Steven Breadsley, Naples News

The modern foreclosure case resembles a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing: The picture may come through when put together, but it’s incomplete.

With most local foreclosures cases, the picture is clear enough — the homeowner fell behind on the mortgage, stopped paying and now owes someone his or her home.

Yet as state and federal investigators increasingly focus on those missing pieces — misplaced or fraudulent paperwork — critics say the Lee Circuit Court system is shirking its responsibility to do the same, instead pushing cases forward to reduce a massive case backlog.

The result, they say, is an undermining of due process and the establishment of a case system that automatically works against homeowners, many of whom want to work with banks.

“This is something we’ve been looking at closely for months,” ACLU attorney Larry Schwartztol said. “And we continue to have very serious concerns that (the) procedural safeguards are not being applied.”

Those behind Lee’s mass foreclosure docket defend what they say is the best response, if an imperfect one, to a major crisis.

“We’re attacked by everybody, criticized by everybody, because everybody has a different issue,” Lee Senior Circuit Judge Hugh Starnes said. “And yet we have this huge number of cases and they have to be moved. Something has to be done. They cannot just sit there.”

At stake is a better outcome for homeowners who fight foreclosure, a goal sought both by governments and the state court system since the beginning of the downturn.

Federal programs with acronyms like HAMP and HAFA were created to encourage loan modifications or short sales, both far preferable to foreclosure. Likewise, in 2010, the Florida Supreme Court mandated that every circuit require a mediation between lender and homeowner early in the case.

Read more here

Write A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ready to get started?

Speak to a specialist at (888) 737-6344