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Miami-Dade Circuit Court Facing Rocket-Docket Accusations - P. 1

Foreclosure cases continue to flood Florida's court dockets. In order to deal with this tremendous backlog, the Florida Legislature distributed $6 million dollars to the state's circuit courts.

Miami-Dade County is facing the largest foreclosure backlog in the state. The county has received $862,053 in order to handle the 79,000 cases in its backlog. However, the money comes with a one-year deadline to close out 52,000 foreclosure cases by June 30, 2011. If achieved, this would be the greatest number of cases ever resolved in one year's time.

Miami-Dade Circuit Court is using the allocated funds to implement a three-tiered approach to foreclosure cases. All foreclosures filed after January 1, 2009, will stay with circuit court judges. Those filed before 2009 will be heard by senior judges in a floating courtroom that changes locations. Cases that are ready for a summary judgment hearing will go to a foreclosure master calendar, which is also staffed by senior judges.

This approach has prompted some to call the court a "rocket-docket," focused solely on closing cases as quickly as possible. Circuit Judge Jennifer D. Bailey strongly disagrees. Bailey, who oversees the Miami-Dade civil division, asserts that the court is working diligently to maintain the integrity of the legal process while closing foreclosure cases.

Still, some attorneys representing homeowners are worried about the new approach. They find that hiring senior judges whose only task is to hear summary judgments and close cases is making the system biased towards lenders.

In our next blog post, we will further discuss concerns and criticism surrounding the Miami-Dade Circuit Court's new approach to foreclosure cases.

Source: "Miami Court Aims to Clear Out 52,000 Foreclosure Cases by June" 9/21/10

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