How Do I Use an Expert Declaration?

With judges under pressure to clear their calendar, the strategy of the banks in delaying prosecution of foreclosure cases is coming to an end. And the opportunity for the borrower, as well as a good reason for action, has just begun. An aggressive approach is more likely to yield good results than any strategy predicated upon delay. And judges are prone to blame the delay on the homeowner who wants to stay in his home rent-free for as long as possible.

So having an aggressive plan to prosecute the case with solid answers and affirmative defenses is key to getting the judges curiosity — why is the homeowner trying so hard to move the case along and the bank stonewalling and delaying the action alleging they need relief? Some lawyers, like Jeff Barnes, don’t know how to litigate with kid gloves on. When they take a case it is to draw blood and Barnes has established himself as not only an aggressive attorney but one who often wins a satisfactory result for his clients.

My expert declaration covers the gamut from property issues through UCC and contract issues. Securitization is something I understand very well — how it is intended to be used, how the law got passed exempting it from being characterized as securities or insurance products and how it was sold to Congress and Clinton as an innovative way to spread and reduce risk of loss, thus raising an investment with a medium degree of risk of loss to very low and therefore suitable for stable managed funds who are required to put their money into extremely low risk triple A rated investments.

All that said, for all I know and can say, neither my declaration nor testimony is ever dispositive in the final ruling of the case, with a few exceptions. On the other hand out of hundreds of times my declarations or testimony has been used in court, the number of times the banks have proffered an alternate “expert” to say I was wrong, mistaken or had used defective analysis to reach my conclusions is ZERO. And the banks took my deposition in a class action suit in which I was admitted as an expert witness in Federal Court — the deposition lasted six full working days 9:00am to 5:00pm. About the only negative thing they had to say after hours and hours of testimony was that my opinion was “grandiose” to which I answered that it was not nearly as grandiose as the fraud their clients were perpetrating upon our society.

So the most common question is how can I use your expert declaration? And the first answer I  always give is (a) my declaration, whether notarized or not, is never and should never be a substitute for actual facts applicable to the actual case which requires actual witnesses who have actual knowledge (usually from the opposition in discovery) and (b) you should have a plan for your case that does not call for a knock-out punch in the first hearing. If you think that is going to happen you are deluding yourself.

The most common attack on my affidavit is a motion to strike or a memorandum that alleges that I am not a credible expert. But the rules on admission of expert testimony are so lax that almost anyone can be admitted as an expert but he Judge is not required to presume the expert knows what he is talking about or has anything of value to offer. Thus a proper foundation of facts, timelines, paper trails and money trails needs to be laid out in front of the judge in a manner and form that makes it easy to understand. The declaration is only one step of a multistage process. When the opposition attacks the declaration, they are trying to distract the court from the real issues.

The best and most fruitful uses of an expert declaration are to use them when battling for information through the discovery. That is where cases are often won and lost, where cases end up being settled to the satisfaction of the borrower or lost, pending appeal. The expert declaration tells the court what the expert looked at and raises issues and opinions including the information that is absent which will resolve the issue of whether the forecloser actually has a cause of action upon which relief could be granted (an inquiry applicable to both judicial and non-judicial states).
Expert declarations have been used with success in hearings on discovery because it explains why you need to take the deposition of a specific witness or compel production of certain documents or compel answers to interrogatories. Once that order is entered agreeing that you are entitled to  the information it is often the case that the mater is settled within hours or days.
To a lesser degree expert declarations have been successful in non-judicial states where the homeowner seeks a temporary restraining order. And a fair amount of traction has been seen where it is used to show the court hat there are material issues of fact in dispute to defeat a motion for summary judgment, sometimes effective if there is a cross-motion for summary judgment for the homeowner where there is an effective attack on the affidavit filed in support of the forecloser’s motion for summary judgment.
The least traction for the expert declaration is where homeowners attempt to use it as a substitute for evidence — which means no live witnesses testifying to facts that lay the foundation for introduction of documents into evidence. And there are mixed results on motions to lift stay — but even where effective temporarily the debtor is usually required to file an adversary action.
After you file the declaration along with some pleading that states the purpose of the filing, you will most likely be met with a barrage of attacks on the use of the affidavit. They are trying to bait you into an argument about me and whether anything I said was true. Of course they do not submit an affidavit from an expert who comes to contrary conclusions; but even if the declaration is perfect, it is no substitute for real evidence. It is the reason why you need to get a court order requiring the forecloser to answer discovery and how they should answer it. It is support for why you believe your discovery will lead to admissible evidence or cut short the litigation. The declaration explains why you want to pursue the money trail to see of negotiation of the note and mortgage ever took place. The assignment says yes but if the payment isn’t there, no transaction exists. The UCC and contract law are in complete agreement — offer, acceptance and payment are required to enforce a contract. And on the offer side, you can either start with the investor or the borrower.
In live testimony it is my job to show the court what really happened not by piling presumption on opinions but by pointing to the facts you revealed in discovery and then explaining what transactions actually occurred. The only actual transaction — the only time money exchanged hands was when investors advanced money to be used for the acquisition or origination of loans.
But the intermediaries usurped the money and kept part of it instead of funding mortgages. And the intermediaries diverted title to the loan documents from the investors and claimed ownership so they could create the illusion of an insurable interest and the illusion of a risk of loss justifying the credit default swap contracts.
It was also used by the banks to sell worthless mortgage bonds to the Federal Reserve. We know now that the “trustee” of the REMIC trust never received any of the investment dollars advanced by the investors. The reason we know that the mortgage bonds are worthless is that there is no record of the existence of a trust account for the REMIC pool. Hence, the trust had no money to buy or originate the loan.

