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Eric Mains: #MeToo- Is Social Justice a Viable Alternative to a Flawed and Compromised Judicial System?

La Revolucion

# MeToo and #MineToo revolución!

By Eric Mains, J.D, Former Federal Bank Regulator

In the last few months we have seen a literal wave of the wealthy and influential falling from grace, losing their positions of power and ducking for cover as their conduct becomes scrutinized in media and social media. They have become keenly aware if they have something to hide in their past or present that maybe, just maybe, the specter of justice, fate, retribution… call it what you will, but a reckoning of some sort may finally be coming for them.

The key difference from what we have experienced in the recent past is this is not just a few token individuals who are intentionally being sacrificed by other peers just to placate the masses, to give us a sense that there is justice out there, while a majority of the remaining transgressors remain free to go about business as usual. Until recently perpetrators of sexual harassment could expect their violations to either go unreported, or if reported by a victim to a typically “helpful” HR representative at a major corporation, would likely result in that persons termination shortly afterwards or a hushed payout and dismissal from employment. So, what’s changed? Why this sudden firestorm in the specific areas of sexual harassment & civil rights?

Well for one, the rise of social media giving voice to those who were previously either too intimidated or too ashamed to go through the regular channels of our justice system or report incidents to mainstream media. The lessening of any stigma attached with coming forward over allegations of sexual misconduct or workplace harassment to be sure; but perhaps more overlooked has been the slowly building tension from all corners of America with a justice system that over the past few decades has become ever more inaccessible and ever more compromised for certain victims.

The courts in America have slowly devolved (or evolved, depending on your perspective) into a long, drawn-out, pay-for-play system which favors those with the most money and connections. They can hire consultants to figure out how to pick and influence juries, and to try and maneuver into the most favorable venues with the most sympathetic judges. Whether the offense is sexual misconduct, civil rights violations, foreclosure fraud, etc., in many cases if the transgressors have enough resources, they are likely to see a deminimus sentence and little punishment handed out. This disparity in a lack of justice for victims, as compared with other areas of the law, has long existed due to the perceptions surrounding the victims by those in the public and in the system as well.

The above may sound cynical to some, or simply a self-evident statement of the way things are to others.  Those in the former category, who are true believers in our current justice system, may think that movements like #MeToo are just mob justice, devoid of the kind of impartial and logical dissemination of fact based justice they believe our current system provides.  To them, it represents chaos, it threatens the foundational platitude that, “We are a nation of laws”, with a system that meets out justice in a generally fair and impartial manner while ensuring the innocent aren’t wrongly accused or convicted.  That would be a valid sentiment-IF backed factually by a system that did function as such a majority of the time. Most would simply point out to the supporters of our current system that unless they have had blinders on for the past 200 years, they would notice our system has done a pretty haphazard job at providing for such an idealized form of justice in practice.

Don’t get me wrong, having a law degree and having worked as a government regulator I want to be able to have more faith in our justice system and the rule of law, faith that we do have mostly impartial and fair judges, and a court system accessible and open for equal justice to all. I still remember from my law school days something that particularly offended me at the time, when one of my professors stated matter-of-factly to our property law class the futility of assuming case law or precedent was necessarily going to ensure victory in the court room, “Unfortunately, most of the time the law is what the judge says it is, heh, heh, haauurrgh”. In hindsight, Professor Rooney was right, and the reality of our justice system keeps smacking I & my former classmates in the face daily just to drive home that point. Looking at a crosscut of some recent data and analysis of our nations various court systems shows the general problems petitioners/consumers/victims run into once inside it.

Consider access to the judicial system: In a Propublica study of bankruptcy filings, it found for those residing in majority black zip codes who file for bankruptcy, the odds of having their cases dismissed (and failing to attain lasting relief) were more than twice as high as those of debtors living in mostly white zip codes. Why? In general, it was driven by money. Impoverished filers could not afford to file for the costlier Chapter 7 cases as opposed to Chapter 13’s, resulting in less of their unaffordable debt loads being relieved. They, ironically, could not afford to get lasting relief from the bankruptcy system because of immediate financial distress. See https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/bankruptcy-data-analysis . A facial review of our justice system shows one in which only those with income below stated poverty lines can access free legal help in general, and that help is generally outgunned and outmanned. Got $200-$350 to file your court case and pay for your attorney fees/retainer in a civil matter otherwise? Not likely, and a pretty good chunk of those between the $20K-50K range really can’t afford the cost of entry in civil litigation, and are quickly priced out of the game when litigating against corporations. Why not take advantage of some impartial arbitration if you can’t sue?….don’t make me laugh.

How about impartiality in judicial decisionmaking? In a recent paper, Judging the Judiciary by the Numbers: Empirical Research on Judges, by Jeffrey Rachlinski (Cornell) & Andrew Wistrich (CA Central Dist. Ct.), the authors found that just like most humans, judges succumb to various “mental shortcuts” that can lead them to mistakes. The paper’s abstract reads “Do judges make decisions that are truly impartial? A wide range of experimental and field studies reveal that several extra-legal factors influence judicial decision making. Demographic characteristics of judges and litigants affect judges’ decisions.

Judges also rely heavily on intuitive reasoning in deciding cases, making them vulnerable to the use of mental shortcuts that can lead to mistakes. Furthermore, judges sometimes rely on facts outside the record and rule more favorably towards litigants who are more sympathetic or with whom they share demographic characteristics. On the whole, judges are excellent decision makers, and sometimes resist common errors of judgment that influence ordinary adults. The weight of the evidence, however, suggests that judges are vulnerable to systematic deviations from the ideal of judicial impartiality.” See Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-32, July 2017 at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2979342

Racial and gender discrimination in decisionmaking? In Examining Empathy: Discrimination, Experience, and Judicial Decisionmaking, by Laura Beth Nielsen & Jill Weinberg of Northwestern University, a 2012 paper at http://www.americanbarfoundation.org/uploads/cms/documents/weinberg_nielsen_-_examining_empathy.pdf , the researchers reported that white federal judges are about four times more likely to dismiss race discrimination cases outright, and are half as likely as black federal judges to rule in favor of people alleging racial harassment in the workplace.

The authors argue this is because African American judges have likely experienced discrimination themselves, and therefore they can recognize more complex and subtle forms of racial harassment. How about gender bias in sexual assault cases? “A Baltimore detective said 90% of sexual-assault cases are ‘bulls—,’ but that’s just the start of the department’s problems” from  http://www.businessinsider.com/justice-department-slams-baltimore-police-department-gender-bias-2016-8  …and here https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-finds-substantial-evidence-gender-bias-missoula-county-attorney-s-office .

A DOJ investigation in Missoula in 2014 noted the following “Despite their prevalence in the community, sexual assaults of adult women are given low priority in the County Attorney’s Office; The County Attorney does not provide Deputy County Attorneys with the basic knowledge and training about sexual assault necessary to effectively and impartially investigate and prosecute these cases; The County Attorney’s Office generally does not develop evidence in support of sexual assault prosecutions, either on its own or in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies; Adult women victims, particularly victims of non-stranger sexual assault and rape, are often treated with disrespect, not informed of the status of their case and revictimized by the process;  and The County Attorney’s Office routinely fails to engage in the most basic communication about its cases of sexual assault with law enforcement and advocacy partners.” This is a 2014 report of just one city…ever wonder why women from the 1970’s, 80’s & 90’s often never bothered/dared reporting any assaults until now? Enough said.

Racial discrimination in sentencing? In a first of its kind report from 2014-2015 found here http://projects.heraldtribune.com/bias/sentencing/ The Herald-Tribune in Florida spent a year reviewing tens of millions of records in two state databases. Among the stated findings: “Florida’s sentencing system is broken. When defendants score the same points in the formula used to set criminal punishments — indicating they should receive equal sentences — blacks spend far longer behind bars. There is no consistency between judges in Tallahassee and those in Sarasota. • There’s little oversight of judges in FL. The courts keep a wealth of data on criminal defendants. So does the prison system. But no one uses the data to review racial disparities in sentencing. Judges themselves don’t know their own tendencies. Across FL, when a white and black defendant score the same points for the same offense, judges give the black defendant a longer prison stay in 60% of felony cases. For the most serious first-degree crimes, judges sentence blacks to 68% more time than whites with identical points. For burglary, it’s 45% more. For battery, it’s 30%.”

Consistency in decision making and opinions based on case precedent?  In a Nevada Law Journal paper entitled Stare Decisis In The Inferior Courts Of The United States, by Joseph W. Mead, his abstract notes “While circuit courts are bound to follow circuit precedent under “law of the circuit” the practice among federal district courts is more varied and uncertain, routinely involving little or no deference to their own precedent”  While I simply don’t have room for his full analysis here, I will note he concludes his paper in part as follows “But we are now left with a puzzle. If district courts indeed possess the power to either adopt the law of the district or require some other level of deference to precedent, and there are good reasons to do so, why have so few followed this path? I think the answer is not that district courts are choosing not to, but that they have not yet given the matter consideration.”

Foreclosure Bias? That’s an entire book, just ask David Dayen who wrote Chain of Title, or Abigail Field who accurately noted back in 2011 http://fortune.com/2011/04/18/fighting-a-foreclosure-suit-hope-for-the-right-judge/ “Not all judges are confronting the issues in the same way. Many are adopting procedures to stop any fraudulent behavior by the banks and are investigating questionable documents submitted in their cases. Other judges are turning a blind eye, at best.”

While I will save that aspect for a near future article, I will simply note that some judges going beyond turning a blind eye; they are straying into obstruction of justice, using a “selectively creative” doctoring of fact patterns from homeowner complaints to suit their narratives when issuing rulings, or just outright failing to address motions to correct error or address black letter law when challenged by attorneys. Par for the course, especially in the federal court system, which took a shamefully compromised former AG Eric Holder’s call to consider his TBTF/sympathy for the devil ideology in favor of Wall Street banks, and the fed courts ran like Usain Bolt with it (All while Holder’s temporarily vacant office was being kept warm at Covington & Burling, and Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac were being systemically looted by the Obama administration). A recent article discusses how the black community and consumers suffered in the name of this flawed ideology  http://peoplespolicyproject.org/2017/12/07/destruction-of-black-wealth-during-the-obama-presidency/ by Ryan Cooper and Matt Bruenig)

I know what many are thinking at this point: “So What? What are you telling us we don’t already know? The justice system is not perfect, it never will be, but it’s functional, and it’s the best we have to work with!” It would be the last part of that sentence that I would wholeheartedly disagree with, and why a platform like #MeToo is now becoming an important, and I think very valid, social justice alternative. Our system is not the best it can be in part because we have come to accept the fallacy that judges, politicians, prosecutors, police, CEO’s, talk news hosts, etc., those who help to shape, influence, or enforce our justice system in different ways, should be held to a different level of accountability, job performance, and social review than the rest of society.

You screw up on your job, make a bad decision that costs the company, hurts clients/constituents, and choose to allow an illegal or immoral activity to take place?-FIRED! Those in the aforementioned categories? Insider trading based on stock tips you get in office, OK! Screw over constituents/rear end a petitioner because his mother dresses him funny? That’s valid! Harass your office assistant or underling? You gave them a job, and they knew the game, grin and bear it! I could go on, but need not. Not only do those with access and who benefit from the system not want change, but those who work within it often don’t recognize the need for change (See Mead & FL Herald Tribune report, supra). Those within it don’t tend to question the biases that have been ingrained in them when they do make decisions (See Rachlinski, Nielsen, etc., supra). They are subject to undue influence by those with access and money who know how to “work” the justice system.

