LAWYERS TAKE NOTE — THIS IS YOUR CHANCE –NY Times Editorial hits the nail on the head

October 9, 2009
Editorial

Another Kind of Foreclosure Crisis

The foreclosure crisis is being made substantially worse by a shortage of lawyers for people whose homes are at risk.

According to a new study, an overwhelming number of homeowners who face foreclosure do not have legal help in protecting their rights. As a result, people are losing their homes who do not need to.

In 2008, more than three million foreclosures were filed, and the number keeps growing. By one estimate, more than eight million families may lose their homes in the next four years. Having a home taken away is devastating for the families involved. This churning of people out of their houses, and in some cases into homeless shelters or out on the streets, is also expensive and disruptive for the nation as a whole.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that 86 percent of people facing property foreclosure last year in economically challenged Stark County, Ohio, lacked counsel. In Queens County, New York, 84 percent of defendants lacked full legal representation in proceedings involving foreclosures on “subprime,” “high cost” or “non-traditional” mortgages — ones disproportionately targeted to low-income and minority populations.

The law of mortgages and foreclosures is complicated even for many lawyers. It is hard to imagine what it must be like for a poor person with little legal knowledge to have to fight on his or her own to keep a home.

Homeowners often have legal defenses, but laypeople are unlikely to know what they are or how to use them. A lawyer can also persuade lenders to slow down foreclosure proceedings, or to renegotiate terms, by invoking the appropriate federal, state and local laws.

Foreclosures should not be allowed to go forward until, as the Brennan Center recommends, homeowners are at least given enough counseling to know whether they have viable legal claims.

Although budgets are tight these days, Congress and the states need to come up with more money for foreclosure legal assistance.

Class actions can be a powerful tool in challenging practices, like predatory lending, that affected large numbers of homeowners. Right now the Legal Services Corporation, which provides essential civil legal services to low income Americans, is barred by law from representing clients in class action suits. Congress should lift that and other unwarranted restrictions on legal service providers. Too many Americans urgently need help.

2 Responses

  1. well said dying truth.
    With all due respect to Neil & those others that I met here- that they are upstanding & truly a credit to the their name sake of “Lawyer” but they are the minority .To expect lawyers to rally as an affront is imho fallacy at best. Its just not in their [lawyers] best interest.
    Lawyers in and of themselves are the largest part of the private parties for hire that helped set the stage for this massive bankster rip-off by [land]mining the playing-field & perverting the justice system.. long ago.
    .The judiciary begrudgingly acknowledges the non-lawyer as a burden & stranger to the court.

    F.R.C.P –
    Rule 1. Scope and Purpose of Rules
    These rules govern the procedure in the United States district courts.
    “They shall be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.”

    Someone please point me to where & how this is applied now?

  2. yeah what about even denying us equal access to the courts? if your an attorney you can file electronically anywhere, but if your pro se only some courts will let you others you have to file manualy at the courthouse. and as far as this legal services dilema, a long time ago while the bailout was fresh out of the bag I suggested to the center for responsible lending to use what was left, (that instead went to programs like JOKE 4 Homeowners and “lender incentives”) for legal services for homeowners in need for thier fair rights to due process and enforcing the laws. all the while all these banks own thier own firms bribe congress on a regular basis buy judges yachts and still have the audacity to walk into court in thier 3 piece suits and act the victim and give sob story about how they “will be caused irreparable harm if they are not allowed to foreclose on the home and evict the evil evil borrowers who defaulted on the wonderful loans (thier wonderful to them because they not only charged fees that average at least 1/4 of the loan and kept for themselves but they made even more slicing & dicing a bunch of thes loans mushed together on the Loan Shopping Network) that gave them and even assured them not to worry you’ll always be able to refinance again”. then the judge says there there there it’s ok these mean borrowers will be punished (then leans over the bench and wispers to the lender and its attorney “are we still going fishing on sunday? I love that boat you got me “. god damn that’s just disgusting, why don’t they just make it law that anyone who dreams of owning a home of thier own must be terrorized until it becomes a nightmare! maybe they did. but anyhow the center for responsible lending acually picked up on the idea and had it on thier website as the plan that should be implemented, then a couple of weeks later it was gone. banks got bailed out, homeowners got kicked out and congress all gave themselves huge pay raises as well as start the purchase process of their own private airplanes so they can go to great britain anytime they want to have a cup of tea with gordon brown, & all at our expense, because we’re just a disgrace for not being rich and a little napolean trying to be as tyrranical as I can be to those less fortunate than me.

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