Another Homeowner Victory In Hawaii! Gary Dubin, Attorney

US Bank v Compton 9335344481 Hawaii 2020 Dubin

So here is yet another example of litigation done correctly. This case demonstrates that the courts can and will be convinced to rule in favor of homeowners when the correct issue is raised at the right time in the right way. Here are some quotes from the case:

“Compton asserts that the evidence which U.S. Bank sought to admit through (1) the “Declaration of Indebtedness and on Prior Business Records” by Carol Davis (Davis), a “Document Execution Specialist” employed by Nationstar Mortgage LLC d/b/a Mr. Cooper (Nationstar), as servicing agent for U.S. Bank, attached to the Motion for Summary Judgment, and (2) the “Declaration of Custodian of Note” by Gina Santellan (Santellan), a “custodian of original loan records” employed by The Mortgage Law Firm, PLC (TMLF CA), attached to U.S. Bank’s “Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Its [Motion for Summary Judgment],” was hearsay and not admissible evidence.

“someone purporting to be a “custodian or other qualified witness” must establish sufficient foundation upon which to admit the note. In Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Behrendt, 142 Hawai5i 37, 414 P.3d 89 (2018), the Hawai5i Supreme Court ...

“Davis does not attest to being a custodian of records, but an authorized signer for Nationstar.

“Davis declaration does not state that U.S. Bank possessed the Note at the time the Complaint was filed, merely stating that “[U.S. Bank] has possession of the Note,” and that based on Nationstar’s records, U.S. Bank “by and through Nationstar had possession of the original Note prior to 01/24/17, the date of the filing of the complaint in this foreclosure.”

“although Davis attests to Nationstar incorporating the records of Bank of America, the “Prior Servicer,” and relying upon the accuracy of those records, Davis does not aver that she is familiar with the record-keeping system of Bank of America or the lender Countrywide, which purportedly created the Note and signed the blank endorsement. Thus, Davis’s declaration failed to establish the foundation for the Note to be admitted into evidence. Behrendt, 142 Hawai5i at 45, 414 P.3d at 97; U.S. Bank N.A. v. Mattos, 140 Hawai5i 26, 32-33, 398 P.3d 615, 621-22 (2017).

“Santellans’ declaration does not establish the foundation for admission of the Note to establish possession. That is, like the Davis declaration, Santellan does not attest that she has “familiarity with the record-keeping system of the business that created the record to explain how the record was generated in the ordinary course of business.” Behrendt, 142 Hawai5i at 45, 414 P.3d at 97 (quoting Mattos, 140 Hawai5i at 32, 398 P.3d at 621); Fitzwater, 122 Hawai5i at 365-66, 227 P.3d at 531-32) (determining that while there is no requirement that the records have been prepared by the entity that has custody of them, as long as they were created in the regular course of some entity’s business, the witness must have enough familiarity with the record-keeping system of the business that created the record to explain how the record was generated in the ordinary course of business) (quotation marks omitted).

“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Compton, as we must for purposes of a summary judgment ruling, we conclude that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether U.S. Bank had standing to initiate this foreclosure action when it was commenced. Accordingly, we conclude that the Circuit Court erred in granting U.S. Bank’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

“Based on the foregoing, the Judgment and the “Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Granting Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment against All Defendants and for Interlocutory Decree of Foreclosure,” both entered on August 10, 2018, by the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit, are vacated. This case is remanded to the Circuit Court for further proceedings consistent …

Hawaii Supreme Court: Bond on Appeal Should be Based Upon Evidence of Potential Loss Pending Appeal, Not the Value of the Property.

Many thanks again to Attorney Gary Dubin for bringing this to my attention.

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The current hodgepodge of decisions that I have always maintained were merely vehicles to discourage appeals is taken to task in this well-reasoned decision.

In Hawaii the rule is now no bond pending appeal or low bond pending appeal.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has merely applied principales that are already stated in all US jurisdictions and applied it to limit the discretion of the trial court or even an appellate court to set an arbitrary amount to stay the effect of an adverse judgement.

But this does not mean that a stay order will always be granted.

see Kelepolo Hawaii decision 2020-scwc-18-0000138

The reason that judges abuse their discretion in setting bond for appeals is that they have already made a decision and they don’t want it reversed. Reversals look bad on a judge’s record and too many reversals can impede their ambitions to be on higher courts or higher political office.

And up until now the court’s have been reluctant to intrude upon the wide discretion allowed to trial courts and appellate courts (either one can grant a stay and set bond).

Finally an element stated but rarely used as the basis for a decision on whether the lower courts based their discretion has been elevated to where it belongs, to wit: courts may not use high bond to discourage appeals.

Just because the property is worth $1 million does not mean that the bond should be set at $1 million — unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the entire value of the property will be lost pending appeal.

In a rising market it is perfectly acceptable to have no bond, particularly where bond causes undue hardship (like bankruptcy) on the appealing party.

While authoritative in Hawaii this case may be cited as persuasive and linked to the state specific decisions of every state in the U.S. It merely states the results of the doctrines already used in all states.

*
Neil F Garfield, MBA, JD, 73, is a Florida licensed trial attorney since 1977. He has received multiple academic and achievement awards in business and law. He is a former investment banker, securities broker, securities analyst, and financial analyst.
*

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How to Use the Real Deal On Securitization to Homeowner’s Advantage

Like citizenship in this country litigation is not easy. We keep banging our heads against the same wall expecting a different result. We need a strategy that directly addresses the inescapable realities of every homeowner transaction and every securitization cycle.

