If you only get your news from the MSM, it may appear that Illinois has bypassed most of the problems other states have faced in the widespread document fraud and robo-signing scandals that have been reported elsewhere. In fact, we seem very civilized in moving our foreclosure cases through the courts despite the increasing protests trying to prevent foreclosures based solely on economic reasons. In my Chicago-area county, the judge presiding over foreclosure cases got himself some media attention recently due to his “compassion” for homeowners who cannot afford an attorney. His bright idea was to have the local HUD-certified counseling agency and a legal aid firm present in his courtroom so that he could refer homeowners to their services when they appear before him for their foreclosure cases. Let’s never mind the fact that this HUD-approved counseling agency cannot work with banks for forbearance or negotiation of a loan modification because banks and servicing agencies refuse to work with them, or that the legal aid firm he has chosen refuses to help any homeowner who wants to fight their foreclosure because they will only take clients who are in a position to negotiate a successful loan modification. For the vast majority of homeowners, there is no help to be found in Judge Robert Gibson’s courtroom. In fact, Judge Gibson (R – up for re-election in 2012) also appears to not believe in document fraud as he states in this article he wrote for The Dupage County Bar Association’s magazine in the fall of 2010 that offers advice for distressed homeowners:
The publicity surrounding the disclosure of sloppy business practices by lenders has also distracted homeowners from their primary avenues of success, as outlined above, in favor of pushing the mortgagee to demonstrate that it owns the mortgage.
The Honorable Judge is also a member of a newly formed committee to look into foreclosure issues, and presumably to eventually offer solutions. I think we can all agree that it’s about freaking time our state Supreme Court has finally figured out that there is a problem! However, upon closer inspection of this “committee”, there are no homeowner advocacy groups or even any homeowners on it. The members are 6 judges (retired and currently hearing foreclosure cases), 5 attorneys (whose focus is in banking, creditor law and mortgage lending), 1 Senior Vice President of a bank, 1 university professor who teaches bailouts and business bankruptcy in addition to bankruptcy and consumer law, and 1 representative of the Attorney General’s office who is the Chief of their Consumer Protection Division. While it would appear that there are at least one or two members who would certainly look out for the homeowners and their rights, I’m sure many would question the impartiality of this “committee” considering how many of its members actively work in and around ensuring that banks continue to have their wishes become fact by gaming the system in their favor.
A couple of counties have created mediation rules in order to try resolving homeowner issues before it is too late and the state has been holding “Help for Homeowners” seminars for the last couple of years which really just prepares homeowners for the eventual fact that they will lose their homes, but many experts (and our President!) seem to finally be coming to the realization that
nobody knows who owns what in the largest market in the world, the US residential housing market
All of this smacks of the banks getting their way by not having to prove they have the legal standing to foreclose and evict people. And you might be right, except for this recent Illinois Appellate Court ruling:
In light of our holding, we need not address whether there were genuine issues of material fact regarding the basis for the Palladinos’ default and the enforceability of the mortgage and note.
For the foregoing reasons, we reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in HSBC Bank’s favor and remand for further proceedings.
Reversed and remanded.
While this ruling reversed and remanded a case ruled on by Judge Gibson’s predecessor, I do know that the Honorable Judge has now started requiring banks to submit valid documents, but he is not ruling in favor of the defendant homeowners since he seems to only be rescheduling the court dates. The question is raised about this Judge’s impartiality since his actions in these cases only gives banks more time to “find” the correct paperwork and puts those homeowners who do have attorneys further into debt by dragging out the amount of time that they have to retain and pay for those services. We’ll see if he lets me ask those questions when I am next before him in my own foreclosure case at the end of this month.