Ohio | Local Judges Get Tough on Foreclosure Documents

Local judges get tough on foreclosure documents

By John Futty

In response to a national outcry over fraudulent foreclosure filings, three Franklin County judges are requiring lawyers to verify that all of the documents in residential-foreclosure actions are valid.

Six of the lawyers affected by the order are fighting back. They have asked the Ohio Supreme Court to prohibit the judges from requiring them to sign “certifications” on behalf of their clients. The dispute could slow the processing of some foreclosure cases.

The complaint, seeking what is known as a writ of prohibition, was filed by the lawyers in December and names Common Pleas Judges John F. Bender, Kimberly Cocroft and Guy Reece.

The Franklin County prosecutor’s office, which is defending the judges, has until Monday to file a response.

Among the 17 judges in the Common Pleas general division, at least two others – Laurel Beatty and David W. Fais – had intended to mail the orders to lawyers but stopped after the complaint was filed with the Supreme Court.

The New York State court system began requiring lawyers to certify the accuracy of foreclosure documents in October. That action, believed to be the first by a court system in the nation, has not been challenged.

Cocroft said the action was prompted by growing concerns about the foreclosure process.

“Before we sign off on foreclosures, we want to make sure we are diligent in confirming the accuracy of those filings,” she said. “It’s a life-changing event.”

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