I routinely quote, and will continue to quote Frederick Douglass, because 150 years later the reality he highlighted has not changed one iota, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Church Frederick! If we must accept that our system is biased, broken, and not soon to change, how the hell can we expect to wrangle justice out of it when all avenues for influencing seem out of our control? That’s where Douglass recognized the simplicity of the truth, and so does #MeToo-It’s demand! It’s fear of a collective and sizeable retribution for ignoring social justice & common morality. It’s creating consequences outside of a non-functional system that ultimately can lead to change in that system. Social media has given a voice to those who have not had a simple, affordable, accessible platform to demand justice denied them. Technology has now made that possible, and another old adage has proven itself to be as true as ever-“Cockroaches scurry under the light”

Can the wrong perpetrators of alleged crimes be identified or wrongly harassed by a # MeToo movement? Yes, but that risk is also true in the current system. Laws are in place to protect or compensate the innocent or wrongly accused, as well as punish those who knowingly make false statements. If the law and our justice system is a search for truth and justice, then maybe # MeToo will help expedite the administration of this in a system where it has been delayed and denied those without money and a voice. Maybe it’s time for a few more platforms like it from civil rights violations to fraudulent foreclosure….Maybe it’s time to remind those in our system who they are there to work for, and demand they do a better job of it… to demand a change from them and our system instead of quietly submitting…. Viva la # MeToo revolución!

Editor’s note:  Perhaps the wronged homeowner’s call to arms simply starts with a simple hashtag called #MineToo.  If you have been victimized by a loan servicer or foreclosed on fraudulently tweet #MineToo!!!

 

 

 

Foreclosures Lead to Flippers’ Profits

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/41151-foreclosures-lead-to-flippers-profits

The United States has entered a new phase of residential foreclosure. The basic narrative is shocking: House-flippers are being allowed to push troubled homeowners out of their houses. As a neighbor of mine said, succinctly, “It’s cheaper for them.”

In an ugly way, house flipping is a sweet deal in any area where the house market has rebounded, as in metropolitan Washington, DC, where I live, with eager buyers and reduced home inventory.

Instead of waiting for a house to come on the market and negotiating with a voluntary seller who could make decent terms for the sale, the house flippers enter the foreclosure pipeline. Once the homeowner is pushed out, the flipper gets the house for a song. The price tends to be even lower than the price of a house already foreclosed, and vacant, where the seller would be the bank. The flipping company is already in touch with the lender (see below), so the process is fairly red-tape-free, especially when the company makes hundreds of these foreclosures. Then the flippers can sell the house quickly, because they sell below market price. They still make a handsome profit. And the houses — having been lived in — tend to be in better shape than vacant properties; often there is good equity to boot, since reluctant sellers may have been living in their home for some time. Selling the houses at a below-market price then depresses local house values.

How does all this happen? In a hideous irony, house flippers are allowed into the foreclosure process as “substitute trustees.” The bank or lender holding the mortgage is often based out of state. When a homeowner falls into financial difficulties — such as job loss or medical bills — the lender may, in effect, turn the delinquent account over to an in-state firm. Whether advertising as law firms, real estate investment facilitators, “creditors’ rights” companies or foreclosure attorneys, the firms are in effect debt collectors — agencies that buy up delinquent credit-card accounts on the cheap, and then try to recoup from the small debtors.

They are also, in effect, house flippers. The national passion for “house-flipping” has been fueled by television, where it is entertainment as well as finance. (Disclosure — while I myself have not done any flipping, I support home renovation and/or home improvement, preferably keeping as much debris as possible out of landfill.) But this is a different process than going into a vacant, derelict house and fixing it up to sell.

The practice is national, with some variation by local real estate market. For me, it is also personal and local, direct from a sixtyish neighbor of mine, weeping in my living room. From a hard-working immigrant family, she has lived in her home since 1998. She has been trying to stave off foreclosure since 2014. I know her; I have seen and copied some of the legal documents; I’ve been in her house. She is the rightful owner; she has a relative who can make terms on the payments. But a house flipper wants the house, and once the bank turns over the mortgage to a “substitute trustee” there is little legal obligation for him to make terms. My neighbor is not even upside-down on her mortgage, so this flipper — if he wins in court — will get substantial equity as well as a house in a good neighborhood.

The process is toxic. 1.) The homeowner gets into trouble and falls behind on payments — like my neighbor, who paid many thousands in medical bills for her late parents instead of just defaulting on the bills. 2.) The bank turns the mortgage over to a real estate-flipping company as “substitute trustees.” 3.) The house flippers work first with the lender and then with some too-friendly judges to push out the homeowner via court action.

It goes without saying that the substitute trustees have better access to lawyers and courts than do the troubled homeowners. Legal aid for the indigent may not be available for someone who still owns her house — ironically. Help from friends and relatives, and the occasional pro bono legal work, may well be the only options. The option offered by advocacy groups or other realtors is too often only an unwanted “short sale,” i.e. loss of the house she is trying to keep.

Yet more ironically, the trustees are supposed to be assisting the courts and thus the public; hence the term “trustee.” Instead, as said, they have a direct pecuniary interest in getting persons out of their home instead of helping them stay in it. This process can involve illegal tactics as well as borderline legalities. But when the homeowner is already troubled, there is far too little redress even for open and apparent, documented illegality.

For the record, reducing the “foreclosure backlog” is not the same as reducing foreclosures. Cutting the Gordian knot is not always the best idea or in the public interest.

Tactics that this writer has seen and heard include posting a fake abandoned-property notice on the door of a house the owner is living in; filing fraudulent claims of ownership in courts which lack jurisdiction in foreclosure cases; getting court orders from courts which lack jurisdiction to grant foreclosure motions; and appearing in court claiming to be a third-party “intervenor” while actually a party (the house flipper) in the foreclosure.

Some foreclosure firms have become notorious, and on some there is information online. One source is attorney Neil Garfield’s website titled Living Lies (Livinglies.wordpress.com), which includes a list of known “foreclosure mills” (though somewhat outdated) by state. The non-profit Pro Publica (ProPublica.org) has also published information on foreclosure mills, as have the magazine American Prospect and the website Above the Law (AboveTheLaw.com). Some material has gone out of date, now that the immediate consequences of the 2008 mortgage-derivatives debacle are less feverish.

But the long-term consequences are still with us. One foreclosure group in Maryland is involved in hundreds of foreclosures, largely in Prince George’s County (DC suburbs). The county’s diverse population is officially “majority-minority” and the real estate market includes many immigrant families, first-time home buyers and members of historically excluded groups. And, as mentioned, this is a region where the real estate market is picking up and house hunters are eager to buy. All in all, it’s the perfect storm — houses easy to pick up, from a population easy to pick on, by judges who largely did not get picked by the public.

The Neil Garfield Radio Program: Back to Basics with North Carolina Attorney James Surane

 

The JPMorgan Paper Chase Live at 6 pm

 

Thursdays LIVE! Click in to the The Neil Garfield Show

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

This evening North Carolina attorney Jim Surane will join Neil Garfield to discuss the first steps that should be taken in a Foreclosure defense case.

Surane states that, “A thorough title search of the property being subject to foreclosure is an absolute necessity.  This includes researching back to the plat in the case of a home in a subdivision, and back 30 years in a case in which the property is not in a subdivision.”  Surane has won many cases based upon errors in the chain of title.  “It must be remembered that a large majority of the mortgages that we deal with today were closed between the years of 1992 – 2007.  During these years, closing attorneys and lenders were overwhelmed with business, and as a result many errors in preparing documents that compromised the lenders lien rights.”  Surane will outline the steps that should be taken in order to properly prepare to defend a foreclosure case including:

  • Errors in the legal descriptions
  • The legal description was attached at the time the deed of trust was signed
  • Errors in the timing of the recordation of documents in the chain of title
  • Errors in the spelling of the grantor or grantee names
  • Both Grantors names in the body of the Deed of Trust and not just signed
  • Failure to include all necessary signatures on deeds

Attorney James Surane is the Managing Partner at James W. Surane Law.  He manages all aspects of trial preparation and Superior Court appearances involving foreclosure defense and general civil litigation.

Over the past 25 years Surane has litigated hundreds both bench and jury trials. Over the past 8 years, he has tried over 75 cases involving foreclosure defense and bank lawsuits, many of which resulted in very favorable outcomes for his clients. In addition to litigation, Surane manages a real estate closing department and understands the legal intricacies of title and closings. The real estate closing department has closed several thousand loans for clients.

Contact:

Attorney James W. Surane

18825 West Catawba Avenue, Suite 150

Cornelius, NC 28031

(O) 704.895.5885

(F)  866.410.6311
ssurane@suranelawpllc.com

Website: www.suranelawpllc.com

 

 

Lack of Standing is an Affirmative Defense

Appellant Robert J. Stoltz prevailed against Aurora Loan Servicing and Nationstar Mortgage in Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals. Honorable Judge Daniel R. Monaco reversed the final foreclosure judgment ruling that the plaintiff’s failure to prove standing at the inception of the suit was fatal (see Dickson v. Roseville Props., LLC, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D2520 (Fla. 2d DCA Nov. 6, 2015- quoting, “For better or for worse, it is settled that it is not enough for the plaintiff to prove that it has standing when the case is tried; it must also prove that it had standing when the complaint was filed.”).

 
Nationstar Mortgage had filed suit against homeowner, Robert Stoltz, and a different servicer named Aurora Loan Servicing was substituted as plaintiff prior to the trial. In the lower court the servicer claimed they were the holder of the note, not that they were foreclosing on behalf of a holder. Stoltz raised the question of standing at inception by pleading lack of standing as an affirmative defense in his amended answer.

 
Standing at inception of a lawsuit is required in Florida. The present servicer was required to prove at trial that the original servicer (the one that filed to foreclose) held the note at the time the case was filed (see: Russell v. Aurora Loan Servs., LLC, 163 So. 3d 639, 642 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015)).

 
During the trial, the present servicer attempted to achieve this burden by presenting a note bearing an undated indorsement in blank. An indorsement in blank is considered legally sufficient to prove that the person in possession of the note is a holder and has standing to proceed at trial (see: Focht v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 124 So. 3d 308, 310 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013).

 

However, the indorsement in this case was undated and was not attached to the original complaint, and therefore was insufficient to prove that the original servicer held the note at the inception of the case. Without additional evidence that the original servicer actually possessed the Note at the inception of the case- the case should have been dismissed (see: Sorrell v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, 41 Fla. L. Weekly D847 (Fla. 2d DCA Apr. 6, 2016)).

 
The current servicer’s only evidence of standing presented was the testimony of its corporate representative. The testimony of this representative failed to establish that the original servicer held the note when the case was filed. Therefore, the current servicer could not prove standing at inception. The borrower’s motion for involuntary dismissal should have been honored in this case (see Russell, 163 So. 3d at 643; May v. PHH Mortg. Corp., 150 So. 3d 247, 249 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014)).

 
The court took into consideration that the operative complaint attached a copy of an
assignment purporting to transfer both the note and mortgage to the original servicer priorto the date suit was originally filed. That document may have proven that the first
servicer had standing at inception (see: Focht, 124 So. 3d at 310 (“A plaintiff who is not
the original lender may establish standing to foreclose a mortgage loan by submitting a
note with a blank or special endorsement, an assignment of the note, or an affidavit
otherwise proving the plaintiff’s status as the holder of the note.”). However, the current servicer, failed to admit this document into evidence during trial.