My substantive analysis of the transaction is that the homeowner was drafted into a securitization scheme which in my opinion clearly triggers quasi contract and quantum meruit — the only possibility for inquiring into the adequacy of consideration. Lawyers and litigants have shied away from this because of its complexity and because they don’t know how to approach it.
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In simple terms the homeowner transaction was a “”Qualified Financial Contract” (QFC), part of which contained some apparent attributes of a loan, but which went much further and diverged extensively from a “loan” as the term is currently used in custom and practice in the financial industry and society in general.
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The QFC is not some invented term for this article. it is defined in all securitization documents. Investment banks knew they were not creating a loan. The job of litigants and their attorneys is to point out and argue that the documents submitted as a foundation for their claim of legal standing contains language that opens the door to quasi contract and quantum meruit. 
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In logistical terms, the homeowner delivered the only service the investment bank was seeking, to wit: issuance of the note and mortgage. Neither the investment bank nor the originator designee of the investment bank was at all interested in making a loan, collecting revenue from repayment nor assuming any meaningful risk of loss.
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Although the homeowner entered the transaction desiring a loan he/she didn’t receive a loan. If there is no legally responsible lender or creditor at the conclusion of that transaction, it isn’t a loan.
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And since too many bona fide third party transactions have occurred to rescind or unwind the transaction the only possibility remaining is to have a court reframe the agreement to include the basis upon which the investment bank entered into the transaction — i.e., the creation, issuance, selling, trading and hedging of unregulated securities.
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We know the investment bank had no intention of becoming a lender and that there was no intention to make investors lenders.
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And we know that the investment banks funded the origination or acquisition of the loan through originators and aggregators.
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Further we know that investors paid value for the certificates which excluded any right, title or interest in any debt, note or mortgage.
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The result, obviously intended, is that while parties were paying value, none of them ever received a conveyance of ownership of the debt, note or mortgage.
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And we can easily see that anyone who received such a conveyance (a) did not pay value and (b) was not acting as an authorized agent or representative of anyone who paid value in exchange for a conveyance of an ownership interest in the subject debt, note or mortgage.
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It was partly a scheme for avoidance or evasion of lending and securities laws.
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The reason for this is blatantly stated in all of the promotional material for sale of certificates, to wit: no liability for violation of lending or servicing laws using “bankruptcy remote” vehicles  for origination and acquisition of homeowner obligations.
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And scratch the surface and you discover that the only thing that makes the transactions bankruptcy remote is that the underlying obligation, note and mortgage are not included in the schedules of bankruptcy because they were never owned by the originator or aggregator.
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The problem for the last 20 years has been that nobody has been asking the obvious question: “if they don’t own the loan, then who does?” Or at least nobody has followed up on that question in which they truly persisted in aground war to get the answer.
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So any such conveyance was either a legal nullity (mortgage assignment) or did not carry the right to enforce (note). If the conveyance didn’t include the obligation there are very specific rules that apply.
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Authority to enforce the note can only come from one who is entitled to enforce. And the premier person who has the right to enforce is owner of the underlying debt that the note is supposed to memorialize. Under the laws of all jurisdictions nobody gets to own the obligation without paying value.
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This seems to be challenging not only for the courts but for defense lawyers. It is a very simple logical progression. In the end enforcement of the note is intended to pay the debt. If it doesn’t pay the debt the maker of the note is subject to multiple liabilities for the same transaction. And that is what happened. Since the originator did not substantively fund the homeowner transaction the issuing of the note and mortgage in favor of the originator was a legal nullity. The issuance of the note created a new liability that was not merged with the underlying obligation to repay the money, if any, that was received or paid on behalf of the homeowner.
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So the reason I mention all of this is that I have somewhat reluctantly but persistently arrived at the conclusion that the homeowner transaction was not a loan and yet the obligation to make payment survives even in quasi contract or quantum meruit.
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This is an unavoidable conclusion because we know that where money was funded to the homeowner or on his/her behalf and where the homeowner issued a promise to pay money, the obligation to pay arises and can be secured by a lien (mortgage or deed of trust) which in fact is enforceable.
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But note that since there is no lender or creditor at the conclusion of the securitization cycle, the intent of the homeowner is thwarted — i.e., he/she does not have a loan agreement. It is something else. And that is where quasi contract and  quantum meruit come into play.
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The homeowner could have bargained away reasonable compensation or consideration for his/her role in initiating the only documents that made securitization claims possible — i.e., the note and mortgage.
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Our legal system is not designed to correct stupid mistakes in bargaining or negotiation in transactions or agreements.
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Our system is designed to enforce the intent of the parties. So we can’t get away from the intent to create an obligation and the intent to have that obligation enforceable and memorialized by a note and mortgage. In fact, I propose we should embrace it.
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The reason is that the intent to create the enforceable homeowner obligation was not the only intent operating. Since the securitizations cheme — and the homeowner’s vital role in it — was not disclosed (actually actively concealed), the homeowner did not, could not and never did bargain away rights to compensation or consideration for his role and risks in this dangerous risky transaction.
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Thus we enter the realm of quasi contract and quantum meruit. 
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So now the question is how much consideration  did the homeowner actually receive for issuance of the note and mortgage? Since it wasn’t a loan, even though that was what was intended by the homeowner, the receipt of money must be categorized as payment of consideration. And that is a lot of consideration by any standard.
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But now the issuance of the note and mortgage becomes a service rather than the result of an underlying obligation to repay.
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So the consideration of the receipt of benefit from the funding of the homeowner transaction is entirely offset by a promise to pay more than the consideration received in the form of money paid to the homeowner. That might still result in a court finding some consideration, since the money on the front end might not be found by a court to exactly equal the money promised on the back end.
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On the other hand there is good reason to find that the consideration for issuance of the documents required to start securitization claims, securities, selling trading and hedging was entirely negated by the concurrent promise to pay more than the money received. But assuming there was a finding of consideration, was it enough?
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In a court of equity wherein rescission is no longer an option the court must determine what a reasonable homeowner would have bargained for or received through the process of free market forces if disclosure had actually been made regarding the securitizations scheme and the vast profits and revenue generated under the scheme.
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The court would hear testimony from a variety of experts and reach a conclusion as to whether the homeowner had received enough consideration or if the homeowner should have received more as per the quasi contract and not just what was presented as a loan agreement.
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The range of possibilities is nearly infinite. From zero to a majority of the pot because the investment bank secretly tricked the homeowner into a dangerous transaction, the risks of which were unknown to the homeowner. Using the shadow banking marketplace (i.e., where all derivatives are traded for nominal value) as the external reference point for heuristic projection, it may be fairly assumed that the average revenue generated from each securitization cycle was $12 for each $1 transacted with homeowners. Additional securities analysis reveals that the figure could be much higher.
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In a free marketplace where there was no asymmetry of information the fair question could be posed as follows: from the investment bank’s perspective they would be saying that they are going to make $12 on each $1 during the securitization cycle, perhaps more.
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The homeowner and investor sitting at the same fictional but still legal table would inevitably concede that for inventing and managing such an ingenious scheme the investment bank might be entitled to the lion’s share of the profit.
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The investors would say their role as investors is critical to the existence and success of the securitization cycle. And since capital is valued more highly than labor they would claim a greater share than that awarded to homeowners. Homeowners would make the same argument as investors — without them there is no securitization and there are no revenues and there are no transactions claimed as “loans.”
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So looking at the customs and practices of the financial industry the investors would probably initially claim 40% as angels and the homeowners could justify a claim of around half that amount for their indispensable role.
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Or one could look at the money actually spent (commissions, bonuses etc) on getting homeowners to execute the required note and mortgage while concealing the truth about the transaction as a measure of what the homeowners should get. Or a license or royalty arrangement might be adopted.
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All of them in my opinion average around 15%-20% of the total revenue generated by the scheme. this would leave the investment bank with 40% or more of the securitization cycle revenue which is around 1000% of normal revenues for underwriting and sale of debt securities.
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So the court would offset the obligation with whatever it decided was reasonable consideration for the homeowner. It would either order payment to the homeowner of any excess consideration due or order the homeowner to pay the balance of the obligation after offset for the consideration due. And if the homeowner still owed money both the note and mortgage would be enforceable.
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But here is the rub. None of this is possible without creating a contract by decree in which it is possible to designate a party who is not a creditor to act as a creditor — in a transaction to which the homeowner agrees that for all purposes the designee will be a creditor. And that creditor is subject to lending and servicing laws. This is essential because under current law only the owner of the debt can enforce the mortgage and only someone representing the owner of the debt can enforce the note unless they are a holder of the note in due course — which means they purchased it for value in good faith and without knowledge of the  maker’s defenses. 
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So it becomes necessary to plead for this attribute to be made part of the newly minted agreement because without it, you don’t have an enforceable agreement  Without an enforceable agreement you’re left pleading for damages under RICO, wrongful foreclosure, etc. And while the note and mortgage might not be subject to enforcement, they still exist. No lender or buyer will complete a transaction with that hanging over the deal.
*
Neil F Garfield, MBA, JD, 73, is a Florida licensed trial attorney since 1977. He has received multiple academic and achievement awards in business and law. He is a former investment banker, securities broker, securities analyst, and financial analyst.
*

