Suspension Temporarily Lessens Number of Foreclosed Homes

by on General

The suspension of processing for foreclosures filed after December 2008 in Cook County, the country’s second most densely populated county, may lessen temporarily the increase rate for bank foreclosed homes in the area for several months. The suspension may also give some reprieve to families who have nowhere to go other than to stay on properties certain to become foreclosed homes while the judges decide on foreclosure cases in 2008.

Dorothy Kirie Kinnaird, presiding judge of Cook County, ordered most foreclosures filed since January this year to be suspended until September so the court can complete all foreclosure cases filed in 2008. She said the only exceptions to the order are properties that are sure to become foreclosed homes because they have been abandoned and have been verified to be vacant.

In 2008, Cook County had 43,876 foreclosure cases filed at Cook County’s Circuit Court and it expects the number to grow to over 63,000 by December. The court has made additional appointments to cope with the foreclosure filings: 11 additional judges, 11 additional law clerks, 4 additional secretaries and 6 additional courtrooms.

Despite the additional appointments, the court is still not able to clear the backlog of cases. Each judge, who is assigned to focus on foreclosures, is given about 4,800 foreclosure cases to process.

In July and in August, the foreclosure judges will focus on completing the process for all filings in 2008.

The difficulties faced by the Cook County judges mirror challenges faced by judges in courts across the country, especially in states with the highest number of foreclosed homes such as California, Florida and Nevada.

Cook County’s foreclosed homes account much of Illinois foreclosures, putting the state on the fifth place in RealtyTrac’s chart of foreclosure rates in the first quarter this year.

According to U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 data, Cook County has a population of 5,285,107, larger than the population of 29 individual states and larger than the total population of the 6 smallest states in the U.S.

Several lawyers warned that the court situation will surely get worse if Congress passes legislation that would force loan modifications in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases filed by borrowers intent on keeping their houses from becoming foreclosed homes. They ask if the courts have the capabilities to handle a wave of Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases when they have not even cleared foreclosure cases filed in 2008.