Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation in Florida - Implementation Challenges for an Institutionalized Program

Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation in Florida - Implementation Challenges for an Institutionalized Program

By Sharon Press

Sharon Press is Associate Professor and Director of the Dispute Resolution Institute at Hamline University School of Law. At the time the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases was created, she was the Director of the Florida Dispute Resolution Center and served as staff to the Task Force.

Excerpt from CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND THE ECONOMIC CRISIS: Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation in Florida - Implementation Challenges for an Institutionalized Program, 11 Nev. L.J. 306 (Spring 2011)


I. Introduction

Picture this: the biggest road out of town. Now imagine it is rush hour. In a thunderstorm. Add that it is also a hurricane evacuation. A lane is closed due to construction delayed by budget impacts. Imagine the traffic jam.

[Now] imagine every car is a case. The General Jurisdiction Courts ... have a certain amount of judicial infrastructure, just like there is a certain amount of room on the road. There is a certain capacity of judges, of court staff, of clerks, of filing space, of hearing time, of courtrooms, even of hours in the day. Year in, year out, that capacity flexes with the caseload traffic to afford reasonable, prompt, efficient and fair justice.

The enormous increase in foreclosure filings has overwhelmed those resources in many circuits and represents a caseload traffic jam that the infrastructure cannot meet in a timely and efficient manner without support and traffic management. 1

This Symposium is filled with examples from around the country of states grappling with how to respond to the economic crisis in general and the overwhelming number of mortgage foreclosure cases in particular. For states that require judicial intervention, 2 the severe economic downturn that led to increased demand for judicial resources also has left the judiciary without any excess capacity to absorb these cases. In Florida, the "foreclosure filings increased from 74,000 in 2006 to 370,000 in 2008, an increase of 400 percent," 3 and there was "no corresponding increase in court infrastructure ...

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