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FORECLOSURE DEFENSE IS NOT SIMPLE. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF A FAVORABLE RESULT. THE FORECLOSURE MILLS WILL DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO WEAR YOU DOWN AND UNDERMINE YOUR CONFIDENCE. ALL EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT NO MEANINGFUL SETTLEMENT OCCURS UNTIL THE 11TH HOUR OF LITIGATION.
*
Please visit www.lendinglies.com for more information.

How to Stop the Court from Speculating About the Identity of Claimants in Foreclosure Cases

As long as you continually attack the sub silentio assumptions of the court, you will be weakening the case against you for foreclosure. Failure to do so means almost certain failure.

Foreclosure is considered a draconian remedy equivalent to capital punishment. All US jurisdictions have adopted as a matter of law and public policy (Article 9 §203 UCC) that the remedy will only be granted to one who paid value for the underlying obligation.

If you don’t challenge the sub silentio assumptions of the court, then the judge is free is assume that the granting of foreclosure is a remedy for restitution of unpaid debt and that he/she has granted it under the assumption that the owner of the debt is going to get the money when the property is sold to a third party.

THE FIRST MISTAKE YOU MAKE IS IN ASSUMING THAT THE OBLIGATION STILL EXISTS AND HAS NOT BEEN EXTINGUISHED IN THE PROCESS OF SECURITIZATION BY PAYMENT OUT OF HIGHLY PROFITABLE SECURITIZATION SCHEMES THAT WERE PART OF THE ISSUANCE OF THE MORTGAGE AND NOTE.

None of the court assumptions are true. But you can make them true by failure to challenge the assumptions and misleading arguments presented by the foreclosure mill. It is through no doing of the homeowner that the obligation has been retired without payment from the homeowner. And the homeowner has no legal or moral reason to pay it again. BOTTOM LINE: IF NOBODY HAS AN ASSET ON THEIR BOOKS SHOWING THEY PAID FOR THE DEBT, THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO ENFORCE IT. THEY ARE JUST A WITNESS — NOT A PARTY.

This is a procedural problem. Technically speaking, a motion to dismiss has very strict rules — taking all allegations and exhibits of the complaint, does the complaint does state a potential cause of action upon which relief could be granted. Once you introduce something outside of the allegations of only the complaint you are in the realm of Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, Motion for Summary Judgment etc.

 
Opposing counsel is attempting to mislead the court into speculating about the identity and nature of the claim, and the identity of the parties who are named as Plaintiff. The essence of the position of opposing counsel is a sub silentio argument: i.e., presume that somebody, somewhere is going to get the benefit of payment on a debt they own owed by the homeowner. The complaint and exhibits filed do not contain allegations of ultimate facts upon which relief could or should be granted. Such relief can only be granted if the court rejects basic jurisdictional and procedural requirements. Neither the Defendant nor the court has any basis for actually knowing the identity of the claimant(s) in this action. Relief cannot be granted to the world at large. 


The issue here is that opposing counsel now admitted certain things and their own complaint basically says the opposite of their current position in court. Inconsistent statements, some of which must logically and of necessity be false, are protected by litigation immunity behind which both opposing counsel and the participants in the instant lawsuit are hiding. But just because they cannot be held accountable for misleading the court doesn’t mean that they should be permitted to do it. 


Since the complaint is clearly filed, in its own words, on behalf of certificate holders, their current position that the bank is somehow the actual party is without foundation. The complaint lacks an allegation stating that the bank is the legal representative of certificate holders and further lacks any allegation that the bank is trustee for the certificate holders who are beneficiaries of a trust. Further the complaint fails to allege that the trust exists or was organized under the laws of any jurisdiction. 


They appear to be taking the position that the bank is a plaintiff, not on its own behalf but on behalf of some third party. If it is a trust, they have failed to identify the trust or any transaction in which the subject loan was entrusted to the trustee under the terms of a trust instrument which is also not alleged. 


Accordingly, based upon the argument of counsel, the complaint fails to state the cause of action that opposing counsel is currently pursuing. This court lacks jurisdiction to hear any matter in which the Plaintiff is not identified or in which the named Plaintiff is not alleged to have suffered some injury caused by the Defendant or someone through whom the Defendant claims an interest in the subject matter. 


As it stands the complaint must be dismissed because it lacks both basic requirements for authority of the court to hear any dispute, to wit:  The identity of the Plaintiffs is concealed, withheld or otherwise not alleged and the ultimate facts upon which relief could be granted as the basis of their claim is not alleged.

The current action is based upon the implied conveyance contained within unidentified certificates, the contents of which are neither described nor attached as exhibits. And the claim is alleged to be brought on behalf of undefined holders of those certificates, who are not alleged to have any interest in the subject obligation. On the contrary, opposing counsel continues to assert the position that the plaintiff is a bank acting as trustee for an implied trust. 


