Appearance Counsel for Homeowners

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Editor’s Comment:

By Bruce M Broyles esq.

I am not suggesting that Attorneys start doing this.  Instead, I am just floating an idea for people to comment on and critique.  There are probably a number of ethical rules that would prevent someone from actually doing it.  But what would happen if attorneys who practiced foreclosure defense just showed up at the Courthouse.  These attorneys could sit in the Courtrooms from 9:00 to 11:00 and again at 1:00 to 2:00.  When a case was called the attorney would wait to make certain that the Defendant did not stand or that another attorney was not present to represent the Defendant.  When it was clear that no one was there on behalf of the Defendant, the Attorney would simply state that he was there on behalf of the Defendant; that he had not had an opportunity to speak with Defendant regarding the matter but that he would ask the Court for an additional 30 days within which to file an answer.  The Court rarely requires Civil Rule 6 “good cause” and the Court would likely grant an extension of time.

The Attorney would then have 30 days to contact the Defendant and see if the Defendant was interested in defending the foreclosure.  If the defendant was not interested, the attorney had obtained an additional 30 days for the Defendant to determine his next move.  No harm no foul.

If the Attorney was succesful in contacting the Defendant and the Defendant was interested in defending the foreclosure, then the Attorney could offer his services.  The attorney would not be causing delay merely for the sake of delay, as almost every foreclosure case that I have reviewed has some portion that has a defensible issue.  I am certain that the Supreme Court and Disciplinary Counsel would be concerned about the undue pressure that would result from this type of direct contact (soliciatation) by an attorney with a potential client. Maybe we should request an ehical opinion on the issue?

I do not see a great difference between the above and “appearance counsel” who have no authority and no contact with the client prior to walking into the Courtroom on behalf of the Plaintiff.  If the defendant does not appear, the appearance counsel is able to complete his task; hand the proposed entry to the court.  If the Defendant does appear, then appearance counsel stands there siliently while the Court resets the matter giving the Defendant time to either file an answer or retain an attorney.

If Attorneys could act as “appearance counsel”, then the biggest obstacle to defending the foreclosure complaint would be avoided; getting the Homeowner facing foreclosure to take some inital action.  Almost every Homeowner Facing Foreclosure wants to defend their home.  The Homeowners are simply too scared to take the initial step.  One or two “appearance counsel” could prevent foreclosures in an entire county.  A network of “appearance counsel” across the entire State could combine their efforts and a handful of Foreclosure Defense Attorneys could prevent foreclosures in the State of Ohio.  With foreclosures piling up in the Courts,  the Ohio Supreme Court would have to extend the time for the Courts to resolve a foreclosure case.  As prosecuting foreclosures to a conclusion became more time consuming fewer law firms would agree to handle foreclosures.  Finally, the banks would have to make legitimate business decisions on a case by case basis.  No more governmental programs.  Bankers simply deciding that some cash flow is better than no cash flow.

Again, this is only an idea that has been posted for suggestions, comments, and ethical reviews.  While we are waiting for a decision on the propriety of “appearance counsel” for Defendants facing foreclosure, maybe we can get Homeowners to start contacting an attorney for help


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