Back on January 31, 2011, I wrote about a group of foreclosure lawyers who filed a complaint against three Franklin County Common Pleas Judges (John Bender, Kimberly Cocroft, and Guy Reece) over an Order they signed requiring foreclosure lawyers to sign a certification on behalf of their clients – the foreclosing bank.
In a nutshell, the certification requires the foreclosing lawyer to verify certain facts, including that the foreclosing bank is the proper party and that it holds the original note and mortgage before it can obtain a judgment to take away a home.
The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office (the lawyer for all County employees in their official capacity) filed a Motion to dismiss the Complaint and the Ohio Supreme Court granted that motion yesterday without any findings of fact or conclusions of law. The Court’s decision was unanimous among the seven Ohio Supreme Court Justices:
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, and Justices Paul Pfeifer, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Robert Cupp, and Yvette McGee Brown.
State attorneys general across the nation, including then-Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, announced in October that they were investigating fraudulent foreclosure filings. Some law firms and major lenders were using so-called “robo-signers” to complete affidavits on foreclosures without reading the documents or verifying ownership of the mortgage notes.
In late November, the three Franklin County judges began telling all lawyers who file residential foreclosure cases in their courtrooms that they must “personally certify the authenticity and accuracy of all documents” in support of the filings. If a lawyer doesn’t, the judge will not grant a motion for default or summary judgment, but will instead schedule the case for trial.
Setting a foreclosure for trial can delay the case for a year or more. However, in its motion to dismiss the lawyers’ complaint, the prosecutor’s office argued that a trial date provides a “remedy” for those who object to verifying their clients’ documents.
“The fact that the trial will delay matters does not change the fact that it is an adequate remedy,” wrote Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Piccininni. “Any issues of authentication of documents and proof can be settled at that stage.”
Personally, I think the Judges are fully within their discretion to order foreclosure attorneys to verify their cases. Most foreclosures are pushed through the courts unopposed and as fast as possible. Mistakes are made and big banks take advantage of the volume of cases and overload on the judges to skirt the rules to their benefit. Thanks Judges, for watching out for the homeowners in these economic times.