The Florida Supreme Court recently issued an administrative order adopting recommendations for additional judicial resources and process improvements to work through the state’s backlog of foreclosures more quickly and fairly.
In February, a total of 358,000 foreclosure cases remained pending in Florida.
“In mortgage foreclosure proceedings, as with all types of cases, courts are obligated to ensure that the rights of parties are protected and the integrity of the judicial process is maintained,” Chief Justice Ricky Polston wrote. “Judges and lawyers also have a professional obligation to conclude litigation as soon as it is reasonably and justly possible.”
The court’s recommendations are based on an April report by the Foreclosure Initiative Workgroup of the Trial Court Budget Commission.
The initiative requires training for judges, general magistrates, and case managers in order to implement case management procedures with new personnel, technology, performance measures, and reporting requirements.
Through the initiative, the state plans to add more than 50 general magistrates to the court system workforce this year.
The administrative order requires the chair of the Trial Court Budget Commission select a faculty-trained judge to coordinate with the Office of the State Courts Administrator to develop a training program for each circuit. The court is requiring the training program be implemented by the fall.
A core team for each circuit will include at least one circuit civil judge, one case manager, at least one senior judge, and one general magistrate if the circuit plans to use general magistrates to hear foreclosure cases.
The new magistrates must attend both phases of the Florida Judicial College within their first year of service, unless they are assigned to hear residential mortgage foreclosure cases only.
The Office of the State Courts Administrator is set to develop a condensed version of the college’s general magistrate education program.
The court acted in AOSC13-27.