by: Michael L. Rich
Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ordered that four of New Jersey's six largest mortgage servicers may resume uncontested residential foreclosures after apparently demonstrating they have taken adequate steps to remedy improper "robo-signing" and other questionable practices. Specifically, the Court’s directive permits Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Wells Fargo to resume uncontested residential foreclosures which had been effectively halted since December 2010. Retired Appellate Division Judge Richard Williams, serving as Special Master, reported that these four institutions had made a prima facie showing that they implemented new processes to redress the problems previously identified. His Report led to the Court’s recent ruling.
These four mortgage servicers, together with several other big banks, account for a large percentage of New Jersey's residential foreclosures. Thus, the approximate 7-month hiatus occasioned by the Court’s prior halting of uncontested foreclosures by these servicers afforded an opportunity for New Jersey’s Office of Foreclosure to make some significant strides in reducing the long backlogs that been occurring due to the unprecedented level of residential foreclosure filings – particularly as concerns speeding up the processing of larger commercial foreclosures. However, with the temporary halting lifted, at least as to the four major banks, it is altogether likely that the backlog in processing final foreclosure judgment applications through the Office of Foreclosure is likely to return and perhaps even worsen over the coming months.