Tom Dart, the Sheriff of Cook County, IL (which includes Chicago and many of its suburbs) has stated that he will stop serving eviction notices upon those people who are in default on their mortgage.  Dart says that it is not his job to “carry out work on behalf of the multi-billion-dollar banks and mortgage industries.”  My thoughts on this decision are below:

First, some background information
When someone fails to pay their mortgage for a long enough time, the bank will foreclose and take the property.  In order to do so, the bank goes to court and begins a foreclosure proceeding.  One of the sheriff’s responsibilities is to serve process (notice that one is being sued) upon people being sued in the county, whether the suit relates to a mortgage, a car accident, etc.  In this case, the Cook County sheriff has unilaterally decided that he will stop serving mortgage eviction notices, because he feels that the foreclosures are unfair.

Why Tom Dart’s actions are wrong
As Sheriff, part of Tom Dart’s job is to serve process, so that our legal system can work fairly and properly, which requires that cases go to court rather than be stalled by a sheriff who doesn’t know the facts and is not a judge.  It is not Dart’s role to unilaterally and unlawfully decide that he will stop serving process, and he admits this fact, admitting that he “may be held in contempt of court over this.”  If the foreclosures are truly unfair and violate the law, then the residents will have a chance in court to prove so before they are evicted.  If the foreclosures are unfair but allowed by law, then the proper solution is a change to the law, which can only be made by the legislature.  What is improper is to have a Sheriff take it upon himself to decide that he will ignore the courts and ignore the laws – for when the county’s highest law enforcement officer ignores the law, one heck of a bad example is being set for the ordinary citizens.