Payment History as Exception to Hearsay Rule

A recent decision from the 1st Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals applying FRE 803(6) states the current law — whether you like it or not. Pretending these decisions don’t exist or trying to avoid them is both pointless and highly likely to undermine your credibility in any other narrative or argument. Note that SCOTUS Justice Souter not only sat in on this review but wrote the opinion.

Simply stated the transaction history will be admitted into evidence every time — UNLESS the borrower disputes their content and demands a hearing on truthfulness of the foundation testimony in which the magic words are spoken, as set forth in the Federal Rule and virtually all state court rules.

That means that unless you have done the right research, the right investigation and the right discovery you will have no admissible evidence with which to dispel the notion that the transaction history is anything more than an independent reliable summary of events that is admissible as proof of the truth of the transactions that occurred, and which did not occur with respect to the borrower.

see 18-1719P-01A U.S. Bank Trust v Jones, No. 18-1719

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The lawyers for the servicer are pretending to be the lawyers for US Bank who knows nothing about the foreclosure and doesn’t care as long as it receives its monthly check in exchange for the license it granted for use of its name to make it seem like this is an institutional foreclosure.

Those lawyers are going to throw this case at you when you challenge the payment history on grounds of hearsay or foundation. Tactically that is what you want them to do because then you can quote from the same case as follows:

the business records of loan servicers may not always carry the requisite indicia of reliability. See, e.g., Brief for National Consumer Law Center and Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization as Amici Curiae 12-18. It therefore bears repeating: the admission of integrated business records in this context must turn, as it does here, on the particular facts of each case.

So if you have been reading or listening to my work then you know that I have been saying categorically that if you are able to persuade the judge that your case stands alone or is unique in some respect and NOT try to make blanket accusations about industry practices in general as the focus of your claim, then you are much more likely to obtain a favorable result.

Souter emphasizes that this is a case by case decision and admits that servicer records might be neither truthful nor trustworthy. But that is not enough to bar them from evidence. Your defense can’t be equal to “we don’t dispute what is in those records but we dispute whether those records qualify as an exemption.” You have just slammed the door in your own face.

If you are admitting even tacitly that the debt exists, that you have not paid it, and that there is a loss attributable to your failure to make a payment, you have lost the case. If you admit that the record is accurate, even tacitly by not contesting anything within it, that record is coming into evidence.

The Judge will always find a way. And to be perfectly fair, the judge should  find a way to make justice happen. If you owe the money and the party claiming the money or the foreclosure does so in an effort to pay down the actual debt, they should win and you should lose.

There is no law that says that technical deficiencies should preclude an otherwise valid claim. Sounds like I am arguing for the bank, right?

The rejoinder is that through research and discovery and investigation you have uncovered the following documents from the public records, from the claimant’s records and from regulatory authorities and the following witnesses. They will show that the homeowner disputes the content of those records and has consistently done so since discovering erroneous information on them, and that the transaction history is at best unreliable and at worst a pure fabrication, just as this same servicer has done in these cases……

The legal argument is not that the records are permanently barred or that the truth of the matters asserted are permanently barred. It is that the opposing lawyers must produce a witness who can be cross examined and who can reconcile the factual issues that the homeowner has challenged.

The opposing lawyers will then stipulate for purposes of “judicial economy” that they no longer seek to recover based upon the contested transactions, and that they will reduce their demand accordingly. That looks like you are cooked.

But the rejoinder would be that while the homeowner accepts the admission that the records are incorrect (you ARE allowed to recharacterize the statement of opposing counsel) these erroneous statements were made before the notice letters were sent, which were a legal condition precedent to the pursuit of foreclosure. You argue that they have now failed to comply with statutes that are to be strictly construed where someone is threatened with the loss of their home. Both the amount stated as due and the amount required to reinstate were incorrect.

The whole scenario comes down to the fact that you must use facts to persuade the judge that the opposing attorney must prove his case instead of relying upon legal presumptions and exceptions to the hearsay rule. You must push hard on this because you know they cannot prove the facts, they cannot prove authority, they cannot prove ownership because they are all only doing this for fees, not for recovery on the debt. The lawyers have no knowledge as to the identity of the creditor and they don’t care. You don’t need to prove that. But you do need to raise it as a question mark in the head of the judge.

Those transaction histories might have some accurate information in them but they are being produced by a party who has an actual interest in the outcome of litigation, so they are not trustworthy and they contain errors that the servicing company now admits, although candidly there is a real question as to whether the servicing company is not simply a volunteer out for profit, the same as the lawyer and US Bank.

Also remember to attack foundation this way: US Bank or a trust is asserted to be the claimant. Unless someone can provide foundation testimony based upon personal knowledge that these records are the records of the claimant, then the records of the “servicer” may be barred. No representative of US Bank comes to trial. It is always a representative of a servicer.

In  discovery the absence of records showing disbursements  to creditors by the “servicer” might be sufficient to establish that the transaction history is not the whole story even if it is right and they should not be allowed to enter only one part of the transaction record supposedly conducted in the name of the Trustee or Trust. To whom were they forwarding the borrower’s payments? When did they stop? Did they stop because the debt is now owned by someone else or because it was enver owned by the trustee or the trust?

3 Responses

  1. So, you’re going to “throw at them” the fact that somewhere, some lawyer wrote a brief and took a position you like? Wow. Brutal. Just think how omnipotent you’d feel if you had an (gasp) ACTUAL SUPPORTING CASE CITATION.

  2. Nadia — I think you are correct. The banks have the protection of the government.

    I never understood modifications. Mods just keep the title flawed and ownership concealed. Mods are because the debt is unsecured and because a refinance is not viable. I understand that people need mods, but title must be cleared, and borrowers have no right to even ask – who is the loan mod with, and why? The original contract was fake — it cannot be validly modified. .

    If anyone wants to produce transaction history, you should demand the history from purchase of home. It is likely that the last transaction did NOT execute a payoff BY THE BORROWER. Debt was just rolled over – restructured. Get exact dates of supposed pay off. Ask what was reported to prior “investor.” Ask who paid it off. You will find — not you. Ask who claimed to fund the loan. Ask about warehouse “lender.” Ask about designated value of $0.

  3. If the banks @WellsFargo don’t have the courage. – from the Gov., court judges, Sheriffs, – the whole illigal foreclosure wouldn’t start wouldn’t happen in the first place!
    If the bank really meant to help in modification they wouldn’t drag & prologue our life with paper work & treating us unqualified for nonsense of paper that has post office address instead of home address while dealing w the bank basically paperless thru online, not nonsense mail

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