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Florida Supreme Court Foreclosure Administrative Order (AOSC09-54)

Florida Supreme Court Foreclosure Administrative Order (AOSC09-54)

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Published by: FloridaLegalBlog on Feb 07, 2010
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06/03/2011

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Supreme Court of Florida
No. AOSC09-54IN RE: FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS ONRESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE CASESADMINISTRATIVE ORDERForeclosure case filings in Florida trial courts stood at nearly 369,000 inDecember 2008. At the beginning of the last quarter of 2009, foreclosure filingsstatewide totaled in excess of 296,000. Florida has the third highest mortgagedelinquency rate, the worst foreclosure inventory, and the most foreclosure starts inthe nation. At the close of 2009, it is estimated there will be an inventory of approximately 456,000 pending foreclosure cases statewide. The crisis continuesunabated.The Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases was establishedto respond on an emergency basis to the residential mortgage foreclosure crisis inFlorida.
1
In Re: Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases, AOSC09-8 (March 27, 2009). The 15-member Task Force issued a Final Report and1. The Task Force was asked to re
commend “policies, strategies, and
methods for easing the backlog of pending residential mortgage foreclosure cases
while protecting the rights of parties” through “mediation and other alternative
dispute resolution strategies, case management techniques, and approaches toproviding
 pro bono
or low-
cost legal assistance to homeowners.”
 
- 2-Recommendations on August 15, 2009.
2
The Final Report and Recommendationswas published for comment, and oral argument was held on November 4, 2009. Inits report, the Task Force identified lack of communication between plaintiffs andborrowers as the most significant issue impeding early resolution of foreclosurecases, and concluded that effective case management and mediation techniques arethe best methods the courts can employ to ensure that such communications occurearly enough in the case to avoid wasted time and resources for the courts and theparties.Recognizing that section 44.108, Florida Statutes, and statewide trial courtbudget policy considerations do not allow trial courts to collect fees for theprovision of circuit civil mediation services, the Task Force concluded that outsideentities would be needed to manage mediations on the scale required to address the
state’s
foreclosure crisis.Statewide Managed Mediation ProgramThe Task Force recommended adoption of a uniform, statewide managedmediation program to be implemented through a model administrative order to beissued by each circuit chief judge. Under this program, all foreclosure cases in the2. The Task Force met over a period of approximately 20 weeks. Duringthat time period, it conducted in-depth surveys and engaged in other outreachefforts to determine the impact of the foreclosure crisis on lenders and servicers,
 borrowers, attorneys and judges. The Task Force’s Final Report and
 
- 3-state courts that involve residential homestead property will be referred tomediation, unless the plaintiff and borrower agree otherwise or unless effectivepre-suit mediation that substantially complies with the managed mediationprogram requirements has been conducted. Referral of the borrower to foreclosurecounseling prior to mediation, early electronic exchange of borrower and lenderinfor
mation prior to mediation, and the ability of a plaintiff’s representative to
appear at mediation by telephone are features of the model administrative order.The Court approves this recommendation as the best method to opencommunication and facilitate problem-solving between the parties to foreclosurecases while conserving limited judicial resources. The Court therefore adopts, withminor chan
ges, the Task Force’s proposed model administrative order. The model
administrative order is incorporated into and appended to this AdministrativeOrder.As part of the managed mediation program, the Task Force recommendedspecific written parameters for qualifying providers of managed mediationservices, as appended to the model administrative order as Exhibit 13. The Courtadopts these standards for providers. It is crucial that these non-profitorganizations be independent of the judicial branch, capable of sustained operationwithout fiscal impact to the courts, politically and professionally neutral, and havea demonstrated ability to efficiently manage the extremely high volume of 

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