Opposing counsel is attempting to have it both ways and to distract the court from the obvious conflict presented in this case. Either the claim is brought on behalf of an actual or implied trust or it is brought on behalf of holders of certificates. In either case neither the “trust” nor the “certificates” or “holders” are identified. Defendant is forced to litigate with a ghost. This court is being guided into a final judgment that grants to relief to unknown legal persons based upon assumed injury that is never alleged. 


Defendant is entitled to know exactly who she is litigating against and why. that is basic pleading practice as required by the most basic constitutional standards, statutes and rules of civil procedure. As it stands, opposing counsel is promoting a case that has not been alleged. 


Defendant asserts that the case must be dismissed without prejudice or that judgment must be entered for the Defendants. The opposition filed by opposing counsel actually corroborates every basis for the motion to dismiss that was filed. This court should refuse to consider an unspecified case with unspecified plaintiffs on an unspecified claim. To do otherwise opens the door to new doctrine in which anyone can file a lawsuits based upon facts known to them as a witness instead of a party. 

The court should reject the sub silentio argument presented by opposing counsel — that even if the the trustee, trust and holders have no right, title or interest in the mortgage, the action should proceed because they know that the homeowner did not make a payment.

The protections enunciated by the state legislature in their adoption of Article 9 §203 of the Uniform Commercial Code are not optional. Only the owner of the underlying obligation can force forfeiture of property to pay a debt. Black letter law in all jurisdictions is crystal clear: debt is not acquired without paying value for it. Black letter law is in all jurisdiction is clear: assignment of mortgage without a sale of the underlying obligation is a legal nullity. 


“even if we could entertain the argument we would reject it. The complaint alleges that US Bank claims to hold the beneficial interest and the right to foreclose, which is fully consistent with defendants’ representations in their brief as well as the judicially noticeable documents in the record. The issue is not Chase’s role as the loan servicer, but the proper identification “of the party enforcing [the] debt.” (Yvanova, supra, 62 Cal.4th at p. 937.) Yvanova makes clear that “􏰀􏰁􏰂he borrower owes money not to the world at large but to a particular person or institution, and only the person or institution entitled to payment may enforce the debt by foreclosing on the security.” (Id. at p. 938, italics added.)”

Masoud v JP Morgan Chase, Cal. 4DCA, May 26, 2020, Case #D075582.

Yvanova v. New Century Mortg. Corp., 62 Cal.4th 919, 937 (Cal. 2016) (“Defendants argue a borrower who is in default on his or her loan suffers no prejudice from foreclosure by an unauthorized party, since the actual holder of the beneficial interest on the deed of trust could equally well have foreclosed on the property. As the Jenkins court put it, when an invalid transfer of a note and deed of trust leads to foreclosure by an unauthorized party, the “victim” is not the borrower, whose obligations under the note are unaffected by the transfer, but “an individual or entity that believes it has a present beneficial interest in the promissory note and may suffer the unauthorized loss of its interest in the note.” (Jenkins, supra, 216 Cal.App.4th at p. 515156 Cal.Rptr.3d 912; see also Siliga v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 75, 85161 Cal.Rptr.3d 500 ”)

Yvanova v. New Century Mortg. Corp., 62 Cal.4th 919, 937-38 (Cal. 2016) (“Nor is it correct that the borrower has no cognizable interest in the identity of the party enforcing his or her debt. Though the borrower is not entitled to object to an assignment of the promissory note, he or she is obligated to pay the debt, or suffer loss of the security, only to a person or entity that has actually been assigned the debt. (See Cockerell v. Title Ins. & Trust Co., supra, 42 Cal.2d at p. 292267 P.2d 16 [party claiming under an assignment must prove fact of assignment].) The borrower owes money not to the world at large but to a particular person or institution, and only the person or institution entitled to payment may enforce the debt by foreclosing on the security.”)

In any valid case for foreclosure, the complaining party must plead and prove the current existence of the debt, the current ownership of the debt being in the claimant or plaintiff, and the default of the homeowner as to the claimant (not someone else, about whom the court could only speculate as to their existence or their interest in the proceedings).

If they fail to make such allegations or prove that case, foreclosure must be rejected. And if the reason they failed to make such allegations is that they are pursuing a profit motive in lieu of an attempt to collect on an existing debt held as an asset by some creditor then all parties involved should be held accountable for abusing or weaponizing foreclosure process in an extra-legal and therefore illegal manner, all claims of litigation privilege notwithstanding.

*Neil F Garfield, MBA, JD, 73, is a Florida licensed trial attorney since 1977. He has received multiple academic and achievement awards in business and law. He is a former investment banker, securities broker, securities analyst, and financial analyst.*

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*FORECLOSURE DEFENSE IS NOT SIMPLE. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF A FAVORABLE RESULT. THE FORECLOSURE MILLS WILL DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO WEAR YOU DOWN AND UNDERMINE YOUR CONFIDENCE. ALL EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT NO MEANINGFUL SETTLEMENT OCCURS UNTIL THE 11TH HOUR OF LITIGATION.

*Please visit www.lendinglies.com for more information.

I will consider taking cases on appeal pro hac vice in foreclosure cases

This is not a solicitation. The choice of an attorney is an important decision and you should choose based upon direct knowledge and consultation with other professionals. Do not rely on intermediaries. There is no assurance that I or any attorney will accept a specific case even if it complies with the following conditions. There is no guarantee of success or any specific result. Even if the court reverses the trial court it may issue instructions that are not favorable to your position. I am licensed only in the State of Florida with reciprocity only in Washington DC. I do not consider myself an expert in appellate practice and neither should you. This is a change in our procedure in that we are offering my appearance of record in appeals.