 
On Appeal, the servicers did not argue and failed to cite any authority that the assignment was sufficient to support the judgment when standing is contested during trial (see: Beaumont v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon, 81 So. 3d 553, 555 n.2 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012)- a copy of an assignment of a note in the court file was not competent evidence where it was never authenticated and offered into evidence). The final judgment was reversed and the case remanded back to the trial court with directions to enter an order of involuntary dismissal. With Florida’s lack of a statute of limitations on foreclosures, the servicer will likely have ample time to “correct” their deficiencies and errors and attempt to foreclose again ad nauseum.

 

STOLTZ-v-AURORA-LOAN-SERVICES-LLC(1)
Congratulations to attorney Nicole R. Moskowitz of Neustein Law Group, Aventura representing Appellant Robert Stoltz.

How Much Did Banks Pay For The 2008 Financial Crisis? Fines And Settlements Of Over $160 Billion In Past 8 Years

BREAK THE BANKS VAULT2
So for an average of $20 Billion per year, the mega banks received an infinite supply of forever stamps — “forever” in the sense that they committed epic fraud and are still doing it. I believe this will be regarded as the most historic blunder in American history committed by three consecutive and diametrically opposed Presidential Administrations with the legislative branches of government and the judicial branch of government complicit or at least falling into the party line. In the end Clinton, Bush#2, and Obama all made the same mistake — thinking that market forces would keep the country and the world safe from the financial equivalent of thermonuclear war.
–THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.–
In return the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury “bailed out” banks that were “too big to fail” — in a total amount that will probably never be known but which most economist and financial analysts agree is in the neighborhood of over $5 trillion, plus allowing the mega banks to keep more than $10 trillion they stole from investors. The bitter irony is that this plan sucked all the juice out of our economy, household wealth and the ability of consumers to spend — which is responsible for 70% of our Gross Domestic Product.

Even more ironic is that the ‘bailout” was not a bailout.” It was extortionate. The banks had no losses. They were SELLING bonds so they couldn’t have suffered a loss from devaluation of the bonds. They were funding loans with investor money so they couldn’t have had losses from loan defaults. And they were writing mortgage documents for loans that did not exist. What they risked losing was future profits they would make if somehow there was someone  with money (i.e., the U.S. Government) who would shore up the unfortunate patsies who wrote insurance on completely worthless bonds, and who were indirectly insuring against defaults on loans that the mega banks had already planned to fail because they were not funding those loans.

In no instance, as far as I can tell, did any of the major policy decisions emerge from a discussion about what was good for the country, which is to say what is good for the common man, woman and child. Adding insult to injury, the people we elected and their appointees who said they knew what was going on, didn’t have a clue. True enough we don’t elect people who are experts in everything, but we do entrust them with the authority and the mandate to find out what they need to know before they do anything.

Incredibly all three administrations and all the Congresses and state legislatures functioned off of cliff notes and 30 minute meetings that consisted of Wall Street people selling the idea of de-regulation on an industry that had repeatedly proven it was untrustworthy and still allowed to promote themselves as banks you can trust. I count 6 times in American History that banks forced us into depression or deep recessions — all caused by pernicious schemes that were too bad to ever succeed. But it was worth it for the big banks because they made far more money than they ever had to give back.

Even more incredible is that it would appear that the two major candidates for the next administration will not change a thing. And THAT is why the vast majority of the American people don’t think either one of them will be good for the country. As long as they start from the assumption that protecting the banks is the same thing as protecting the financial system, which is the same as protecting the American populace. This assumption is patently wrong. Protecting the banks is enabling them to continue their fraudulent behavior which strikes at the unimportant people — i.e., most of the people who live and work in the United States.

 

 7,000 Community Banks, Savings and Loans, and Credit Unions can weather the storm if the Mega-Banks face consequences for their
crimes against the American people.
The real answer is to start with the proposition that the only correct action is one that is good for the country — which means that all people who live and work here would receive some benefit from the action taken. If that means taking the mega banks down, so be it. There are over 7,000 community banks, savings and loans, and credit unions in this country that all use the exact same IT backbone used by the mega banks.

There is nothing that the mega banks do that cannot be exactly duplicated by all those smaller 7,000 banks. In fact, the smaller banks are geographically closer to borrowers, make better loans and have fewer defaults. As for ATM card access, credit cards etc, any bank can become a co-branded issuer using that existing IT platform and the gateway organizations that control it — if the mega banks were forced to comply with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision stating that access to the internet is and should be treated as a utility.

Starting with the premise that what is good for the common man/woman/child is good for the country, policy would head toward clawback of trillions of dollars across the globe and being able to pay reparations to the dozens of countries who were virtually destroyed by acts of global financial terrorism. It would also lead to the global recognition that the so-called loans were not loans.

Those transactions fell into a gray unsecured area of finance the law in which the homeowner (erroneously called the borrower) received money that came from a party who did not know that they were being cheated. The liability exists — that the homeowner must pay the that portion of the money that was received from specific “investors” (victims) but there is no loan contract where the party funding the transaction and the person taking the money have no agreement and no knowledge of the existence of the other.

Add to that that none of the intermediaries have any contractual authority to do what they did — directly fund loans out of money from pension funds et al — and you have one thing left on the plate, to wit: an unsecured liability that arises only in the event that the injured party(ies) (investors) make an equitable claim against the homeowner (e.g. unjust enrichment).

The idea that only the homeowner should pay for losses on this scheme is absurd and the idea that the banks can continue to sell their “rights” to servicer advances that were not advanced by the servicer but rather out of the investors’ money is absurd on steroids. If that doesn’t motivate anyone, think about this: I know for a fact that all the top Wall Street bankers are laughing nervously at how stupid we are and restating the old adage “Nobody ever lost money by underestimating the stupidity of the American people.” The only reason they are nervous is that they know that all good things come to an end. Jamie Dimon likes to remind people in the first minute of any conversation that he speaks to the very top of political power in this country. Maybe we should give him someone else to talk to.

Discovery: Your BlackKnight in Shining Armor?

http://www.bkfs.com/RealEC/DivisionInformation/SettlementAgents/ClosingInsightSettlementAgents/Pages/default.aspx

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

Maybe it is time to drill down a little deeper into ways to obtain Discovery. The same company that brought us the DOCX line of “original” fabricated documents has created a software platform used by the mega banks to streamline closings. Closing Insight and its predecessors (I think Chase uses its own version of this platform) could provide information on the real facts of each “closing”. Discovery requests should be directed to access the information on the platform which is now owned and operated by LPS/BlackKnight.

 
Note that most loans over the mortgage meltdown period that are still in existence were refi’s and not original loans. Most lawyers and judges presume that the closing paid off the old loan. But this is often not the case. Since the party on the prior “mortgage” and “note” was simply a conduit, they would not have received a penny from the new closing with the “borrower.” The reason for this is simple: they never had a dime of their own money in the loan nor were they in a contractual relationship with anyone who did have money in the deal. Hence they would not have received any money since the source of both deals was a dynamic dark pool of money where “trust” money was commingled in a way that made it impossible or nearly impossible to trace any specific investor to any specific loan deal.

 
Add all that up and you get (1) a satisfaction of mortgage from a non-mortgagee and (2) no consideration for the signing of the loan documents and (3) withholding that information from the “borrower” who in fact borrowed no money from the “refinance” of his prior “loan.” This means to me that the loan documents should never have been signed or delivered much less recorded. It also means that the current loan documents (and possibly the previous loan documents) are VOID and thus subject to an action for a Quiet Title action.

 
None of this means that there is not some liability for repayment of the party(ies) who DID have money in the deal in which they could plead to get repayment of their money. But two things are true: (1) the statute of limitations has probably run on most of those liabilities and (2) the injured party would need to know they are injured. Since the borrower clearly does not know the identity of the injured party, the borrower cannot be said to be guilty of creating a situation where the debt is diminished or nullified. And since the injured party(ies) don’t even know they are injured, much less how or in relation to what deal, they are prevented from stepping forward to claim their due.

 
Once upon a time such schemes would be cleared up by courts very quickly. Back then they understood that foreclosure was a drastic remedy that should not be taken lightly. But today the erroneous presumption that the borrower received money (presumed even by the borrower) leads courts to bend and break laws, rules and regulations such that any claiming bank or servicer will win regardless of whether they are in fact a creditor and regardless of whether or not they have any actual authority to represent the other victims of this scheme — the investors.

 
PRACTICE NOTE: It is necessary to be very aggressive and very well prepared to argue for discovery on these closings. The Judge arrives with the assumption in mind that what happened back then is none of your business and already established. Potentially an affidavit from a forensic analyst or expert witness might assist in discovery litigation. The problem with waiting on the affidavit or declaration until trial is that the expert can only offer an opinion without corroboration. If discovery has been fought and won, the expert’s opinion will be nearly self-evident. If discovery has been fought and lost, it should provide very strong grounds for appeal.

California’s New Gieseke Decision-A New Playing Field Emerges Post-Yvanova

 

Charles Marshallby Charles Marshall, Esquire

Gieseke Remand Order 5 20 16 from 9th Circuit

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
On the heels of Sciarratta v. US Bank, in the wake of Keshtgar v. US Bank, under the umbrella of Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage, comes now a unifying decision which applies at a base level at least these California Supreme Court and appellate decisions to the non-judicial firmament throughout the Greater West, that of Gieseke v. Bank of America.

Gieseke is a 9th Circuit decision, thus making itself persuasive if not controlling law in California and 9th Circuit states outside California, including Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii. While it is not mandatory for 9th Circuit Fed Courts in these states to follow Gieseke, due to the causes of action at issue being primarily state-based property claims as opposed to Fed-based claims, the persuasive authority of Gieseke will doubtless be useful and may prove to be compelling in many a future non-judicial foreclosure case in which the ‘borrower’ (never concede even, nay especially, fundamental terms in case pleading) is the Plaintiff.

It is also important to keep in mind that Federal authority is not controlling in a state litigation matter. Nevertheless, the persuasiveness of Fed to State and State to Fed authority must be acknowledged and understood among foreclosure litigants.

One of the reasons Glaski v. Bank of America failed largely to get traction until revived by Yvanova, is that even though it was controlling authority in the 5th Appellate District of California, and very much persuasive authority elsewhere in California, California’s Fed Courts tamped this brave and groundbreaking decision down from an oak to a stump, in a matter of months, following its publication in August of 2013.

Now with Gieseke, the entire 9th Circuit has greatly amplified the already-dramatic impact of Yvanova and its progeny Keshtgar and Sciarratta. Indeed, the way the Gieseke decision came to be is an event of great moment for this long-time foreclosure warrior-attorney. The underlying Gieseke case, which I had filed in the Northern District of California Fed Court on behalf of my clients back in late 2013, and appealed many months ago, was set for oral argument on July 5, 2016 before the 9th Circuit.

The Clerk of the 9th Circuit Court issued an order-to-show-cause (OTS) on May 2, 2016 with the breathtaking directive to the institutional defendants in the case, including Bank of America, to wit: why shouldn’t we the 9th Circuit simply remand this case summarily, in light of the Yvanova decision.

The institutional defendants had their best appellate firm at the ready, Severson Werson, and put forward a shallow but superficially credible case. I ‘marshalled’ (you’ll forgive the pun) my extensive network of resources, putting forward my considerably more credible Neil Garfield-inspired and ready arguments, and awaited the decision which just came down May 20: Gieseke Appellants win summarily, without even having to go to oral argument, which hearing was vacated upon the remand of the case to District Court, where it is to be reconsidered in light of Yvanova and Keshtgar.

