A Little Bit of Foreclosure Soap Won’t Wash Away Those Unclean Hands

One who comes into equity must come with clean hands else all relief will be denied him regardless of merit of his claim and is not essential that act be a crime; it is enough that it be condemned by honest and reasonable men” Roberts v Roberts, 84 So.2d 717 (Fla. 1956)
By Joel Sucher, Contributor
New York filmmaker/author/blogger

It sounds almost biblical; a pronouncement from up high and a warning that those who crave riches must do so by ethical means: so-called “clean hands.” In other words: the ends don’t justify the means and it’s actually a legal theory with a bit of provenance and the quote itself is from a Florida decision, circa 1956, which is now being used with some efficacy in foreclosure cases; albeit in states where the courts oversee the process (Florida being one).


A little bit of soap may — as the Jarmels famously sung — wash the lipstick off your face or powder from you chin but it will never, never wash away the fraud — according to this doctrine — perpetrated by those in the financial services industry who relentlessly pursue home seizures via fraudulent note endorsements, mortgage assignments and robo-signed affidavits; supporting materials necessary to prove the right (a/k/a “standing”) to pursue a foreclosure.


Unfortunately, in all too many cases the banking/foreclosure industry has have gotten away with it. One only needs to review the collateral damage (think, “homeowners”) that followed the 2008 subprime meltdown to see the devastation wrought to communities around the country and let’s not forget those impacted were folk of all political leanings.

Bruce Jacobs, a Miami based lawyer and former state prosecutor, is riding point in a legal charge to make good use of “unclean hands” as a foreclosure defense and his arguments have begun to resonate with some Florida judges.


One of his cases — Wells Fargo v John Riley — was dismissed last December in a Palm Beach, Florida Circuit Court, after the Judge found plaintiffs had failed to scrub unclean hands; to wit: Wells Fargo and its servicer, JP Morgan Chase (both parties to the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement) relied on false testimony and failed to explain how an endorsement from the original lender, Washington Mutual (remember them? The financial institution notable for being history’s biggest bank failure) came to be affixed to the note years after WAMU went out of business. Finally, the court found that the “purported mortgage loan schedules” was a phony; missing essential data (plaintiff’s witness first claimed that this was done to protect the borrower’s “privacy.” The Judge forced the witness, upon cross-examination, to admit that it had nothing to do with privacy. It was simply missing).


It seemed that the plaintiffs had taken one too many Mulligans in trying to justify how Wells Fargo had obtained the mortgage and note which finally led the Judge to this conclusion:

The court finds Plaintiff failed to prove every element of its case by substantial competent evidence and has unclean hands, and enters judgement in favor of the Defendant, John Riley.

In short, the good guys — at least in this case — win.

To read the rest of the article continue here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/a-little-bit-of-foreclosure-soap-wont-wash-away-those_us_5a359b36e4b02bd1c8c6074a

8 Responses

  1. Most homeowners I have spoken with lost their equity to wrongful foreclosure. How do you put a price robbing a person of their home.
    Wells Fargo defrauded people of their homes by foreclosing when they asked to reduce their predatory interest rate. The vultures swooped down on people who lost jobs or income during the recession. They were supposed to modify and lower interest. They have blood on their hands from they have harmed
    And even killed from the attack on their lives .
    My heart goes out to Mr. Chuck Rahr who
    Lost his wife as a result of the stress.

  2. whats the case number for Wells Fargo v John Riley ? I can’t seem to find it. Tks.

  3. Maxim – He who comes into a court of equity must come with clean hands.

  4. […] via A Little Bit of Foreclosure Soap Won’t Wash Away Those Unclean Hands — Livinglies’s Weblog […]

  5. There is a Statute on fraud. This type…the “honest judges” decide for themselves. Not funny either. Most of them are working way over their pay grade.

  6. So…. I have asked this before and never received an answer. Is there a statute of limitations on this fraud?

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