So many foreclosures, so few lawyers

Twenty-three states in the US require that courts process foreclosures. Some states, like Florida, simply don't have enough lawyers to pick up all of the cases.

Carlos Barria / Reuters / File
An auction sign for a property is seen at the front garden of a foreclosed house in Miami Gardens, Fla., in this September 15, 2009 file photo. Currently, foreclosures are backlogged in the Florida court system.

The robo-signing controversy has slowed foreclosure filing to a crawl in Florida, one of 23 states that require foreclosures to be processed through the courts. The Law Offices of David J. Stern were handling close to 20 percent of all foreclosures in the state until the firm was terminated by mortgage holders over robo-signing. Nick Timiraos writes for the Wall Street Journal,

In March, the Stern law firm told judges across Florida that it was unable to file the necessary paperwork to withdraw from 100,000 cases. Florida’s attorney general is investigating allegations that the firm routinely forged notarized documents. The firm denies the accusations and is challenging the attorney general’s jurisdiction in court.

In the meantime, there’s not enough lawyers in the Sunshine State to pick up the slack.

Ally Financial Inc., which owns GMAC Mortgage, and happens to be owned primarily (73%) by the U.S. government has transferred its cases, but an Ally spokeswoman says the “situation in Florida is challenging, given the large number of borrowers in foreclosure and the number of quality law firms to manage these cases.”

Palm Beach County Judge Peter Blanc plans to hold special hearings to reassign the hundreds of cases that are backlogged. “If nobody shows up” on behalf of the banks, “we will dismiss the cases,” he says.

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