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Efforts to aid those facing foreclosure continue

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More than 1,000 Indiana attorneys, judges, and mediators have attended CLE trainings since June about mortgage foreclosures. Chief Justice Randall Shepard disclosed the numbers today in Evansville where he also announced a new statewide initiative to help implement the state law that went into effect July 1 that provides homeowners the option of settlement conferences to save their homes.

About 35 of the CLEs, "Back Home in Indiana - Guiding Homeowners Through Foreclosure," have taken place for attorneys looking to represent homeowners, and for mediators willing to conduct settlement conferences. The final two CLEs are scheduled for this week - one today in Evansville and another Friday in Bloomington. While nothing has been set, there has been some talk to offer more CLEs about foreclosures in the future.

The CLEs were part of the court's response to the approximately 50 percent increase in the number of foreclosure cases in Indiana during the past five years. In 2008, there were 45,394 foreclosures filed in the state. In 2003 and 2004, there were approximately 30,000 foreclosures filed.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network, the Indiana Pro Bono Commission, the Indiana Commission on Continuing Legal Education, the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, bar associations, law firms across the state, and the Indiana Supreme Court supported the training sessions.

Those who have handled settlement conferences have told Indiana Lawyer that having an attorney in the room can vastly improve a homeowner's chance of success.

While the court surpassed its goal to train at least 700 mediators, judges, and attorneys, an official statewide number has not been released regarding how many of those are eligible or have offered to take a pro bono case or mediate a settlement conference. That issue, along with other issues regarding the mortgage foreclosure CLEs, will be up for discussion at the annual conference of pro bono district plan administrators, which coincides with the Indiana State Bar Association's annual meeting in November.

Beyond training attorneys, judges, and mediators, the chief justice said the courts have a new plan to be implemented.

The proposed statewide system will help local courts handle the thousands of expected settlement conferences through local coordinators. The coordinators will also track the data for success rates, something each court currently does on its own without a centralized system. The Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority will finalize plans on this effort in the coming months.

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