Florida Appellate Court Orders Lee County Officials To Respond To ACLU Lawsuit

April 19, 2011

Lawsuit Charges That “Mass Foreclosure Docket” Ignores Procedural Safeguards In Rush To Clear Cases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

LAKELAND, FL – Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal today ordered the state’s 20th Judicial Circuit to respond within 20 days to claims in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that a special foreclosure court system systematically denies homeowners a fair chance at defending their homes against foreclosure.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit April 7 charging that the special “mass foreclosure docket” established in Lee County, FL in December 2008 operates under rules that differ substantially from those that govern the rest of the county’s civil cases. That docket was designed to speed through as many foreclosure cases as possible without providing homeowners facing foreclosure a meaningful opportunity to develop their cases or present defenses, according to the petition.

The following can be attributed to Rachel Goodman, an attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program:

“By ordering the circuit court to account for its practice of prioritizing speed over accuracy, which robs homeowners of their due process rights, the appellate court clearly recognizes that there are serious issues at play here. It is incumbent upon the courts to ensure that the rights of homeowners are protected and that they get a fair opportunity to protect their homes.”

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