In 2012, five of the nation's largest banks agreed to pay billions of dollars to settle state and federal claims of mortgage servicing, foreclosure and bankruptcy abuses. This National Mortgage Settlement provided payments to signing states, including Florida, to help fund foreclosure prevention efforts. From its share of the settlement funds, Florida allocated $31 million to address the state's foreclosure backlog. The funding created special court divisions dedicated solely to foreclosures, and enlisted senior judges and extra court staff to expedite the foreclosure process.

In essence, court personnel were specially hired to reduce the foreclosure timeline, and push cases to judgment faster. Although the intention was to move homes out of foreclosure and back into the market, this pressure to clear out the backlog created an uneven playing field in favor of the banks. Retired judges often heard hundreds of foreclosure cases each day. This assembly-line foreclosure process prioritized speed over the rights of homeowners.

Fortunately, Florida's backlog initiative expired on June 30, 2015. As the special funding came to an end, many judicial circuits closed their foreclosure courts and reassigned cases to regular circuit judges. The Ninth Judicial Circuit, for example, announced the end of its “rocket-docket” foreclosure divisions due to loss of court money. Among other changes, judges also amended their scheduling procedures for foreclosure hearings.

Now, most courts handle foreclosures just like any other civil matter. Foreclosure cases receive a more thorough and appropriate review from judges, and homeowners generally have additional time to work out loan modifications (or other possibilities). Less pressure to plow through cases means more fairness in the foreclosure process.