Foreclosure and Credit Cases — What is to be done?

I find myself more and more embarrassed that those of us in the access to justice movement have not been able to figure out how to do more to help particularly the self-represented deal with these cases. see. e.g. New York Times, A Happy Ending to a Raw, But Common Tale.  It is not just about the potential for individual injustice, but also that the distortion in the system are perpetuated when one side’s position is neither challenged nor reviewed properly.

Some questions for consideration:

What help do courts need in figuring out how to better inform litigants of their rights?

What help do courts need in figuring out how to more completely consider cases, including processes to encourage solutions (mediation)?

What research needs to be done to get a better handle on the problem and what its consequences are?

I would very much appreciate thoughts and ideas on these and related question.  I would also appreciate hearing about innovative programs that might be shared and replicated. Comment, or e-mail me, direct, richard@zorza.net.

Here is one example, the Consumer Assistance Project, operated by Legal Services of Northern California, in cooperation with the Superior Court.  Here is the leaflet.  The project provides consultations on legal rights and self-representation, by appointment.

Another:  Ohio Foreclosure Mediation Program, organized by the courts, and IOLTA program participation in overall effort.

About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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3 Responses to Foreclosure and Credit Cases — What is to be done?

  1. richardzorza says:

    Another program example.
    Cook County Mediation Program
    http://cookcountyforeclosurehelp.org/

  2. richardzorza says:

    A fair question, but most of us doing this work feel strongly that it is very much in the economic interests of both the bar and what you describe as “business and property interests” that people not be cut out of the system.
    In the case of the bar, it is rare that the self-represented can realistically afford to pay for a lawyer throughout the case. Indeed, many courts and bar associations are working to develop systems so that litigants can hire a lawyer for part of the case. This is a win, win, win.

    As to business and property interests, often it is much better to get a final resolution that everybody understands, and that the litigant feels has happened after a fair process, than to just “win” in an illegitimate and not understaood process that can then go on and on.

    It is interesting how many business leaders have been supportive of access to justice commissions. Here is the membership of the Texas Commission http://www.texasatj.org/commissioners.

  3. Jim Burdick says:

    Two possible adverse influences that might interfere with your access ideas moving forward are:
    1. Are there economic advantages, actual or at least perceived, to the legal profession (and so for judges) to not expand access to ability to self-represent or get good counsel.
    2. Are there at least some states where the business and property interests would be against easier access to representation by the underprivileged?
    Jim

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