So in answer to too many requests, I am willing to consider engagements for researching and drafting the briefs for an appeal and appearance pro hac vice, including oral argument, if the following conditions are met:
  1. A final decision has been rendered ending the case. This means an adverse final judgment or a final order of dismissal of a claim brought by the homeowner.
  2. The decision has been issued and rendered by a state court, a Federal district court or a bankruptcy court.
  3.  A proper notice of appeal has been filed. and there is at least thirty days left in which to draft and file the appeal.
  4. Instructions and payments arrangements have already been made for the clerk of the court to forward the record on appeal to the appellate court.
  5. Except in Florida State or Federal cases, a local attorney has been retained as local counsel for my pro hac vice motion. This is the attorney who signs anything filed with any court and who is in  essence vouching for me and guaranteeing that we follow local rules. 
  6. Both the local attorney and the client agree that my decisions as to the focus of the appeals is final. The client may of course terminate and hire other counsel if he or she disagrees. 
  7. The foreclosure case was initiated in the name of a securitization scheme such as “U.S. Bank, as trustee for the certificate holders of SASCO series 2007-1A.”
  8. A complete certified transcript of the final hearing or trial is provided to me in digital form.
  9. A COMPLETE copy of all pleadings and all exhibits to pleadings filed of record is provided to me in digital form.
  10. After all of the above requirements have been satisfied, there is at least thirty days left in which to draft and file the appeal.
  11. No prior motions for extension of time have been filed on behalf of the homeowner. 
  12. Both the client and the local attorney understand and agree that an appeal is not an opportunity to retry the case, castigate the trial judge or impugn the integrity of opposing counsel. 
  13. All project fees for my work and to any other vendors or clerks of the court are paid in full in advance and nonrefundable before work commences. 
  14. Fees will vary depending upon the following factors:
  • The number of times that a foreclosure case has been initiated against the homeowner.
  • The number of times that the homeowner has been in bankruptcy court during the pendency of the claimed default
  • The number of times any appellate review has occurred in which this case has been involved in a related decision. 
  • Whether jurisdictional grounds in the trial court were properly raised on behalf of the homeowner. 
  • Whether the homeowner was represented by counsel in the trial court.
  • The number of other administrative or court proceedings in which the facts of this case were in issue. 
  • The number of issues raised by discovery demanded on behalf of the homeowner.
  • The number of objections raised on behalf of the homeowner. 
  • The number of motions filed on behalf of any party in the trial court.

MY PROCEDURE: I get dozens of requests for service per day. I cannot do everything. I must select those cases in which I believe, for better or worse, that I can make a difference either as litigation consultant or as the actual attorney of record for an appellant on appeal. My belief is not a prediction or guarantee or assurance of success.

STEP ONE: Order a Preliminary Document Review PREMIUM. We review your case and decide on the scope and cost of the appeal ( in addition to the PDR PREMIUM) along with recommendations on specific issues for appeal, strategies and tactics that might be employed. This includes up to 60 minutes of consultation with me and hopefully your local attorney. the decisions of your local attorney on procedure are final and I defer to local counsel on such matters. At the phone conference I will provide a good faith estimate of the non-refundable project cost that must be paid up front, excluding any motions or filings by either side other than the initial brief, the response, and the reply brief.

STEP TWO: Homeowner and advisers make a decision as to whether I might be a useful or valuable addition to the defense team and then  decide whether or not to retain GTC Honors, Inc. and myself for services that will include a Motion for Pro hac Vice appearance, notice of appearance in the appellate court, preparation and signature of brief, and reply brief for homeowner.

STEP THREE: Payment of project fee in advance, non refundable. Execution of email retainer agreement after consultation with advisers.

STEP FOUR: Work commences.

PROJECT FEES: Upon completion of PDR PREMIUM our fees will vary from $3500 to $15,000. The average of such fees in simple cases with no ancillary or collateral proceedings is $3500. The average of all appellate cases is $5500. And the highest amount so far has been $15,000.

Any such engagement specifically excludes any action, pleading or filing in any court other than the appellate court in which the appeal is pending. I do not accept engagements to appear as trial counsel any more. Thus the case is remanded for further proceedings I can serve as litigation consultant but not as trial counsel.

The engagement fee also does not include any consultations with me or any member of my team that I select to work with me without advance payment at my hourly rate of $650 per hour or part thereof. After the work for the PDR PREMIUM has been completed any such consultation must be ordered separately. However, in the course of our work we will be periodically informing you of our progress and we will answer emails in which you request answers to specific questions. Those emails will in most cases come from me. In some cases I might find the need to contact you directly by phone to ask you questions. In such instances you will not be charged for the time spent on the phone as long as the call is less than 15 minutes.

What to Think About on Appeal From an Unfavorable Trial Court Decision

In response to the rising number of requests for us to write briefs or narrations for briefs I submit this article which is my recent response to such a request. Here is an uncomfortable fact: most appeals arise because of mistakes made by the litigant in trial court, not the judge. All appeals MUST be based upon what did happen in the trial court not what should have happened. 

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GET FREE HELP: Just click here and submit  the confidential, free, no obligation, private REGISTRATION FORM. The key to victory lies in understanding your own case.
Let us help you plan for trial and draft your foreclosure defense strategy, discovery requests and defense narrative: 954-451-1230. Ask for a Consult or check us out on www.lendinglies.com. Order a PDR BASIC to have us review and comment on your notice of TILA Rescission or similar document.
I provide advice and consultation to many people and lawyers so they can spot the key required elements of a scam — in and out of court. If you have a deal you want skimmed for red flags order the Consult and fill out the REGISTRATION FORM.
PLEASE FILL OUT AND SUBMIT OUR FREE REGISTRATION FORM 
Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 954-451-1230. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
========================

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Yes we write briefs or narration for briefs all the time. Costs run from a low of $6500 to a high (so far) of $15,000. It depends upon how much we need to do. Legal research alone is usually around $1500-$2500. You should have local counsel or appellate counsel to advise you on appellate procedure. There are time limits on everything including filing the notice of appeal which must state specifically what order is being appealed and that it is a final order. Sometimes people get kicked out of appellate process because their notice of appeal cited the wrong order and then the time limit for filing the correct notice has expired. It is very technical.

