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In an Hour, Judge Clears 300 Foreclosure Cases

heraldtribune.com | April 1, 2014

By Josh Salman

SARASOTA COUNTY - The morning roll call was long: GMAC Mortgage vs. Thomas Brady. SunTrust Mortgage vs. Scott Dodat. Wells Fargo vs. Janet Winn.

On it went.

One-by-one, foreclosure cases were called out by a retired judge — many dating back to the trough of the crisis in 2008 — and dismissed by the court in just seconds.

The local judicial system, still burdened with a backlog of more than 10,000 foreclosures, cleared a 60-page docket with nearly 300 languishing cases Friday in about an hour.

The hearing was set to remove stagnant defaults that had fallen through the cracks and that had not been touched in the past 10 months — housekeeping that is still done a few times each year.

A couple dozen attorneys scurried into the cramped downtown justice center promptly at 9 a.m., trying to save their case from the purge.

For most, it was too late.

Tearful homeowners also arrived, holding court orders and stacks of mortgage bills, not knowing what to expect. Before they could even get a word out, their cases were tossed.

Nobody was there to fight it.

The dismissals give homeowners more time, as the lenders now have to start over.

Certain foreclosures were left open, the result of circumstances like bankruptcy, pending loan modification or a filing that was simply missed.

Bad luck.

“I can't argue against that,” one defense attorney murmured to another. “I just wish the (bank) hadn't showed up. Oh well.”

The sweep was the latest sign of how banks continue to struggle with laying their hands on delinquent homes even seven years after the initial tidal wave of filings.

For a court system looking for a break, Friday morning was about as easy as they come.

“It's a good way to clean out the dead wood,” Circuit Court Judge Lee Haworth said. “A lot of these plaintiff's attorneys are asleep at the switch.”

Back to April 2014 Archive

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