Keep in mind that while Yvanova and Sciarratta are both post-auction cases, Keshtgar, and now Gieseke, are pre-auction, post-NOD cases. Which means at this point in California, through the California Supreme Court and now the 9th Circuit, all post-NOD lawsuits will have at least persuasive authority battering the opposition from the moment of filing. Strategically for once, Californians litigating non-judicial foreclosure matters have real options in choosing venue.

Where the focus of a case is directed to wrongful foreclosure and quiet title, state courts may be the better venue, since Yvanova and Keshtgar are controlling authority in all State Courts at this point. On the other hand, where rescission is an important cause of action in a compliant, a Federal venue using Gieseke for non-rescission state-based claims litigated in the same Federal venue may be the best way to frame a case.

Remember, Federal authority is persuasive, not mandatory, when applied to state claims. On the other hand, the breakthrough case of Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans is controlling authority throughout the US on the issue of rescission (always a Fed-based issue vis a vis the TILA Federal law), as the decision came out of the US Supreme Court.

One might reasonably anticipate at this juncture to wonder what might one expect in light of the above cases, in trying to move a given plaintiff’s foreclosure case forward. Here follows a primer: For starters, from case inception, when facing a sale date, TROs will be much more readily granted. Be mindful that the standard applied to granting a preliminary or permanent restraining order, and derivatively a TRO, is whether the movant for an injunction is likely to prevail on the merits in the litigation at issue.

Before Yvanova, getting TROs in foreclosure-related matters was fraught with difficulty, though still doable in a number of cases, depending upon the district, the court, etc, although winning the preliminary injunction hearing to follow was another matter typically. With Keshtgar and Gieseke (pre-auction holdings), a TRO and preliminary injunction movant is likely to find getting the relief requested is much more straightforward and readily available. Also take note that TROs and their kindred hearings are much more easily brought, procedurally, in state courts, as opposed to Federal courts, at least in California.

As a still-relatively new lawsuit moves forward in the new dispensation of our post-Yvanova foreclosure world, plaintiffs will likely face as before, a surfeit of demurrer filings from the usual-suspect institutional servicers and sales trustees, such as Chase and Quality Loan Service Corp. Do not be feint of heart. New playing field, to which our opposition will have trouble adjusting much more than our side will. The new field largely benefits us, and will doubtless delimit and one hopes eventually demoralize our opposition. Can’t wait for the role reversal.

If California courts, state or Federal, are working properly, demurrers in this new litigation climate should routinely be overruled where the proper causes of action are pled, such as wrongful foreclosure, various Homeowner Bill of Rights statutory sections such as California Civil Code 2924.17 and 2923.55, and quiet title—this latter cause of action I believe will see a great revival with our side finally getting standing to present our arguments.

Equally important in this new terrain, is of course to plead void not voidable, when it comes to addressing the broken chain of assignments, the front-dating, back-dating, and robo-signing associated with same assignments.

Expect to see many motions for summary judgment, and the occasional judgment on the pleadings, from our not-so-friendly and often ruthless defendants, who will resort to these at present little-used devices to try and get out of a case they are no longer able to exit via a demurrer.

So yes, be heartened as a plaintiff when you see the opposition file an Answer as opposed to a demurrer (State level) or motion to dismiss (Fed). Do be cautious though, as a motion for summary judgment may soon follow.

Which brings us to discovery: This aspect of our litigation will grow dramatically, as our cases move to trial, instead of being snuffed in a proverbial litigation crib. More about the useful tool of discovery in a future blog post. Also on deck for a future blog post: Trial practice in our foreclosure cases, and appellate practice.

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California-licensed attorney Charles T. Marshall (CA Bar # 176091) earned his Juris Doctorate in 1992 from the University of San Diego School of Law. His practice includes Foreclosure Relief, Civil Litigation, Bankruptcy, Immigration, Estate Planning and all facets of Personal Financial Management.

Charles Marshall can be contacted at:

415 Laurel Street, Suite 405 San Diego CA 92101 US
+1.530.888.9600
Charles@MarshallLawCa.com

Website:  http://www.marshalllawca.com/home.html

 

 

The Strategic Warfare of Mortgage “Servicing”

By William Hudson
You can choose your sexual orientation and even your ethnicity but you can’t change your loan servicer. Mortage “servicing” is the ultimate misnomer. Modern loan servicing has nothing to do with service but instead provides a “disservice” in order to boost profits or engineer a default if at all possible. Being forced to contract with a sketchy loan servicer is like being forced to stay married to a spouse who lies, cheats and steals all your money.

 
The servicer’s job is to collect payments and manage the day to day operations of the loan, but servicers have taken on the new role of “default engineer” and “disinformation agent”. The servicers have found a new way of increasing profits and it is at the expense of a customer who has no choice in regards to who services their mortgage.

 
It is likely that the servicing rights to your loan were sold to either  the lowest bidder, or Pirates-R-Us Loan Servicing who purchased the note at a fire sale for pennies on the dollar with the knowledge that your loan had some major defect. It is even possible that your loan servicer is not a servicer at all but is pretending that they are forwarding your payments to the true owner when instead they are keeping your monthly payments for their own enrichment (and there is no creditor).

 
The typical tools servicers use to create a deliberate default include:
• providing disinformation or conflicting information to the homeowner
• failing to follow through with agreements (modifications or repayment)
• misapplying funds/refusing to take payments
• weeks spent trying to correct an issue (phone transferitis followed by disconnect)
• failure to answer QWR or failure to provide requested answers
• failure to acknowledge rescission
• backdating denial letters so homeowners don’t have sufficient time to challenge the              modification  denial
• forced-place insurance
• assign servicing rights to new servicer
• dual-tracking while modification is under consideration or borrower is in compliance
• revoking modification when homeowner is compliant (no opportunity to appeal)
• bankruptcy payment issues (misapplication of payments pre and post-bankruptcy)
• fabricating document to create the appearance of holder status
• misrepresenting status of relationship to loan
• Fabrication, forgery and other tactics to “perfect” the appearance of holder status

 
All of these activities serve to confuse the homeowner and require significant amounts of time and frustration to resolve as days, weeks and sometimes months are spent on trying to correct the situation (during work hours).   On a regular basis Servicers now participate in calculated fraud in order to create a default. The unsuspecting homeowner can be lulled by their servicer into practices that will increase the chances of foreclosure.

 
Over the past several months, the Lending Lies team has seen a disturbing trend of servicers taking advantage of people who are elderly, obviously mentally incapacitated, and economically vulnerable. Servicers are now aware of who the best victims are and who to pursue with impunity. The elderly who are on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable, single mothers who are burdened by work and raising children on their own appear to be targets, and we have seen more and more mature single women with few assets except for their homes being given incorrect information to deliberately force them into arrears (many of these women acquired real estate through divorce or a spouse’s death- and are told they have no survivor rights and the bank refuses to accept payment). These people lack the financial resources to obtain legal assistance, and often are so beaten-down emotionally they have no ability to fight back.

 
The servicer’s current weapon of choice continues to be the loan modification offer, when the bank has no intention of granting one. During the loan modification process, paper work will be destroyed, customer service reps will claim to not have received paperwork, and the homeowner will be caught in an endless phone transfer loop (followed by an abrupt disconnect of the call in which the homeowner will be forced to start all over). After months of this nearly futile run-around the bank will claim the homeowner doesn’t qualify for a modification- but will then fail to provide a reason for the modification denial or an opportunity to appeal the servicer’s decision (last week Ocwen was sanctioned by the National Mortgage Settlement for this metric violation). Another tactic is to dual-track the customer (proceed with foreclosure while homeowner is in negotiations for a modification).

 
Unfortunately almost all homeowners are at the mercy of the party who acquires the servicing rights to their Note- and if the homeowner has the misfortunate of their loan being acquired by Ocwen, Nationwide, Bank of America, JPMorgan-Chase, CitiMortgage or Bank of America- the homeowner is almost assured that if they miss one payment during the life of their loan or have some other issue- there will be hell to pay and the bank will make it as difficult as possible to correct the issue.

 

 

Without effective counsel, the homeowner is literally at the servicer’s mercy.
Part of the servicer’s modus operandi is emotional warfare. First of all, mortgage issues are complex and most homeowners have no comprehension of what is going on except for what they are told by low-level employees at the banks that are literally practicing law without a license when speaking to homeowners. By keeping the victim confused, on edge, unable to receive concise answers and other gaslighting techniques- they can exponentially increase default odds in their favor. Most homeowners will follow the directions of their loan servicers without question- and are taken advantage by their naiveté and willingness to comply with the servicer’s demands. It is unconscionable that a loan servicer with a conflict of interest is able to advise vulnerable homeowners about saving their home when the servicer has very clear goals of foreclosure.

 
Over the past nine years, servicers have learned how to “perfect” their default model to ensure foreclosures occur. Now that it is well known that the servicers forge signatures, falsify notarizations, and fabricate documents, the banks have now reverted to “Plan B”. If paperwork they forged and altered over the past six years is a known liability, lenders are now resorting to “lost note” strategies so they can try to start over with a “clean” slate. Once they have convinced the court the note was lost and claim plausible deniability they can use a lost note affidavit to try and correct any earlier issues or oversights that occurred when sloppy fabrication and forgeries were used. The banks can then recreate their foreclosure “storyline”  in order to “perfect” their standing. Don’t be fooled by this tactic.

 
The homeowner’s chance of saving their homes are compromised when their own servicer behaves in predatory ways. Servicers are well aware of how to create a default and who to best target for their crime. The National Mortgage Settlement has proven impotent to stop loan servicers from continuing with their deceptive tactics. Society’s most vulnerable are victimized and have no hope of fighting back against these abusive servicer crime-syndicates with deep pockets, political allies and the courts in their corner. Welcome to the new America.

