In an article published January 10, 2011 (author: John Schwartz), the New York Times reports that courts in the Metro New York area are increasingly critical of the professional practices of lawyers representing banks in foreclosures.
The Buffalo law firm of Steven J. Baum came under particular criticism in two court actions. According to The Times, “Judge Arthur M. Schack of New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn has taken aim at an upstate lawyer, Steven J. Baum, referring to one filing as ‘incredible, outrageous, ludicrous and disingenuous.’ ” In another case, says The Times, Nassau County District Court Judge Fairgrieve “ordered Mr. Baum’s firm to pay nearly $20,000 in fines and costs related to papers that he said contained numerous ‘falsities.’ ”
According to The Times, 80,000 foreclosures are pending in New York State. The Chief Judge of the New York state Court of Appeals, Jonathan Lippman, has required that all foreclosure firms execute a two-page affirmation as to the accuracy of the foreclosure papers.
Another recent New York Times article published January 7 (author: Gretchen Morgenson) reported that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts actually voided two mortgage foreclosures of US Bank Corp and Wells Fargo after their non-judicial foreclosures were completed. This is the first time in recent history that the highest court in any state judiciary has taken this action. New York law differs from Massachusetts in the way foreclosures are handled, so the cases are not precedent for a New York foreclosure. However, the same arguments in the Massachusetts case, that the mortgages had not been assigned to the banks before the foreclosure was commenced, is an argument made successfully in various New York foreclosures and bankruptcy proceedings.