A New York state judge known for taking it to the banking industry says foreclosures, in many cases, are riddled with shoddy document handling, assignment issues and ownership questions on mortgage notes.
New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Schack made those statements to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Monday.
Schack told the panel that foreclosure filings in Kings County, New York, soared from 3,500 filings or less per year to 7,000 annual filings after the housing bubble burst in 2007. The judge said opinions from his court and other benches need to be made in accordance with the law and not for the sake of "expediency."
Schack highlighted the Second Circuit's Bank of New York v. Silverberg decision, which held an assignee of a lender who never functioned as the actual holder or assignee of the note lacked standing to begin a foreclosure.
In discussing that case, Judge Schack said "the law must not yield to expediency and the convenience of lending institutions. Proper procedures must be followed to ensure the reliability of the chain of ownership, to secure the dependable transfer of property, and assure the enforcement of the rules that govern real property."
In a 2009 profile on Shack in The New York Times said the judge "fashions himself a judicial Don Quixote, tilting at the phalanxes of bankers, foreclosure facilitators and lawyers who file motions by the bale."
In pending foreclosure cases, Schack doesn’t always wait for an opposing lawyer to raise issues about the ownership of mortgages, but raises them himself, a 2008 American Bar Association article noted.
And in a 2011 interview with Fox Business, Schack said he'll throw out cases in which lenders' lawyers don't follow New York State's affirmation rule in which the attorneys must certify they have reviewed and verified foreclosure documents filed with the court.