Foreclosure Fraud: The New York State Solution

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

In October of 2010, New York State’s Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman became deeply concerned about the big banks lax handling of mortgage documents and several lenders and servicers who had hired staff who did not properly review files or submitted false statements to evict delinquent borrowers. Consequently to curb the illegal practice and preserve the integrity of the court foreclosure laws, Judge Lippman ordered that lawyers handling the foreclosures be held accountable for the paperwork:

Chief Judge Lippman said, “We cannot allow the courts in New York State to stand by idly and be party to what we now know is a deeply flawed process, especially when that process involves basic human needs – such as a family home – during this period of economic crisis. This new filing requirement will play a vital role in ensuring that the documents judges rely on will be thoroughly examined, accurate, and error-free before any judge is asked to take the drastic step of foreclosure.”

Under the new requirement, plaintiff’s counsel in foreclosure matters must submit the affirmation at one of several stages. In new cases, the affirmation must accompany the Request for Judicial Intervention. In pending cases, the affirmation must be submitted with either the proposed order of reference or the proposed judgment of foreclosure. In cases where a foreclosure judgment has been entered but the property has not yet been sold at auction, the affirmation must be submitted to the court referee, and a copy filed with the court, five business days before the scheduled auction. Counsel is also obligated to file an amended version of the affidavit if new facts emerge after the initial filing.

Since the announcement of the Foreclosure Fraud “Settlement”, Judge Lippman has once again ordered a solution that may well reduce the number of fraudulent foreclosures, at least in New York State, by setting up a series special courts to handle the cases:

The new program is to start in Queens this spring and then expand around the city and to nearby suburbs, court officials said. The officials said that under the program, judges would take over the running of some settlement conferences from court attorneys, who lack the power to impose punishments. State law requires that bank representatives “be fully authorized to dispose of the case,” but enforcement of that requirement has been sporadic.

The officials said the plan would include court supervision of the collection of required documents to try to avoid delays and would seek to shorten the time some foreclosure cases linger in the courts to several months from up to two years.

Courts would also work to assure that homeowners who cannot afford lawyers are represented, though some lawyers who handle such cases questioned whether that goal was realistic.

There are still some hurdles, such as immediate funding for lawyers to represent homeowners until the funds from the settlement are release. A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said “negotiations with the Legislature were likely to find money for the legal agencies in the meantime.”

It good to see that judiciary is stepping in when prosecutors drop the ball, thanks to commonsense jurist like Jonathan Lippman.


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