ACLU looking critically at Lee, other counties that expedite foreclosures

FORT MYERS — The modern foreclosure case resembles a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing: The picture may come through when put together, but it’s incomplete.

With most local foreclosures cases, the picture is clear enough — the homeowner fell behind on the mortgage, stopped paying and now owes someone his or her home.

Yet as state and federal investigators increasingly focus on those missing pieces — misplaced or fraudulent paperwork — critics say the Lee Circuit Court system is shirking its responsibility to do the same, instead pushing cases forward to reduce a massive case backlog.

The result, they say, is an undermining of due process and the establishment of a case system that automatically works against homeowners, many of whom want to work with banks.

“This is something we’ve been looking at closely for months,” ACLU attorney Larry Schwartztol said. “And we continue to have very serious concerns that (the) procedural safeguards are not being applied.”

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