Held Hostage by a Home: The Devastation of Foreclosure

held hostage2

Held Hostage by a Home

Depending on reader response- this column may become an ongoing Sunday feature on LivingLies. Let us know what you think.
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Although Neil Garfield eloquently describes the legal dynamics of foreclosure, there is also a human battle waged in millions of homes nationwide that remains hidden behind walls of shame, fear and anger. Families are torn apart by the stress and uncertainty that financial burdens bring. A home, no matter how modest or grand, is a foundation of family life- and when it is torn away by companies without legal standing to do so- the pain is compounded because of the injustice.
Most families who fall behind on their debts, do not do so deliberately. Usually financial debt is caused by job loss, illness, divorce, or simply being induced into obtaining more credit than the family can service-by companies who carry no risk (due to securitization). Most families would embrace the opportunity to have one second chance to pay back any outstanding balance on their home and make good on their debts-but loan servicers have no incentive to work with the homeowner.
Unfortunately, the way the mortgage industry works, it is no longer beneficial for the servicer to service your loan- when they can foreclose instead. A huge financial windfall awaits a servicer that can engineer a default. Instead of receiving approximately .125% of the monthly payment, the servicer is entitled to keep all fees, late interest, and other default charges (and the entire proceeds if they are collecting on behalf of a trust that does not exist). Until loan servicing issues are addressed, servicers will continue their predatory tactics to push homeowners into foreclosure. I should know because I am the victim of a predatory servicer. This is my story.
I am being held hostage by my home. The red brick and mortar of the quintessential American home has become my prison. For the past seven years I have had the rope of the commercial code truss my freedom, happiness, career and dreams. The blindfold has been removed but I still can’t trust what I see- banks that operate like organized crime syndicates supported by courts that refuse to acknowledge the fraud. I have been gagged and silenced by a bank, as my story, like millions of others goes unheard. Hopefully, the ability to warn others what a bank is capable of- will be cathartic.
What most people don’t understand before taking on foreclosure is that unless you have unlimited wealth, you will be taken hostage during litigation. The Notices of Default filed against you will keep you from repurchasing a different house, will destroy your credit, may prevent you from obtaining employment, may cause creditors to rescind credit extended, and may exhaust all of your savings and retirement. Your neighbors will likely shun you and your “friends” may distance themselves from you. Your opportunities to rebuild and recover from a financial setback will be compromised. I won’t even get into the emotional costs (divorce, volatile home environment, stressed parenting). Rarely is a case settled at the trial level. Most cases that should be settled with two or three years may go on for a decade or so if you continue to battle on.
Eight years ago, If I had been told what my future would hold if I dared to challenge my loan servicer- I would have held a block party for the bank and handed them the keys to the house. My greatest regret in life is that I decided to hold the bank accountable for reneging on my loan modification. It has cost me my life savings, my health, my marriage, and worst of all- instead of enjoying the childhoods of my children- I have spent every day depressed and anxious while battling a soul-less banking cartel with unlimited financial resources and power. My children have no idea who I am, or who I was before my life became a war game and I took up the position of General. In fact, I have no idea who I am outside of being held hostage by my home.
Why don’t I walk away? Surely losing 13 years of my life would be better than another decade? Because I am a fool. Because I have sacrificed and lost almost everything- to quit would be even worse than to go down defeated. There becomes a point in time- when you can’t turn back. For 13 years I have spent over 200k in order to receive an answer to one very simple question: WHO OWNS MY NOTE???? My servicer and the courts believe I have no right to an answer.
There are thousands of unconscionable foreclosure stories in America- that are unfathomably egregious and completely unnecessary- mine included. I had the ability and desire to pay the bank any amount they requested. I only wanted to sell my home and move on with my life. However, the bank did not want payment- they wanted the house. Neil Garfield has stated that the reason the banks want the foreclosure more than they want payment is because not only does the bank profit handsomely from a foreclosure, but it allows them to neatly tie up the fraud and seal the deal. Once a home is foreclosed upon- rarely does the homeowner sue for wrongful foreclosure.
The ordeal of foreclosure is by design, created by banks to cause the maximum amount of damage- both financially and emotionally. There is absolutely no good faith that arises when the bank can profit from a foreclosure. I have often wondered how people who work in the foreclosure industry sleep at night. Ayn Rand thought about these people also and wrote in Atlas Shrugs, “The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.” To live knowing you have destroyed the lives of families and committed moral crimes in order to receive a paltry paycheck, would be a worse hell than even I have faced.
Last week the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the suicide rates for middle-age whites jumped an alarming 40 percent from 1999 to 2010. The suicide rate for both younger and older Americans remained virtually unchanged, however, the rate spiked for those in middle age (35 to 64 years old) with a 28 percent increase from 1999 to 2010. According to the CDC, there were more than 38,000 suicides in 2010 making it the tenth leading cause of death in America overall. Among African Americans, Hispanics and even the oldest white Americans, death rates have continued to fall. What could be responsible for this drastic change in suicide demographics?
The middle-class suicide spike began with the onset of the tech bubble implosion where middle-class families saw their retirement funds evaporate. Locked into company 401ks where the funds are illiquid, many 401ks don’t allow the ability to place stop-losses. A stop-loss is an order that is placed, usually on a stock, to sell when the price declines to a certain level. So while the wealthy and knowledgeable were able to stop some of the bleed, mid-level employees in company-sponsored retirement programs were disproportionately impacted.
By 2008 the middle class found themselves mired in home loans that were unaffordable, in houses where they owed more than the home was worth, and subjected to a volatile job market and economy. In effect, the middle class died in 2008 and has not rebounded.  Consider the way life has changed since 2001. We are under surveillance all day, we pay a disproportionate amount of our income to taxes that go to support wars and programs most of us do not want, the economy is rigged in favor of the wealthy, and the cost of living has skyrocketed while wages remain flat. Most people in this demographic went to college, both partners work full-time jobs, and are responsible for raising their own children while caring for aging parents on limited incomes.

 

When you face foreclosure or bankruptcy this often pushes people over the tipping point. This was not the life that most middle-class people contemplated and are ill equipped to deal with. The middle class bought into the premise if you go to college and work hard you will gain financial security- not knowing the system was rigged. These individuals were also typically raised in middle class homes and were unprepared for the financial struggles not typically equated with the middle class.
“It’s a loss of hope, a loss of expectations of progress from one generation to the next,” said Angus Deaton, a Nobel Prize–winning economist who had studied the data. The middle class is not only being financially impacted by the economy but the strain on the middle class is psychological. The study noted that white women between 25 and 55 have been dying at accelerating rates over the past decade, a spike in mortality not seen since the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. According to recent studies of death certificates, the trend is worse for women in the middle of the United States, even worse in rural areas, and worst of all for those in the lower middle class. Drug and alcohol overdose rates for working-age white women have quadrupled. Suicides are up by as much as 50 percent.
According to the Federal Reserve, 47 percent of those who responded to a recent survey said they are living so close to financial ruin that they couldn’t come up with $400 to meet an emergency, not without first borrowing the money or selling something. Almost half of all Americans are fighting a losing battle to keep their heads above water.
This situation was the subject of a paradigm shifting article in the May issue of Atlantic magazine, “The Secret Shame of the Middle Class,” that was written by Neal Gabler, a well-known book author and film critic. Gabler reveals that despite his successful career, impressive resume and outward appearance of prosperity, he is financially insolvent and must often “juggle creditors to make it through the week.”
The writer attempts to provide reasons for the crisis. He lists predatory credit card companies, the ever-rising cost of living, wage stagnation, poor decision-making, bad luck and a national plague of financial illiteracy. But one cash depleting issue Gabler overlooks is taxation — and the fact that the middle class that pays almost 50% of their income to some type of tax- while the wealthy are able to exploit the system and pay very little if any tax.
Rising health-care costs, job insecurity, climbing foreclosures, and rising energy costs are decimating the middle class. The middle class American now “leases” their lives and most will have no assets to show upon their deaths. They are tenants in their own homes (read your Mortgage- you are a tenant), lease their cars, and are dependent on their employer who is likely facing financial troubles of their own. The housing markets are starting to look a lot like they did in 2007 (except there are more renters now). It is easy to see why the middle class that provides the support for both upper and lower classes is at its breaking point.
Signs of Big Trouble
Families with no savings, piles of credit card debt, and mortgages on homes they should not have been qualified for coupled with flat-lining incomes, low-paying jobs, skyrocketing health-care costs and exorbitant college costs are in dire straits. Wall Street banks with complicit buy-ins from the courts and law enforcement have created an untenable situation where the middle class has nowhere to turn. The banks prey on the vulnerability of people who suffered a temporary setback but are doing everything in their power to correct the situation in good faith. Homeowners are a small obstacle to big banks with unlimited financial resources who retain the best attorneys in the country to defend their predatory and illegal schemes.

It is evident that the government and courts are either unable or unwilling to rein in the powerful banks. Home ownership has dropped to its lowest rate since 1967, and one in every three American families is dealing with a debt collector. One more major recession and the suicide rates will further skyrocket. Without the middle class who is going to take care of the lower classes? The middle class is fighting for its life- and when all else fails apparently they take their own lives.
People are angry, people are desperate and people want solutions. If the middle class really wants to do something to stop this downward trajectory- the first thing to do would be to close your accounts with the major banks that service loans (Wells Fargo, CitiMortgage, Bank of America). If able, refinance your home with a credit union who holds your mortgage in-house and does not securitize loans. The middle class could effectively starve the beast that oppresses them if they would unite.
There are economic indicators that the housing market is reverting back to the 2007 lending policies that were the norm prior to the bubble that popped in 2008. Many banks are offering zero-down loans while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have lowered their loan qualifications in an attempt to spur on the lower and middle class housing market. The banks are resorting to desperate tactics as homebuyers have stopped purchasing. There can be no doubt that those who have lived through a foreclosure or the foreclosure of a family member will ever trust a big bank again. I know that personally, I will NEVER borrow from a big bank again.
The suicide report showed a marked increase in mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013 was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar event. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. Research confirms that this situation is due to economic causes and life quality deterioration. All indications show that economic conditions are even worsening for the middle class.
It is noteworthy that other countries have had similar financial problems that mirror the United States, however, the suicide rates and middle-class morbidity have not increased in any other developed country but the United States. The American capitalist machine is feeding off the hopes and dreams of the middle class and yet the middle class is unable to obtain any relief through government agencies or access due process within the courts. This reality is impacting the lives of millions of Americans who deserve much better.

