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ACLU Challenges Lack of Due Process Protections in Florida’s “Foreclosure Courts”

American Civil Liberties Union logo

by Mike on April 6, 2011

They’ve heard enough about foreclosure funny business in Lee County, and they’re not gonna take it anymore. Who am I talking about? Why, the ACLU, of course. On Thursday they’re going to file a Writ of Certiorari—essentially, a special petition—with the Court of Appeals for the Second District of Florida, challenging the “rocket docket” procedures that Lee County has applied to foreclosure cases, calling them unconstitutional deprivations of due process.

Some of the violations may include:

  • Appearance of bias by the judiciary—for example, making homeowners stand behind a rail several feet away from the judge, straining to hear the bank lawyers who get to walk right up to the bench and make their arguments.
  • Scheduling “docket soundings” and other hearings in violation of long-standing rules of civil procedure, which unfairly burdens defendants who have to show up for nothing more than status checks, unauthorized by rule or law.
  • Rulings by judges that expressly strip procedural protections from foreclosure cases in ways that tilt the playing field in favor of the plaintiffs.
  • The emphasis on speed and “clearing out the backlog” instead of dispensing justice fairly.

The idea that foreclosure courts ought to be just as fair as any other courts to everyone who enters them—not just a judgment-dispensing service for banks—is hugely important even if it seems obvious to all of us who don’t work for banks. The ACLU is doing a great thing by standing up and fighting for this, no matter the ultimate outcome. The good news is that the Second DCA and the Florida Supreme Court are two courts that have been paying attention to fairness in foreclosure cases, and they’re likely to offer some relief here.

The ACLU press release is available in PDF.

Update

The brief has been filed and is available online.

Want to know more? Contact us at Ricardo & Wasylik, PL.

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