The following article was written for HousingWire by Kerri Ann Panchuk on June 18, 2013, and is being republished in the South Florida Law Blog with comments from real estate and foreclosure defense attorney Roy Oppenheim .
When Florida’s Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 87 – the so-called foreclosure Rocket Docket bill – he had no idea he was opening another can of worms and potentially giving foreclosure defense attorneys more tools in their arsenal to delay foreclosures.
The bill was passed into law to deal with Florida’s drawn-out and troublesome foreclosure process. HB 87 aimed to streamline the foreclosure process, enacting reforms at the legislative level to jump-start foreclosures and expedite the process in one of the states hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis. (Click here to read more about the changes).
But while the bill has created procedural demands that challenge attorneys on both sides of a foreclosure, the bill itself could ultimately fail in its quest to speed up foreclosures in Florida, says foreclosure defense attorney Roy Oppenheim with Oppenheim Law.
Along with the many procedural changes, Oppenheim says the bill built in a series of potential constitutional violations that a foreclosure defense attorney could easily utilize as a tool to aid homeowners when challenging a foreclosure.
“They have given us new quivers in our satchel to use against the banks,” Oppenheim told HousingWire. “There is ambiguity, and it’s created confusion.”
Oppenheim says opportunities for constitutional challenges are scattered throughout the bill—namely in the fact that there is an allocation of judiciary responsibilities to the legislative branch in some cases. In addition, potential property rights issues are peppered throughout the bill, creating potential due process, equal protection or illegal takings claims under the Constitution. Other parts of the bill are retroactive, which is another constitutional issue, Oppenheim said.