After six years, and thousands of cases, the rocket docket is slowly making its exit from the courts of South Florida, with Lee County being one of the first regions to see it go. In its peak, the docket saw 2,665 foreclosure lawsuits filed in Lee County back in October 2008. This previous April, that number was 101. Throughout the rest of South Florida, including Miami-Dade, we find that the number of new foreclosures has dropped approximately 80 percent from their respective peaks. The fact is, the rocket docket simply isn’t needed anymore. Like Blockbuster Video or landline telephones, its time is up.
Proponents of the rocket docket assure that it succeeded in dealing with the immense wave of foreclosure cases present during the housing crash, while opponents of the expedited process contend that the courts sometimes pushed for a quick foreclosure, even if an agreement was attempting to be made. The fact of the matter is, many foreclosure cases were not given a fair process under the rocket docket, and most will not shed any tears in its disappearance from the law.
What’s next for foreclosure cases?
As of April 2015, there were 1,853 remaining backlogged cases in Lee County. That’s a lot lower than the 30,000 cases in late 2008, but they’re not out of the woods yet. With the removal of the rocket docket, an influx of these cases into the traditional dockets is inevitable. This will result in longer cases and slower dispositions, which is not necessarily a negative for either party involved.
We will keep a close eye on the development of the process in Lee County and observe the types of setbacks that might arise from moving foreclosure cases to the traditional docket. This will help us prepare for the change when the Rocket Docket is phased out in Miami-Dade, Broward and West Palm Beach.