New York court officials outlined procedures Tuesday aimed at assuring that all homeowners facing foreclosure were represented by a lawyer, a shift that could give tens of thousands of families a better chance at saving their homes.
Jonathan Lippman, New York’s chief judge, wants all homeowners facing foreclosure in the state to have legal representation.
Criminal defendants are guaranteed a lawyer, but New York will be the first state to try to extend that pledge to foreclosures, which are civil matters. There are about 80,000 active foreclosure cases in New York courts. In more than half of them, only the banks have lawyers.
“It’s such an uneven playing field,” Lippman said. “Banks wind up with the property and the homeowner winds up over the cliff, on the street. It doesn’t serve anyone’s interest, including the banks.”
A lawyer for every defendant will also serve the courts’ interests, the judge said, by making proceedings more efficient.
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