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The graph is shocking. And for obvious reasons I’m very interested in the mortality of white Americans in the 45-54 age range since I am in this class. If anyone knows about the costs of fighting an unlawful foreclosure it is me. I have filed three bankruptcies during 13 years of ongoing litigation to save my home (despite simply wanting to sell the home that I no longer resided in and cash out my equity). The bank has also filed at least 9 Notices of Default (destroying my ability to obtain credit for over a decade) and illegally foreclosed on me once (in violation of an automatic stay). I have spent every single discretionary dollar I have had believing that the courts would honor the rule of law. I was so confident when I set out to settle the illegal acts by my servicer that I naively believed the situation would be remedied within a year (when it could still take up to another decade to settle this issue).
I was raised in a white upper-middle class family. Your credit score was considered as important as your IQ and success was measured by your position and income. However, by 2001 I found out it doesn’t matter how successful you are- if you are dependent on an employer- it can all be snatched out of your hands (I was fired while on an approved medical leave from a large pharmaceutical company just to add irony). Unable to replace my high salary I fell into financial arrears. I lost my friends, my social standing, my ability to obtain credit, and my ability to rebuild. Even more tragically, the stress decimated my family and destroyed my marriage. I have never recovered. I hope that I don’t become one of these statistics but there are no guarantees I won’t.
Fighting a foreclosure is ugly, ugly business. Unfortunately, in our society, litigation is reserved for those well enough off to fight back. The majority of low-income households have literally no hope of fighting back without competent and aggressive legal counsel (and legal counsel is expensive). Both middle and lower classes are extremely vulnerable to any fluctuation of the economy. A job loss can result in losing everything and purchasing a house you can’t afford further exacerbates your financial stress.
It appears the banks deliberately started giving out loans like candy to anyone with a pulse, knowing they would securitize these debts, keep the investors’ money meant to fund the loan, collect the monthly payments and then foreclose- while knowing very few in the lower and middle classes would be able to fight back. The researchers state they can only hypothesize why records of white middle class Americans are committing suicide in increasing numbers? Although my statistical skills are sub-par I can tell you exactly what is behind the statistics- the illusion of the American dream has been exposed and not one elected official is willing to do what is necessary to correct the situation while the elite are still able to milk the market while it climbs and crashes. This is a tragedy not seen since people jumped off of skyscrapers with the stock market crash in 1929- it is just more subtle and stealth.
One theory about what is causing rising mortality among whites is the “dashed expectations” hypothesis. According to Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin, whites today are more pessimistic than their forebears about their opportunities to advance in life. They are also more pessimistic than their black and Hispanic contemporaries.
“The idea that today’s generations will do better than their parents’ generation is part of the American Dream. It has always been true until now,” Cherlin said. “It may still be true for college-educated Americans, but not for the high-school-educated people we used to call the working class.”  The demise of the middle class is broad in its effects, but it appears to be culminating in places that are particularly vulnerable — such as cities where the drinking water is polluted with lead for years, or a small city that saw its biggest manufacturer move overseas, or in a household destroyed by job loss and foreclosure. It’s no big mystery why the wounded middle class is turning to Trump and his anti-establishment rhetoric and hitting a nerve.
Things aren’t going to get better for sometime due to the apathy and disconnect of Washington and your elected officials. Before you pursue litigation please consider if you possess the endurance needed to fight a bank with unlimited sources. In almost every successful case- an Appeal will be necessary. Consider the evidence you possess- is it enough to defeat the servicer’s claims? Do you have the financial means to finish the fight? Can you detach enough from the outcome that when your due process rights are trampled and the banks resort to forgery to defeat you- you won’t fall apart?
As much as I hate to say this- most people who have viable cases end up in some type of modification or agreement. The costs become too high for most homeowners to endure. Sadly the judges are now unfazed by forgeries, falsified documents, and fraud on the court- and there is nothing unusual about dummied up documents (although the banks are committing felonies with impunity). It is up to the people who have the means and temperament to fight foreclosure to do so on behalf of those whose voices have been silenced. Going the distance also requires that you don’t give in and sign a confidentiality agreement. Precedents in favor of the homeowner are desperately needed.
Every case you have read on Living Lies was because an attorney and the client refused to give in and both incurred serious losses in order to prevail. In cases like these, both attorney and client looked under every rock and crevice for evidence, they studied every law, act and statute. There are few attorneys who are willing to stand up for the homeowner and take the case all the way to trial. These world-class attorneys have sometimes faced ridicule by their peers but can’t be deterred. South Florida has some of the best foreclosure attorneys in the country including Neil Garfield, Tom Ice, Patrick Giunta, James “Randy” Ackley, Matthew Weidner, Mark Stopa, Bruce Jacobs and others (please read the blogs of these attorneys). Through the professionalism, proficiency and passion of these attorneys- the judges are now becoming wise to court manipulation and the fraudulent deeds of the banks.
With the knowledge Neil Garfield has shared with his readers on Living Lies- YOU have a better chance of prevailing than most Americans do who rely solely on their attorneys to take care of every aspect of their case (attorneys simply do not have the time). Eric Mains wrote a blog for Living Lies entitled “Why your Foreclosure Attorney Just became Your Business Partner”. The post provides excellent information for people who are willing and able to take on their loan servicers.
There is no doubt that the banks must receive much harsher monetary penalties to dissuade them from engaging in criminal conduct. It is also time that the representatives of the banks and foreclosure mills they employ be criminally prosecuted for the destruction they have caused to millions of families by fabricating documents, deliberately deceiving homeowners (through disinformation, false modifications, refusal to accept payments) and intentionally setting homeowners up to fail.
My advice to anyone contemplating foreclosure would be to NEVER allow a bank to steal your happiness or harm your family- walk away.  If you decide to pursue litigation your eyes will be opened that the attorneys for the banks are no different than college-educated thugs and that the courts are owned and paid for by the big banks. This lesson in itself will completely shake your belief system to the core. I would recommend in most cases that you save your family, your sanity and your money and go fight a war you can win.
Not to discourage you- but I have now been held hostage for 13 years. I have no home (except the house that has sat empty during 6 years of litigation now), no retirement, no marriage and my physical health is now starting to suffer (my mental suffering endures). I have wasted the best years of my life fighting a heartless bank with unlimited power and unlimited resources- because I actually believed our judicial system guaranteed my due process rights (wrong).  My ONLY hope is that the judge overhearing my case can put his own biases aside, apply the rule of law- and allow a jury of my peers to hear what a bank hell-bent on orchestrating the theft of my home is capable of.
They haven’t stolen my home-yet, but they may have stolen my life.

Update: March 25, 2018: If you have been victimized by a predatory foreclosure attorney- please write me at lendingliesconsulting@gmail.com.  I would like to hear your story.

 

Florida Foreclosure: Where No Case is Over-Ever

Our services: https://livinglies.me/2016/04/11/what-can-you-do-for-me-an-overview-of-services-offered-by-neil-garfield/

I have not commented on the arguments regarding the statute of limitations here in Florida. It is time I did. The article here points out that the 3rd DCA has bent over backward and essentially broken its own backbone by creating legal fictions to save the banks. What they continue to ignore is that saving the banks means screwing the consumer, the citizen and the taxpayer. They also have essentially ruled that the banks can keep coming into court, filing the same lawsuit over and over again, until they win by attrition — few homeowners can afford to contest foreclosures repeatedly. The 3rd DCA decision essentially says that it isn’t over until the bank wins.

 
The obvious premise behind this flawed decision is that somehow this will make everything turn out “right.” It doesn’t. The court completely ignores the huge body of law and information in the public domain that reveals the banks as the perpetrators of epic fraud. Either the court doesn’t know about the fraud or it doesn’t care.

 
And what the court does not address is the nature of the fraud by assuming facts that don’t exist. These banks don’t have a penny invested in any of the loans that they are using for foreclosure and even modification where ownership of the debt gets transferred from the investors who advanced the money to the banks who sold them the bad deals. The investor is left with nothing in most cases while the borrower cleans out his savings account trying to save his/her home only to lose it to a party who is stealing the home from the borrower and the loan from the investor.

 
The court is creating multiple legal fictions. In so doing the court has destroyed the value of stare decisis — legal precedent. Or, if you look from another point of view creating a destructive legal precedent. Instead of taking each legal effective act as something that matters, they have bent and broken the language of the note and mortgage — essentially converting the act of acceleration to an option that means nothing unless foreclosure is successful.

 
If this decision is left standing then no case is over, ever. And lawyers will start arguing that even though their client committed themselves to an act with legal significance, they now choose to disavow that act and proceed on an alternative theory — after they have already lost the case in prior proceedings. This creates an endless chain of alleging “new facts” or “alternative facts” on every case where a party previously lost the legal contest, or where their case was dismissed.

 
The inherent presumption is that borrowers have no voice in this process because they received the benefit of fraudulent schemes. But in the courts where I grew up as a lawyer, no party was allowed presumptions if they had unclean hands seeking the equitable remedy of foreclosure.

 

Nor would a fraudster be allowed to benefit from his schemes once the scheme was revealed. The courts are turning this on its head. As stated in the Yvanova decision in California, it DOES matter if the wrong party is bringing the foreclosure action. It is not enough that the homeowner may owe someone money based upon some equitable theory of law; the homeowner must respond only to a claim from the actual party to whom the debt is owed, i.e., the creditor.

 
That California decision said it well — we don’t enter judgments against people simply because they must owe somebody (or anybody) money. The legal system is only available to those with legal standing — a party to whom the debt is actually owed because they paid for it.
This rush to “convict” the homeowner of bad behavior (breach of an unconscionable arrangement where there is no actual enforceable loan contract) is the insidious basis of most of the court decisions where the courts have “read in” fictions that never existed by contract, statute or legal precedent.

 

They did it with due process by putting the burden on homeowners to prove facts that were solely within the care, custody and control of third parties.

 

They rubbed it in when they blocked discovery to get to those facts.

 

They did it again by reading into TILA rescission that the homeowner must file a legal action to make rescission effective (despite the express wording of the statute to the contrary).

 

They did it again by reading into TILA rescission that the homeowner had to offer some tender to the “lender” in order to make rescission effective.

 

And they are doing it again, even after the Supreme Court of the United States told them they were wrong by reading into TILA rescission that the conditions precedent to a valid rescission mean that the rescission is not legally effective until a judge decides the issues raised by the pretender lenders. THAT theory brings us full circle around to the erroneous theory that TILA rescission is not effective upon mailing and that it is not effective until someone files a lawsuit. But they do it again when they say that the Court can decide the outcome of a nonexistent lawsuit filed by a nonexistent party.

 
This won’t end until the Courts return to basic contract law. The courts must abandon their intrusion into the legislative agendas where public policy is declared. They must especially back off when the court doctrines on public policy conflict with the legislators who are the ONLY people constitutionally permitted to make policy. Those legislators have spoken on Federal and State levels. But the courts are unconstitutionally refusing to abide by laws passed by the legislative branch. The statute of limitations is just another example.

 

The way it destroys legal precedent is that it directly conflicts with the doctrine of finality. For example if a person is in an auto accident and chooses to make the claim before they reach maximum medical improvement, the measure of damages is diminished because once they sue the damages are based upon the proven injury. They might even lose because the proven damages are inconsequential. When they later discover they have more injuries and more damages they cannot come back into court and say that their last claim was an option — and more importantly that the fact that their claim was dismissed should be ignored.   And even more to the point, if their last claim was within the statute of limitations and their present claim is outside of the statute of limitations the plaintiff’s claim is dismissed on the basis of res judicata — the matter has already been litigated AND the statute of limitations.

 

If the judiciary is able to rewrite laws of the legislature from the bench in regards to Mortgages, then why shouldn’t the court do the same for ALL legal issues?  It is only a matter of time until these cases are used to circumvent the statute of limitations in other cases- opening up an onslaught of new cases that have already been tried.  Finality will be a thing of the past.

 

There can be little doubt that the banks control the judiciary. The Third District Court of Appeal ruled that the statute of limitations in mortgage foreclosure actions are not applicable. The court had earlier determined in the 2014 Deutsche Bank v. Beauvais opinion that the statute barred Deutsche Bank from filing a foreclosure action five years after the borrower’s default and the lender’s acceleration demanding full payment of the loan.

 
The Third District Court reversed this decision in a 6-4 ruling on April 12 and held that the statute of limitations can NEVER bar a bank’s efforts to foreclose on a Florida homeowner! What does this mean? It means that the banks will have until 5 years after the maturity of the loan to foreclose, and the ability to repeatedly file foreclosure actions until they have outspent and exhausted the homeowner.

 
This decision is a travesty. This decision ensures the foreclosure crisis will continue for decades, and allows the banks unlimited court actions until they can successfully foreclose on the homeowner. Very few homeowners have the financial means to endure decades of litigation, and very few homeowner’s attorneys will have the endurance or desire to defend cases for long durations of time. This ruling allows the banks to regroup, correct the issue, and re-litigate (or fabricate documents to “cure” the error).

 
The Third District’s en banc decision was based on the 2004 Florida Supreme Court opinion in Singleton v. Greymar. In Singleton, the trial court dismissed the lender’s foreclosure action on an accelerated debt with prejudice after the bank failed to appear at a hearing. What is unclear from the Singleton record is why the lender failed to appear. The court should have recognized that there was an agreement to reinstate under which the borrower made payments prior to the dismissal.
The lender filed a second foreclosure action after the borrower defaulted on a new, subsequent workout plan. The borrower sought to avoid the second action claiming res judicata. It is noteworthy that the lender’s Supreme Court brief in Singleton was only four pages long, with only one paragraph of actual argument stating that to deny the foreclosure would create “uncertainty” for banks and a “windfall” for homeowners, offering no analysis of res judicata, collateral estoppel or the consideration of the statute of limitations.

 
Even the attorney who represented the lender in Singleton, Mark Evans Kass, said that Singleton has been misinterpreted and misapplied by many courts across Florida, including the Third District in Deutsche Bank v. Beauvais. The Florida Supreme Court found the two actions were different events and the second action involved a new and distinct default by the borrowers.

 
“There really is no mystery as to why the Florida Supreme Court ruled that my client was not barred by res judicata in bringing the second foreclosure action,” Kass stated. “It’s simple. The debtors, Gwendolyn and William Singleton, made payments and reinstated the loan after we accelerated the debt. A few months after reinstating and dismissing the first lawsuit, they defaulted again, which is why we filed a second lawsuit and alleged a subsequent and separate default date — because there actually was a subsequent and separate default.”

 

Kass commented on the Third District’s recent en banc opinion and said, “I would agree with the dissent that Deutsche Bank v. Beauvais has created a new legal fiction. In Singleton, we had a reinstatement and then a new and separate default. For that reason, our second foreclosure was a different cause of action. I understand that the borrower in Beauvais never reinstated the accelerated loan, never made additional payments, and there was never a new or subsequent default.”

 
The four dissenting judges in Beauvais agreed and stated that Beauvais: 1) creates a “legal fiction” that acceleration does not affect the installment nature of the loan; 2) rewrites the contract provisions between the parties; and 3) rewrites the statute of limitations to favor banks. Thus, the only exceptions to the statute of limitations in Florida are capital crimes like murder and now-mortgage foreclosures. However, ONLY murder is an exception actually carved out by a statute enacted by the Florida Legislature.

 

The Florida Supreme Court failed to address is how there can legally be a new default after a debt has already been accelerated. Over the years the banks have worked to convince the courts that Singleton supports the proposition that if a foreclosure is dismissed “for any reason,” there is an automatic reinstatement of the installment nature of the loan, thereby resetting the statute of limitations period for foreclosures.

 
In an unprecedented move, the Third District took Beauvais to an entirely new level claiming that the installment nature of the loan was never affected by the lender’s acceleration of the debt. Thus, even if a bank demands full repayment, the borrower is still obligated to make monthly payments as if there were no acceleration. The courts have opportunistically misinterpreted Singleton and the Florida Supreme Court will need to clarify whether Singleton changes the meaning and effect of “acceleration” and therefore nullified the statute of limitations for mortgages.

 

 

With so many courts misinterpreting the Florida Supreme Court’s Singleton opinion, the Florida Supreme Court must clarify whether Singleton changed the meaning and effect of “acceleration” and nullified the statute of limitations for mortgages. New exceptions to the statute of limitations is a Legislature issue, not for the judiciary to decide.

Rescission Procedure Explained — Tonight on the Neil Garfield Show

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For further information please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688.  If you call or email us at neilfgarfield@hotmail.com your question or request for service can then be answered more easily.

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

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The following is lifted from the content of a report you can get by clicking on https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies. The review, report and analysis includes a 30 minute consult. Legal opinions are rendered to attorneys in all 50 states and to clients in the State of Florida.

  1. TILA Rescission is an event. It is not a theory, claim or defense. It is a nonjudicial procedural remedy. It is accomplished by mailing a letter. In most cases it is an event that has indisputably occurred. The effect of TILA Rescission is, as a matter of law and by operation of law, to cancel the loan contract, and to render the note and mortgage void. In its Motion to Dismiss, the pretender lenders seek to have courts assume that the rescission exists but is not effective, despite all law to the contrary. The matter is well settled, to wit: if the rescission exists, it is effective as a matter of law.
  2. The effectiveness of a TILA Rescission is not predicated upon any judicial analysis of the likelihood of the borrower’s success if a lawsuit to vacate the rescission is filed by a party with legal standing. Any such interpretation would be opposite to the holding in Jesinoski that the rescission is effective upon mailing, whether disputed or not.
  3. The pretender lenders do not dispute that rescission has occurred but seek to invoke issues in a case that is not and cannot be before any Court, to wit: whether the rescission is effective. And they seek to do so through motions in which they deftly avoid the requirement of pleading and proving facts in a proper lawsuit to vacate the rescission, thus depriving the homeowners of their right to raise appropriate defenses to the non-existent lawsuit seeking to vacate the rescission.
  4. Pretender lenders want the courts to enter an order that would impliedly vacate the rescission.

The pretender lenders seek to have the court assume facts about the consummation of the alleged loan including the date or dates when consummation occurred and the source of funding for the alleged loan. They even want the court to assume that disclosures were adequate. These are questions of fact requiring a lawsuit, discovery and trial. They seek to have courts adopt the premise that the rescission is not effective upon mailing if there are potentially defects in the reasoning or actions of the borrower. SCOTUS has expressly rejected that argument. (Jesinoski v Countrywide). SCOTUS clearly stated that the rescission is complete upon mailing, regardless of whether it is disputed or not.

This does not remove the ability of the creditor to vacate the rescission but it does eliminate the right of any creditor to raise a challenge based upon the theory that the rescission was not effective when mailed. That issue is completely settled by SCOTUS.

All three branches of government are in unanimous agreement: TILA Rescission is effective upon mailing by operation of law. Nothing further is required from the borrower.

California Supreme Court Rules in Yvanova, “The borrower owes money NOT TO THE WORLD at large but to a particular person or institution.”

Yvanova v New Century Mortgage 02182016 Supreme Court of California opinion

By William Hudson

Last week the California Supreme Court ruled in Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corporation (Case No. S218973, Cal. Sup. Ct. February 18, 2016) that homeowners have standing to challenge a note assignment in an action for wrongful foreclosure on the grounds that the assignment is void. Obviously if the court had ruled differently, the banks would have had absolute carte blanche to forge mortgage assignments with wild abandon. In fact, without a system of endorsements and assignments it would be almost impossible to determine what party has a legitimate interest in a property and chaos would have ensued (sound familiar?).

 
The Yvanova ruling puts to rest the prior assumption by most California courts that a homeowner lacks standing to challenge a void assignment. This decision has the potential to open the litigation floodgates by borrowers who were improperly foreclosed on due to fraudulent or improper assignments. In fact, you can bet that homeowners who lost their homes due to the court’s resistance to follow established law will be filing suit.

 
In Yvanova, she complained that the bank had resorted to the use of fraudulent documents in order to foreclose. First she identified that a bankrupt entity called New Century assigned a deed of trust years after the company ceased to exist. The mortgage assignments demonstrated that even though New Century was dissolved in 2008, New Century allegedly assigned Yvanova’s deed of trust to Deutsche bank in 2011. It was also discovered that Yvanova’s note could not have been delivered to the Morgan Stanley trust pool because the trust had a cutoff date of January 2007. Deutsche Bank, the servicer, claims to have transferred the deed of trust to that pool in December 2011. Thus, 3 years and 11 months after the trust had closed.

 
By law, and to ensure tax-free pass-through status by the REMIC (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit) notes placed in trusts must be placed into the pool by a certain date. The Morgan Stanley trust had a cutoff date of January 2007 but Deutsche Bank claims the note they received by a zombie assignment was placed in the pool in 2011. Thus, a nonexistent company called New Century transferred a note to a closed trust.

 
Up until Yvanova was settled, the California courts rejected hundreds of similar claims over the years stating that borrowers were not a party to or holder of the debt (see Jenkins f. JP Morgan Chase). The California courts essentially ruled that homeowners may now challenge wrongful foreclosures on the grounds that the assignment of the note was invalid or the chain of assignment was faulty. In securitized trusts, it is fairly common for the endorsements and assignments to be either inaccurate or downright fraudulent (photoshopped, robosigned, etc.). The big securitizing banks like Ocwen, Deutsche, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo better prepare for a tsunami of wrongful foreclosure suits in California.

 
The California Supreme Court, by ruling in favor of Yvanova, effectively confirmed the 2013 California Appellate ruling Glaski v. Bank of America, which held that a homeowner facing a non-judicial foreclosure has standing to challenge violations of the pooling and servicing agreement. One of the most insightful quotes in Yvanova states, “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.”

 

The California Supreme Court got it right when they elaborated that, “A homeowner who has been foreclosed on by one with no right to do so has suffered an injurious invasion of his or her legal rights at the foreclosing entity’s hands. No more is required for standing to sue.” Could it be that the California courts are tired of the 9 years of fraudulent banking games that have clogged the court system with no end in sight?

 
It wasn’t the homeowner who got sloppy, greedy and decided to start forging and photoshopping legal documents. It was the banks that engineered this complete fiasco from the top to bottom. Maybe now the banks will clean up their act, or they will be forced to find a more efficient and convincing way to forge and falsify endorsements and assignments. To date, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing- and the banks only hope that the homeowner doesn’t discover their deception.

 
I will reiterate again, if a bank claims to own a debt then why not simply show the documentation and prove it? This entire mess could be cleaned up very quickly if the banks would simply show the court evidence of ownership- but the courts know the banks don’t have it. By now we know that this entire debacle was engineered under the premise of plausible deniability and the screws are coming loose.
It is evident that the courts have had enough. The Supreme Court in Yvanova stated that:

 

“… California borrowers whose loans are secured by a deed of trust with a power of sale may suffer foreclosure without judicial process and thus ―would be deprived of a means to assert [their] legal protections if not permitted to challenge the foreclosing entity‘s authority through an action for wrongful foreclosure. (Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 290.)

A borrower therefore ―has standing to challenge the assignment of a mortgage on her home to the extent that such a challenge is necessary to contest a foreclosing entity‘s status qua mortgagee‖ (id. at p. 291)— that is, as the current holder of the beneficial interest under the deed of trust.”
The decision goes on to state that:

 

“In seeking a finding that an assignment agreement was void, therefore, a plaintiff in Yvanova‘s position is not asserting the interests of parties to the assignment; she is asserting her own interest in limiting foreclosure on her property to those with legal authority to order a foreclosure sale. This, then, is not a situation in which standing to sue is lacking because its ―sole object . . . is to settle rights of third persons who are not parties. (Golden Gate Bridge etc. Dist. v. Felt (1931) 214 Cal. 308, 316.)”

Apparently the California Supreme Court just grew a pair and the remaining 49 states might want to listen up. With all of the fraud settlements that have occurred over the past seven years, it is evident that what is occurring isn’t simply sloppy paperwork or unintentional oversight but blatant fraud, theft and criminal conspiracy if you want to be honest. It is a sad day in America when a homeowner must go all the way to the Supreme Court in order to obtain a fair and just ruling. If the courts had ruled in favor of the banks (and I am sure the judges in Yvanova knew what was on the line), there is no doubt in my mind that banks would have had a foreclosure feeding frenzy.

The court states the obvious, that there is an investor or entity who may suffer an unauthorized loss of its interest in the note if the foreclosure proceeds, “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.”

And finally, the court gets to the meat of the matter- the issue of standing. “As it relates to standing, we disagree with defendants’ analysis of prejudice from an illegal foreclosure. A foreclosed-upon borrower clearly meets the general standard for standing to sue by showing an invasion of his or her legally protected interests (Angelucci v. Century Supper Club (2007) 41 Cal.4th 160, 175)—the borrower has lost ownership to the home in an allegedly illegal trustee‘s sale. (See Culhane, supra, 708 F.3d at p. 289 [foreclosed-upon borrower has sufficient personal stake in action against foreclosing entity to meet federal standing requirement].)  Moreover, the bank or other entity that ordered the foreclosure would not have done so absent the allegedly void assignment. Thus- [t]he identified harm—the foreclosure—can be traced directly to [the foreclosing entity‘s] exercise of the authority purportedly delegated by the assignment.”

In conclusion, the court clarifies who is allowed to enforce the note without showing overt favoritism to the bank. Please note the eloquence of the last line in this paragraph in the Yvanova decision:

“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. 292 [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.

Again, “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.” The court isn’t magically creating case law- this is exactly what the promissory note entitles the bearer to do- collect on a debt. The note does not say, “If you have a forged document you randomly printed a copy off the internet or photoshopped- you have standing.”

