Last month, the New York court system acted to protect its integrity by requiring banks filing foreclosure cases to submit special sworn statements aimed at eliminating robo-signing, the fraudulent practice of pretending to have reviewed and verified hundreds of legal documents a day. Now the judges in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes Cleveland, are following suit.

The Cuyahoga County judges' foreclosure committee has come up with an anti-robo-signing affidavit it wants submitted with every foreclosure case pending or filed in the county. It has notified all 34 judges that the magistrates will be following this policy in all cases as of Monday.

Affirmations have to be sworn by the attorneys for the foreclosing lenders. They must attest that they have spoken with the foreclosing bank (naming the person they spoke to) and made sure that individual personally reviewed the information being used to justify the foreclosure and confirmed its accuracy. Then attorneys must further attest to the fact that they have conducted "other diligent inquiry" to verify the information.

The language is very similar to the New York rule, and will likely have similar consequences. New York attorneys expect that the new rule will be easy for foreclosure attorneys to file in non-securitized mortgage cases where the foreclosing attorney represents a small creditor. But compliance will likely require a months-long procedural overhaul for attorneys representing the robo-signing banks, so those cases are basically on hold.

Because the foreclosure committee has no power to tell the other judges how to run their courtrooms, committee chair Judge Eileen T. Gallagher explained that any of the judges can opt out of the policy just by telling the magistrates that they wish to. Chief Magistrate Steve Bucha explained that typically judges don't opt out of recommended policies and so far no judges have opted out of this one. Although he noted the policy was formally announced last Friday and took effect today so there hasn't been much time for them to opt out yet.

Even if all the Cuyahoga judges follow the new policy, however, it's just one county in a state hard hit by foreclosures and homeowners in other places aren't similarly protected. Attorney General Richard Cordray is seeking an injunction that would prevent one lender from using the documents of one robo-signer statewide. But given the apparent ubiquity of the robo-signing problem and the multiple people robo-signing documents, that effort, too, would have a limited effect -- even if the injunction is issued.

Nonetheless, Cuyahoga county residents should feel good that their judges are defending the integrity of the court system. At least from now on those judges can have some confidence that the filings before them are true and foreclosures are being properly pursued. Of course, as Judge Nancy Margaret Russo noted, the new policy doesn't affect the cases that have already been completed.

In those that have but haven't yet gone to sale, she's conducting hearings to have the lender demonstrate the truth of its documents, like she did today. But what about the foreclosed properties that were taken with fraudulent documents and sold already? That's a mess that can't be addressed by the new policy, or Judge Russo's hearings. No suits have yet been seen in Cuyahoga County charging that an already sold foreclosure is wrongful, but Bucha expects to see them soon.

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Reverse mortgages are currently one of the best ways for seniors to get the equity out of their homes without having to move or worry about foreclosures.

July 21 2013 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anytime there is a complicated procedure taking place there is always the chance of error. It doesn't matter if it is an automobile manufacturer, a home builder, or a doctor. If enough procedures are done there will be mistakes. If there are enough foreclosures done then there will be mistakes. The trick is to come up with some balance to protect the customer but not make it so hard that the doctor can't operate. If the cost of foreclosure gets too high, banks won't be able to lend for real estate.

November 09 2010 at 1:06 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to imme534333's comment

So , like notorizing papers you never even saw is a good thing for banks to do? If you ever go to trial would you like the jury to convict you with never hearing an evidence...!! Isn't the home and roof over you head that importnant and to thousands of people ? Or do you live in the White House for a little while longer.......

