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New Yorkers Underrepresented with Regard to Foreclosure

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“New Yorkers threatened with foreclosure have only the promise of a fair legal system to protect them from being homeless and having their American dream die an unjust, and untimely death. Even with special state legislative funding for foreclosure prevention services and the surge of pro bono assistance, across the state, 44 percent of New Yorkers facing foreclosure lack legal representation,” he was quoted as saying in the October 4th article, “Foreclosure help among legal needs of NY poor”.

However, Mack also said that Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's directive last October that lender attorneys asserted they took reasonable steps to make sure residential foreclosure documents are accurate has slashed foreclosure filings in the state.

According to the article, per data from the Office of Court Administration, in 2005, New York had 22,601 residential and commercial foreclosure filings. In 2010, there were 35,937 residential foreclosure filings. The residential total was projected to decrease to 9,236 this year.

Mack also said that often, because lenders and debt collectors assume — correctly — that poorer borrowers don't have attorneys, they become victimized, often resulting in foreclosures lacking proper documentation and/or chain of title.

Lippman was quoted as saying in the article, as he opened the hearing: “These are difficult times. And particularly in these difficult times the least advantaged in our society are the ones most at risk in our legal system.”

Recent statistics revealed that 20 percent of New York City's people are living at or below the poverty level, in addition to 15 percent of New Yorkers outside the city.

Lippman also added that he feels, per the article, that “the judiciary has a moral, ethical and constitutional obligation to support civil legal services for the poor and equal justice under law.”

An estimated 2.3 million New Yorkers attempt to represent themselves within the civil court system, according to court officials. That includes eviction cases as well as child support cases.

In January of this year, Martin J. Mack was appointed Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs. Previously, Mack served for eight years as Deputy Attorney General to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and as Deputy Secretary for Appointments to Governor David Paterson. In addition, he served as Deputy Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs to Governors Paterson and Spitzer, as an Assistant District Attorney in Cortland County, as a Cortland County Attorney, and Mayor of the City of Cortland. He was also a partner in a private law practice for nearly twenty years.

Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York and Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, has a distinguished legal career that spans forty years. Highlights of his career include being appointed by Governor Paterson in January 2009 and confirmed by the New York State Senate in February 2009. Governor Spitzer appointed him to serve as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Department, in May 2007. In this role, he served on the Administrative Board of the Courts, the policy and rule-making body of the New York State Court System.

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