Only the individual or entity with actual STANDING can foreclose on a home. The fact that the homeowner defaulted on an alleged contract (that probably didn’t happen the way the contract reflects the transaction) doesn’t mean any party claiming to be a note holder can foreclose on the home. Like Jerry McGuire said, “SHOW ME THE MONEY.” Until the mortgagee shows up with actual evidence of ownership- no servicer, “lender” or unknown party should be able to randomly foreclose on a home simply by saying they own the note.

Again, this is the beauty of rescission. By precluding the servicer from walking into court with a forged note, mortgage and alleged contract- and forcing this party to demonstrate contractual standing- many fraudulent foreclosures would be prevented. It is tragic that so many people have lost their homes because the courts permitted a pretend lender with no standing to waltz in and take a home simply by showing fraudulent documents and making false claims.

Finally, the Yvanova ruling leaves us with the crowning glory of this decision, “A homeowner who has been foreclosed on by one with no right to do so has suffered an injurious invasion of his or her legal rights at the foreclosing entity‘s hands. No more is required for standing to sue.” Thank you California Supreme Court justices for ruling according to law instead of the banking lobby.

LivingLies Announces Columbus Ohio Law Office

If you are looking for legal representation in Ohio, please call our customer service line at 520-405-1688. You will either be interviewed or directed to a form on line to fill out as to the status of your case and various other matters. Or you can call the Columbus office direct. Client intake has already begun under this arrangement.

Editor’s Comment: I am thrilled announce this association with lawyers in Columbus, Ohio who not only understand the intricacies of securitization and not only represent homeowners fighting the banks, but whose mission is to WIN not just buy time. NO guarantees of course, but these guys are the real deal.

They are scholars, writers, creative and innovative as well as knowledgeable in trial practice, bankruptcy and property law. I have associated with them directly as being of counsel, which is not something I ordinarily do, as most of you know.

MEET WITTENBERG LAW GROUP
Please allow us to introduce Wittenberg Law Group, a Columbus, Ohio-based law firm that helps to defend homeowners against foreclosures. The professionals of Wittenberg Law Group stand ready to help you.
Eric J. Wittenberg is the founder and manager of the firm. Mr. Wittenberg is in his 26th year in the practice of law. He is involved in a great deal of litigation with lenders trying to wrongfully foreclose upon homeowners. Mr. Wittenberg shares something important with Neil Garfield–like Mr. Garfield, Mr. Wittenberg is an alumnus of Dickinson College. He has a master’s degree in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he was the Head Notes and Comments Editor for the Journal of Law and Commerce. For 25 years, he has worked to protect the rights of individuals and small businesses.
He is also an award-winning Civil War historian and author, with 17 books on the subject in print. Mr. Wittenberg regularly lectures and leads tours of Civil War battlefields and is in great demand. He is also an ardent baseball fan and the co-author of You Stink! Major League Baseball’s Terrible Teams and Pathetic Players.
Jennifer L. Routte is a Columbus native who comes from a background of a successful family business. She worked in the family business for going to law school and understands the challenges faced by small businesses. She is an graduate of The Ohio State University and the Capital University School of Law.
Treisa L. Fox is an associate attorney who works almost exclusively on defending foreclosures. Ms. Fox, a native of West Virginia, is a graduate of Marshall University and of the Capital University School of Law. She has a great deal of experience with challenging the validity of loan documents and of the claims of lenders, and she stands prepared to assist you.
The professionals of Wittenberg Law Group stand prepared to assist you with your efforts to defend your homes.
Eric J. Wittenberg
Attorney and Counselor at Law
WITTENBERG LAW GROUP
6895 East Main Street
Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068
614.834.9650
Fax: 614.328.0576
eric@wittenberglawgroup.com
www.wittenberglawgroup.com

Deny and Discover Strategy Working

For representation in South Florida, where I am both licensed and familiar with the courts and Judges, call 520-405-1688. If you live in another state we provide direct support to attorneys. call the same number.

Having watched botched cases work their way to losing conclusions and knowing there is a better way, I have been getting more involved in individual cases — pleading, memos, motions, strategies and tactics — and we are already seeing some good results. Getting into discovery levels the playing field and forces the other side to put up or shut up. Since they can’t put up, they must shut up.

If you start with the premise that the original mortgage was defective for the primary reason that it was unfunded by the payee on the note, the party identified as “Lender” or the mortgagee or beneficiary, we are denying the transaction, denying the signature where possible (or pleading that the signature was procured by fraud), and thus denying that any “transfer” afterwards could not have conveyed any more than what the “originator” had, which is nothing.

This is not a new concept. Investors are suing the investment banks saying exactly what we have been saying on these pages — that the origination process was fatally defective, the notes and mortgages unenforceable and the predatory lending practices lowering the value of even being a “lender.”

We’ve see hostile judges turn on the banks and rule for the homeowner thus getting past motions to lift stay, motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment in the last week.

The best line we have been using is “Judge, if you were lending the money wouldn’t you want YOUR name on the note and mortgage?” Getting the wire transfer instructions often is the kiss of death for the banks because the originator of the wire transfer is not the payee and the instructions do not say that this is for benefit of the “originator.”

As far as I can tell there is no legal definition of “originator.” It is one step DOWN from mortgage broker whose name should also not be on the note or mortgage. An originator is a salesman, and if you look behind the scenes at SEC filings or other regulatory filings you will see your “lender” identified not as a lender, which is what they told you, but as an originator. That means they were a placeholder or nominee just like the MERS situation.

TILA and Regulation Z make it clear that even if there was nexus of connection between the source of funds and the originator, it would till be an improper predatory table-funded loan where the borrower was denied the disclosure and information to know and choose the source of a loan, thus enabling consumers to shop around.

In order of importance, we are demanding through subpoena duces tecum, that parties involved in the fake securitization chain come for examination of the wire transfer, check, ACH or other money transfer showing the original funding of the loan and any other money transactions in which the loan was involved INCLUDING but not limited to transactions with or for the fake pool of mortgages that seems to always be empty with no bank account, no trustee account, and no actual trustee with any powers. These transactions don’t exist. The red herring is that the money showed up at closing which led everyone to the mistaken conclusion that the originator made the loan.

Second we ask for the accounting records showing the establishment on the books and records of the originator, and any assignees, of a loan receivable together with the name and address of the bookkeeper and the auditing firm for that entity. No such entries exist because the loan receivable was converted into a bond receivable, but he bond was worthless because it was based on an empty pool.

And third we ask for the documentation, correspondence and all other communications between the originator and the closing agent and between each “assignor” and “assignee” which, as we have seen they are only too happy to fabricate and produce. But the documentation is NOT supported by underlying transactions where money exchanged hands.

The net goals are to attack the mortgage as not having been perfected because the transaction was and remains incomplete as recited in the note, mortgage and other “closing” documents. The “lender” never fulfilled their part of the bargain — loaning the money. Hence the mortgage secures an obligation that does not exist. The note is then attacked as being fatally defective partly because the names were used as nominees leaving the borrower with nobody to talk to about the loan status — there being a nominee payee, nominee lender, and nominee mortgagee or beneficiary.

The other part, just as serious is that the terms of repayment on the note do NOT match up to the terms agreed upon with the institutional investors that purchased mortgage bonds to which the borrower was NOT a party and did not issue. Hence the basic tenets of contract law — offer, acceptance and consideration are all missing.

The Deny and Discover strategy is better because it attacks the root of the transaction and enables the borrower to deny everything the forecloser is trying to put over on the Court with the appearance of reality but nothing to back it up.

The attacks on the foreclosers based upon faulty or fraudulent or even forged documentation make for interesting reading but if in the final analysis the borrower is admitting the loan, admitting the note and mortgage, admitting the default then all the other stuff leads a Judge to conclude that there is error in the ways of the banks but no harm because they were entitled to foreclose anyway.

People are getting on board with this strategy and they have the support from an unlikely source — the investors who thought they were purchasing mortgage bonds with value instead of a sham bond based upon an empty pool with no money and no assets and no loans. Their allegation of damages is based upon the fact that despite the provisions of the pooling and servicing agreement, the prospectus and their reasonable expectations, that the closings were defective, the underwriting was defective and that there is no way to legally enforce the notes and mortgages, notwithstanding the fact that so many foreclosures have been allowed to proceed.

Call 520-405-1688 for customer service and you will get guidance on how to get help.

  1. Do we agree that creditors should be paid only once?
  2. Do we agree that pretending to borrow money for mortgages sand then using it at the race track is wrong?
  3. Do we agree that if the lender and the borrower sign two different documents each containing different terms, they don’t have a deal?
  4. Can we agree that if you were lending money you would want your name on the note and mortgage and not someone else’s?
  5. Can we agree that banks who loaned nothing and bought nothing should be worth nothing when the chips are counted in mortgage assets?

 

New Workshop on Motion Practice and Discovery

why-you-should-attend-the-discovery-and-motion-practice-workshop

VISIT LIVINGLIES STORE FOR FREE VIDEOS AND OTHER RESOURCES

START WINNING CASES!!

May 23-24, 2010 2 days. 9am-5pm. Neil F Garfield. CLE credits pending but not promised. Register Now. Seating limited to 18. INCLUDES LUNCH AND EXTENSIVE MANUAL OF FORMS, NARRATIVE AND CASES. An in-depth look at securitized residential mortgages and deeds of trust. Latest cases on standing, nominees, splitting note from security instrument, bankruptcy strategies, expert declarations, forensic analysis reports.

Lawyers, paralegals, experts, forensic analysts will all benefit from this. This workshop includes monthly follow-up teleconferences and continuing on-going support with advance copies of articles, cases and analysis.

  1. STRATEGIC REVIEW: WHY THESE CASES ARE BEING WON AND LOST IN MOTION PRACTICE.
  2. SECURITIZATION REVIEW
  3. USE OF FORENSIC REPORTS AND EXPERT DECLARATIONS
  4. RAISING QUESTIONS OF FACT IN CREDIBLE MANNER
  5. SETTING UP AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING
  6. FOLLOW THE MONEY
  7. OBLIGATION, NOTE, BOND, MORTGAGE, DEED OF TRUST ANALYSIS
  8. TILA, RESPA, QWR, DVL AND RESCISSION — WHY JUDGES DON’T LIKE TILA RESCISSION AND HOW TO OVERCOME THEIR RESISTANCE.
  9. NOTICE OF DEFAULT, TRUSTEE, STANDING, REAL PARTY IN INTEREST EXAMINED AND REVIEWED
  10. INVESTORS, REMICS, TRUSTS, TRUSTEES, BORROWERS, CREDITORS, DEBTORS, HOMEOWNERS
  11. FACT EVIDENCE ON MOTIONS
  12. FORENSIC EVIDENCE ON MOTION
  13. EXPERT EVIDENCE ON MOTION
  14. ORAL ARGUMENT
  15. WHAT TO FILE
  16. WHEN TO FILE
  17. EMERGENCY MOTIONS — MOTION TO LIFT STAY, MOTION TO DISMISS, TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDERS, MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY
  18. DISCOVERY: INTERROGATORIES, WHAT TO ASK FOR, HOW TO ASK FOR IT AND HOW TO ENFORCE IT. REQUESTS TO PRODUCE. REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS. DEPOSITIONS UPON WRITTEN QUESTIONS.
  19. FEDERAL PROCEDURE
  20. STATE PROCEDURE
  21. BANKRUPTCY PROCEDURE
  22. ETHICS, BUSINESS PLANS, AND PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
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