November 09 2010 at 8:01 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The banks are the ones that screwed it up in the first place, first with the S&L too big to fail mess in the 80's. that real estate bubble threw the stock market into a tail spin and a recession. Now, we have a repeat except it's worse. Maybe it's time to take the banks out of the home ownership business. When I was a kid, you had a bank, it was for saving money and travellers checks. You had a credit card company like Dollar Dry dock that just did credit cards PERIOD. Mortgage companies just did mortgages like the MOney Store, Dietech and the one Joe Gargilio used to hawk about. Then the banks did everything and across state lines. Ate up local banks we used to have 2 local banks in my small village. They got eaten up -- then none and now another local has moved in. And I agree with you Jerri2222

November 09 2010 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hello Abagail________________________Foreclosures are the result of people not making their mortgage payments. Foreclosures are not the result of shoddy paperwork. Every city and every state can slow down the Foreslosure process with dotting your I's and crossing your T's tactics___but in the end____preventing foreclosures is entirely up to the homeowner and prevented only by making all of the payments. Remember Abagail____it is the Borrow who went into the banks and mortgage companies and said please lend me your money I want to buy a home and then signed the Loan Aggreement to repay each month. It is not the lenders (banks) fault if the borrowers cannot repay. As adults we are all responsible for our own actions.

November 09 2010 at 12:51 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sgentilejr's comment

Hello sgentilejr: I have a mortgage that went thru the MERS system. I didn't know it until I went for a re-fi and found out my mortgage was being sold to Edward Jones, and I hadn't even signed the papers yet. My insurance agent caught it. The Loan agreement is to repay each month to the lender in my case Fannie Mae. The banks are the SERVICERS -- that's service (and bad service too). There is something that is called Good Faith notice, it's a federal law, and before your loan can be transferred, sold, accuired, assumed the holder of the loan has to be notified and given 3 to 6 months to move it themselves. I never was given this opportunity. Alot of foreclosures are in this predictment. We make are required payments but to WHO and To Which bank?? If I sent my monthly payment to my original on the note bank, it would be returned cause that financial institution does not exist anymore. In addition, when a mortgage note is transferred/assumed/acquired it is needed to be re-filed in the deed office with the transfer fees paid. These are taxes to your local government, schools, etc. If it doesn't take place (MERS made sure that the banks did not have to pay) it is not considered legal. If you my friend assume a mortgage, and do not do the legal filing, paying your transfer taxes and proper documentation in your deed office, that paperwork is not valid nor is it legal. In addition, there are what 3 million forclosures on the books right now, and let's say another 3 million so that's about 6 million more or less now multiply that by all the transfer fees and taxes and the product is alot of lost revenue for local government and schools and states. The banks are the first ones to forget making payments to the states. Never mind the homeowner. Point the finger where it needs to be pointed.

November 09 2010 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dear Abagail .... I am so glad your on top of all this ... I wait for each and every article ... I just wish you would have some more information in the State of Arizona. The State of Arizona doesn't seem to do a damn thing except ride the skirt tails of other attorney generals of other states.

November 08 2010 at 11:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Nice job Abagail....NY needs you ....I am still waiting for the new NY Attorney General to make his presence known regarding "foreclosure litigation" and how and if they will go after Servicing Company's and Banks..I am sure informed people need & wanna know) have read the famous Ericka Johnson Seck now... if not ,, go read it.. It's all over the internet...what a piece of work... Just shows the arrogence these companys overall...

November 08 2010 at 9:21 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Common sence says that if you havn't been making your mortgage payment for months or even years then you don't belong in that "house". But now if the mortgage lender doesn't dot every i, and cross every t in the process of getting the non-paying occupant out of the dwelling, somehow that occupant now has a right to remain in the dwelling or even wipe out the mortgage. I can see a HUGE opportunity for ambulance chasing lawyers to temproarily turn off their police band scanners and chase after the DEEP POCKETS of home lending !!!!!!

November 08 2010 at 7:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to don917's comment

Your simply an ass. I am one of those non paying people and yes I have not made a payment in over 19 months. All I asked from Bank of America who owns my Note and they could not, would not tell me. "we are under contract not to tell you", was their answer. Now I don't know about you Mr don917, but I don't want to pay someone who does not hold my note and can't tell me who I am paying. If you would pay someone who does not own your note .... Hell, just pay me, cause just tell me where you live and I can get a copy of your Deed or Mortgage just like Bank of America does to me. So screw you and the white horse your riding.

November 08 2010 at 8:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply