[JURIST] Chief Justice Charles Canady [official profile] of the Florida Supreme Court [official website] issued a memorandum [text, PDF] Wednesday to the chief judges of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits directing them to ensure that all foreclosure proceedings in the state are open to the public. The directive came in response to transparency concerns [ACLU report] raised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], media outlets and open-government organizations. These groups were particularly concerned by reports from across the state that suggested a number of foreclosure courts were allowing proceedings to occur behind closed doors rather than publicly as mandated by Florida law. In the memo, Canady stated that “[t]he courts of Florida belong to the people of Florida. The people of Florida are entitled to know what takes place in the courts of this state. No crisis justifies the administrative suspension of the strong legal presumption that state court proceedings are open to the public.”
In October, New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman [official profile] announced [statement, PDF] a new court rule [JURIST report] that requires lawyers to file a separate affirmation [form, PDF] confirming the accuracy of paperwork used in residential foreclosure cases. The new rule was effective immediately and has been added to the New York State Unified Court System [official website] residential foreclosure rules [text]. Lippman explained that the new rule was an effort to provide better protection [press release] to people facing the possibility of losing their home, particularly in response to the recent discoveries of errors in foreclosure documents nationwide. Also in October, attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia announced [joint statement, PDF; JURIST report] that they have formed a bipartisan group called the Mortgage Foreclosure Multistate Group (MFMG), which will investigate allegations of procedural defects committed by mortgage loan companies during foreclosure processes. The MFMG explained that its investigation will focus on “robo-signing,” a process by which individuals signed affidavits and other foreclosure documents without having personal knowledge of the facts and without confirming the accuracy of supporting documentation.