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FACTOID: There are statistics on appeals. Generally only one in 6 appeals are successful by any measure and of those many of them are only partially successful requiring additional proceedings in the trial court. The higher you go in the hierarchy of appellate courts the less your chances your case will even be heard, much less decided in your favor. Neither the State nor the U.S, Supreme Court is under any obligation to hear your case. Of the 15% +/- that are “successful” at least half are criminal cases. That means cases involving a civil matter like foreclosure have about a 1 in 12 chance of being “successful” on appeal.
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EXCEPTION TO THAT GENERAL RULE: It was pointed out to lawyers at a seminar at which bankruptcy judges were presenters, that the typical appeal from the decision of a bankruptcy judge is more susceptible to appeal than the ordinary decisions of courts of general jurisdiction. That is partly because bankruptcy judges) formerly called “magistrates” have limited jurisdiction and they frequently overstep their authority  to make any decision.
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There are three separate and optional avenues for appeal. Most appeals from Bankruptcy court go to  a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel which is the least likely place to get a reversal. Second, many appeals are made direct to the Circuit Court of Appeals in which appellants typically don’t fare any better than the BAP. And lastly the one least used is an appeal to the Federal District Judge of general jurisdiction where the odds of success rise to 50%. The judges who pointed this out were perplexed why more people didn’t take that route.
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When writing a brief, your audience is a clerk for the appellate judges. That is a young lawyer, so assume nothing. If you don’t grab the attention of the reader (clerk) immediately your appeal will be thrown onto the pile of cases that will be affirmed.
*
Appellate courts do not try cases — a fundamental fact that is often forgotten by lawyers and unknown to pro se litigants. Even if every judge on the panel thinks they would have decided the case differently they will probably affirm the trial judge’s decision. The principle working here is finality. The courts exist to create finality to disputes, for better or for worse. All decisions are viewed and reviewed in the context of preserving finality. The appellate court will only reverse a decision that is fundamentally wrong on the law. It will almost never reverse a decision that was wrong on the facts.
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Most cases in which an appellate decision results in reversal are set up at trial. That means careful trial preparation such that a resistant judge is boxed into a corner and the issues for appeal are plain and simple. If your contested issue involves the judge’s discretion the trial court decision will be affirmed practically every time.
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That said well crafted appeals that are presented with credibility and persuasion can still be filed with at least some prospect for success. Sloppy work will tank even the best case on appeal. Citations to the actual record on appeal are required — not arguing evidence that did not get into the court record (unless exclusion of evidence is the basis of the appeal). In foreclosure cases this is rare because the borrower lacks the evidence to “prove” a case.
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The foreclosure case is about whether the party seeking the remedy of foreclosure was entitled to do so. Hence the issue in foreclosure cases is more often about the admission of evidence than the exclusion of evidence. Anyone can dash off a brief and “justify” a fee. Only lawyers well versed in the subject and the law surrounding the subject have any chance of producing an effective brief. The brief must be well-written with proper language, punctuation, grammar and context. It must be logical and persuasive. 

How do I Use Article 9 §203 UCC Requiring Value Be Paid for Debt?

Many of you have essentially asked the same question referring to Article 9 §203 UCC as adopted by the laws of your state. There is no known cause of action for breach of that statute although one might be conjured. It is an interesting suggestion.
My reference to it is simple: the statute says that a condition precedent to enforcement of the security instrument (mortgage or deed of trust) is that the party seeking to enforce must have paid value for the security instrument. Translating that, it automatically means that if someone paid for it then they paid for the debt. BUT all law in all states says that if the “seller” or transferor does  not own the debt then the transfer of the mortgage is a nullity.
A condition precedent means you can’t do one thing without first doing the other. We are a nation of laws and personal bias about this is irrelevant.
GET FREE HELP: Just click here and submit  the confidential, free, no obligation, private REGISTRATION FORM. The key to victory lies in understanding your own case.
Let us help you plan for trial and draft your foreclosure defense strategy, discovery requests and defense narrative: 954-451-1230. Ask for a Consult or check us out on www.lendinglies.com. Order a PDR BASIC to have us review and comment on your notice of TILA Rescission or similar document.
I provide advice and consultation to many people and lawyers so they can spot the key required elements of a scam — in and out of court. If you have a deal you want skimmed for red flags order the Consult and fill out the REGISTRATION FORM.
PLEASE FILL OUT AND SUBMIT OUR FREE REGISTRATION FORM 
Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 954-451-1230. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
========================

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What many lawyers continue to miss is that there is a difference between the laws entitling someone to enforce a note and the laws entitling someone to enforce a mortgage. There are different public policies behind each one. For Notes, the public policy is to encourage the free flow of negotiable instruments in the marketplace. For mortgages, the public policy is to make sure that the civil equivalent of the death penalty (loss of home) is not imposed by someone who actually has no interest in the debt.
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It is an added protection. As a condition precedent it means that standing to enforce the note is different from standing to enforce the mortgage. It is both factual and jurisdictional.
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The grey area occurs because many states adopt the doctrine that if someone has the right to enforce the note they automatically have the right to enforce the mortgage. Although that seems to contradict the Article 9 §203 provision it actually doesn’t. That is because possession of the note by a person who is entitled to enforce it raises the legal presumption that the value was paid by the person on whose behalf the note and mortgage are enforced.
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This is a fuzzy area of the law. But boiled down to its simplest components, it means that possession of the note is deemed (presumed) to be possession of legal title to the debt which, as we know from Article 9 §203 can only be true if the person has value invested in the deal.
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The point of that policy is that if the forced sale of the house is not going to produce proceeds that will be used to pay down the debt, then the foreclosure should not occur. If the person on whose behalf the foreclosure is brought is not the owner of the actual debt then without evidence from the lawyers representing the party named as Plaintiff or Beneficiary, there is no evidence that the proceeds will go towards paying down the debt and the court is required, with no discretion, to enter judgment for the homeowner.
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So the question comes down to whether the party claiming both possession and entitlement to enforce the note is the owner of the debt. The answer is yes if the homeowner does nothing. This presumption can be rebutted. A simple question as to whether the value was paid and if so, how many times, and demanding the dates and parties involved, would clear up the question if the banks had a factual answer. They don’t. They present a legal argument instead. As virtually all lawyers know, their job is to win however they can do it. So if they can’t dazzle the court with facts they can baffle the courts with bullshit.
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Carefully educating the judge who most probably slept through the UCC classes in law school is key to winning on this basis but it has been done many times. All jurisdictions have case decisions that reflect what I have described above. You must find those decisions and present them as part of your pleadings, memoranda and argument in court. 

How and Why to File Motion for Reconsideration or Rehearing

Once a trial has been conducted, there can never be another trial with the same parties disputing the same facts and issues. The only exception is a court order vacating the judgment AND ordering further proceedings to determine all or some of the facts.

The bottom line is that the rules permitting the filing of a motion for rehearing or motion for reconsideration — or even a motion to vacate — are not intended to allow a party to redo their closing argument. The fact that you disagree with the ruling is irrelevant. Case law strongly suggests a standard that is close to the rules used on appeal — clear error.

Let us help you plan for trial and draft your foreclosure defense strategy, discovery requests and defense narrative: 202-838-6345. Ask for a Consult.

I provide advice and consultation to many people and lawyers so they can spot the key required elements of a scam — in and out of court. If you have a deal you want skimmed for red flags order the Consult and fill out the REGISTRATION FORM. A few hundred dollars well spent is worth a lifetime of financial ruin.

PLEASE FILL OUT AND SUBMIT OUR FREE REGISTRATION FORM WITHOUT ANY OBLIGATION. OUR PRIVACY POLICY IS THAT WE DON’T USE THE FORM EXCEPT TO SPEAK WITH YOU OR PERFORM WORK FOR YOU. THE INFORMATION ON THE FORMS ARE NOT SOLD NOR LICENSED IN ANY MANNER, SHAPE OR FORM. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 202-838-6345 or 954-451-1230. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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see Hinrichsen wins on FDCPA Claim

The above link will take you to a Southern California case in Federal District Court. The issue was whether a party was a debt collector and thus subject to regulation or private suits as debt collector. In this case the trial court used the wrong standard thus entering summary judgment for the debt collector. On motion for reconsideration the same judge found he had made an error, probably created by poor presentation by the borrower. The Judge reversed himself and ordered the case to trial.