But it is nonetheless true that the investors advanced money and the borrowers got some of it. The amount received by or on behalf of the borrower is a legitimate debt owed by the borrowers to the investors as lenders. If you say otherwise, your entire argument will be viewed with justifiable skepticism. But the investors cannot be grouped by REMIC common law trusts under New York law because they too, like the assignments and allonges and endorsements, lack any money or other transfer of consideration in exchange  for the loan.

So we have consideration without a REMIC trust, without an enforceable contract which means that the debt existed but there were no agreed terms — the note and bond terms are very different, contrary to the requirements of TILA and Reg Z. Thus the investors may have received bonds issued by the REMIC trust, but their money never went into the trust contrary to the terms of the prospectus. So the investors are owed the money as a group by the borrowers as a group. That means the only way to refer to the investors as a group (contrary to their belief because they think their money went into the REMIC trust) is a partnership arising by operation of law. That is a common law general partnership. But because equitable liens a NOT allowed by law, they have n way to use the mortgage lien or the note. But they do have a claim, even if it is unsecured.

And the amount owed to the investors is different than the amount of principal on the defective notes and mortgages. That is because the investment bank took more money than it used for funding mortgages and pocketed the difference. So the transaction with the borrower gives rise to a liability to the investor lenders but the borrowers are only one of several co-obligors by contract and through tort theory. And the money received by the intermediary bank that claimed the bond and loans as their own using investor money should be credited to the receivable account of the investor. The argument here is that the investment banks cannot pretend to be agents of the investors for purpose for taking money from the investors and then claim not to be the agent for the purpose of receiving money from co-obligors including the homeowner.

It is only by untangling this mess that the request for modification from the investors can be directed to the right parties but that requires the investors’ identities to be revealed. There can be no meaningful modification, mediation or litigation without getting this straight.
Let’s start with the borrower. The borrower executes a note and mortgage. If the borrower denies ever getting a loan from the payee or mortgagee or beneficiary, then the issue is in dispute as to whether the borrower’s initial transaction was anything more than offer for someone to accept.
TILA says the lender must be disclosed, as well as common sense. If the payee was merely a nominee performing fee for service, then there is no payee and no mortgagee or beneficiary — and under property law there is nobody known to borrower who can execute a satisfaction of mortgage on the day of closing.
So we have the issuance of a note that might qualify as a security that is NOT exempted from registration and security regulations and/or the note and mortgage constitute an offer. The fact that there was no lender disclosed and no disclosed source of funds (a table funded loan labeled predatory per se by Reg Z and TILA) means that the terms of the note and the terms of the security instrument have not been accepted — and at this pointing our example there is only one party who can accept it — the party who loaned actual money to the borrower — I.e., the sourceof the  funds.
Now as it turns out that the source if funds was a group of investors who were not offered the note nor offered the terms expressed on the note and instead they agreed to the terms of the prospectus/indenture. But those terms were immediately breached just as the law was immediately broken when the borrower was tricked into executing a security issuance or an offer.
The investors thought their money was going into a REMIC trust just like the borrower trout that the originator was indeed his lender. Neither the investors nor the borrowers were told that there were dozens of intermediaries who were making money off of the issuance of the bond and the issuance of the note, neither of which bound the investor lender nor the borrower to anything. But nobody except the investment banks acting supposedly as intermediaries knew that the banks were claiming town both the bonds and the loans — at least long enough to trade on them.
Since the borrower did not agree to the terms of the bond and the investor didn’t agree to the terms of the note, they have no offer, they have no acceptance but they do have consideration. I have appeared in several class actions in Phoenix and Reno and dozens of cases in bankruptcy court, civil state and Federal cases.
Where the lawyer used my declaration as a means to an end — discovery, they got good results. Where they tried to suit in lieu of admissible evidence it is not so valuable. A few hundred motions for summary judgment have been turned down based upon my affidavit, but in other cases, the Judge accepted me as an expert but said that my opinion evidence was not supported by supporting affidavits from people with personal knowledge — I.e., competent witnesses to lay a competent foundation. Thus expert declarations are a valuable tool if they are backed up by real facts and issues — a task for the lawyer or pro se litigant, not the expert unless you are going to pay tens of thousands of dollars using the expert’s valuable time to perform clerical work.

