Angela Caputo on 07.23.10 at 10:41 AM |
(Originally published 7/22/10 at 5:20 p.m.) Chicagoan Rich Gregory figured it was only a matter of time before he’d hear from his bank after falling behind on his second mortgage. But when he was summonsed to foreclosure court in 2008, he realized his bank wasn’t interested in negotiating.
Gregory noticed something “goofy” about the summons. Attached to it was a copy of the server’s credentials, issued on the letterhead of former Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Morgan Finley, a man convicted of extortion and ousted from office more than two decades earlier. “I thought, ‘This guy’s not licensed. He’s not authorized to do it,” Gregory said.
Turns out that Cook County Judge Dorothy Kinnaird, who oversees the Chancery Division, issued a court order in June 2007, allowing lenders and servicers to sidestep the Cook County Sheriff’s office and hire private agencies to deliver foreclosure summons. The idea was to free up a flood of new foreclosure cases. Lawmakers had toyed with the idea decades earlier. Ultimately, they decided that having a neutral party – primarily the Sheriff’s office – delivering court documents would avert the sort of conflict that’s brewing in the Cook County court system. Homeowners are now challenging the legitimacy of their summonses, and some are saying that they were never called to court to plead their case.
We hear that a lawsuit is coming down to challenge the court’s use of special process servers.
As far as Marty Stack, legal council to the Sheriff’s office is concerned, these questionable summonses could threaten the legitimacy of potentially thousands of local foreclosure cases. “Basically, all of these people could come back to vacate their case,” Stack said. “The judge has no right to take away their due process.”
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