PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chief Judge Evans to create new section dedicated to mortgage foreclosures and mechanics liens

Released On 02/07/2005

Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced the reassignment of three judges from the First Municipal District to the Chancery Division in preparation for the opening a new combined Mortgage Foreclosure/Mechanics Lien Section in the court’s Chancery Division.

The transfers of Judge Paul A. Karkula, Judge Carolyn Quinn, and Judge Jesse G. Reyes from the First Municipal District to the Chancery Division are effective today.

The reassignments represent the second phase of a program begun in October 2002 in which seven judges from the First Municipal District were dually assigned to the Chancery Division to address the explosion in mortgage foreclosure filings. The seven judges have been hearing only uncontested/default mortgage foreclosure cases as part of a pilot program designed to focus better attention on contested matters. The creation of the new Mortgage Foreclosure/Mechanics Lien Section is a result of the success of the pilot program, which also allowed judges to take more time with pro se, or self-represented, litigants.

Judges in the Chancery Division, which hears some of the most complex, multiparty, high profile cases in the country, are each assigned more than 1,000 mortgage foreclosure cases and more than 400 non-foreclosure cases.

Mortgage foreclosure filings in the Chancery Division steadily increased from 1996 to 2000, from 8,006, to 12,680. In 2001 and 2002, filings jumped to 16,093 and 17,248. There was a slight decline in filings 2003 and 2004, down to 15,816 and 15,637 respectively. However, filings for 2005 are projected to rise to 17, 600. For the last three years mortgage foreclosure filings represent more than 70 percent of all cases filed in the Chancery Division.

Under the new Mortgage Foreclosure/Mechanics Lien Section, all mortgage foreclosure cases will be heard on a single floor of the Daley Center instead of on seven floors in 18 courtrooms. The consolidation of mortgage foreclosure cases to a single floor is expected to be significantly more convenient for the bar, especially small firm practitioners and legal aid attorneys.

The new section will receive support from the Chancery Division Advice Desk established in February 2004 to provide assistance to pro se litigants in filing out court forms and understanding court procedures, and by the Access to Justice Program of The Chicago Bar Association, which helps to facilitate the appointment of lawyers to represent indigent Chancery Division litigants.

Judges in the new combined section will undergo extensive training, including seminars on predatory lending and uniform procedures in hearing mortgage foreclosure cases.

"Based on our close observation of the pilot program over the past two years, Chancery Division Presiding Judge Dorothy Kirie Kinnaird and I have determined that mortgage foreclosure cases can best be given the proper attention in a separate section that includes foreclosures of mechanics liens," said Chief Judge Evans.

Presiding Judge Kinnaird praised Chief Judge Evans for his initiative and foresight in establishing the new section. "Chief Judge Evans consistently demonstrates concern for improving court procedure for both litigants and attorneys, with special emphasis on meeting the needs of pro se individuals. This new section is a perfect example that underscores his strong commitment to helping the less advantaged have equal access to justice," said Presiding Judge Kinnaird.

Also effective Monday, February 7, 2005, Judge Stanley Sacks returned to the Criminal Division after a temporary four-month assignment in the Domestic Relations Division. During that period, Judge Sacks completed anger management counseling following his use of profanity while rendering a verdict last year. Judge Sacks also received mentoring from Domestic Relations Division Presiding Judge Moshe Jacobius.

Other assignment changes included in Chief Judge Evans’s first phase of 2005 judicial reassignments are as follows:

Associate Judge Jorge Luis Alonso from the First Municipal District to the Second Municipal District;

Judge Timothy P. Murphy, elected a circuit judge November 2004, from the First Municipal District to the Domestic Relations Division; and

Judge Jeanne Cleveland Bernstein, also elected a circuit judge November 2004, from the First Municipal District to the Domestic Relations Division.

 

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