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Florida 'rocket docket' court told to respond to ACLU claims

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A Florida appellate court issued an order Tuesday, requiring the state's 20th Judicial Circuit to respond within 20 days to claims of ignoring court rules and rushing foreclosure cases through its system. In April, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition with  Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeals attempting to block the 20th Judicial Circuit from accelerating foreclosures through its so-called "rocket docket." Beginning in July, the docket was used in all five counties in the southwestern Florida circuit: Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades. Judges began pushing foreclosures through the system in order to work though a 40,000 case backlog. According to sworn affidavits from foreclosure defense attorneys, court judges allegedly ignored court rules requiring additional paperwork from lenders and denied homeowners a say in court if they were delinquent on their loan. A spokesperson for the 20th Judicial Court was not immediately available for comment. The appellate court order sent Tuesday to Chief Judge Keith Cary does not act as a stay on the court. An employee in the appellate court's clerk office said the 20th Judicial Court will continue to operate as the ACLU case is heard. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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