Real Estate & Property Law
Backlog Worsens For U.S. Courts As Foreclosure Proceedings Face Scrutiny
Posted Oct 22, 2010 3:12 PM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky
A tsunami of 33,000 foreclosure cases flooding his former court prompted retired Pasco County Judge Wayne L. Cobb to return to the bench, where he sat for 32 years. However, as banks continue to cancel hundreds of hearings due to shoddy foreclosure procedures, the backlog has stagnated, the Wall Street Journal reports.
While judges evaluate whether they should dismiss cases potentially riddled with defects because they rely on the affidavits of “robo-signers” that raced through paperwork, some banks have halted proceedings while they conduct their own reviews of foreclosure procedures. In New York, the chief judge of the state's courts is requiring lawyers to verify that their clients followed proper procedures in nearly 78,000 foreclosure actions.
Florida's attorney general is investigating the Law Offices of David J. Stern, in Plantation, Fla., where foreclosure cases were put on hold by lenders or servicers, for allegedly presenting fraudulent documents in court. The firm processed 70,000 cases last year, the WSJ reports.
The moratorium "means these cases will be sitting there in la la land," 85-year-old Senior Judge Robert M. Deehl, another retired judge, told the WSJ.
The WSJ notes that before the foreclosure freeze, over-taxed courts faced criticism for speeding through cases -- some in a matter of minutes -- as the number of U.S. homes seized by banks topped 100,000 in September according to RealtyTrac, a real-estate data company.