Three Ohio judges are forcing lawyers to double-check foreclosure documents.
Judges in Franklin County, Ohio, are making lawyers verify documents for residential foreclosures, and asking lawyers to sign certifications that verify that clients said the documents were accurate. The Columbus Dispatch reports:
The judges told the lawyers that they must "personally certify the authenticity and accuracy of all documents" in support of a residential-foreclosure filing. If a lawyer doesn't comply, the judge will not grant a motion for default or summary judgment, but will instead schedule the case for trial.
Lawyers are arguing that the order forces them to reveal communications protected by attorney-client privilege, and are fighting the order, the paper said.
"Before we sign off on foreclosures, we want to make sure we are diligent in confirming the accuracy of those filings," judge Kimberly Cocroft told the Dispatch. "It's a life-changing event."
The move is a response to families being fraudulently foreclosed on, after it was revealed that mortgage providers and law firms failed to follow procedures. Bank employees in mortgage departments inundated with foreclosures say they signed foreclosure affidavits without reviewing the cases, or in some cases, without even looking at the documents -- earning the label "robo-signers."
In October, regulators from all 50 states launched an investigation into possibly deceptive foreclosure practices that may have illegally evicted families from their homes. The investigation has found families who were not in default foreclosed on, and lenders foreclosing on loans they did not hold.
Lawyers in New York State have been required to check that foreclosure documents are accurate since October.
In Nevada, judges are blocking foreclosures by Bank of America-owned companies after complaints that homes are being fraudulently foreclosed on.