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Peggy Palms
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Nationwide Real Estate Investing Consultant
Nationwide Real Estate Investing Consultant

76 followers
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Peggy Palms is an Attorney, Real Estate Broker, Author, and Real Estate Investment Consultant.
 She can be reached at http://www.PeggyPalms.com or 828-265-1008

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Florida uses non-judges to clear foreclosure backlog

With tens of thousands of foreclosure cases clogged in
the state's courts, the Florida Supreme Court is
signing off on a plan to use lawyers — and not judges
— to handle them.  The court on Thursday issued an
order that will allow chief judges across the state to
use "general magistrates" to process foreclosure cases.
 The order, which was approved by all seven justices,
called the move a "vehicle to provide additional
judicial resources to efficiently process those cases."
 Florida — which has had one of the nation's highest
foreclosure rates since the start of the Great
Recession — has strained to deal with the number of
foreclosures filed across the state. A recent report by
a workgroup put together by the state court system
estimated that nearly 400,000 cases are now pending in
the state and 700,000 more could arise over the next
three years.  The state has turned to senior judges to
help with the workload, but a recent change to state
retirement laws means that a judge must wait a year
after retirement before returning to the courthouse.

That led a group of judges and administrators to
petition the Supreme Court in April to take the
emergency step of authorizing the use of non-judges.
The Florida Legislature recently passed a bill (SB
1852) that authorized spending nearly $31 million to
help pay for ways to reduce the backlog of foreclosure
cases.  State Courts Administrator Lisa Goodner noted
that one judicial circuit based in Gainesville is
already using magistrates to process foreclosure cases.
She also pointed out that final orders issued by
magistrates must still be reviewed by a judge before
becoming final.  But a key part of the state Supreme
Court order is that homeowners could have their case
automatically assigned to a non-judge unless they
object within 10 days.  The Supreme Court ruling also
states that lawyers who are appointed to handle
foreclosure cases cannot practice the "same case type"
of law in the county where they work as a magistrate.

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