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Florida Court Denies ACLU’s ‘Foreclosure Docket’ Petition

Florida's ""Second District Court of Appeal"":http://www.2dca.org has denied a petition brought by the ""American Civil Liberties Union"":http://www.aclu.org (ACLU) alleging that the state's special ""mass foreclosure docket"" court system doesn't allow homeowners an opportunity to defend their homes against foreclosure.

The ACLU's petition zeroed in on Lee County and was filed in April on behalf of homeowner Georgi Merrigan of Cape Coral, Florida. ACLU requested to have Merrigan's foreclosure case re-assigned on the grounds that the Lee County court ""threatened to violate her due process rights under the U.S. and Florida constitutions.""

The civil rights group's petition represented the culmination of a months-long investigation, from which


the ACLU concluded that Florida's foreclosure ""rocket docket"" system, which was established in five counties including Lee, prioritized speed over accuracy and did not give homeowners the chance to present a defense.

The case before the appellate court was viewed as a pivotal one that the advocacy group hoped would provide precedence for other cases to be re-routed out of the ""rocket docket"" system.

Following the court's denial of the petition, the ACLU issued a call for ""trial courts across the state of Florida to reform their systems for deciding foreclosure cases.""

The special ""mass foreclosure docket"" was established in December 2008 to help clear the state's backlog of foreclosure cases.

State legislators did not renew funding for these special courts for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which begins in July.

""With last year's funding for these special foreclosure dockets running out, the approach going forward must be one that gives priority to ensuring a fair judicial proceeding and protecting the rights of those facing foreclosure and the loss of their home,"" said Larry Schwartztol, staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program. ""Any shortcuts that have been undertaken by the courts in Lee County and elsewhere in Florida need to come to an end.""

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.

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