The fact that the borrower had not presented the issue well enough in the trial court at the hearing on Defendant ‘s Motion for Summary Judgment was insufficient for “finality” to bar further argument about it. Note that courts are much more likely to reverse themselves on motions for summary judgment than they are to reverse a final judgment after a trial on the merits.

Tonight! The Neil Garfield Show with Illinois Attorney Dan Khwaja — LOPEZ Case

US Bank v Lopez

Thursdays LIVE! Click in to the The Neil Garfield Show

Or call in at (347) 850-1260, 6pm Eastern Thursdays

It is always a pleasure to speak with an attorney who is an ardent advocate for consumers. And it is good to know they are out there even though everyone is complaining about not finding an attorney. Dan wins cases and motions because he fights every step of the way — but like every good litigator he thinks about the case before he writes or says anything.

Here the note was sent for endorsement AFTER suit was filed. Truth is stronger than fiction. In the Lopez case an Illinois Appellate Court reversed the trial judge and dismissed the foreclosure. Then the same court reversed its own decision en banc and affirmed the foreclosure. Now Khwaja is taking it to the Illinois Supreme Court. He has the law and the rules on his side. You can see what he filed here: US Bank, Trustee v Lopez.

Included in the above link is what was filed with the attached appendix and relevant documents. It has the first complaint and note, second complaint and note, the affidavit of Robert Rappe Jr admitting the note was sent for endorsement after the foreclosure was filed. The first and second opinions. Everything is here that you need to look at if you want to review it.

At issue now is whether the rules mean anything or if the rules promulgated by the Illinois Supreme Court can be ignored. This of course has been the continuing cry of homeowners who were seeking workouts and modifications only to be inexorably drawn into foreclosure. In a word, the access of borrowers to their creditors has always been continually blocked during the modern era that involves false claims of securitization.

The fact pattern involves the familiar US Bank as Trustee for a presumed Trust. The parties continue to refer to the Plaintiff as “US Bank” which of course is not the case. The named Trust is the Plaintiff — if it exists. If it doesn’t exist then there is no Plaintiff notwithstanding the size of US Bank. Since the style of cases is a  shorthand “US Bank” becomes shorthand for US Bank, as trustee for the XYZ Trust.

Guest Information:

Daniel Khwaja, Esq.
Attorney at Law
ph (312)-933-4015
 

Jesinoski Revisited. Rescission is in the details.

It continues to be true that the statute is clear, the rules of procedure are clear, and the rules of evidence are clear — yet trial courts are adamantly opposed to allowing homeowners to use the power granted to them by Congress.

The second ultimate decision by the trial court that Jesinoski had to tender the money to Countrywide before the rescission could be effective is just as wrong as the same court’s prior decision that  the rescission would not be effective — a decision that was unanimously overturned by SCOTUS.  It put a condition on the effectiveness of rescission when SCOTUS clearly stated, and the statute clearly stated, that there were no conditions for the effectiveness of rescission other than the required notice.

Virtually everyone is ignoring the elephant in the living room, to wit: Countrywide was not a lender or even an aggregator. It was a conduit for an aggregator and far removed from the actual transfer of funds attendant to the apparent loan.

Let us help you plan your discovery requests: 202-838-6345
Register now for Neil Garfield’s Mastering Discovery and Evidence in Foreclosure Defense webinar.
Get a consult and TEAR (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 202-838-6345. The TEAR replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).
https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments. It’s better than calling!
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

See http://mortgageattack.com/2016/07/28/jesinoski-loses-in-trial-court-proving-neil-garfield-wrong/

The ultimate decision in the Jesinoski case was against the rescission. This was wrong and in flagrant disregard of the Jesinoski decision rendered by the SCOTUS. The decision simply stated that the rescission WAS effective the moment it was dropped in the mail (or delivered.) You can read the attack on me in Bob Hurt’s blog in the above link.

Rescission was effective starting with the mailing and uncontested delivery of the notice of rescission, if someone wants to challenge it they must do so in a lawsuit to vacate the effective instrument. This is the most basic procedural law — you don’t get relief without asking for it and the way you ask for it is by filing an pleading in court and getting a decision vacating the rescission notice. This trial court never vacated the rescission probably because it knew it had no power to do so.

You can’t get relief unless you first establish legal standing. SCOTUS said that the rescission was effective in this case and all others like it. It is uncontested that rescission caused the note and mortgage to immediately become void – not conditionally but actually.

So in order to bring a claim you would need to file a claim stating that you are being injured by a wrongfully delivered notice of rescission. That is called standing. The only party who could do that is the owner of the debt, since the ownership of the note and mortgage (void instruments now) is irrelevant. And THAT is where the trial court got it wrong (again). In the absence of a pleading from the owner of the debt, the trial court was devoid of jurisdiction to render any decision in which there rescission was ignored.

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Hurt, a non lawyer, is apparently attempting to discredit a Federal law. But he is voicing the party line of the banks. The trial court was twice in error when it entered judgment against Jesinoski and if Jesinoski had the resources to appeal again they MIGHT well have won. It does appear that the “issue” in the trial court was whether the rescission stands. Clearly the opposition did not follow the requirements of statute.
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BUT it is possible for the appellate courts to see this as harmless error since the factual finding of the trial court was that proper disclosure was given to Jesinoski. While that finding is also appealable, appellate courts are not likely to intervene in a  finding of fact unless there was absolutely nothing in the court record to justify that finding.
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So in the end this is about evidence and the failure to present it.
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Since rescission is all about proper disclosure and since Jesinoski failed to show that required disclosure was not given at the “closing” of the loan, it may be assumed that they would have lost in an action brought by Countrywide or its successor to vacate the rescission. But that is an advisory decision prohibited to any court.
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The assumption is improper. That is why we have rules of procedure. If you want relief you must plead for it not simply argue about it. Countrywide never filed a pleading to vacate the rescission, as far as I know. And the rescission was never vacated even by this decision.
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The trial court decided instead to accept the challenge from a party without standing (CW did not own the debt and their standing was entirely based upon the void note and mortgage). Inherent in the trial court’s erroneous decision was the presumption that was used to allow Countrywide to oppose the rescission — i.e., that because it supposedly had the original note and mortgage, it therefore owned the debt. The rest is history.
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This decision assumes that Countrywide had standing apart from the note and mortgage, i.e., ownership of the debt. And it also assumes that there was an action filed by Countrywide to vacate the rescission. Neither of these was addressed, much less the 20 day requirement for filing such an action. Instead the trial court simply continued its error by ignoring the rescission because of its factual finding that disclosures had been properly given. But the disclosures were given by people who withheld basic information that is required under the statute, to wit: the identity the lender and the identity of the creditor (i..e., owner of the debt).
*

