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New York Steps Up the Game: New Court Rules and Judicial Pushback Puts the Onnous on Plaintiff’s Attorneys in Foreclosuress

20 Oct

NakedCapitalsim brings the story of how New York Court System has stepped up the game in foreclosures – yup, Mr. Esquire representing the lenders – you gotta certify the validity of the documents.  It’s on YOU now.  – Of course the validation of the documents by getting a bank to say they’re really good docs, and I, Mz/Mr Bank Employee say so…  is, well… less than perfect. But it is a vast improvement over the laissez faire attitude that has prevailed in foreclosures nationwide by lender litigants and judges both.

More Judicial Pushback Against Bank Foreclosure Processes: New York Requires “Reasonable” Verification (Updated)

from naked capitalism by Yves Smith

From Bloomberg:

New York state courts will require lawyers in residential foreclosure actions to certify they have taken “reasonable” steps to verify the accuracy of documents submitted to the court.

The new rule, released in a statement by the New York state Unified Court System, is effective immediately.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman introduced the requirement in response to disclosures of deficiencies in residential foreclosure filings nationwide, including notarization and “robo-signing” and affidavits that falsely state the signer has knowledge of the facts, the statement said.

“We cannot allow the courts in New York State to stand by idly and be party to what we now know is a deeply flawed process, especially when that process involves basic human needs — such as a family home — during this period of economic crisis,” Lippman said in the statement.

Update 10:50 PM: Hoisted from comments (thanks to helpful readers!), the first from La Caterina:

Here the form of affirmation the new rule REQUIRES to be filed in all new and pending foreclosures. I particularly like the little preamble:

N.B.: During and after August 2010, numerous and widespread insufficiencies in foreclosure filings in various courts around the nation were reported by major mortgage lenders and other authorities. These insufficiencies include: failure of plaintiffs and their counsel to review documents and files to establish standing and other foreclosure requisites; filing of notarized affidavits which falsely attest to such review and to other critical facts in the foreclosure process; and “robosignature” of documents by parties and counsel. The wrongful filing and prosecution of foreclosure proceedings which are discovered to suffer from these defects may be cause for disciplinary and other sanctions upon participating counsel.
* * *

[____________], Esq., pursuant to CPLR §2106 and under the penalties of perjury, affirms as follows:

1. I am an attorney at law duly licensed to practice in the state of New York and am affiliated with the Law Firm of __________________, the attorneys of record for Plaintiff in the above-captioned mortgage foreclosure action. As such, I am fully aware of the underlying action, as well as the proceedings had herein.

2. On [date], I communicated with [name and title], a representative of Plaintiff, who informed me that he/she (a) has personally reviewed plaintiff’s documents and records relating to this case; (b) has reviewed the Summons and Complaint, and all other papers filed in this matter in support of foreclosure; and (c) has confirmed both the factual accuracy of these court filings and the accuracy of the notarizations contained therein.

3. Based upon my communication with [person specified in ¶2], as well as upon my own inspection of the papers filed with the Court and other diligent inquiry, I certify that, to the best of my knowledge, information, and belief, the Summons and Complaint and all other documents filed in support of this action for foreclosure are complete and accurate in all relevant respects. I understand my continuing obligation to amend this Affirmation in light of newly discovered facts following its filing.

4. I understand that the Court will rely on this Affirmation in considering the
application.

This from MolemanUV:

Judge Lippman’s recent rule has several lauditory benefits. First, the onus falls on counsel to affirmatively confirm compliance. Ordinarily, the duty to ensure the accuracy of the contents of any civil pleading or motion paper filed in a federal court, for example, is not self-actuating. In other words, when opposing counsel suspects that his or her counterpart has knowingly filed a pleading that is not well grounded in fact, or in law, or both, then the aggrieved counsel may choose to proceed by way of Rule 11 to seek sanctions,after giving the alleged offender the opportunity to cure. A Rule 11 motion is very much a last resort rather than a first one. The attorney who files such a motion may well find himself or herself facing a retalitory Rule 11 motion in response.

Also, from my own 20 years of experience in various courts, I can say with some confidence that judges internally groan when presented with such motions as they are considered to be satellite litigation that is disruptive of the orderly flow of the underlying claims. A Rule 11 motion is considered the equivalent of a declaration of war and the possibility of future cooperation or even civility between counsel vanishes with the filing of such a motion. Judge Lippman’s approach avoids all of these problems while placing plaintiff’s counsel on notice of the court’s decidely dim view of a party materially misrepresenting any significant aspects of its claims.

Finally, the N.Y. Judge’s approach also raises the prospect of a perjury prosecution for those who knowingly violate the rule, which otherwise would be a extraordinarily remote prospect absent the new rule. On the whole, the approach is logical, cost efficient, self-executing and extraordinarily timely. Let’s hope other state courts act in such a timely fashion.

 

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