A court order issued in Cook County, Ill., this past April suspended the scheduling of certain foreclosure cases (i.e., default cases, not consent foreclosure cases) through the end of August, citing limited court resources but a full capacity.
Estimates place 75% to 80% of all Cook County foreclosure cases as those scheduled on default calls.
Since Chancery Division Presiding Judge Kirie Kinnaird signed the order, judges in the county have been hearing case managements on every single foreclosure filed prior to April 1. During such case management sessions, attorneys are expected to update judges on a particular case's status.
"Judges want to know if there have been any answers filed by any parties, know about any loss mitigation going on [and] know about any litigation that may be going on regarding lien priorities," says Jill Rein, an attorney with Pierce and Associates in Chicago.
Although the April order has not yet expired, Rein says attorneys in the area have begun scheduling cases in advance of the Sept. 1 date, at which point the court will reopen to hear all cases. As of early August, law firms were receiving court dates for early October, but many stakeholders wonder how much of a backlog will accumulate between now and then. Rein pegs her firm's foreclosure caseload at about a five-month backlog.
While Pierce and Associates is among the firms scheduling cases for the fall, Rein says there is reluctance to schedule too many cases too far ahead of time, noting the unpredictable variables presented by loss mitigation. In two months' time, a borrower could reinstate, and if that happens, the firm loses its slot before a judge.
"It's not like we want to just start filling up Sept. 1 two months ago, because a lot of those cases could have been resolved during that time with loss mitigation," she says.