Florida’s residential mortgage foreclosure managed mediation (RMFM) program is dead. Administrative Order No. AOSC11-44, signed yesterday by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, terminates the statewide mediation program.
The Court has reviewed the reports on the program and determined it cannot justify continuation of the program. Accordingly, upon issuance of this administrative order, the statewide managed mediation program is terminated. Cases already referred to and pending in a mediation program on the date of this order pursuant to the statewide managed mediation program will remain in the program through completion of mediation. After the date of this order, no new cases may be referred to mediation pursuant to the statewide managed mediation program.
The end of the program was not a big surprise to anyone who has been following this issue. The Court’s decision follows a panel recommendation from October that Florida’s twenty judicial circuits should be allowed to set up local mediation programs. I wrote about the panel’s report and recommendations here.
Where do we go from here? That depends on each circuit’s chief judge. The Administrative Order provides that circuit chief judges may “adopt or employ any measures permitted by statute or court rule to manage pending and new residential mortgage foreclosure cases, including referral of cases to mediation on a case-by-case basis pursuant to section 44.102, Florida Statues, and Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.700(a).”
It remains to be seen how each circuit is going to react. The logical question is whether circuit-by-circuit will be any more effective than mediations under the statewide program. Unless those programs address the root causes in failed mediations under the statewide program, I don’t expect to the see the dismal mediation success rate improve much.
If you’re interested in Florida foreclosure issues, I also encourage you to check out the Palm Beach Post which continues to do an excellent job covering Florida’s foreclosure crisis. Here’s a link to the Post’s article regarding the end of the RMFM program.