Foreclosure Mediation Waits for State Supreme Court OK
January 18, 2016
DECATUR – Officials such as Judge A.G. Webber were thrilled when preparations were made to implement a foreclosure mediation program in Macon County.
But that excitement has turned to curiosity over the past year, as the wait continues for the program to be approved by the Illinois Supreme Court.
“Lawyers still ask me about it, and I tell them I am anxiously waiting every day for word,” said Webber, the Macon County presiding judge. “I wish I knew what was going on with it.”
The county submitted documents to the administrative office of the Illinois Supreme Court in late 2013 to start a mortgage foreclosure mediation program in the circuit court.
While officials hoped they could start the program earlier this year, Webber said last week they still were awaiting approval from the office.
The circuit court continues to work with the Community Preservation Clinic of the University of Illinois College of Law to refine the program guidelines and answer any questions remaining over its implementation.
The clinic helped to train mediators and staff the program in Champaign County, which has operated since 2013.
Among the changes made since the initial proposal is to adjust the fee to help pay for the program. The tentative idea would be a $75 fee on every chancery case that deals with foreclosures.
Along with the fee, the program would also be paid for through a grant from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
That fee would be applied only to the mortgage company, as Webber said the goal is to make the self-sustaining and not a revenue source.
If approved, officials hope it would take just a few months for the program to be fully implemented. The program would require the lender and the borrower in a foreclosure case to meet with a mediator, who would explore ways the borrower’s mortgage loan could be reworked or reinstated. If mediation is unsuccessful, the case would then proceed to circuit court for foreclosure.
The Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation has been providing free representation in Macon County during these cases.
Officials from the Illinois Supreme Court could not be reached for comment.
Webber declined to speculate on the cause for the delay but said he has not been given any reason to believe it is related to the state budget impasse.
The judge said Macon County is ready for the program when it is approved.
“The ball is in their court,” Webber said.
Source: Herald & Review