Judge to oversee foreclosure process

By Samantha Henry
Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A judge has appointed a special overseer to ensure that foreclosure proceedings in the state of New Jersey conform to the law.
The move comes after state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner in December ordered six of the nation’s biggest mortgage lenders to show why their foreclosure operations shouldn’t be suspended in New Jersey over reports of widespread irregularities.

General Equity Judge Mary C. Jacobson, who was designated by Rabner to oversee foreclosure matters in the state, ruled recently to adopt a stipulation requiring the lenders to follow a series of regulations that Jacobson said would safeguard the foreclosure process.

Jacobson also appointed former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Richard Williams as a “special master” to make sure the lenders and service providers comply.

Rabner said in December that the legal review was intended to provide greater confidence that the tens of thousands of residential foreclosure proceedings under way in New Jersey are based on reliable information.

The New Jersey courts took the action after a report was submitted to the Supreme Court that cited depositions and court filings in other states and described instances where employees, some of them not trained for the jobs they were performing, signed hundreds of foreclosure documents a day without checking them for accuracy.

The so-called “robo-signing” has been blamed for numerous cases nationwide in which homeowners have been the mistaken target of foreclosures when they actually were up to date on their mortgages.

The lenders and service providers targeted by the court order were OneWest Bank, formerly IndyMac Federal Bank; BAC Home Loan Servicing, a subsidiary of Bank of America; JP Morgan Chase’s Chase Home Finance; Wells Fargo Financial New Jersey and CitiResidential Living, a subsidiary of Citibank.

All six lenders, in objecting to the stipulation, claimed they reviewed their procedures and made improvements in training, monitoring and quality control well before New Jersey’s court order, according to court filings.