In fact, some foreclosure judges are ruling on more than 100 motions in a single day. The tradeoff, however, is that people who are fighting to keep their homes are unfairly losing that fight. That’s a disservice not only to them, but to our communities and further to the public, which is entitled to the expectation the courts to serve impartially and in accordance with the law.

If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Bruce Jacobs & Associates for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on “Debt Warriors with Bruce Jacobs,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.

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