FORECLOSURE BACKLOG REDUCTION PLAN FOR THE STATE COURTS SYSTEM: Recommendations of the Foreclosure Initiative Workgroup

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Recognizing that a significant number of mortgage foreclosure cases are pending in the trial courts (approximately 358,000 as of February 2013) and that an estimated 680,000 additional foreclosure cases will be filed between FY 2012/13 and FY 2015/16, Judge Margaret Steinbeck, Chair of the Trial Court Budget Commission (TCBC), established the Foreclosure Initiative Workgroup (Workgroup) and tasked members with:

(1) identifying barriers that currently exist in foreclosure case resolution;
(2) proposing strategies to improve the foreclosure process; and
(3) developing a proposed supplemental budget request for workforce and technology resources.

The Workgroup determined that foreclosure cases should be brought into compliance with state time standards, consistent with rule 2.250, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, clearance rates need to be improved, and the due process rights of the litigants must be protected, while maintaining the integrity of the process. Rule 2.545, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, states that “Judges and lawyers have a professional obligation to conclude litigation as soon as it is reasonably and justly possible,” and provided the Workgroup with the underlying principle for development of its plan.

The Workgroup identified two fundamental causes of delay in the resolution of foreclosure cases: (1) plaintiffs do not appear to be inclined to seek disposition of pending foreclosure cases in an expeditious manner; and (2) paperwork and procedural problems continue to exist in foreclosure cases.

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