The Talking Dog

September 4, 2010, Justice Delayed, etc., etc.

A cautionary tale for everyone, as the great state of Florida (told to us via the Grey Lady) has set up "foreclosure only" courts to deal with that state's large, massive backlog of foreclosed properties. The innovative approach is to hire retired judges on a "temporary" basis to handle foreclosures only, and to do faster than the courts in general, which have to deal with crimes and divorces and injury and contract cases and everything else... can't seem to do.

From the Times piece:

No one disputes that foreclosures dominate Florida’s dockets and that something needs to be done to streamline a complex and emotionally wrenching process. But lawyers representing troubled borrowers contend that many of the retired judges called in from the sidelines to oversee these matters are so focused on cutting the caseload that they are unfairly favoring financial institutions at the expense of homeowners.

Now, that's LOL funny! Courts.... favoring the moneyed and/or the powerful? Oh man.... soda's coming out my nose... YOU THINK? Seriously... does anyone think special courts would be set up for the benefit of the borrowers? Please.

The genius of "divided government" on the Monstesquieu model (you know, three branches, executive and legislative and an "independent" judiciary) is that supposedly the people, when they are aggrieved, even against the other two branches of government itself, can take their specific grievances to the courts who will "independently" adjudicate them.

Thing is... judges are selected by the same political processes as the rest of government... sometimes elected, sometimes appointed, but there is no magical non-political process for it... it's always political, and hence, the moneyed and the powerful have their participation, and... well, judges (and other court personnel) are human beings, and now that ultimately, there are "constraints" and "reality" and "pragmatism" and all that... meaning that the well-off and/or powerful (usually represented by men, and yes, it's usually men, and usually White men, and invariably in nice suits, who work in really nicely appointed law firms)... have an "advantage" going in... by no means absolute, of course... except maybe in places like Florida... and well... you know.

One must admire the creation of an entire branch of government devoted to telling us that outcomes desired by the rich and/or powerful are "just" and "required by the law" and so forth. And they do it in this cool religious way, what with black robes and buildings that look like Greek or Roman temples and all.

Anyway, I have limited sympathy for just about everyone involved in the Florida foreclosure mess (and the "defenses" raised in the Times piece do not impress me... and I spent a number of years of my career working in this area). I acknowledge that it is virtually certain that while borrowers were abusive, questionable practices were far more likely to be engaged in by the financial institutions involved... but when push comes to shove... just notice who's (whose?) interests get preferred, and whose (who's?) get short shrift.

Just saying...