A Look From The Florida "Rocket-Docket" Frontlines: "One Foreclosure Every Two Minutes"

Tyler Durden's picture

After Matt Taibbi stirred popular spirits last week with his expose on the Rocket Docket foreclosure mill currently operating in Florida, today CNNMoney's Poppy Harlow follows up with a look at just what happens at the front lines of the foreclosure mess. Per the report, “judges are signing off on up to 25 foreclosures an hour. That's one about every two minutes.” The official story, for those who have not had a chance to read Taibbi's piece, is that since Florida has the second highest foreclosure rate in the country, it is stuck with a huge case backlog that must be cleared. The goal is to clear 62% of the back log in one year.  These special foreclosure courts though, have become highly controversial, with critics dubbing them “rocket dockets,” and claiming judges are rushing through cases, unfairly favoring banks over homeowners. For once, we get the judges' side, which is rather hilarious: "there is no evidence, nothing has been presented to us in the 4th circuit, that there is any fraud being perpetrated upon the court. What is classified as fraud, can also be classified as sloppiness, can be classified as neglect, but the legal aspect of the word fraud, we do not experience that." Could it also be classified as bribery by the TBTF lobby we wonder?

The bottom line is that as the robosigning scandal has highlighted, should even a small percentage of the defendants show up in court demanding that the bank present the original mortgage note (which presumably is missing in a large number of cases), the rocket-docket process will become unfixably stalled, and in effect impose a stand still on all foreclosure activity, preventing banks from clearing excess inventory years into the future. Additionally, it may also allow homeowners to live for free (ethical considerations aside), once it becomes clear that there is no clear title holder to a given mortgage. We have the distinct feeling that very soon the rocket docket will be a thing of the past.


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tmosley's picture

Hey, at least they are slowing down and taking their time.  That's TWICE as much time as they used to devote to these things.

goldmiddelfinger's picture

Summary judgement arsewormz!

Hansel's picture

Great.  If a judge can't recognize obvious fraud, who can?

Fearless Rick's picture

If a judge doesn't see it, then it's not fraud </sarc>

detersbb's picture

Hey Judge I have an affidavit that say I own your mortgage.

Hey Judge I have an affidavit that say I lost your original note.

Hey Judge I have an affidavit that say I you are in default.

Hey Judge I have an affidavit that say I you have failed to respond and have agreed to a public auction on your house.


Hey Judge are you going to see this as fraud?

Careless Whisper's picture

"I am not there to, uuhh, check every exhibit." The Honorable A C Soud

SheepDog-One's picture

I'd sure go in and demand to see the note from the judge. And in other news, dollar up now means stocks up, blowing up another market paradigm myth, apparently. Well for this hour anyway. Maybe its ust a bunch of frontrunners running other frontrunners.

What a joke.

LoneStarHog's picture

I am still waiting to see the reaction when a screwed homeowner fires the first shot, following Gerald Celente's Thesis:  When people lose everything and have nothing to lose, they lose it.

SheepDog-One's picture

A guy here attacked a judge, beat him, and made him eat his own beard. :D

But it wont be on CNBC or NY Times.

pat53's picture

The woman can't pay her mortgage, but has 2 dogs running around. LOL

LoneStarHog's picture

The woman can't pay her mortgage, but has 2 kids running around. -- The difference is?

Gone Full Retard's picture

You can always eat your babies if things get reals toughs?

goldmiddelfinger's picture

Poppy Harlow? Her parents didn't hate her?






chindit13's picture

Don't know why this would be junked, unless ZH has a lot of Florida judges.  Clever stuff, Mr. Bonzai.

fuu's picture

Your work just keeps getting better and better.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture


Courtesy flush please! I'm begging you. Have some decency, will ya?

rapacious rachel wants to know's picture
rapacious rachel wants to know (not verified) Nov 15, 2010 11:03 AM

Fraud? I don't see no fraud. Do you see fraud? Sir, we have standards. You'll have to get in that line over there to place your so called evidence into the system. See it, the one that curls round the corner and out to the street where the police are arresting loiterers?

