“The process is broken.”
I’m still simmering over this old Morning Edition story lamenting Florida’s foreclosure process. Before declaring a process is broken, a responsible journalist ought to ask two questions:
- What are the goals of the process?
- Are those goals being accomplished?
If the answer to that second question is “yes,” the process isn’t broken. It doesn’t mean it’s a good process—but identifying the reason for the process is important if you’re going to ask whether there might be a better way to go about it.
In this case, the story unreflectively blames a “cumbersome legal process” and “unscrupulous foreclosure [defense] attorneys.” There doesn’t seem to be much desire to discuss whether that process has prevented people from losing their homes who should not lose their homes. Or whether those “unscrupulous” attorneys have meritorious claims. If the homeowners actually defaulted on the loan, lenders actually followed the rules, and the lenders actually showed up and competently presented their case—it could be over in a tenth of the time it takes. But for some reason things keep dragging out and homeowners keep winning these suits. Perhaps there’s a better explanation than “process is broken.” It could be that the indigent homeowners just have magical attorneys who are way better than anything the lenders money can buy. Or maybe the homeowners actually have a case worth vindicating.