David J. Stern is winding up his infamous foreclosure practice, reports the Associated Press, citing a Securities and Exchange filing. The law firm's fall has been swift and steep, and it offers many reasons for schadenfreude: Stern lived the high life on the backs for borrowers foreclosed on with fraudulent documents, borrowers who weren't consistently given notice they were being foreclosed on. His firm's fall has exacerbated the problems in the Florida court system because his cases are being transferred to other lawyers who must now get up to speed on them.
But there's one thing his fall isn't, much as I wish it were, and that's the end of an era.
If we're to restore the rule of law in foreclosure cases, it's going to take a lot more than the fall of Stern's firm, which is just one of several "foreclosure mills" in Florida. Others are under investigation. Maybe some of them will fall too. Maybe not.
But the issue runs nationally, not just in Florida. Lender Processing Services (LPS) alone has hundreds of "network firms" following its due-process-abusing practices. A firm in Pennsylvania may have jeopardized thousands of foreclosures there by having nonlawyers do the cases. And the situation in nonjudicial states, where even foreclosure mills aren't necessary to take back homes, is worse.
If anyone hearing of the Stern firm's demise mistakes it for news that change has really come to the foreclosure world, that will be saddest news of all.
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