No Mas's picture

Another day, another disappointment for those here at ZH.  I have offered a clarification on this before, but since these kinds of articles continue to pop up, here is another look into the future regarding forclosures:

Banks will make money; lawyers will make more money.  No one will have to "show me the note."

Mortgage holders who default will be kicked to the curb where they will become renters, subsidized via Section 8 programs around the country. 

Mark to market will never be in the FASB playbook again and the Fed will never "exit" from the toxic assests purchased in QE 1.  Moderate inflation will be the norm and life will, inexplicably to most ZH readers, go on.

Now back into your bukers boys, bad news is-a-comin'!!!

Fearless Rick's picture

Sung to the tune of "Jet Song" from "West Side Story"

When you're a judge, 
You're a judge on the take
From your first robo-signer 
To your last banker's take. 

When you're a judge, 
If the shit hits the fan, 
Appeals denied, 
You're in Florida, man! 

You never are wrong, 
And always so respected! 
The homes no one own
bank errors are neglected, 
No fraud detected! 

Then you are set 
With a big BofA, 
Which you always will get 
Till they cuff you some day. 
When you're in jail, 
You'll stay a Judge! 

Gimp's picture

Fraud in Florida?  Only half the elected officials in South Florida end up in jail for some sort of corruption. Half of the Palm Beach County Commissioners are either serving time or have been sentenced to prison in the past five years. The FBI has a huge office in North Miami Beach w 500+ agents and they can't keep up with the on-going bribes and corruption. No fraud here, move along.

MaldelBot's picture

Yeah. And we've only had like 75% of all convicted Ponzi schemers.


and the fed opened up a branch here to deal with all the paper money making it's way from overseas.


Yup, nada que ver a qui amigos. Move along....vamos.


(BTW am I the only one that wants to kill myself every time I see the Jim fucking Cramer add to my right?)

StychoKiller's picture

Go to:


Follow the directions for installation, and most ads won't even get loaded by your browser.

LloydCata's picture

Bush put a gun to Musharraf's head and the US Army used Pakistan

as a doormat to enter Afghanistan.

Goldman Sachs put a gun to Obama's head and the Banksters used the White House

as a platform to control the American economy.

Musharraf will return to Pakistan. Obama will return to Chicago.

Neither gun was loaded, because the blowback for using the gun would have been

more severe than the alternative...but neither victim had the brass to find out.



Almost Solvent's picture

It was Hank Paulson (Goldman Saks) who put the gun to GWB's head and the Banksters used the White House and stayed along for the ride with Obama.


there, fixed it fer ya.



Gone Full Retard's picture

Can some explains this to me. I think my house was improperly foreclosed on because I did not pay my mortgage and everyone else is doings these strategic defaults so I said thats easy I can do this too.

What can I do? Can I sue the bank?

Fearless Rick's picture

Sure, just sue the bank. Sounds so simple. You blew it on the first go-round, by not contesting the foreclosure. Now, do you have $5k to pay a lawyer? No? Sorry, but a little knowledge is a terrible thing.

Gone Full Retard's picture

Can I get one of the free houses? Like mines? For free?

I knew a girl in High School. Her name was Contessa... I wonder if she got a free house? Do you know?

Almost Solvent's picture

It's easy to get your house back representing yourself (pro se).


Just head on down to your local courthouse and they will help you get your house back.


(/sarcasm, although I'm sure you're serious)

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

At 2:55 in the video.

Reporter: But are two or three minutes, is that enough time to look at a foreclosure case and make that final judgement?

Head Judge: Most of the cases where you see a property owner not there, that means that property owner has defaulted. So, when that is the case, then three minutes that the lawyers who we know say that everything is in order, then we feel like that's adequate time.

Reporter: But the lawyers represent the banks. Doesn't the judge need to look for his or her self?

Head Judge: We are not. I am not there to check every exhibit.


So the real question is this. What is the purpose of the presiding judge? To make sure the law is followed, even if the defendant doesn't show? Or to simply accept the word of "lawyers who we know" that all is in order?

Considering the voluminous MSM stories regarding missing paperwork and robo signed documents, should the judge presume the paperwork is in order after a superficial check at best and that the lawyers are acting in the best interest of the people's court?

That's what this is all about. The lawyers are presumed to be acting ethically and properly and are given great leeway when problems are discovered simply because they are "lawyers whom we know", meaning part of the club.

Presumably a lawyer from out of town (but from within the State) won't get this type of treatment.

fuu's picture

I just want to know how we fight the death of the rule of law.

Bob's picture

Yeah, I heard that too.  I don't think that presumption is literally limited to attorney's they know, however.  I think club membership alone is sufficient--consider the 100% rate of adjournments (postponements) for plaintiffs who don't have their cases "in order" (including even demonstrating standing!) when defendants show up with representation of their own. 

Sad, too, that CNN would appear to have cherry picked a case that would on its face garner no sympathy for the defendant . . . and even then failed to even say what the plaintiff bank's "paperwork" deficiency was.

CNN failed to really inform us of any of the substance of the allegations of fraud other than the speed at which cases are processed.  So lame!

MachoMan's picture

I think the biggest issue here is that the lawyers may not even be aware of the issues surrounding title...  in other words, they never look at the chain of title...  the client comes in, says I'm the holder, they show an affidavit and a lineage of assignments, we do a cursory inspection, and head to court.  As attorneys, now that the issue has come to everyone's attention, we have no excuses not to inspect the documents more carefully we submit to the court.  Obviously, it is hard to implement a steadfast rule of diligence, but I believe in this particular case (the chain of title), it may be reasonable to expect attorneys (now that we all know of the issues) to perform due diligence on the chain of title... 

that said, the mechanisms are already in place for the fraud committed by the plaintiffs...  and no new rule is necessary...  you practice fraud on the court, you risk getting your judgment overturned.  Simple as that.  The court will also likely be required by the ethics committee to report the issue and the attorneys responsible...  so they will be reprimanded with fines/suspension/disbarment.

The rocket dockets simply expediently get those foreclosures out of the way where people refuse to contest the foreclosure (BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY ARE NOT MAKING PAYMENTS AND ARE NOT ENTITLED TO KEEP THE PLACE).  If you think that there may be an issue with your chain of title, you are always free to utilize discovery to make that determination and, if so, as a defense to the action.  No one is playing hide the ball...  the documents in the cases finding fraud are fraud and caught because they are patently fraudulent...  (acknowlegments before conveyance, etc.).

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

My main question was.....what is the role of the judge(s) in this matter? I thought the judge was supposed to make sure the rules are followed if nothing else.

Considering s/he is "approving" the foreclosure, what amount of due diligence is required of him or her to make sure the law is followed, particularly if (but not just because) the defendant doesn't show?

RichardENixon's picture

You are making the assumption that what the judge is supposed to do is what the judge is actually doing.

MachoMan's picture

The role of the judge essentially varies with the judge (I really am trying to answer the question).  Given our adversarial system, most of the issues of fraudulent acknowledgments/robo signing/etc. are beyond the court's purview.  Essentially, the court relies upon the adversarial position of the parties to come to the proper conclusion.  When one of the parties defaults and makes no appearance in court, the judge only has one barking dog in his ear.  Given the adversarial system, it is not the court's providence to make the defaulting party's arguments for him.  Some issues may be raised sua sponte, but by and large, the court just listens to the facts as presented by the only party there and then rules according to those facts.

