Florida Supreme Court Is Overburdened with Foreclosure Cases
Florida Supreme Court is overburdened with foreclosure cases and is calling for 68 new judges to manage the pile. The cases also relate to increasing criminal activities arising from abandoned foreclosed units. The Supreme Court made this report to the Legislature. The request is for additional 29 circuit judges and 39 county judges. No new appellate judges were asked for.
Peggy Quince also requested the legislators not to further make cuts on strength of the staff. She noted that the legislators have reduced the staff by 301 during the last year and the current budget year although the number of cases has gone up. The bulk of the cases (396%) deal with foreclosures for two years ending 30th June 2008.
The legislators have greatly reduced the budget of the state because of sharp drops in tax collections. Quince said in writing, “This court acknowledges that our state and our nation are experiencing an unparalleled economic crisis. Nonetheless, there comes a time when making necessary adjustments in order to sustain budget reductions cascades into crippling the daily operations of an entire branch of government.”
Despite these constraints the legislators agreed that funding of the courts has to be maintained. No additional cuts were initiated in the judicial system. Additional funds were created on the other hand through increase of traffic fines and allowing judges to impose criminal fines even while withholding adjudication of the guilt.
The demand for additional judges was founded on a study that considered not only volume of cases but also the complexity of the suits and the time judges required to deal with them. Victor Crist (Republican – Tampa) said, “ We’re going to take this information into consideration. We’re going to take it very seriously.”
The approval of additional judges will depend on the availability of funds explained Crist. If it was insufficient then the request would have to be kept pending for the following year. It was also noted by him that the number of cases had dropped since the completion of the study and perhaps the situation was getting corrected by itself.
The legislature has a Republican majority. So far it has resisted from taking steps to increase taxes to supplement loss of revenue.
Governor Charlie Crist (Republican) is another individual and not the same as the senator of the same name. He has suggested a budget that would initiate fewer cuts for the following fiscal year that starts off from 1st July. It would be possible to do this by relying heavily on federal grants and also by expanding gambling at Seminole Indian casinos.