South Florida's Rocket Docket Rises Again

Rocket The last thing I want to do is scold a judge. But once again foreclosure judges down in Miami-Dade are resorting to old habits, and there is no way I can stand by idly and let the rule of law be trampled on.

Because the rocket docket has risen from the grave and returned to South Florida. Don’t believe me?

The judge seeing the cases said it for me! He was quoted in the Miami Herald, calling his court a “rocket docket” and admitting he holds about 50 trials a day.

Courts across Florida have received hundreds of thousands of dollars to add judges and staff to their undermanned courtrooms. That’s good. But the response in Miami-Dade goes right back to pushing homeowners and lenders back onto an industrial pipeline.

It’s pure lunacy. Once again homeowners’ fundamental constitutional rights are being tossed aside by the Court in favor of expediency. So in other words, we are right back where we started.

Is there still a massive backlog clogging the foreclosure courts in Florida? Yes. Will clearing those cases off the docket help our economy move onward and upward?

Absolutely. But fixing the economy has never been, and was never meant to be, the role of the court.
I can’t disagree more with Miami-Dade Judge Jennifer Bailey, who said in the Herald “We’ve been charged by the Supreme Court with this funding to move these cases.’’

Your job, with all due respect, has always been to make sure that the legal process is upheld. Pure and simple.

It is wrong for the court to allow a lender or a servicer to present a case if they don’t have standing, if they aren’t the true owner of the note. It was true during the first round of rocket dockets, and absolutely nothing has changed.

Again, we are facing probably the darkest chapter in the history of the Florida judicial system. And in the end, people will look none too kindly upon those players were involved in this travesty of justice.

I honestly thought that rocket dockets were in our past. With all the information made public over the last few years, I thought judges were no longer worried that a homeowner might get a “free home”.

As unfortunate as it is, criminals sometimes walk free in our society, in order to preserve the integrity of the system.

Look no further than the O.J. Simpson case.

In all likelihood, he killed two people in cold blood but because of improprieties by the police and, and likely by the court itself, OJ Simpson was found not guilty.

And so, if the banks, as we know, have acted improperly in many cases and situations in connection with the foreclosure crisis have done things wrong, the likely outcome will be that certain people may end up with a home for free.

But that is the price to pay to maintain the integrity of the judicial system. The judges themselves should be the ones protecting that system as opposed to being more concerned about the size of their docket and the expediency of the procedures and processes.

A few free homes are a rather small price to pay for a rule of law that is sacrosanct.

I’ve yet to see a single criminal judge push a case to trial merely because their docket was overloaded. If they tried it, I suspect there would be a mass riot.

But we have allowed foreclosure judges to do just that because of the economic distortion that the banks and the politics that control our economy have caused.

And as such the consumer and homeowner are left basically powerless.

In the criminal justice system you have an equal number of players that have a sufficient stake in the system. But in our foreclosure courts we don’t have enough vested interests in protecting the integrity of the system anymore.

In the old days, we had the judges and we had the lawyers who were concerned about not just the outcomes but the processes and the procedures.

And now we’re finding that because the system is so fractured and so stressed people are much more worried about the outcome and that could lead to the demise of the very system that we’re trying to protect.

So what do we do? We fight. We fight. We fight for what’s right.

If the judges are so concerned about the foreclosure backlog, then maybe they ought to petition the legislature to change the law.

I say go ahead, change the law if you want to. Be my guest.

But until the law is changed, judges, lawyers, and those who go before the court have to follow the law.

Real estate attorney Roy Oppenheim left Wall Street for Main Street, founding Oppenheim Law along with his wife in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is vice president of Weston Title.



Tags: constitutional rights, expediency, Florida judicial system, foreclosure, foreclosure court, foreclosure judges, jennifer bailey, miami dade, Rocket Docket, rule of law, South Florida

2 responses to “South Florida's Rocket Docket Rises Again”

  1. […] Bloomberg BNA on many legal topics – from the “dubious constitutionality” of so-called rocket dockets, to why the planet’s biggest banks must be broken up to remain […]

  2. jendenmen says:

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