Alabama Appeals Court Slams U.S. Bank Down on “Magic” Fabricated Allonge

Featured Products and Services by The Garfield Firm

——–>SEE TABLE OF CONTENTS: WHOSE LIEN IS IT ANYWAY TOC

LivingLies Membership – Get Discounts and Free Access to Experts

For Customer Service call 1-520-405-1688

NY Trust Law — PSA Violation is FATAL

RE: Congress (yes that is really her name) versus U.S. Bank 2100934

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

Editor’s Comment:

Yves Smith from Naked Capitalism has it right in the article below and you should not only read it but study it. The following are my comments in addition to the well written analysis on Naked Capitalism.

  1. Alabama is a very conservative state that has consistently disregarded issues regarding the rules of evidence and civil procedure until this decision from the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals was handed down on June 8, 2012. Happy Birthday, Brother! This court has finally recognized (a) that documents are fabricated shortly before hearings and (b) that it matters. They even understand WHY it matters.
  2. Judges talk to teach other both directly and indirectly. Sometimes it almost amounts to ex parte contact because they are actually discussing the merits of certain arguments as it would effect cases that are currently pending in front of them. I know of reports where Judges have stated in open Court in Arizona that they have spoken with other Judges and DECIDED that they are not going to give relief to deadbeat borrowers. So this decision in favor of the borrower, where a fabricated “Allonge” was used only a couple of days before the hearing is indicative that they are starting to change their thinking and that the deadbeats might just be the pretender lenders.
  3. But they missed the fact that an allonge is not an instrument that transfers anything. It is not a bill of sale, assignment or anything else like that. It is and always has been something added to a previously drafted instrument that adds, subtracts or changes terms. See my previous article last week on Allonges, Assignments and Endorsements.
  4. What they DID get is that under New York law, the manager or trustee of a so-called REMIC, SPV or “Trust” cannot do anything contrary to the instrument that appointed the manager or trustee to that position. This is of enormous importance. We have been saying on these pages and in my books that it is not possible for the trustee or manager of the “pool” to accept a loan into the pool if it violates the terms expressly stated in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement. If the cut-off date was three years ago then it can’t be accepted. If the loan is in default already then it cannot be accepted. So not only is this allonge being rejected, but any actual attempt to assign the instrument into the “pool” is also rejected.
  5. What that means is that like any contract there are three basic elements — offer, consideration and acceptance. The offer is clear enough, even if it is from a party who doesn’t own the loan. The consideration is at best muddy because there are no records to show that the REMIC or the parties to the REMIC (investors) ever funded the loan through the REMIC. And the acceptance is absolutely fatal because no investor would agree or did agree to accept loans that were already in default.
  6. The other thing I agree with and would expand is the whole notion of the burden of proof. In this case we are still dealing with a burden of proof on the homeowner instead of the pretender lender. But the door is open now to start talking about the burden of proof. Here, the Court simply stated that the burden of proof imposed by the trial judge should have been by a preponderance (over 50%) of the evidence instead of clear and convincing (somewhere around 80%) of the evidence. So if it is more likely than not that the instrument was fabricated, the document will NOT be accepted into evidence. The next thing to work on is putting the burden of proof on the party seeking affirmative relief — i.e., the one seeking to take the home through foreclosure. If you align the parties properly, all of the other procedural problems disappear. That will leave questions regarding admissible evidence (another time).
  7. Keep in mind that this decision will have rumbling effects throughout Alabama and other states but it is only persuasive, not authoritative. So the fact that this appellate court made this decision does not mean you win in your case in Arizona.
  8. But it can be used to say “Judge, I know how the bench views these defenses and claims. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that the party seeking to foreclose is now and always was a pretender. And further, it is equally apparent that they are submitting fabricated and forged documents. 
  9. ‘More importantly, they are trying to get you to participate in a fraudulent scheme they pursued against the investors who advanced money without any proper documentation. This Alabama Appellate Court understands, now that they have read the Pooling and Servicing Agreement, that it simply is not possible for the investors to be forced into accepting a defaulted loan long after the cut-off date established in the PSA.
  10. ‘If you rule for the pretender creditor here you are doing two things: (1) you are providing these pretenders with the argument that there is a judicial ruling requiring the innocent investors to take the defaulted loan and suffer the losses when they never had any interest in the loan before and (2) you are allowing and encouraging a party who is not a creditor and never was a creditor to submit a credit bid at auction in lieu of cash thus stealing the property from both the homeowner and in violation of their agency or duty to the investors.
  11. ‘This Court and hundreds of others across the country are reading these documents now. And what they are finding is that pension funds and other regulated managed funds were tricked into buying non-existent assets through a bogus mortgage bond. The offer and promise made to these investors, upon whom millions of pensioners depend to make ends meet, was that these were industry standard loans in good standing. None of that was true and it certainly isn’t true now. Yet they want you to rule that you can force investors from another state or country to accept these loans even though they are either worthless or worth substantially less than the amount represented at the time of the transaction where the investment banker took the money from the investor and put it into a giant escrow fund without regard to the REMIC’s existence.