So this case went down because Jesinoski did not stick with the requirements of burden of proof, and the requirement that a party with standing make the challenge to the rescission within 20 days. Ignoring the 20 day limitation period results in placing a condition to the effectiveness of there rescission in contradiction to the express wording of Federal Statute and SCOTUS. There are no conditions. Jesinoski failed to press the rules of evidence, based upon the written opinion, which could have landed a victory.
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Virtually everyone is ignoring the elephant in the living room, to wit: Countrywide was not a lender or even an aggregator. It was a conduit for an aggregator and far removed from the actual transfer of funds attendant to the apparent loan.
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This is why I am offering a seminar on evidence on February 2, 2018. The devil is in the details. And too many foreclosure defense lawyers do not properly prepare to attack the details. The trial court decision is basically a political decision, not a legal one. So it continues to be true that the statute is clear, the rules of procedure are clear, and the rules of evidence are clear — yet trial courts are adamantly opposed to allowing homeowners to use the power granted to them by Congress.

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Register now for Neil Garfield’s Mastering Discovery and Evidence in Foreclosure Defense webinar.

Lateral Appeal in BKR to District Judge Often Overlooked

The PHH case underscores the statistics and the substance of actions brought in U.S> Bankruptcy Court. The fact is that BKR judges, once called magistrates, do not have the jurisdiction or power of ordinary District Court Judges.

In addition out of the three possible venues for appeal from BKR rulings and decisions, the one that gets the most traction the most often is directly to the sitting District Court judge in whose courthouse the BKR proceedings are pending. District judges are the most likely to find that the BKR “judge” lacked jurisdiction or power to even hear many matters.

Let us write the narrative for your appeal: 202-838-6345
Get a consult and TEAR (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 202-838-6345. The TEAR replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).
https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments. It’s better than calling!
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

Hat tip to Dan Edstrom

see PHH v Sensenich US Dist Lexis 207801

There are three possible routes for appeal. The one that gets the best results is rarely used for unknown reasons. So here are some pointers on bringing an appeal from a ruling or decision entered by a BKR judge:

  1. Lateral appeal to District Court Judge: Success rate around 50%
  2. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP): Success rate around 15%
  3. Direct appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals: Success rate less than 15%.

This anomaly was first pointed out by a Bankruptcy Court Judge in Arizona who as presenting at a CLE Bar Seminar for Bankruptcy lawyers. The seminar was in 2009 and still we are waiting for BKR practitioners to pick up the ball.

An apparently little known fact is that BKR courts are courts of limited jurisdiction as to what they can hear and how they can hear the issues. Many practitioners avoid an appeal from BKR to the Federal District Court Judge because they think that the District judge is on the same level as the BKR judge. And they think that two judges on the same bench are not going to rule against each other.

This view is simply wrong. They are not on the same bench. District Judges have authority over everything that happens in BKR court. BKR court is itself broken up into two categories. One category is simple rulings on motions in the administrative court proceeding (which is why the BKR “Judges” were called magistrates).

Most of what happens in the administrative phase of a bankruptcy is ministerial. Rulings that cross the line of ruling from ministerial to substantive judgments on the law regarding consumer rights, foreclosures etc. are subject to challenge and are as likely to get overturned by the District Judge as not. This is the part most people have some familiarity.

The other category is Adversary actions. This means someone has filed a lawsuit in Bankruptcy Court that is separately served and subject to the same rules of procedure as an action filed in U.S. District Court. But the similarity ends there. Many adversary actions go far beyond the jurisdiction of the BKR judge.

Lack of jurisdiction means the judgment or ruling is void. Those void judgments are generally reversed by the District Court judge and not necessarily by the BAP or Circuit Court probably because nobody brings up the issue of whether the BKR action was in the correct court.

Generally speaking there are two categories of appeal: procedural and substantive. Appeals citing errors in procedure (including jurisdiction) generally get the most traction. Appeals citing substantive law or worse, citing errors in apprehending the evidence, have the lowest success rate.

In the case cited above, Federal District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford reversed a bankruptcy judge’s ruling that had imposed sanctions against a creditor “based on Rule 3002.1(i) of the Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the bankruptcy court’s inherent authority, and Bankruptcy Code section 105.”

The sanctions were awarded in three cases where debtors had to make mortgage payments pursuant to chapter 13 plans.  The mortgage servicer had billed the debtors for fees that the bankruptcy trustee asserted were improper. At a trustee’s request, the bankruptcy court imposed sanctions against the servicer of $375,000: $25,000 for each case under Rule 3002.(i) and $300,000 total for violations of court orders under its inherent powers and section 105.

Rule 3002.1 permits bankruptcy courts to provide relief to debtors when mortgage creditors fail to disclose certain fees and charges. Rule 3002.1(i) allows courts to remedy violations of certain provisions of Rule 3002.1 by (among other things) “award[ing] other appropriate relief, including reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees caused by the failure.” Whether Rule 3002.1 authorizes punitive sanctions was a matter of first impression. Neither the parties nor the court had found a case where a bankruptcy court had invoked the rule to support sanctions in this manner.

Judge Crawford reasoned that, because Rule 3002.1 is a procedural rule, it cannot enlarge the substantive authority of the bankruptcy courts. If bankruptcy courts do not have the substantive authority under statute and case law to issue punitive sanctions, then a mere procedural rule cannot alter the lack of substantive authority. The court thus concluded that the question under Rule 3002.1(i) was reducible to the question under a bankruptcy court’s inherent powers and section 105.

For homeowners this ruling helps. Citing it puts the banks in the position of opposing a ruling that went in their favor, i.e., this PHH case.  This also puts the homeowner on notice to check carefully before filing an adversary action instead of a collateral action that is directly before the District Judge or even State Court.

The problem is that most BKR attorneys who mostly do Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, have little or no litigation experience. Thus it may be necessary to NOT  charge your BKR lawyer with there responsibility of filing an adversary or collateral action and to bring in separate trial counsel even if the decision is made to file an adversary complaint.

 

 

 

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