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On May 9, the Florida Supreme Court decided that foreclosures would be handled by lawyers instead of judges. Prior to the change, tens of thousands of foreclosure cases created a huge backlog within the court system. The court felt that the switch would use judicial resources more effectively.

The Supreme Court order added certain stipulations. Homeowners have the right to object to a non-judge review of their foreclosure and can request a judge within 10 days. Attorneys who handle foreclosures cannot handle similar cases in same county where they practice.

However, attorneys who represent the homeowners criticized the change. One lawyer said that someone who might lose their home has the right to appear before a judge who must then answer to voters. He added that the problem is a lack of judges and overall funding in the courts.

Florida has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. One report gave approximate numbers of almost 400,000 foreclosure cases and estimated that an additional 700,000 more could flood the system in the next three years.

A bill recently enacted by the Florida Legislature allocated more than $30 million to help resolve the flood of cases. In one city, magistrates already review foreclosure cases and do most of the work. A judge then gives the final stamp of approval to the documents.

The Florida Legislature enacted another bill that places a greater burden of proof on banks to show that they hold the mortgage. However, one opponent wants the governor to veto the legislation and thinks it will cause additional problems for homeowners.

If someone faces a foreclosure, they need to know that it will be handled appropriately. A bankruptcy attorney with a track record of handling matters related to housing might be able to help clients with the legal process since few judges will be used in these types of proceedings.

Source: CBS4, “FL Supreme Court Signs Off On Plan To Eliminate Judges In Foreclosure Cases“, May 09, 2013