As James McKinley, Jr. reports for the New York Times, at least one judge in this country is taking definitive action when it comes to the court rules regarding debt collection. McKinley quotes the judge (who here is referring to why consumers deserve more protection under the law): “You wind up with big judgments against people that half the time have no basis in fact.”
The new rules, as described below, are meant to counter both robo-signing and sewer service, and are examples of what one state (New York) is doing to make things fairer in the court system.
So-called robo-signing is the process of signing off on legal documents in hundreds or thousands of cases with little to no effort spared to determine whether the documents actually reflect accurate information, like the correct amount of debt and even the correct person who is said to owe it.
As McKinley explains, sewer service is when debt collectors claim they’ve served the debtor with papers, yet never did (and cannot prove it either way) and then go on to win default judgments when the debtor never shows for court.
The new rules combating both robo-signing and sewer service require that debt collectors prove that the chain of ownership of debt, affidavits swearing to the accuracy of what’s claimed in the collection lawsuit, and a stamped envelope showing the debtor’s address.
Could these new rules fall under the umbrella of “judicial activism”? That is undoubtedly what at least some of those in the debt collection industry would argue. But, on the other hand, these are simply (positive) changes to legal process, and would seem to fall squarely within the ambit of sound judicial leadership.