FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chancery Division pilot program to begin October 1, 2002
Released On 08/27/2002
Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans was joined by Chancery Division Presiding Judge Dorothy Kirie Kinnaird and First Municipal District Presiding Judge Jacqueline P. Cox today in announcing the establishment of an innovative pilot program that creates 16 uncontested/default mortgage foreclosure calls to address the explosion in mortgage foreclosure filings in the Chancery Division. The calls will be heard in Courtrooms 1103 and 1105 of the Daley Center on four afternoons a week by First Municipal District judges who will be additionally assigned to the Chancery Division for that limited purpose. The pilot program is scheduled to begin October 1, 2002.
According to figures obtained from the Clerk of the Circuit Court and analyzed by the Chancery Division, total mortgage foreclosure filings in 2001 were 16,093 as compared to 8,006 in 1996, an increase of 101%. Foreclosure filings for the year 2001 were up 26.9% over 2000 filings and filings for the first seven months of 2002 are up 17.68% over the same period for the year 2001. At the current rate of increase (based on the first seven months of 2002) it is projected that total mortgage foreclosure filings for the year 2002 will be 18,938 or 17.7% over 2001 filings.
Chief Judge Evans praised Judge Kinnaird for her innovative approach in promoting efficiency in the operations of the Chancery Division. He said, "It is estimated that approximately 70% of foreclosures end up being resolved as uncontested matters which can be more efficiently and expeditiously managed under the new pilot program."
The uncontested/default mortgage foreclosure calls pilot program has been designed to allow non-contested matters to now be heard in a timely manner. The program will also reduce daily caseloads on the 16 General Chancery Section calendars which will allow judges to devote more attention to contested matters as well as create an environment where more time can be given to the needs of pro se litigants.
Under the new pilot program, the uncontested/default mortgage foreclosure calls for Calendars 1-4 will be heard on Mondays, Calendars 5-8 on Tuesdays, Calendars 9-12 on Wednesdays and Calendars 13-16 on Thursdays. Odd numbered calendars will be heard at 12:00 p.m. and even numbered calendars will be heard at 2:30 p.m. Calendars 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13, and 14 will be heard in Courtroom 1103. Calendars 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, and 16 will be heard in Courtroom 1105.
Chief Judge Evans will additionally assign a total of seven (7) judges to the Chancery Division for this program. Four judges will be designated as the regular judges, and three judges will be designated as back-up judges. The regular judges are Judge Paul A. Karkula, Judge Daniel Joseph Lynch, Judge Lewis M. Nixon, and Judge William G. Pileggi. The back-up judges are Judge Abishi C. Cunningham, Judge Sebastian T. Patti, and Judge Jesse G. Reyes. Judges from the Mechanics Lien Section of the Chancery Division will serve as additional back-up judges, if needed.
Judge Cox said, "I am pleased that seven judges from the First Municipal District have been selected by Chief Judge Evans for this important pilot program. They are seven highly capable, intelligent, and productive judges who can participate in the pilot program while they continue to attend to their regular assignments. They are committed to serving the public in this innovative initiative."
Scheduling of the uncontested/default mortgage foreclosure calls will be structured so that the same additional judge hears the same four calendars each week in order to insure continuity of practice with existing calendars. For instance, Judge A will regularly sit each day in Courtroom 1103 at 12:00 p.m. and will be the additional judge for Calendars 1, 5, 9, and 13 on a regular basis. The additional judges will be asked to meet prior to the start date with each Chancery Division judge they will be assisting and to observe each of their foreclosure calls.
In explaining the creation of the 16 new calls, Judge Kinnaird said, "It has become apparent that the solution to the spiraling mortgage foreclosure filings was not only the creation of more Chancery Division calendars. Four much- needed calendars have been created since 1998 and they continue to be essential for the handling of the non-foreclosure cases and for contested foreclosure matters. With Chancery judges managing twice as many mortgage foreclosure cases as non-foreclosure cases per calendar, we determined a pilot program of this nature would best serve the needs of the bar and of litigants."
Judge Kinnaird also explained the additional judges will be required to attend two training sessions and one final review session to be conducted by the members of the Chancery Division's Management Committee composed of Judge Kinnaird, Judge Julia M. Nowicki, Judge Stephen A. Schiller, and Judge Richard A. Siebel.
Chief Judge Evans expressed his appreciation for the cooperation of Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown in providing adequate staffing for the pilot program. He noted Ms. Brown's office has also played an integral role in reducing the backlog in the processing of motions and court orders in the Chancery Division.