Maryland's high court to weigh foreclosure changes

A committee that proposes rules for Maryland's courts recommended changes Friday that could set off "massive audits" of documents filed by firms trying to foreclose on homeowners.

The emergency proposal, which will be considered by Maryland's highest court on Tuesday, comes after revelations that two Maryland foreclosure attorneys did not sign a number of their affidavits but instead directed others to reproduce their signatures. An affidavit, the written equivalent of court testimony, cannot be signed on someone else's behalf.

The proposed rules would allow the courts to appoint examiners to look more closely at foreclosure documents, an effort that committee chairman Alan M. Wilner said in a letter could be required in "thousands of files."

In cases where questionable affidavits are found, the proposal specifies that the courts could order the people who submitted the documents to appear and swear under penalty of perjury that they read the documents, signed them and have enough knowledge of the facts included to attest to their accuracy.

"In the Committee's view, the use of bogus affidavits to support actions to foreclose liens on property, apart from prejudice to the homeowners, constitutes an assault on the integrity of the judicial process itself," wrote Wilner, a retired judge.

The Court of Appeals is scheduled to meet in Annapolis at 1 p.m. Tuesday to consider the proposal.

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