Archive for May 9th, 2013

Non-Judges May Decide Foreclosure Cases; My Filing in the Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court just issued this opinion, which amended Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.490 to authorize the use of magistrates (i.e. lawyers who are not judges) to preside over foreclosure hearings.  This sounds like a big change in foreclosure-world, and in some ways I suppose it is.  The prospect of a non-judge deciding a mortgage foreclosure case is certainly a big change for many consumers.

However, if anyone does not like the prospect of their foreclosure case being decided by a non-judge, all they have to do is interpose an objection.  Under the new version of Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.490, if an objection is filed within 10 days after the Order of Referral to Magistrate is entered, then the case is heard like the judge, like normal.  The “objection” need not have legal grounds, either.  The homeowner can simply say “I prefer the case to be heard by a judge,” and that’s what will happen.  Conversely, the homeowner can not object, choosing to let the case be heard by the magistrate, and if the plaintiff does not object, either, then a magistrate may adjudicate the case.

Essentially, the purpose of the Rule is to allow non-judges to adjudicate those cases where homeowners don’t care enough to defend the case (or, hence, to object to the magistrate).  It’s a way to help the courts through a backlog of cases.

The Court issued this opinion rather suddenly.  As a result, it welcomed the opportunity for anyone to submit a comment in response to the new Rule.  I see a problem with the Rule, as drafted, so I took the opportunity to draft a written comment, interposing my concern and suggested change.  Yes, I filed a Comment in the Florida Supreme Court, suggesting a change to the Rules.  Pretty cool.  Here it is:  Stopa Comment to Rule 1.490.

Mark Stopa

Posted in Main | 1 Comment »