Brooklyn civil court consolidates real estate foreclosures. 

October 9, 2016

Nearly a decade after the start of America’s historic housing crash, the nightmare continues for forgotten homeowners behind in their mortgage.

The list of pending home foreclosures before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Noach Dear on Tuesday morning was enough to take your breath away.

Around 11:30 a.m., a clerk in Dear’s packed courtroom at 360 Adams St. announced the cases still to be heard.

There was Bank of America vs. Vazquez, Bank of New York vs. Antigone, Citi Mortgage vs. Green, Deutsche Bank vs. Paz, Federal National vs. Castro, HSBC Bank vs. Ambrose, JPMorganChase vs. Roberts, PennyMac vs. Acevedo, Wells Fargo vs. Hamilton —more than 65 in all.

But lawyers and advocates for distressed homeowners say Dear’s courtroom has become a prime example of a new “assembly line” approach to justice by the Brooklyn court system.

At separate tables in the front, two law clerks convened a steady string of meetings with contending parties while the judge looked on.

“You should see how busy this place gets on Thursdays and Fridays,” said Dear, who is overseeing nearly 6,500 foreclosure cases all by himself.

Dear rarely holds a hearing with a court stenographer present to make a formal record of the proceedings. He simply oversees the meetings his clerks hold.

In January, Lawrence Knipel, the administrative judge for Kings County’s civil division, suddenly consolidated the borough’s enormous backlog of nearly 12,000 foreclosure cases in the hands of just three judges, with Dear getting more than half of them. Previously, those cases had been spread among more than 25 judges who also heard other kinds of cases.

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