Back to my original point, although not necessarily required to, some judges take it upon themselves to assure themselves at least most of the documents are ok on their face and they'll do a cursory audit.  This is where they may uncover patently fraudulent documents (latently fraudulent transactions cannot be determined unless admitted).  Given the amount of documentation involved in these cases and the size of the docket, there simply is not very much time to dedicate to a complete and total audit of all the documents presented.  As a result, a safeguard has been built into the rules of civil procedure, that allows judgments to be set aside in the event someone commits a fraud upon the court.

The court's job is to administer justice.  However, the degree of administration is hamstrung by the policy of judicial efficiency.  Where there is a dispute, judicial efficiency largely prevails.  Meaning, the court has limited resources and incredible demand for its time and as a policy measure, we've said push these things through and in the event there is a major problem, they can always revisit the issue with the court.

In summary, there are a myriad of competing factors and basically you're seeing one of the problems with an adversarial court system...  when one of the adversaries doesn't show up, justice may not be administered as best as could be.  Of course, the other side of the argument is that justice is always properly served against a party who slumbers on his right to defend himself.

Often times, practically speaking, courts are not much different than the robostampers...

been there done that's picture

OK, Question for all the smart people here on ZH.  What happens to home prices in hhigh inflation starts or even Hyper-inflation?  Is this why the banks are finally throwing people out? so they can't pat off debts easily like in Russia with worthless paper??? Gonzalo Lira seems to think that housing will FALL.  I realize most people need credit and now there is less, or none, so how can it rise? Oil/food/ bsic necessities/imports YES but housing???  Please weigh in.  Thanks,  Mr. Been There



Caviar Emptor's picture

Gonzalo is in the biflation camp, the one I've been banging the drum for here for a long time. There can be simultaneous inflation and deflation. Housing is vulnerable especially if raw materials and other input costs go up because US consumers will have less disposable income, less credit and less confidence. 

Bottom line, if the cost of homeownership and the cost of living rise, real estate will be under severe pressure.

Caviar Emptor's picture

Don' you get it? Rocket Docket is just a test case. You gotta think big: 

Foreclosure mills will expand to include small biz loan defaults, muni debt defaults, state government defaults and yes, even US debt defaults when the timing is right. 

It's the only way out: mark down the debt and start over. 

JW n FL's picture

If the Banks are allowed to foreclose on $2.4 Trillion dollars worth of Peoples homes... that will be bad... for the Economy of the United States...


If the Banks are forced to refi all those 15% loans into 2% performing loans... the home prices will stabilize and the secondary market will have performing paper to trade...


If you are not smart enough to understand that, do the United States and favor and go shoot your-fucking-self... before you damage the rest of us any more.

Joe Davola's picture

You might have a look at the HAMP stats.

MachoMan's picture

Who picks up the tab on the difference?  You?

MachoMan's picture

Who picks up the tab on the difference?  You?

JW n FL's picture

2% v. 15%.... the original loan amount need not change... thusly? what difference? 9% interest? that was bundled up and sold off at plus par... to be cut up and re-sold off at plus, plus par... to squared fucking infinity?


How about for $700b in TARP and the 0% FED window used to pay back those TARP funds we call it even.. as far as the potential losses?


So, the banks who sold this shit off at plus par... are we the people going, never mind we already have...


Putbacks? what do you mean who is paying for the difference you fucking idiot?

MachoMan's picture

Sure, if you want to control all the constraints of waiving the magical wand and making americans solvent, then we can create any number of possible solutions.  The post before mine was correct, what happens to loans that are attempted to be reformed and made into performing?  Essentially, the fact of the real world, is that homeowners are hopelessly underwater and up to their eyeballs in ancillary debt.  In short, they have literally no ability to perform at ANY rate of interest.  Hell, you could come in at a severely negative rate and still people couldn't pay for it.

The other issue is, how do you change the interest rate of an instrument without affecting its value?  How do we refinance without paying off the note?  Who pays for the costs of refinancing?  In other words, who picks up the difference?

de Cosmos's picture

The law is an ass.

And, some people are very deeply into it.