We don’t deny the existence of an obligation, but we do deny that this trickster should be given the proceeds of ill-gotten gains. The actual creditors should be given an opportunity to reject non-conforming loans that are submitted after the cut-off date and are therefore indispensable parties to this transaction.”

Alabama Appeals Court Reverses Decision on Chain of TitleCase, Ruling Hinges on Question of Bogus Allonges

In a unanimous decision, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reversed a lower court decision on a foreclosure case, U.S. Bank v. Congress and remanded the case to trial court.

We’d flagged this case as important because to our knowledge, it was the first to argue what we call the New York trust theory, namely, that the election to use New York law in the overwhelming majority of mortgage securitizations meant that the parties to the securitization could operate only as stipulated in the pooling and servicing agreement that created that particular deal. Over 100 years of precedents in New York have produced well settled case law that deems actions outside what the trustee is specifically authorized to do as “void acts” having no legal force. The rigidity of New York trust has serious implications for mortgage securitizations. The PSAs required that the notes (the borrower IOUs) be transferred to the trust in a very specific fashion (endorsed with wet ink signatures through a particular set of parties) before a cut-off date, which typically was no later than 90 days after the trust closing. The problem is, as we’ve described in numerous posts, that there appears to have been massive disregard in the securitization for complying with the contractual requirements that they established and appear to have complied with, at least in the early years of the securitization industry. It’s difficult to know when the breakdown occurred, but it appears that well before 2004-2005, many subprime originators quit bothering with the nerdy task of endorsing notes and completing assignments as the PSAs required; they seemed to take the position they could do that right before foreclosure. Indeed, that’s kosher if the note has not been securitized, but as indicated above, it is a no-go with a New York trust. There is no legal way to remedy the problem after the fact.

The solution in the Congress case appears to have been a practice that has since become troublingly become common: a fabricated allonge. An allonge is an attachment to a note that is so firmly affixed that it can’t travel separately. The fact that a note was submitted to the court in the Congress case and an allonge that fixed all the problems appeared magically, on the eve of trial, looked highly sus. The allonge also contained signatures that looked less than legitimate: they were digitized (remember, signatures as supposed to be wet ink) and some were shrunk to fit signature lines. These issues were raised at trial by Congress’s attorneys, but the fact that the magic allonge appeared the Thursday evening before Memorial Day weekend 2011 when the trial was set for Tuesday morning meant, among other things, that defense counsel was put on the back foot (for instance, how do you find and engage a signature expert on such short notice? Answer, you can’t).

The case was ruled in favor of the US Bank, in a narrow and strained opinion (which was touted as significant by reliable securitization industry booster Paul Jackson). It argued that the case was an ejectment action (the final step to get the borrower out after the foreclosure was final) so that, per securitization expert, Georgetown law professor Adam Levitin,

..the question of ownership of the note was not an issue of standing, but an affirmative defense for which the homeowner had the burden of proof…Crazy or not, however, this meant that the homeowner wasn’t actually challenging the trust’s standing. From there it was a small step for the court to say that the homeowner couldn’t invoke the terms of the PSA because she wasn’t a party to it…..

The case has been remanded back to trial court, and the judges put the issue of the allonge front and center.

BUY THE BOOK! CLICK HERE!

BUY WORKSHOP COMPANION WORKBOOK AND 2D EDITION PRACTICE MANUAL

GET TWO HOURS OF CONSULTATION WITH NEIL DIRECTLY, USE AS NEEDED

COME TO THE 1/2 DAY PHOENIX WORKSHOP: CLICK HERE FOR PRE-REGISTRATION DISCOUNTS

%d bloggers like this: