New Mexico Supreme Court Wipes Out Bank of New York

bony-v-romero_nm-sup.ct.-reverses-with-instruction_2-14

There are a lot of things that could be analyzed in this case that was very recently decided (February 13, 2014). The main take away is that the New Mexico Supreme Court is demonstrating that the judicial system is turning a corner in approaching the credibility of the intermediaries who are pretending to be real parties in interest. I suggest that this case be studied carefully because their reasoning is extremely good and their wording is clear. Here are some of the salient quotes that I think it be used in motions and pleadings:

We hold that the Bank of New York did not establish its lawful standing in this case to file a home mortgage foreclosure action. We also hold that a borrower’s ability to repay a home mortgage loan is one of the “borrower’s circumstances” that lenders and courts must consider in determining compliance with the New Mexico Home Loan Protection Act, NMSA 1978, §§ 58-21A-1 to -14 (2003, as amended through 2009) (the HLPA), which prohibits home mortgage refinancing that does not provide a reasonable, tangible net benefit to the borrower. Finally, we hold that the HLPA is not preempted by federal law. We reverse the Court of Appeals and district court and remand to the district court with instructions to vacate its foreclosure judgment and to dismiss the Bank of New York’s foreclosure action for lack of standing.

The Romeros soon became delinquent on their increased loan payments. On April 1, 2008, a third party—the Bank of New York, identifying itself as a trustee for Popular Financial Services Mortgage—filed a complaint in the First Judicial District Court seeking foreclosure on the Romeros’ home and claiming to be the holder of the Romeros’ note and mortgage with the right of enforcement.

The Romeros also raised several counterclaims, only one of which is relevant to this appeal: that the loan violated the antiflipping provisions of the New Mexico HLPA, Section 58-21A-4(B) (2003).[They were lured into refinancing into a loan with worse provisions than the one they had].

Litton Loan Servicing did not begin servicing the Romeros’ loan until November 1, 2008, seven months after the foreclosure complaint was filed in district court.

At a bench trial, Kevin Flannigan, a senior litigation processor for Litton Loan Servicing, testified on behalf of the Bank of New York. Flannigan asserted that the copies of the note and mortgage admitted as trial evidence by the Bank of New York were copies of the originals and also testified that the Bank of New York had physical possession of both the note and mortgage at the time it filed the foreclosure complaint.

{9} The Romeros objected to Flannigan’s testimony, arguing that he lacked personal knowledge to make these claims given that Litton Loan Servicing was not a servicer for the Bank of New York until after the foreclosure complaint was filed and the MERS assignment occurred. The district court allowed the testimony based on the business records exception because Flannigan was the present custodian of records.

{10} The Romeros also pointed out that the copy of the “original” note Flannigan purportedly authenticated was different from the “original” note attached to the Bank of New York’s foreclosure complaint. While the note attached to the complaint as a true copy was not indorsed, the “original” admitted at trial was indorsed twice: first, with a blank indorsement by Equity One and second, with a special indorsement made payable to JPMorgan Chase.

the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s rulings that the Bank of New York had standing to foreclose and that the HLPA had not been violated but determined as a result of the latter ruling that it was not necessary to address whether federal law preempted the HLPA. See Bank of N.Y. v. Romero, 2011-NMCA-110, ¶ 6, 150 N.M. 769, 266 P.3d 638 (“Because we conclude that substantial evidence exists for each of the district court’s findings and conclusions, and we affirm on those grounds, we do not addressthe Romeros’ preemption argument.”).

We have recognized that “the lack of [standing] is a potential jurisdictional defect which ‘may not be waived and may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even sua sponte by the appellate court.’” Gunaji v. Macias, 2001-NMSC-028, ¶ 20, 130 N.M. 734, 31 P.3d 1008 (citation omitted). While we disagree that the Romeros waived their standing claim, because their challenge has been and remains largely based on the note’s indorsement to JPMorgan Chase, whether the Romeros failed to fully develop their standing argument before the Court of Appeals is immaterial. This Court may reach the issue of standing based on prudential concerns. See New Energy Economy, Inc. v. Shoobridge, 2010-NMSC-049, ¶ 16, 149 N.M. 42, 243 P.3d 746 (“Indeed, ‘prudential rules’ of judicial self-governance, like standing, ripeness, and mootness, are ‘founded in concern about the proper—and properly limited—role of courts in a democratic society’ and are always relevant concerns.” (citation omitted)). Accordingly, we address the merits of the standing challenge.[e.s.]

the Romeros argue that none of the Bank’s evidence demonstrates standing because (1) possession alone is insufficient, (2) the “original” note introduced by the Bank of New York at trial with the two undated indorsements includes a special indorsement to JPMorgan Chase, which cannot be ignored in favor of the blank indorsement, (3) the June 25, 2008, assignment letter from MERS occurred after the Bank of New York filed its complaint, and as a mere assignment

of the mortgage does not act as a lawful transfer of the note, and (4) the statements by Ann Kelley and Kevin Flannigan are inadmissible because both lack personal knowledge given that Litton Loan Servicing did not begin servicing loans for the Bank of New York until seven months after the foreclosure complaint was filed and after the purported transfer of the loan occurred. 
[NOTE BURDEN OF PROOF]

(“[S]tanding is to be determined as of the commencement of suit.”); accord 55 Am. Jur. 2d Mortgages § 584 (2009) (“A plaintiff has no foundation in law or fact to foreclose upon a mortgage in which the plaintiff has no legal or equitable interest.”). One reason for such a requirement is simple: “One who is not a party to a contract cannot maintain a suit upon it. If [the entity] was a successor in interest to a party on the [contract], it was incumbent upon it to prove this to the court.” L.R. Prop. Mgmt., Inc. v. Grebe, 1981-NMSC-035, ¶ 7, 96 N.M. 22, 627 P.2d 864 (citation omitted). The Bank of New York had the burden of establishing timely ownership of the note and the mortgage to support its entitlement to pursue a foreclosure action. See Gonzales v. Tama, 1988-NMSC- 016, ¶ 7, 106 N.M. 737, 749 P.2d 1116

[THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REMEDIES ON THE NOTE AND REMEDIES ON THE MORTGAGE]

(“One who holds a note secured by a mortgage has two separate and independent remedies, which he may pursue successively or concurrently; one is on the note against the person and property of the debtor, and the other is by foreclosure to enforce the mortgage lien upon his real estate.” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

3. None of the Bank’s Evidence Demonstrates Standing to Foreclose

{19} The Bank of New York argues that in order to demonstrate standing, it was required to prove that before it filed suit, it either (1) had physical possession of the Romeros’ note indorsed to it or indorsed in blank or (2) received the note with the right to enforcement, as required by the UCC. See § 55-3-301 (defining “[p]erson entitled to enforce” a negotiable instrument). While we agree with the Bank that our state’s UCC governs how a party becomes legally entitled to enforce a negotiable instrument such as the note for a home loan, we disagree that the Bank put forth such evidence.

a. Possession of a Note Specially Indorsed to JPMorgan Chase Does Not Establish the Bank of New York as a Holder

{20} Section 55-3-301 of the UCC provides three ways in which a third party can enforce a negotiable instrument such as a note. Id. (“‘Person entitled to enforce’ an instrument means (i) the holder of the instrument, (ii) a nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or (iii) a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the [lost, destroyed, stolen, or mistakenly transferred] instrument pursuant to [certain UCC enforcement provisions].”); see also § 55-3-104(a)(1), (b), (e) (defining “negotiable instrument” as including a “note” made “payable to bearer or to order”). Because the Bank’s arguments rest on the fact that it was in physical possession of the Romeros’ note, we need to consider only the first two categories of eligibility to enforce under Section 55-3-301.

{21} The UCC defines the first type of “person entitled to enforce” a note—the “holder” of the instrument—as “the person in possession of a negotiable instrument that is payable either to bearer or to an identified person that is the person in possession.” NMSA 1978, § 55-1-201(b)(21)(A) (2005); see also Frederick M. Hart & William F. Willier, Negotiable Instruments Under the Uniform Commercial Code, § 12.02(1) at 12-13 to 12-15 (2012) (“The first requirement of being a holder is possession of the instrument. However, possession is not necessarily sufficient to make one a holder. . . . The payee is always a holder if the payee has possession. Whether other persons qualify as a holder depends upon whether the instrument initially is payable to order or payable to bearer, and whether the instrument has been indorsed.” (footnotes omitted)). Accordingly, a third party must prove both physical possession and the right to enforcement through either a proper indorsement or a transfer by negotiation. See NMSA 1978, § 55-3-201(a) (1992) (“‘Negotiation’ means a transfer of possession . . . of an instrument by a person other than the issuer to a person who thereby becomes its holder.”). [E.S.] Because in this case the Romeros’ note was clearly made payable to the order of Equity One, we must determine whether the Bank provided sufficient evidence of how it became a “holder” by either an indorsement or transfer.

Without explanation, the note introduced at trial differed significantly from the original note attached to the foreclosure complaint, despite testimony at trial that the Bank of New York had physical possession of the Romeros’ note from the time the foreclosure complaint was filed on April 1, 2008. Neither the unindorsed note nor the twice-indorsed

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note establishes the Bank as a holder.

{23} Possession of an unindorsed note made payable to a third party does not establish the right of enforcement, just as finding a lost check made payable to a particular party does not allow the finder to cash it. [E.S.]See NMSA 1978, § 55-3-109 cmt. 1 (1992) (“An instrument that is payable to an identified person cannot be negotiated without the indorsement of the identified person.”). The Bank’s possession of the Romeros’ unindorsed note made payable to Equity One does not establish the Bank’s entitlement to enforcement.

We are not persuaded. The Bank provides no authority and we know of none that exists to support its argument that the payment restrictions created by a special indorsement can be ignored contrary to our long-held rules on indorsements and the rights they create. See, e.g., id. (rejecting each of two entities as a holder because a note lacked the requisite indorsement following a special indorsement); accord NMSA 1978, § 55-3-204(c) (1992) (“For the purpose of determining whether the transferee of an instrument is a holder, an indorsement that transfers a security interest in the instrument is effective as an unqualified indorsement of the instrument.”).

[COMPETENCY OF WITNESS]

the Bank of New York relies on the testimony of Kevin Flannigan, an employee of Litton Loan Servicing who maintained that his review of loan servicing records indicated that the Bank of New York was the transferee of the note. The Romeros objected to Flannigan’s testimony at trial, an objection that the district court overruled under the business records exception. We agree with the Romeros that Flannigan’s testimony was inadmissible and does not establish a proper transfer.

Litton Loan Servicing, did not begin working for the Bank of New York as its servicing agent until November 1, 2008—seven months after the April 1, 2008, foreclosure complaint was filed. Prior to this date, Popular Mortgage Servicing, Inc. serviced the Bank of New York’s loans. Flannigan had no personal knowledge to support his testimony that transfer of the Romeros’ note to the Bank of New York prior to the filing of the foreclosure complaint was proper because Flannigan did not yet work for the Bank of New York. See Rule 11-602 NMRA (“A witness may testify to a matter only if evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the

9

witness has personal knowledge of the matter. [E.S.] Evidence to prove personal knowledge may consist of the witness’s own testimony.”). We make a similar conclusion about the affidavit of Ann Kelley, who also testified about the status of the Romeros’ loan based on her work for Litton Loan Servicing. As with Flannigan’s testimony, such statements by Kelley were inadmissible because they lacked personal knowledge.

[OBJECTION TO HEARSAY BUSINESS RECORDS REVERSED AND SUSTAINED]

When pressed about Flannigan’s basis of knowledge on cross-examination, Flannigan merely stated that “our records do indicate” the Bank of New York as the holder of the note based on “a pooling and servicing agreement.” No such business record itself was offered or admitted as a business records hearsay exception. See Rule 11-803(F) NMRA (2007) (naming this category of hearsay exceptions as “records of regularly conducted activity”).

The district court erred in admitting the testimony of Flannigan as a custodian of records under the exception to the inadmissibility of hearsay for “business records” that are made in the regular course of business and are generally admissible at trial under certain conditions. See Rule 11-803(F) (2007) (citing the version of the rule in effect at the time of trial). The business records exception allows the records themselves to be admissible but not simply statements about the purported contents of the records. [E.S.] See State v. Cofer, 2011-NMCA-085, ¶ 17, 150 N.M. 483, 261 P.3d 1115 (holding that, based on the plain language of Rule 11-803(F) (2007), “it is clear that the business records exception requires some form of document that satisfies the rule’s foundational elements to be offered and admitted into evidence and that testimony alone does not qualify under this exception to the hearsay rule” and concluding that “‘testimony regarding the contents of business records, unsupported by the records themselves, by one without personal knowledge of the facts constitutes inadmissible hearsay.’” (citation omitted)). Neither Flannigan’s testimony nor Kelley’s affidavit can substantiate the existence of documents evidencing a transfer if those documents are not entered into evidence. Accordingly, Flannigan’s trial testimony cannot establish that the Romeros’ note was transferred to the Bank of New York.[E.S.]

[REJECTION OF MERS ASSIGNMENT]

We also reject the Bank’s argument that it can enforce the Romeros’ note because it was assigned the mortgage by MERS. An assignment of a mortgage vests only those rights to the mortgage that were vested in the assigning entity and nothing more. See § 55-3-203(b) (“Transfer of an instrument, whether or not the transfer is a negotiation, vests in the transferee any right of the transferor to enforce the instrument, including any right as a holder in due course.”); accord Hart & Willier, supra, § 12.03(2) at 12-27 (“Th[is] shelter rule puts the transferee in the shoes of the transferor.”).

[MERS CAN NEVER ASSIGN THE NOTE]

As a nominee for Equity One on the mortgage contract, MERS could assign the mortgage but lacked any authority to assign the Romeros’ note. Although this Court has never explicitly ruled on the issue of whether the assignment of a mortgage could carry with it the transfer of a note, we have long recognized the separate functions that note and mortgage contracts perform in foreclosure actions. See First Nat’l Bank of Belen v. Luce, 1974-NMSC-098, ¶ 8, 87 N.M. 94, 529 P.2d 760 (holding that because the assignment of a mortgage to a bank did not convey an interest in the loan contract, the bank was not entitled to foreclose on the mortgage); Simson v. Bilderbeck, Inc., 1966-NMSC-170, ¶¶ 13-14, 76 N.M. 667, 417 P.2d 803 (explaining that “[t]he right of the assignee to enforce the mortgage is dependent upon his right to enforce the note” and noting that “[b]oth the note and mortgage were assigned to plaintiff.

[SPLITTING THE NOTE AND MORTGAGE]

(“A mortgage securing the repayment of a promissory note follows the note, and thus, only the rightful owner of the note has the right to enforce the mortgage.”); Dunaway, supra, § 24:18 (“The mortgage only secures the payment of the debt, has no life independent of the debt, and cannot be separately transferred. If the intent of the lender is to transfer only the security interest (the mortgage), this cannot legally be done and the transfer of the mortgage without the debt would be a nullity.”). These separate contractual functions—where the note is the loan and the mortgage is a pledged security for that loan—cannot be ignored simply by the advent of modern technology and the MERS electronic mortgage registry system.

[THE NOBODY ELSE IS CLAIMING ARGUMENT IS EXPLICITLY REJECTED]

Failure of Another Entity to Claim Ownership of the Romeros’ Note Does Not Make the Bank of New York a Holder

{37} Finally, the Bank of New York urges this Court to adopt the district court’s inference that if the Bank was not the proper holder of the Romeros’ note, then third-party-defendant Equity One would have claimed to be the rightful holder, and Equity One made no such claim.

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{38} The simple fact that Equity One does not claim ownership of the Romeros’ note does not establish that the note was properly transferred to the Bank of New York. In fact, the evidence in the record indicates that JPMorgan Chase may be the lawful holder of the Romeros’ note, as reflected in the note’s special indorsement.

[HOLDER MUST PROVE ENTITLEMENT TO ENFORCE -- NO PRESUMPTION ALLOWED]

Because the transferee is not a holder, there is no presumption under Section [55-]3-308 [(1992) (entitling a holder in due course to payment by production and upon signature)] that the transferee, by producing the instrument, is entitled to payment. The instrument, by its terms, is not payable to the transferee and the transferee must account for possession of the unindorsed instrument by proving the transaction through which the transferee acquired it.

[LENDER'S OBLIGATION TO ASSURE THAT THE LOAN IS VIABLE]

B. A Lender Must Consider a Borrower’s Ability to Repay a Home Mortgage Loan in Determining Whether the Loan Provides a Reasonable, Tangible Net Benefit, as Required by the New Mexico HLPA

{39} For reasons that are not clear in the record, the Romeros did not appeal the district court’s judgment in favor of the original lender, Equity One, on the Romeros’ claims that Equity One violated the HLPA. The Court of Appeals addressed the HLPA violation issue in the context of the Romeros’ contentions that the alleged violation constituted a defense to the foreclosure complaint of the Bank of New York by affirming the district court’s favorable ruling on the Bank of New York’s complaint. As a result of our holding that the Bank of New York has not established standing to bring a foreclosure action, the issue of HLPA violation is now moot in this case. But because it is an issue that is likely to be addressed again in future attempts by whichever institution may be able to establish standing to foreclose on the Romero home and because it involves a statutory interpretation issue of substantial public importance in many other cases, we address the conclusion of both the

12

Court of Appeals and the district court that a homeowner’s inability to repay is not among “all of the circumstances” that the 2003 HLPA, applicable to the Romeros’ loan, requires a lender to consider under its “flipping” provisions:

No creditor shall knowingly and intentionally engage in the unfair act or practice of flipping a home loan. As used in this subsection, “flipping a home loan” means the making of a home loan to a borrower that refinances an existing home loan when the new loan does not have reasonable, tangible net benefit to the borrower considering all of the circumstances, including the terms of both the new and refinanced loans, the cost of the new loan and the borrower’s circumstances.

Section 58-21A-4(B) (2003); see also Bank of N.Y., 2011-NMCA-110, ¶ 17 (holding that “while the ability to repay a loan is an important consideration when otherwise assessing a borrower’s financial situation, we will not read such meaning into the statute’s ‘reasonable, tangible net benefit’ language”).

[DOOMED LOANS --- WHO HAS THE RISK?]

We have been presented with no conceivable reason why the Legislature in 2003 would consciously exclude consideration of a borrower’s ability to repay the loan as a factor of the borrower’s circumstances, and we can think of none. Without an express legislative direction to that effect, we will not conclude that the Legislature meant to approve mortgage loans that were doomed to end in failure and foreclosure. Apart from the plain language of the statute and its express statutory purpose, it is difficult to comprehend how an unrepayable home mortgage loan that will result in a foreclosure on one’s home and a deficiency judgment to pay after the borrower is rendered homeless could provide “a reasonable, tangible net benefit to the borrower.”

[LENDER'S OBLIGATION TO MAKE SURE IT IS A VIABLE TRANSACTION] a lender cannot avoid its own obligation to consider real facts and circumstances [E.S.] that might clarify the inaccuracy of a borrower’s income claim. Id. (“Lenders cannot, however, disregard known facts and circumstances that may place in question the accuracy of information contained in the application.”) A lender’s willful blindness to its responsibility to consider the true circumstances of its borrowers is unacceptable. A full and fair consideration of those circumstances might well show that a new mortgage loan would put a borrower into a materially worse situation with respect to the ability to make home loan payments and avoid foreclosure, consequences of a borrower’s circumstances that cannot be disregarded.

if the inclusion of such boilerplate language in the mass of documents a borrower must sign at closing would substitute for a lender’s conscientious compliance with the obligations imposed by the HLPA, its protections would be no more than empty words on paper that could be summarily swept aside by the addition of yet one more document for the borrower to sign at the closing.

[THE BLAME GAME]

Borrowers are certainly not blameless if they try to refinance their homes through loans they cannot afford. But they do not have a mortgage lender’s expertise, and the combination of the relative unsophistication of many borrowers and the potential motives of unscrupulous lenders seeking profits from making loans without regard for the consequences to homeowners led to the need for statutory reform. See § 58-21A-2 (discussing (A) “abusive mortgage lending” practices, including (B) “making . . . loans that are equity-based, rather than income based,” (C) “repeatedly refinanc[ing] home loans,” rewarding lenders with “immediate income” from “points and fees” and (D) victimizing homeowners with the unnecessary “costs and terms” of “overreaching creditors”).

[FEDERAL PREEMPTION CLAIM FROM OCC STATEMENT DOES NOT PROVIDE BANK OF NEW YORK ANY PROTECTION]

 

While the Bank is correct in asserting that the OCC issued a blanket rule in January 2004, see 12 C.F.R. § 34.4(a) (2004) (preempting state laws that impact “a national bank’s ability to fully exercise its Federally authorized real estate lending powers”), and that the New Mexico Administrative Code recognizes this OCC rule, neither the Bank nor our administrative code addresses several actions taken by Congress and the courts since 2004 to disavow the OCC’s broad preemption statement.

 

Applying the Dodd-Frank standard to the HLPA, we conclude that federal law does not preempt the HLPA. First, our review of the NBA reveals no express preemption of state consumer protection laws such as the HLPA. Second, the Bank provides no evidence that conforming to the dictates of the HLPA prevents or significantly interferes with a national bank’s operations. Third, the HLPA does not create a discriminatory effect; rather, the HLPA applies to any “creditor,” which the 2003 statute defines as “a person who regularly [offers or] makes a home loan.” Section 58-21A-3(G) (2003). Any entity that makes home loans in New Mexico must follow the HLPA, regardless of whether the lender is a state or nationally chartered bank. See § 58-21A-2 (providing legislative findings on abusive mortgage lending practices that the HLPA is meant to discourage).

CAl. S. Ct: You can’t Fool All the People All the Time

“The Pendergrass limitation finds no support in the language of the statute codifying the parol evidence rule and the exception for evidence of fraud. It is difficult to apply. It conflicts with the doctrine of the Restatements, most treatises, and the majority of our sister-state jurisdictions. Furthermore, while intended to prevent fraud, the rule established in Pendergrass may actually provide a shield for fraudulent conduct. Finally, Pendergrass departed from established California law at the time it was decided, and neither acknowledged nor justified the abrogation. We now conclude that Pendergrass was ill- considered, and should be overruled.”

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What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Analysis and Practice Tips: In the decision Riverside Cold v Fresno-Madera the California Supreme Court stopped the banks dead in their tracks. Whereas they were able to prevent the borrower from introducing parole evidence (events outside the four corners of a document) the banks are now to be confronted in California and other states that will follow with the probability that their lies and illegal steering people into foreclosure are going to haunt them and defeat them.

We have heard for years how servicers and banks told homeowners to stop making their mortgage payments in order to qualify for mortgage modification. Then comes the lost papers 4-5 times and then comes the inevitable denial of a the mortgage modification — as though anyone had ever considered it and as though the investors were contacted for feedback. The fact is, as the future litigation will point out and reveal in all its splendor, the foreclosers were out to foreclose — not to settle, modify or otherwise resolve the situation.

They would string the borrower along until so many months of non-payment had  piled up that between principal interest, taxes and insurance all but the most frugal borrower would be short on money and unable to reinstate. The result has been far lower proceeds from foreclosure than any other means of mitigating damages, and far more foreclosures than there needed to be. And it all started with misrepresentation, lies, deceit and fraud at closing, during he foreclosure process, during the so-called modification process and during the sale at auction, which prevented the homeowner from redeeming the property because the true balance was never disclosed.

All that changes with this very well-reasoned opinion. The Court clearly is beginning to see that the the without strict adherence to all the rules and all considerations of due process, the court system is being used as a vehicle for theft, fraud, forgery, fabrication and the destruction of people’s lives and livelihood.

Banks Trying to Get Bill Through Congress Protecting MERS

Editor’s Comment: It is no small wonder that the banks are scared. After all they created MERS and they control MERS and many of them own MERS. The Washington Supreme Court ruling leaves little doubt that MERS is a sham, leaving even less doubt that an industry is sprouting up for wrongful foreclosure in which trillions of dollars are at stake.

The mortgages that were used for foreclosure are, in my opinion, and in the opinion of a growing number of courts and lawyers and regulatory agencies around the country, State and Federal, were fatally defective and that leads to the conclusion that (1) the foreclosures can be overturned and (2) millions of dollars in damages might be payable to those homeowners who were foreclosed and evicted from homes they legally owned.

But the problem for the megabanks is even worse than that. If the mortgages were defective (deeds of trust in some states), then the money collected by the banks from insurance, credit default swaps, federal bailouts and buyouts and other hedge instruments pose an enormous liability to the large banks that promulgated this scam known as securitization where the last thing they had in mind was securitization. In many cases, the loans were effectively sold multiple times thus creating a liability not only to the borrower that illegally had his home seized but a geometrically higher liability to other financial institutions and governments and investors for selling them toxic waste.

There is a reason that that the bailout is measured at $17 trillion and it isn’t because those are losses caused by defaults in mortgages which appear to total less than 10% of that amount. The total of ALL mortgages during that period that are subject to claims of securitization (false claims, in my opinion) was only $13 trillion. So why was the $17 trillion bailout $4 trillion more than all the mortgages put together, most of which are current on their payments?

The reason is that some bets went well, in which case the banks kept the profits and didn’t tell the investors about it even though it was investor with which money they were betting.

If the loan went sour, or the Master Servicer, in its own interest, declared that the value of the pool had been diminished by a higher than expected default rate, then the insurance contract and credit default contract REQUIRED payment even though most of the loans were intact. Of course we now know that the loans were probably never in the pools anyway.

The bets that ended up in losses were tossed over the fence at the Federal Government and the bets that were “good” ended up with the insurers (AIG, AMBAC) having to pay out more money than they were worth. Enter the Federal Government again to make up the difference where the banks collected 100 cents on the dollar, didn’t tell the investors and declared the loans in default anyway and then proceeded to foreclose.

The banks’ answer to this knotty problem is predictable. Overturn the Washington Supreme Court case and others like it appellate and trial courts around the country by having Congress declare that the MERS transactions were valid. The biggest hurdle they must overcome is not a paperwork problem —- it is a money problem.

In many if not most cases, neither MERS nor the named payee on the note nor the “lender” identified on the note and mortgage had loaned any money at all. Even the banks are saying that the loans are owned by the “Trusts” but it now appears as though the trusts were never funded by either money or loans and that there were no bank accounts or any other accounts for those pools.

That leaves nothing but nominees for unidentified parties in all the blank spaces on the note and mortgage, whose terms were different than the payback provisions promised to the investor lenders. And THAT means that much of the assets carried on the books of the banks are simply worthless and non-existent AND that there is a liability associated with those transactions that is geometrically higher than the false assets that the banks are reporting.

So the question comes down to this: will Congress try to save MERS? (I.e., will they try to save the banks again with a legal bailout?). Will the effort even be constitutional since it deals with property required to be governed under States’ rights under the constitution or are we going to forget the Constitution and save the banks at all costs?

When you cast your ballot in November, remember to look at the candidates you are considering. If they are aligned with the banks, we can expect slashed pension benefits next year along with a whole new round of housing and economic decline.

mers-is-dead-can-be-sued-for-fraud-wa-supreme-court.html

MAINE HIGH COURT FINDS GMAC CONDUCT DISTURBING AND REPREHENSIBLE BUT REFUSES TO HOLD GMAC IN CONTEMPT

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EDITOR’S COMMENT: While finding that the affidavits were false and agreeing the conduct was disturbing and reprehensible the Court held that GMAC should not be held in contempt. What? The dissenting opinion is correct. Neither the trial Judge nor the Supreme Court should have even considered the question without a hearing in which evidence was submitted.

Nevertheless the Court’s opinion is further ratification of what we have been saying on these pages. The fraudulent foreclosures (26,000 of them in Essex County, Mass alone) are a cancer growing on our society. The corruption of title registries is already taking its toll, but we have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

The interesting thing about this case is off the record. GMAC dropped the foreclosure and the homeowner is still in her home. It goes without saying that her title is corrupted by the fraudulent foreclosure. Perhaps she has a cause of action for slander of title, quiet title and other claims? The point is that by paying attention to details it was obvious that the papers being used to foreclose were false and GMAC couldn’t fix it because they were simply not true.

Third party reports and analyses will help you get your point across. That is why I created the COMBO TITLE and SECURITIZATION REPORT. (see above for link)

Maine high court declines to hold GMAC in contempt over ‘robo-signing’ of foreclosure records

  • THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s highest court has declined to find GMAC Mortgage in contempt for signing off on home foreclosures without first verifying documents — a practice referred to as “robo-signing.”

In a 5-1 decision, the Supreme Judicial Court upheld a decision by a lower court last year. A district judge stopped short in that ruling of finding GMAC in contempt, though he did find that the company submitted a foreclosure affidavit on behalf of Fannie Mae in bad faith.

The case involved a Maine woman who fell behind on mortgage payments after losing her job.

During the lawsuit, her attorneys deposed a GMAC employee in Florida who testified that he signed 8,000 documents a month without personally verifying the mortgage information.

The deposition helped to spur investigations by all 50 states into allegations that mortgage companies mishandled documents and broke laws in thousands of foreclosures.

Writing for the majority, Justice Ellen Gorman didn’t mince words in her criticism, but she noted that there’s no precedent for a contempt finding under the circumstances.

“The affidavit in this case is a disturbing example of a reprehensible practice. That such fraudulent evidentiary filings are being submitted to courts is both violative of the rules of court and ethically indefensible,” she wrote in Tuesday’s ruling. The conduct, she added, “displays a serious and alarming lack of respect for the nation’s judiciaries.”

One of the justices, Jon Levy, issued a dissenting opinion, writing that the district judge should have conducted a full hearing into the contempt issue before rendering his decision.

Thomas Cox, who represented the woman who nearly lost her home, said it was satisfying to shed light on GMAC’s practices but disappointing that the court didn’t require a fuller inquiry and whether those practices were egregious enough to warrant a contempt finding.

“The issue has been exposed and it’s out in the open but to have the supreme court not act more strongly is a disappointment,” Cox said Wednesday.

As for the plaintiff, GMAC ultimately dropped its foreclosure action against Nicolle Bradbury, who remains in her Denmark, Maine, home, Cox said.

GMAC’s lawyer, John J. Aromando, had no immediate comment Wednesday. Gina Proia, spokeswoman for GMAC’s parent company, Ally Financial in New York, said the company is pleased with the court ruling but had no further comment. The company remains the target of a separate class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of Maine homeowners.

 

Briefs Submitted for Oral Argument in Arizona

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CV110091CQ Brief [Plaintiff Vasquez]

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CERTIFIED QUESTIONS SUBMITTED FOR SUPREME COURT REVIEW

AMICUS BRIEFS REPORTEDLY BEING FILED BY ARIZONA AG AND OTHERS

A lot of buzz being generated about this time in  Arizona Supreme Court. The Court has scheduled oral argument in an auditorium and it will be broadcast, from what I understand on September live on September 22, 2011.

The big question of course is whether we will take a step forward or a step backward. The certified questions are straightforward and the greater weight of the law clearly supports Vasquez. If the banks lose this one, as they have on appellate review, they will once again be forced backward on 5 million foreclosures, many of which were in Arizona. My position is simple: if the law is applied and substance is more important than a procedure (non-judicial foreclosure) that in the current environment is questionable at best, then the Court will issue a ruling and opinion that will require Judges to make inquiry as to the truth of the matters asserted by the banks. If it is true, they can foreclose, If it is false they can’t. The fact that the decision could have large ramifications should not stop the court from doing the right thing.

As for the large ramifications, they run both ways. A decision for the banks will mean that title will be forever corrupted and uncertainty will be introduced into the marketplace that was never permitted or even contemplated. A decision for the borrowers will put the borrowers back into the driver’s seat to reclaim their home, damages for wrongful foreclosure and it will create a huge opportunity for community banks and credit unions to pick up the pieces of what is left of the megabanks when their balance sheets are revealed as nothing more than the emperor’s new clothes. A decision for banks will continue to stifle the economy that is already choking on foreclosures, unemployment and lack of capital or income to fuel economic growth. A decision for the borrowers will inject capital back into the economic equation and allow homeowners to recover with some money in or wealth in their pockets that can fueled the stimulus needed for the economy, employment and increased tax revenue for the states and federal government.

AS FOR THE FREE HOUSE STORY: It’s true. Someone is going to get a free house. Will it be the disinterested non-creditor banks who misbehaved and lied in the process of lending and documenting the alleged loans, and withheld accounting from third party payments made without subrogation? Or will it be the homeowner who has down payments, monthly payments, maintenance, taxes and insurance, as well as furnishings and home improvements in the home? Will there be a windfall? Yes. Either to the banks who don’t have anything to lose except an opportunity to get a free house or to the homeowner who had more left on his obligation than the value of his claims against the bank for wrongful foreclosure, predatory lending, fraudulent lending etc.

 

Pro Se Litigant’s Eloquence on MERS Split of Note and Mortgage

A pattern with Wells Fargo that we have seen is that they make the representation that they are the holder of the note and the investor,which is a blatant lie in most cases. Then AFTER they get the order they want, they admit that through “inadvertence” they misrepresented the facts to the court. Then they say it is not a material misrepresentation and they produce some additional fabricated documents like a limited power of attorney which upon close reading grants nothing to anyone, is subject to many conditions that are not readily determinable and is signed by party of dubious authority and dated under questionable circumstances (if the document existed before why didn’t they use it?).Editor’s Note: I think the following addresses the MERS and nominee issue very well. The entire proceedings can be seen at delasallemtdargument.

The very basic question that ought to be asked is why any of these intermediaries exist. When you think about it, there can only be one reason: to hide what they are really doing and to provide a mechanism to diminish the possibility of multiple claims from multiple participants in the securitization chain. Nobody needed MERS or any of these other foreclosure entities when the identity of the creditor/lender was clear.

Now they don’t want it clear. The success of foreclosure in both non-judicial and judicial states depends entirely on creating the appearance of propriety through a maze of unnecessary entities whose sole purpose is to provide plausible deniability to the pretender lenders if and when it comes to light that the wrong party is attempting to foreclose and they are doing it contrary tot he interests of the real creditors (investors) and contrary to the interests of the homeowners who are now subject to financial double or multiple jeopardy.

A pattern with Wells Fargo that we have seen is that they make the representation that they are the holder of the note and the investor,which is a blatant lie in most cases. Then AFTER they get the order they want, they admit that through “inadvertence” they misrepresented the facts to the court. Then they say it is not a material misrepresentation and they produce some additional fabricated documents like a limited power of attorney which upon close reading grants nothing to anyone, is subject to many conditions that are not readily determinable and is signed by party of dubious authority and dated under questionable circumstances (if the document existed before why didn’t they use it?).

“The note and the mortgage are inseparable. The former as essential, the latter as an incident. An assignment of the note carries the mortgage with it. An assignment of the latter is a nullity.”
MERS, Your Honor, has corrupted this basic black letter law of mortgages that makes a split of the security instrument from the note impermissible.
First, it names itself as the beneficiary of the deed of trust, thus splitting the deed of trust from the note, and then it attempts to rectify the split by stating that it is acting in some form of restricted agency relationship solely as the nominee for the lender.
In doing this, MERS attempts to do two things that are inconsistent at the same time, and it is this ambiguous contradictory language that fails the title. Why?
First, because as the beneficiary of the deed of trust, MERS has suffered no default. Only the current holder of the note has suffered a default, and only the current holder can enforce the note.
And secondly, even if it could be argued that MERS is the agent for the original lender, America’s Wholesale Lender — and Your Honor, it is important to note that within the four corner of the document, within the four corners of the deed of trust, there is nothing that establishes that agency relationship.
But again, even if you argue that it exists, there’s nothing that establishes an agency relationship between MERS and the alleged current owner of the note according to the bank servicer, Bank of America; U.S. Bank as trustee for the structured adjustable rate mortgage, 19 excess 2005. They are apparently, allegedly, they are the current holder of the note.
Yet, MERS takes the position that through the deed of trust all of these agency relationships are implied, and that it can go forward based upon these implications and foreclose even though the four corners of that document, of the deed of trust, carries only one signature, mine, not the signatures of MERS, nor its principals.
They seem to contend that with this implied agency agreement that is in violation of the statute of fraud that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Carpenter v. Longan prohibiting
the splitting of a mortgage from the note can somehow be ignored.
Your Honor, it cannot. It cannot be ignored without the U.S. Supreme Court going back and reversing Carpenter v. Longan.

Mortgage Insurer Asks Court to Bless Claim Denials

Lawsuits like this one have been on the rise as ever more mortgages default. It is no secret that the housing market boom fostered poorly underwritten mortgages, in which it was common that a borrower’s income was inflated or never documented. Insurers are denying the claims on many loans, asserting they are not liable to pay claims because, they allege, the loans were originated fraudulently.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so damned serious. The ankle-biters are proving the borrower’s case that the loans were fraudulently procured. And they are making the case for borrower’s rescission under TILA. The “rescission” remedy that insurance companies are so fond of is now being used by Big Insurance against Big Banks.

You might remember during the health care debate this came out when the heads of each major health insurer were asked by a congressional panel if they would pledge to give up rescission, they said no. That’s because rescission is their ace in the hole.

If they don’t like the claim they rescind the policy and give you back your premiums. That’s it. Meanwhile you checked into the hospital expecting an operation that costs say, half a million dollars, and now you find out you are either going to die or you have to come up with the half million bucks yourself.

That’s the situation here. The Insurance company comes up with some erroneous statement of fact on which they can hang their rescission hat. Like in health care where they suddenly find that you didn’t disclose a pre-existing condition that you didn’t know you had. Here they are saying that they won’t pay off on the mortgage loans because the loans were bad to begin with and that they were deceived by the failure to disclose the absence of underwriting standards being applied.

Let’s see. You have insurance companies issuing policies for more than they could ever pay and the insured party is the one who committed fraud? AIG, Republic and the rest of them were as complicit in this financial tragedy as anyone else. Believe me, if a guy like me sitting in retirement in Arizona was able to figure it out then any of these financial knuckleheads could have done the same and most assuredly looked the other way when the figures didn’t add up — except for the figures used to compute their bonuses.

Mortgage Insurer Asks Court to Bless Claim Denials

Insurance Networking News, February 16, 2010

Sara Lepro

The game of hot potato between lenders and mortgage insurers continues.

The mortgage insurance unit of Old Republic International Corp. is asking a court to back its refusal to pay claims on soured mortgages originated by Countrywide Financial Corp.

In a suit filed Dec. 31 in New York State Supreme Court, Republic Mortgage Insurance Co. said it has discovered more than 1,500 delinquent Countrywide loans with “material misrepresentations … , in some cases by Countrywide or with its knowing participation.”

Republic said that, because Countrywide, now a unit of Bank of America Corp., disputes the insurer’s investigation and its refusal to pay the claims, it is seeking a declaratory judgment that its procedures were consistent with the law and are not a basis for the lender to challenge the rescissions, or policy cancellations.

Old Republic disclosed the suit in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Feb. 5.

Lawsuits like this one have been on the rise as ever more mortgages default. It is no secret that the housing market boom fostered poorly underwritten mortgages, in which it was common that a borrower’s income was inflated or never documented. Insurers are denying the claims on many loans, asserting they are not liable to pay claims because, they allege, the loans were originated fraudulently.

Moody’s Investors Service Inc. has estimated that in recent quarters private mortgage insurers have rejected about 25% of claims, up from a historical average of about 7%.

In another recent case, Bank of America sued MGIC Investment Corp. over its rescission practices. B of A has also stopped sending new business to the Milwaukee insurer.

What is different about the Republic case is that the insurer is being proactive in seeking validation of its rescission practices.

“Some courts are better than others for insurers, and they wanted to make sure Countrywide didn’t jump them,” said David Goodwin, a partner in the policyholder insurance practice at Covington & Burling LLP in San Francisco. Goodwin is not involved in the Republic case.

Neither Republic nor B of A would discuss the suit. (The lender is trying to get the case moved to arbitration.)

However, Al Zucaro, the chairman and chief executive officer of Old Republic, the Chicago parent of Republic Mortgage Insurance, said that, with the increasing volume of rescissions, it is natural for the number of disagreements between lenders and insurers to rise.

“There’ve always been rescissions in the business,” he said. “They’ve just not in the past been at the same high level as they seem to be currently.”
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy most of the loans covered by private mortgage insurers, compound the problem by forcing lenders to buy back a lot of these loans, he said.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac themselves have been rescinding a lot of loans as well,” he said. “So whenever that happens, it creates obvious pressures and stresses in the system.”

Evidence: Produce the Witness


In practice, this surfaces as a demand letter, affidavit or assignment or other document used by the pretender lender to establish its case. The path to defeat of the homeowner is paved when they fail to object to the introduction of these documents as anything other than an allegation that raises a question of fact. If you make the objection then you are conforming to the rules of evidence and enforcing your rights under the the U.S. Constitution. By directing the Judge’s attention to the question of fact, you then open the door to discovery and an evidentiary hearing. Without that, the allegations of the pretender lender will be taken as true and you are just about done.
The 6th Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, guarantees people the right to confront witnesses who are offering “evidence” against them. This basic right has often been eroded by bad decisions by Judges who do not understand the rules of evidence — but more often affidavits, reports and other documents are often admitted into evidence because of the failure of the opposing party to object. In a great many cases, “evidence” becomes what is allowed by the failure of the party to understand their right to cross examine a witness in live testimony.
RELEVANCE: Neither the computer generated reports nor the affidavits or correspondence of the pretender lender is evidence unless you fail to object to it for (a) lack of foundation and (b) violation of your right to confront the PERSON who entered the data or information written or the PERSON who prepared the document. The same holds true for your forensic report. You can use it to raise a question of fact, but when it comes down to actually proving your case the report is useless without the live testimony of the forensic analyst and the live testimony of an expert who explains what it means.

In practice, this surfaces as a demand letter, affidavit or assignment or other document used by the pretender lender to establish its case. The path to defeat of the homeowner is paved when they fail to object to the introduction of these documents as anything other than an allegation that raises a question of fact. If you make the objection then you are conforming to the rules of evidence and enforcing your rights under the the U.S. Constitution. By directing the Judge’s attention to the question of fact, you then open the door to discovery and an evidentiary hearing. Without that, the allegations of the pretender lender will be taken as true and you are just about done.
There are exceptions to allowing a document in as evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted but they are limited exceptions and contain numerous conditions, mostly in the form of providing a foundation for the introduction of the document, the reason for the absence of the witness and whether the witness is actually available to testify and if not, why not.
The parallel tactic used by pretender lenders is to produce a witness that is a shill for the real thing. This comes down to the conventional definition of competency of a witness to testify. In nearly all cases, the witness the pretender lenders offers has no direct personal knowledge of anything contained in the written document, has been recently hired, is not in the department that would have any knowledge and/or is not the true custodian of records who could identify where the data came from, who provided it, when it was created, and the method by which the document is created. In nearly all cases, these documents are fabricated in “service mills” which might actually be in the office of the attorney for the pretender lender where an employee of the law firm or service mill executes the affidavit or document as “limited signing officer,” “assistant secretary,” etc. MERS documents are virtually always executed by people with no connection with MERS and where MERS has no knowledge of the existence of the person nor that they executed a document in the name of MERS.
A competent witness is ONLY a live person in court who has PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE and personally remembers the transaction(s) about which they are offering testimony. The pretender lenders merely grab someone and tell them what to say in court like “I am an authorized representative of Pretender Lender and I am familiar with the facts regarding this loan.” Your objection should be accompanied by a request to voir dire the witness. Who is your employer. what is your job? where do you work? When were you employed? Did you get information about this transaction from documents you were given or that you found? Did you get your information from another person?
Test them on conflicts of the numbers shown in different documents. Ask them if they have personal knowledge of the two documents. You probably will find that they have no personal knowledge of one of them. Ask them to explain the difference if they manage to qualify the witness, as it lessens their credibility to have conflicting demands from the same party.
Establish that the witness doesn’t really know anything on their own because they had nothing to do with the origination or servicing of the loan and nothing to do with the securitization of the loan.
On the securitization of the loan sometimes they will bring in a person who has some connection with the loan from the servicing company. Establish that the servicing company is a bookkeeper and conduit for payments and not the creditor (the obligation, as evidenced by the note is not owed to the witness or their employer).
After establishing that they otherwise do have personal knowledge not gleaned from someone else (hearsay), you ask them if they have any access to the the records of the other parties involved in the securitization of this loan.
Then you establish that therefore they only have the records of a specific period of time involving transactions between the borrower and a particular servicer and NOT the full record of all transactions that occurred as credit or debits to the obligation created when the loan was originated. So they don’t know whether the obligation was transferred or sold or paid by federal bailout or insurance. They don’t know the identity of the creditor.
As soon as they admit lack of knowledge you object to the witness as not having the required personal knowledge and personal recollection of the entire transaction or even parts of it. You therefore object to the the document or report or affidavit they are offering as lacking proper foudnation and as violating your right to cross examine witnesses offering to testify against you.
While the 6th Amendment is often cited just in criminal cases, it is the basis for the rules of evidence in every state in the union. The purpose is not some legal trick. It is to provide the court with some assurance that the information being offered to the court has the required amount of credibility to be useful in finding the facts of the case.
————————————
New York Times
January 11, 2010
Editorial

The Right to Confront Witnesses

Just last June, the Supreme Court decided that when prosecutors rely on lab reports they must call the experts who prepared them to testify. It was an important ruling, based on a defendant’s right to be confronted with witnesses against him, but the court is about to revisit it. The justices should reaffirm that the Sixth Amendment requires prosecutors to call the lab analysts whose work they rely on.

On Monday, the court hears arguments in Briscoe v. Virginia, in which a man was convicted on drug charges. The prosecutors relied on certificates prepared by forensic analysts to prove that the substance seized was cocaine. They did not call the analysts as witnesses.

The defendant should be able to get his conviction overturned based on Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, the ruling from last June, which held, by a 5-to-4 vote, that using lab reports without calling the analysts violates the Sixth Amendment.

The amendment’s confrontation clause guarantees defendants the right to see prosecution witnesses in person and to cross-examine them, unless they are truly unavailable. In cases that involve drugs, and many that do not, lab analysts’ work can be a critical part of the prosecution’s case. If the prosecutors want to use the reports, they should be required to call the analysts as witnesses.

Critics of the ruling last June argue that it imposes too great a burden and excessive costs on prosecutors. But in states where analysts have to testify, the burden is easily manageable. Ohio’s 14 forensic scientists appeared in 123 drug cases in 2008, less than one appearance each per month.

It is not clear why the Supreme Court is rushing to reconsider this issue. There are some differences in the rules on witnesses between Virginia and Massachusetts. But it may be that with Justice Sonia Sotomayor having replaced Justice David Souter, the dissenters believe they have a fifth vote to erode or undo last June’s ruling.

As a former assistant district attorney, some court analysts argue, she may be more sympathetic to the burden on prosecutors. As a circuit court judge, Justice Sotomayor did often rule for the government in criminal cases, but making predictions of this sort is perilous. Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative members, wrote the majority opinion in Melendez-Diaz.

If the court changes the rule, it would be a significant setback for civil liberties, and not just in cases involving lab evidence. Prosecutors might use the decision to justify offering all sorts of affidavits, videotaped statements and other evidence from absent witnesses.

Florida Orders All Homestead Property Foreclosures into Mediation

See AOSC09-54_Foreclosures.

A good step in the right directions.

I would add that you should be very careful that you don’t get trapped into the “lender narrative.” The Judges are going to very receptive and even enthusiastic about referring these cases to mediation, so don’t annoy them with motions, pleadings or hearings that attempt to circumvent the mediation process. As for whether the order will be applied to existing cases, it remains to be seen how Florida Judges react to this Administrative Order.

CAUTION: The “Lender narrative” tries to focus attention exclusively on when you made your last payment and whether the obligation was created when you purchased the financial product (Mortgage Loan). It avoids all issues as to who is the creditor and how you could get a FULL accounting of all financial transactions in the securitization chain that either were or should have been allocated to your loan or the pool to which your loan was assigned. (Their tactic has been to keep the focus on the small window in which one servicer was receiving payments from the homeowner, ignore payments made on behalf of the homeowners, and to effectively bar you from inquiring as to whether they received any money from bailouts, AIG, or even if they turned over the payments you DID make to the creditor).

In order to avoid getting trapped into the “Lender narrative” I would suggest a number of possible steps. First, of course is get all your information together. There is an intake form on this blog that gets you to create a narrative of your own mortgage transaction. Second, get a forensic audit or review/analysis or TILA audit. Third, get a declaration from an “expert witness”. Consult with local counsel as this administrative order might be augmented by local rules. Several Circuits have issued their own administrative orders that have not yet been revoked or suspended.

If you are permitted to do so by the Judge, file a motion to dismiss the foreclosure suit and if that is denied then file your defenses, affirmative defenses and counterclaims. You don’t want to put yourself in the position where you are are effectively in default and give the plaintiff an opportunity to petition the court for entry of a default final judgment.

Lastly, in ALL events, I would seek answers to the basic questions: the identity of the creditor and the full accounting for ALL transactions allocated or could be allocated to your loan or the pool that your loan was alleged assigned. The QWR and DVL ought to accomplish this but it is rarely regarded seriously by the Plaintiff and Judges seem reluctant to enforce it because of their unfamiliarity with RESPA, TILA, UCPA etc. So you might need to file interrogatories that are limited to (I think) 25 questions including sub-parts. A Request to produce would also be needed.

Preliminary discovery (Interrogatories, Request to Produce, possibly Request for Admissions) should be directed at the single issue of identifying the decision-maker who could attend mediation for the “lender” side of the case.

Your position should be that as a result of the forensic review and the advice of your expert, an issue of fact exists — conflicting representations between those proffered or plead by Plaintiff’s counsel and the information you have obtained from experts. At this stage you should not try to win your case by having the Judge agree with you that the foreclosure is a fraud. Stay away from that assertion until you can really back it up.

The point is simply that an issue of fact exists that affects the mediation. Only true parties  to the dispute can be decision-makers. Only the creditor is a true party with that power unless it has been legally and irrevocably delegated to another party. Either way you need the idenity of the creditor(s), their contact information and the documentation that shows that the Plaintiff is empowered to make final decisions regarding this loan.

You need to conduct limited EXPEDITED discovery to either confirm the Plaintiff as the creditor or identify the creditor. Recent news reports of suits against intermediaries by bondholders and instructions from bondholders to fire servicers and other intermediaries who breached their fiduciary duties to the investors indicate a question of fact as to whether the party who filed this suit is a creditor, representing a creditor with authority to do so, whether they have decision-making authority and even whether the attorney appearing represents the Plaintiff or any other party.

Your point is that there is a question of fact that must be answered in discovery in order to proceed with compliance with the Supreme Court’s Order and that you are only asking for information the Plaintiff should already have if they properly field the foreclosure suit. You want the creditor’s name and contact information so you can (a) attempt to settle privately (b) comply with Federal mandate on seeking modifications, and (c) comply with Florida mandate on mediation. How can you do this if the creditor is not present? How can you enter into any agreement with a party whose authority to bind the creditor is in question?

You might need to file a motion with the Court and notice it for motion calendar. The motion would simply ask that you be permitted to conduct expedited limited discovery to facilitate the mediation process.

Mortgage Meltdown: Moral Blindness Needed


Thanks everyone for the comments. Just to clarify some nuances that are peculiar to this situation, here are some more thoughts.

1. No lender is going to file anything against this plan unless it forces them to take more of a loss today than they already are looking at. EVERY lender will do anything that gives them a reasonable prospect at curbing or stopping the losses.

 

2. EVERY lender is going to want a device that will enable them to reinstate the loan and thus avoid their indemnification liability to the buyers of the collateralized debt obligations. 

3. The buyers of the CDOs are not going to worry about the smell test because it already stinks. They wrote off the CDOs or wrote down the CDOs which is what precipitated this crisis — by writing down the value of the CDOs under current “gaap” rules promulgated by the FASB, Fed Rules, FDIC rules and the SEC, their currency reserves were slashed into nothingness and worse still, caused a violation of reserve requirements which technically puts the financial institution into “insolvency.” 

4. That is what happened at Bear Stearns which went into the toilet when the rumor spread they were insolvent. Technically, they were. Everyone showed up at the window to ask for their money. Bear Stearns already was in violation of reserve capitalization and obviously did not have the cash on hand to satisfy the demands of clients and depositors. So the Bear had to either tell people they can’t have their money (something that NOBODY wanted to hear including competitors who would suffer similar runs on their institutions with similar consequences) or they had to reassure people that they were NOT insolvent even if it meant going to another institution that was also technically insolvent (but nobody has figured that out yet because they haven’t reported yet — that is March 31). 

But that’s OK because Morgan’s deal is that the Fed will pick up the slack which in the view of investors and depositors is still good for its word. (THAT is a questionable assumption for the time being, but it hasn’t come to the front burner yet, because the Fed still looks like it has money and still looks like it has credibility). 

5. If they are able to reinstate the “value” of the CDOs, then their balance sheets improve. Combined with the decrease in the reserve requirement announced this morning, that would open up a considerable amount of money which is sitting in reserves or marked off as “lost value” and allow for lending to recommence. 

That would increase salability and pricing of houses, which would tend to reassure both owners of homes and owners of CDOs that their investment is not so upside-down after-all. 

6. All of this is important because you must realize that the proposal I am making, although an obvious target for endless litigation, is going to be greeted with enthusiasm by everyone. It stops the foreclosures and evictions which keeps people in the homes, keeps people other than the lender doing and paying the maintenance, utilities etc on the home, keeps the property from becoming abandoned and stripped by vandals of everything inside including the now valuable copper wiring, stops the creation of ghost towns, reinstates the full value of the mortgage even if there might be a write-off later, restores the value and reverses the capital write-downs that caused the crisis, and provides the owners of the CDOs an opportunity to recover some or at least more of their investment than they are currently looking at.

7. As for government, they will pass anything the Supreme Court asks them to if industry and consumers are both behind it. It doesn’t matter whether it is constitutional. Ask FDR. You put it in place until it is declared invalid. Meanwhile the benefits are won. 

Municipal governments, County governments would pile on this plan like flies on poop — it represents their only chance to stem the bleeding from their budgets. They know the Federal government is not going to give them the money to rebuild and re-sell their neighborhoods. They know they can’t get tax revenue and maintain services unless values stabilize and then go up.

8. Of course you can’t take a foreclosed piece of property and force the new owner to give it back and put the old owner back in the house. But you can open the door to do just that if BOTH SIDES want it. THAT is the idea here. 

9. This isn’t a matter of what or who is right and whether buyers were stupid or greedy or lenders were stupid or greedy or worse. This is a solution that turns a blind moral eye on the entire problem and addresses the stark truth and deals with it effectively. The stark truth is that, as Alan Greenspan so subtly put it yesterday, the U.S. is headed for the worst economic times since the end of WW II. This plan won’t stop the downslide completely but it will it slow it down and probably provide a more shallow grave than what is otherwise in store for us.  

10. Anyone in government, industry or the consumer sector that argues against this is arguing for their own financial death. 

Mortgage Meltdown: Supreme Court Petition

Cut, paste, fill in the blanks and send it in along with your request that the filing fee be waived because of financial hardship. Just google the Supreme Court of your state and send it in.

xxxxxxxxxxxx, Sui Juris

Citizen of the State of Arizona

Address.

City, State ZIP

                    SUPREME COURT OF ARIZONA

                          

IN RE: People of Arizona )  Case Number #320831

ex relatione             )

XXXXXX SSSSSSSSS,

AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY

     SITUATED            )         VERIFIED PETITION

                         )  FOR EMERGENCY CHANGES TO RULES

          Petitioner,    )

                         )  OF CIVIL PROCEDURE FOR FORECLO-                                 SURES AND EVICTIONS

_________________________)

The People of Arizona state send greetings:

TO:  SUPREME COURT OF ARIZONA

                              FACTS

     This is an original filing with the Supreme Court inasmuch as the this Court is the sole rule-making authority for the rules of civil procedure in the State of Arizona and an immediate danger exists for the citizens of Arizona, its counties, cities, towns, businesses, financial institutions and working men and women. The problem can only be ameliorated or mitigated by immediate action changing the rules of Civil procedure such that the number of foreclosures is processed in an orderly manner, allowing the protections of due process for all parties, and permitting the already overtaxed facilities of the State’s court system, to provide appropriate relief tot eh appropriate parties.

The current rules, while under normal circumstances might be considered expeditious in processing foreclosures and evictions never contemplated a circumstance where thee entire economy of the State might be jeopardized by the ruinous acts of people whose objective was greed at all costs and whose actions have reduced the wealth of every citizen of the State of Arizona and decreased the ability of every homeowner to make the payments, refinance, or sell their property.

FACTS PERTAINING TO THIS PETITIONER AND ALL OTHER PURCHASERS OF RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE FROM 2001-2007:

ON XX/XX/200X, your Petitioner attended a closing in which she purchased a residential dwelling in the City of XXXXXXX, County of XXXXXXXXX, State of Arizona.

The purchase price and closing settlement statements all reflect a purchase price of $XXXXXXXXXX, with a mortgage note indebtedness of $XXXXXXXXXX.

The contract with the Sellers, the acceptance by the Buyer/Petitioner and the Petitioner’s agreement to the terms of the purchase price and the terms of mortgage and note were all based upon a presumption that the terms were based upon the fair market value of the home at the time of contract and at the time of the closing.

Your Petitioner relied upon the appraisal, the lender’s evaluation, the mortgage broker, the underwriter of the mortgage and note, and general knowledge in accepting the apparent fair market value of the home. 

Petitioner reasonably assumed that the lender would not approve a mortgage, note and fair market value appraisal unless there was reasonable and competent data in support thereof, and based upon the assumption that the lender was accepting a risk based on the fair market value and the risks of future market conditions.

In fact, the Lender knew it had no risk, encouraged and provided a variety of incentives to all OTHER parties who participated in the closing to complete the transaction, and received compensation from third parties for doing so, all without any disclosure to your Petitioner and without complying with the disclosure requirements of the Truth in Lending Act, and other applicable laws, rules and regulations.

In fact, the Lender knew that it would sell the note to a third party investment bank who would in turn sell aggregated packages of similar notes and and mortgages to third party investors, who would purchase these collateralized debt obligations (CDOS) because they were Triple-A rated (A RATING THAT WAS PROBABLY FRAUDULENTLY OBTAINED), insured (BY COMPANIES THAT ARE NOW INSOLVENT) and were being sold by “reputable” investment banking and retail brokerage companies, WHICH ARE NOW GOING OUT OF BUSINESS.

Thus the normal market forces in sharing risk were perverted and twisted without disclosure to the two classes of people or entities that would bear the brunt of the risk and the losses — buyers of the homes and buyers of the CDOs.

Within a matter of weeks the actual fair market value of the house became apparent to your Petitioner, having fallen by some 20% thus wiping out a down payment of $130,000. Within months the situation has worsened. 

The above scenario is being played out across the State of Arizona in an inexorable March toward ruin of people’s lives, finances, and housing. The ruin of entire Arizona neighborhoods is in process, with attendant plummeting tax revenues and services, as the rate of foreclosures and attendant evictions soars beyond the State’s capacity to handle them because of lack of time, adequate procedures to provide due process to victims of the fraudulent scheme, knowledge or financial resources on the part of buyers were duped by a transnational scheme — a scheme that is in the process of destroying the economy of the State of Arizona, as well as the Federal Government, other States of the Union and even other sovereign nations and municipalities in those nations which are cutting back services as a result of losses incurred in their purchase of “cash equivalent” CDOs, WHICH ARE NOW EITHER WORTHLESS OR SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED IN VALUE IN THE SAME WAY THAT THE HOUSING “VALUES” BECAME SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED IN VALUE.

It is now apparent that the lenders are now in the position of being required to foreclose on properties that they do not want to own, which is causing a cascading process of housing price devaluation, and that the impact of the CDo devaluation, amounting to trillions of dollars in the aggregate, is having a proportionate effect on the value of the U.S. dollar, which is legal tender in the State of Arizona, and that this devaluation, combined with efforts to increase credit (monetary liquidity) are resulting in skyrocketing inflation, whose rate is increasing weekly. Thus the effect on the State and its citizens, all of whom receive incomes that are not indexed to real inflation, will be catastrophic unless the process of foreclosure and eviction is brought under control.

Accordingly, your Petitioner Prays that this Honorable Court take emergency action for the purpose of slowing the rush to foreclosure and evictions, giving parties adequate opportunity to present and defend their claims and providing a mechanism in which the parties may settle their competing claims through mediation. It is contemplated that emergency appointments of mediators along with the creation of mediated settlement templates would be helpful to stem the flow while at the same time restoring value and order to the housing and securities marketplace. Such templates can be created quickly by individuals with banking, finance and housing experience and expertise and would serve only as a guide for settlement.

Wherefore, Petitioner proposes the following emergency rule changes, subject to any changes, alterations, modifications, deletions or additions the Court deems fit:

Emergency Provisional Rules

Mortgage Foreclosures

These emergency rules of civil procedure apply to all foreclosures on all property, real or personal, initiated on or before January 1, 2007. No Judgment shall be executed, or if already executed, enforced, and no order of removal or eviction or seizure related to foreclosure shall be executed, or if already executed, enforced unless a Court of competent jurisdiction shall have executed an order finding as a matter of law and fact that the foreclosing party(ies) have complied with each and every provision contained herein.

1. Every Petition for Foreclosure and/or every action undertaken by a foreclosing party prior to seeking recovery or seizure, or occupancy of property, shall require the foreclosing party(ies) to file a verified complaint or affidavit alleging the facts supporting the claim for relief, executed by a person with actual knowledge of all facts alleged. The executing party on said verified Petition or affidavit shall affirmatively allege and actually be available for the taking of testimony by deposition or at an evidentiary hearing in the jurisdiction in which the property is located.

2. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state the names and addresses of all parties involved in the loan transaction and shall be served under the rules governing service of process upon each of said parties as third party non-party litigants, if such parties were not the lender or borrower.

3. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall account for all funds that were passed through or to each party named in the action, the disposition thereof, and the manner and time in which the passage of said funds were dispersed, together with a citation to the mortgage documentation, including a quote of the relevant passages in the body of the Petition or Affidavit wherein said funds are disclosed and wherein said funds are authorized. 

4. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity whether any changes occurred after the closing of the subject loan transaction in which parties or persons were changed including the names and addresses of all parties and persons related to the transactions subject to the mortgage.

5. With respect to sale or assignment or any joint or sharing arrangements concerning ownership, distribution of risk, or securitization in which the subject loan was referenced as collateral or otherwise, each such Petition shall state with particularity the details of each such transaction, the distribution or re-distribution of funds, and the documents employed by said parties after said closing.

6. Each and every such Petition or Affidavit shall affirmatively state that the foreclosing party(ies) have standing and authority to bring the action, defend counterclaims and answer affirmative defenses. The signature of the attorney on said pleading shall be mandatory and shall constitute a representation to the COURT that the filing attorney has performed proper due diligence to ascertain the truth of the allegations of legal standing and all other allegations.

7. Each such Petitioner or Affidavit shall be accompanied by attachments of the referenced documents to be included with the first service of such Petition or Affidavit.

8. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity and specificity each disclosure made to the borrower and any third parties involved in the transaction under the Truth in Lending Act and the corresponding provision of the mortgage documents executed by the borrower which supports said disclosure.

9. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity and specificity each disclosure made to the borrower and any third parties involved in the transaction under the Truth in Lending Act and the corresponding provision of the mortgage documents executed by the borrower which does not support said disclosure. If any allegation other than “none” is made under this paragraph, the foreclosing party(ies) shall state with specificity the law or fact upon which they should be excused from compliance.

10. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall attach a full and complete accounting of all money, value or funds transmitted, paid or or promised between all parties involved in the loan transaction before or after the loan transaction. In the event the borrower has been overcharged, undercharged, or charged correctly, the Petition or Affidavit shall so state affirmatively, providing a full accounting of said funds. 

11. No answer or response from the borrower shall be due unless and until the foreclosing party(ies) are in complete and full compliance with the provisions of these rules. Any prior answer or response may be amended by the borrower after a determination is made that the foreclosing party(ies) are in full compliance. No prior Judgement, order or other document or rule shall prevent the borrower from filing a response or answer after the foreclosing party(ies) are found to be in compliance with these rules.

12. In the event that the foreclosing party(ies) fails or refuses to comply with these rules, the foreclosure shall be barred with prejudice and until the terms of the mortgage are determined with certainty by the Court by clear and convincing evidence, no payments to the mortgagee shall be due. This provision that not apply to payment to taxing authorities. In such event of delay caused by the the foreclosing party(ies) the court may fashion such equitable remedies as the Court deems fit in its discretion. for example, the Court could apply delinquent payments to the end of the mortgage, thus extending the terms. 

13. In the event of non-compliance with these rules wherein the foreclosing party(ies) demonstrate to the Court the probability that they could amend their filing to conform to the requirements herein, the foreclosing party(ies) shall file an amended Petition or Affidavit on or before thirty (30) days from the date of the order of the Court allowing the amendment. Failure to file within said thirty period shall be grounds for a mandatory immediate dismissal with prejudice. 

14. In the event of the filing of a verified amended Petition or Affidavit, Borrower shall have sixty (60) days in which to answer or respond. Failure to answer or respond shall not relieve the burden of proof of the foreclosing party(ies) in compliance with state, local and Federal law, and in compliance with these rules.

15. The Court may grant attorney fees and costs to the prevailing party in each case where a motion or other filing occurs, wherein a determination is made in an adversary proceeding that the filing is in or out of compliance. 

16. In the event a foreclosure has already been completed and all subsequent and customary actions have occurred and no bona fide third party has taken control or occupancy of the property, these rules may applied retroactively. 

17. Once compliance has been established and the issues are joined, the Court shall enter an order requiring the parties to enter into a process of mediation. The purpose of the mediation shall be to fashion a settlement which provides relief and incentives to all affected parties, including non-party litigants. Mediation shall take place no earlier than thirty (30) days after the entry of the mediation order, and not later than is reasonably possibly given the volume of cases and the availability of competent mediators.

These rules are subject to review by the Court but are effective immediately. Comments and applications to be heard shall be available in keeping with the usual and customary methods of proposed rule changes. Said rules shall be effective unless and until stated otherwise by the Court.

                          VERIFICATION

I, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Sui Juris, hereby verify, under penalty of perjury,  under the  laws of  the United  States  of  America, without the  “United States” (federal government), that the above statements of  fact are  true and  correct, to  the  best  of  My current information,  knowledge, and  belief.

Dated:  xx/xx/2008

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

                       PROOF OF SERVICE

I, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Sui Juris, hereby certify, under penalty of perjury,  under the  laws of the State of Arizona and the United  States  of  America, that I am at least 18 years of age, a Citizen  of one  of the  United States  of America,  and that I personally served the following document(s):

       EMERGENCY PETITION FOR CHANGES TO RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE RELATING TO FORECLOSURES AND EVICTIONS

by placing one true and correct copy of said document(s) in first class United  States Mail,  with  postage  prepaid  and  properly addressed to the following:

Attorney General, State of Arizona

/s/ XXXXXXXXX SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

_____________________________________

XXXXXXXXXXX, SSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, Sui Juris

                         

       

MORTGAGE MELTDOWN REMEDY: SEND THIS NOW TO YOUR STATE SUPREME COURT AND LOCAL COURT SYSTEM

The problem for homeowners is that however many ideas are put forward they won’t be effective in time to save most people, they won’t be in time to save the economy, and they won’t be in time to save our currency from further wrenching devaluation. It is the fierce urgency of now that cannot even wait to the election or January 20, 2009. There is only one place where immediate relief can be achieved — the Court System. There are constitutional impediments to interference with the mortgage foreclosure process. Yet there is authority in the judicial system to change the rules as long as it does not significantly impede or in this case, it should enhance access to the courts and the ability to mount a credible defense to foreclosures on predatory or fraudulent loans. 

These are the rules that could be enacted by each court in the land that would [a] slow down the process and [b] protect borrowers from the steamroller of lender foreclosures and [c] protect lenders, investment bankers and investors from themselves. These rules preserve and enhance due process so that the unsophisticated borrower is not wiped out again by his or her lack of knowledge. 

 

Emergency Provisional Rules

Mortgage Foreclosures

These emergency rules of civil procedure apply to all foreclosures on all property, real or personal, initiated on or before January 1, 2007. No Judgment shall be executed, or if already executed, enforced, and no order of removal or eviction or seizure related to foreclosure shall be executed, or if already executed, enforced unless a Court of competent jurisdiction shall have executed an order finding as a matter of law and fact that the foreclosing party(ies) have complied with each and every provision contained herein.

1. Every Petition for Foreclosure and/or every action undertaken by a foreclosing party prior to seeking recovery or seizure, or occupancy of property, shall require the foreclosing party(ies) to file a verified complaint or affidavit alleging the facts supporting the claim for relief, executed by a person with actual knowledge of all facts alleged. The executing party on said verified Petition or affidavit shall affirmatively allege and actually be available for the taking of testimony by deposition or at an evidentiary hearing in the jurisdiction in which the property is located.

2. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state the names and addresses of all parties involved in the loan transaction and shall be served under the rules governing service of process upon each of said parties as third party non-party litigants, if such parties were not the lender or borrower.

3. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall account for all funds that were passed through or to each party named in the action, the disposition thereof, and the manner and time in which the passage of said funds were dispersed, together with a citation to the mortgage documentation, including a quote of the relevant passages in the body of the Petition or Affidavit wherein said funds are disclosed and wherein said funds are authorized. 

4. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity whether any changes occurred after the closing of the subject loan transaction in which parties or persons were changed including the names and addresses of all parties and persons related to the transactions subject to the mortgage.

5. With respect to sale or assignment or any joint or sharing arrangements concerning ownership, distribution of risk, or securitization in which the subject loan was referenced as collateral or otherwise, each such Petition shall state with particularity the details of each such transaction, the distribution or re-distribution of funds, and the documents employed by said parties after said closing.

6. Each and every such Petition or Affidavit shall affirmatively state that the foreclosing party(ies) have standing and authority to bring the action, defend counterclaims and answer affirmative defenses. The signature of the attorney on said pleading shall be mandatory and shall constitute a representation to the COURT that the filing attorney has performed proper due diligence to ascertain the truth of the allegations of legal standing and all other allegations.

7. Each such Petitioner or Affidavit shall be accompanied by attachments of the referenced documents to be included with the first service of such Petition or Affidavit.

8. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity and specificity each disclosure made to the borrower and any third parties involved in the transaction under the Truth in Lending Act and the corresponding provision of the mortgage documents executed by the borrower which supports said disclosure.

9. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity and specificity each disclosure made to the borrower and any third parties involved in the transaction under the Truth in Lending Act and the corresponding provision of the mortgage documents executed by the borrower which does not support said disclosure. If any allegation other than “none” is made under this paragraph, the foreclosing party(ies) shall state with specificity the law or fact upon which they should be excused from compliance.

10. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall attach a full and complete accounting of all money, value or funds transmitted, paid or or promised between all parties involved in the loan transaction before or after the loan transaction. In the event the borrower has been overcharged, undercharged, or charged correctly, the Petition or Affidavit shall so state affirmatively, providing a full accounting of said funds. 

11. No answer or response from the borrower shall be due unless and until the foreclosing party(ies) are in complete and full compliance with the provisions of these rules. Any prior answer or response may be amended by the borrower after a determination is made that the foreclosing party(ies) are in full compliance. No prior Judgement, order or other document or rule shall prevent the borrower from filing a response or answer after the foreclosing party(ies) are found to be in compliance with these rules.

12. In the event that the foreclosing party(ies) fails or refuses to comply with these rules, the foreclosure shall be barred with prejudice and until the terms of the mortgage are determined with certainty by the Court by clear and convincing evidence, no payments to the mortgagee shall be due. This provision that not apply to payment to taxing authorities. In such event of delay caused by the the foreclosing party(ies) the court may fashion such equitable remedies as the Court deems fit in its discretion. for example, the Court could apply delinquent payments to the end of the mortgage, thus extending the terms. 

13. In the event of non-compliance with these rules wherein the foreclosing party(ies) demonstrate to the Court the probability that they could amend their filing to conform to the requirements herein, the foreclosing party(ies) shall file an amended Petition or Affidavit on or before thirty (30) days from the date of the order of the Court allowing the amendment. Failure to file within said thirty period shall be grounds for a mandatory immediate dismissal with prejudice. 

14. In the event of the filing of a verified amended Petition or Affidavit, Borrower shall have sixty (60) days in which to answer or respond. Failure to answer or respond shall not relieve the burden of proof of the foreclosing party(ies) in compliance with state, local and Federal law, and in compliance with these rules.

15. The Court may grant attorney fees and costs to the prevailing party in each case where a motion or other filing occurs, wherein a determination is made in an adversary proceeding that the filing is in or out of compliance. 

16. In the event a foreclosure has already been completed and all subsequent and customary actions have occurred and no bona fide third party has taken control or occupancy of the property, these rules may applied retroactively. 

17. Once compliance has been established and the issues are joined, the Court shall enter an order requiring the parties to enter into a process of mediation. The purpose of the mediation shall be to fashion a settlement which provides relief and incentives to all affected parties, including non-party litigants. Mediation shall take place no earlier than thirty (30) days after the entry of the mediation order, and not later than is reasonably possibly given the volume of cases and the availability of competent mediators.

These rules are subject to review by the Court but are effective immediately. Comments and applications to be heard shall be available in keeping with the usual and customary methods of proposed rule changes. Said rules shall be effective unless and until stated otherwise by the Court.

 

Mortgage Meltdown Movement: Start Now, Obama

OBAMA MOVEMENT IS LAST CHANCE FOR ECONOMY AND HOMEOWNERS.

CHANGE THE RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE REGARDING FORECLOSURES OF ALL TYPES.

As we have have repeatedly pointed out, there is no time for stimulus packages, legislative bailouts, or executive orders. 

The evidence is mounting because [a] the situation is as bad as it looks and it is getting worse and [b] the administration ran out of places to hide the mounting losses to the economy. 

The dollar continues its slide which will create devastating inflation within 6 months. Consumer buying power is now the lowest it is had been since 1945. Job losses are at record levels and more people, especially men are starting to simply walk away from their jobs because the pay does nothing for them. People are also getting ready to walk away from their homes and just leave the keys with banks who will try to dump their real estate inventory, perhaps with some new derivative security plan.

The financial industry cannot bail us out, the U.S. Treasury can’t bail us out, China can’t bail us out, the congress cannot bail us out, the President won’t or can’t bail us out, and the candidates for President will inherit the second Great Depression (GDII) unless something is done right now. The plain truth is that if you do the arithmetic, there isn’t enough money in the world to buy our way out of this. Leadership, agreements, cooperation and sharing are the commodities that will settle the financial claims and avert a general collapse.

Start with the obvious — 900,000 foreclosures and mounting. At the center of this meltdown is the mean fact that prices were artificially inflated and, as in every Ponzi scheme, eventually collapsed. The debt was as fake as the prices. But we are still pretending it is real. The monthly payments were in many cases procured by fraud and numerous violations of the Truth in Lending Act. 

Change the procedure, not the substance of the law. 

The change needed is to enumerate the requirements for initiating foreclosures such that Ponzi operators are deterred from filing foreclosures, the entire foreclosure process is slowed down, and the loans are reinstated, re- negotiated, or modified on some basis that will result in continued occupancy of homes, restoring capital to balance sheets of financial institutions, restoring some degree of quality to CDO’s that were sold, and adding liquidity to the economy without pumping more funny money into it — thus adding value to the dollar, and adding purchasing power to consumers and industry. We encourage immunity from criminal prosecution those players who are still in the chain and assist in the process of recovery. Those actions and investigations by State attorney generals will at best provide an empty victory in an empty marketplace.

CHANGE THE RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE REGARDING FORECLOSURES OF ALL TYPES.

The only hope is the judiciary, which handles the foreclosures. Everyone agrees, including the parties initiating the foreclosures and evictions, that the goal is slowing down the process, giving everyone a little hope and incentive, and creating a process where these cases are settled equitably by agreement or by the equitable powers of every court in which an eviction or foreclosure matter is pending. Foreclosure is an equitable remedy which grants wide latitude to the Judge. Procedures should be in place that force the initiators of foreclosure proceedings to slow down, force everyone into mediation and give some breathing room so the marketplace, the financial sector, and government has time to catch up with events that have overtaken them.

In order to accomplish this, the authority is usually vested in the State Supreme Court of each state. The State Supreme Court is usually the authority that creates, amends or changes rules of civil procedure. This plan is not sexy but it is quick and it will work. Change the rules as we have suggested in our recent posting “Send this to Your State Supreme Court”. 

As for the PRESIDENTIAL candidates it is a dismal picture. The candidates for all other public offices don’t look any better in any of the State, local or Federal elections.

While we applaud McCain for his honesty in admitting he doesn’t know much about economics, that is hardly the person we want making executive decisions during a deep recession or depression. 

While Clinton is good at creating four point plans, ten point plans etc., she has not demonstrated any understanding of the economics at work here. Her husband didn’t have any experience in economics beyond a small state with niche industries. Her “experience” might sell but it isn’t true. She was a tea and cookies first lady in Arkansas and in the White House. This is no Eleanor Roosevelt. We can only hope that, like her Husband, if she is the candidate, she will be lucky enough to have people around like Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin and others who not only understood the economy but knew how to grow it and that her personal political ambitions for a second term don’t get in the way of good judgment.

While Obama does have a close-up understanding of the economics of poverty, because he gave up Wall Street to work on Main Street, he also lacks experience in the macro-economic events that are in the process of burying our economy. He also is an academic, having taught constitutional law for 10 years, and brilliant analyst and fast learner. He also energizes people to out-perform which is exactly what we are going to need in the White House if we get through this in one piece. 

Obama is about leadership while Clinton is about tactical maneuvering. Both are valuable talents. But the truth is that Clinton would probably be one of the best Senate Majority leaders in history and at best a mediocre President for precisely those reasons. With Obama in the White House and Clinton and Pelosi in charge of Congress, it is hard to imagine a scenario where we can’t emerge from all this a little smarter and rebounding from the worst economic times in our lives.

There are no guarantees. Yet it seems like an Obama presidency will be a populist presidency directed by the people and for the people, while a Clinton presidency will be a Hillary presidency. McCain appears best suited to go to war and least suited to deal with any domestic issues. But none of them will like what is delivered to them on “Day One” unless something is done now. Obama too is at least as likely to attract energized geniuses in their respective fields to manage the difficult terrain ahead of us.

What Obama should do is what Obama does best — create a movement that moves the Supreme Courts of every state into action. All candidates for public office should sign on and all present office holders should introduce and pass remedial legislation in support of the movement. Obama is best suited to initiate this movement because his core constituency is the sector hardest hit by predatory lending practices, job losses, and NAFTA failures. 

The Obama Presidency should, as much as possible, start now. 

It is highly unlikely that Clinton’s last gasp pf political maneuvering and attack ads is going to change the math — Obama ends up with more popular vote, more states won, and more delegates one. Unless the convention turns to a compromise candidate like Gore, who probably won’t take the job, Obama is the only candidate that can be the nominee without tearing the Democratic party apart.

Mortgage Meltdown: Send this to your State Supreme Court and Local Court

The problem for homeowners is that however many ideas are put forward they won’t be effective in time to save most people, they won’t be in time to save the economy, and they won’t be in time to save our currency from further wrenching devaluation. It is the fierce urgency of now that cannot even wait to the election or January 20, 2009. There is only one place where immediate relief can be achieved — the Court System. There are constitutional impediments to interference with the mortgage foreclosure process. Yet there is authority in the judicial system to change the rules as long as it does not significantly impede or in this case, it should enhance access to the courts and the ability to mount a credible defense to foreclosures on predatory or fraudulent loans. 

These are the rules that could be enacted by each court in the land that would [a] slow down the process and [b] protect borrowers from the steamroller of lender foreclosures and [c] protect lenders, investment bankers and investors from themselves. These rules preserve and enhance due process so that the unsophisticated borrower is not wiped out again by his or her lack of knowledge. 

 

Emergency Provisional Rules

Mortgage Foreclosures

These emergency rules of civil procedure apply to all foreclosures on all property, real or personal, initiated on or before January 1, 2007. No Judgment shall be executed, or if already executed, enforced, and no order of removal or eviction or seizure related to foreclosure shall be executed, or if already executed, enforced unless a Court of competent jurisdiction shall have executed an order finding as a matter of law and fact that the foreclosing party(ies) have complied with each and every provision contained herein.

1. Every Petition for Foreclosure and/or every action undertaken by a foreclosing party prior to seeking recovery or seizure, or occupancy of property, shall require the foreclosing party(ies) to file a verified complaint or affidavit alleging the facts supporting the claim for relief, executed by a person with actual knowledge of all facts alleged. The executing party on said verified Petition or affidavit shall affirmatively allege and actually be available for the taking of testimony by deposition or at an evidentiary hearing in the jurisdiction in which the property is located.

2. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state the names and addresses of all parties involved in the loan transaction and shall be served under the rules governing service of process upon each of said parties as third party non-party litigants, if such parties were not the lender or borrower.

3. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall account for all funds that were passed through or to each party named in the action, the disposition thereof, and the manner and time in which the passage of said funds were dispersed, together with a citation to the mortgage documentation, including a quote of the relevant passages in the body of the Petition or Affidavit wherein said funds are disclosed and wherein said funds are authorized. 

4. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity whether any changes occurred after the closing of the subject loan transaction in which parties or persons were changed including the names and addresses of all parties and persons related to the transactions subject to the mortgage.

5. With respect to sale or assignment or any joint or sharing arrangements concerning ownership, distribution of risk, or securitization in which the subject loan was referenced as collateral or otherwise, each such Petition shall state with particularity the details of each such transaction, the distribution or re-distribution of funds, and the documents employed by said parties after said closing.

6. Each and every such Petition or Affidavit shall affirmatively state that the foreclosing party(ies) have standing and authority to bring the action, defend counterclaims and answer affirmative defenses. The signature of the attorney on said pleading shall be mandatory and shall constitute a representation to the COURT that the filing attorney has performed proper due diligence to ascertain the truth of the allegations of legal standing and all other allegations.

7. Each such Petitioner or Affidavit shall be accompanied by attachments of the referenced documents to be included with the first service of such Petition or Affidavit.

8. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity and specificity each disclosure made to the borrower and any third parties involved in the transaction under the Truth in Lending Act and the corresponding provision of the mortgage documents executed by the borrower which supports said disclosure.

9. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall state with particularity and specificity each disclosure made to the borrower and any third parties involved in the transaction under the Truth in Lending Act and the corresponding provision of the mortgage documents executed by the borrower which does not support said disclosure. If any allegation other than “none” is made under this paragraph, the foreclosing party(ies) shall state with specificity the law or fact upon which they should be excused from compliance.

10. Each such Petition or Affidavit shall attach a full and complete accounting of all money, value or funds transmitted, paid or or promised between all parties involved in the loan transaction before or after the loan transaction. In the event the borrower has been overcharged, undercharged, or charged correctly, the Petition or Affidavit shall so state affirmatively, providing a full accounting of said funds. 

11. No answer or response from the borrower shall be due unless and until the foreclosing party(ies) are in complete and full compliance with the provisions of these rules. Any prior answer or response may be amended by the borrower after a determination is made that the foreclosing party(ies) are in full compliance. No prior Judgement, order or other document or rule shall prevent the borrower from filing a response or answer after the foreclosing party(ies) are found to be in compliance with these rules.

12. In the event that the foreclosing party(ies) fails or refuses to comply with these rules, the foreclosure shall be barred with prejudice and until the terms of the mortgage are determined with certainty by the Court by clear and convincing evidence, no payments to the mortgagee shall be due. This provision that not apply to payment to taxing authorities. In such event of delay caused by the the foreclosing party(ies) the court may fashion such equitable remedies as the Court deems fit in its discretion. for example, the Court could apply delinquent payments to the end of the mortgage, thus extending the terms. 

13. In the event of non-compliance with these rules wherein the foreclosing party(ies) demonstrate to the Court the probability that they could amend their filing to conform to the requirements herein, the foreclosing party(ies) shall file an amended Petition or Affidavit on or before thirty (30) days from the date of the order of the Court allowing the amendment. Failure to file within said thirty period shall be grounds for a mandatory immediate dismissal with prejudice. 

14. In the event of the filing of a verified amended Petition or Affidavit, Borrower shall have sixty (60) days in which to answer or respond. Failure to answer or respond shall not relieve the burden of proof of the foreclosing party(ies) in compliance with state, local and Federal law, and in compliance with these rules.

15. The Court may grant attorney fees and costs to the prevailing party in each case where a motion or other filing occurs, wherein a determination is made in an adversary proceeding that the filing is in or out of compliance. 

16. In the event a foreclosure has already been completed and all subsequent and customary actions have occurred and no bona fide third party has taken control or occupancy of the property, these rules may applied retroactively. 

17. Once compliance has been established and the issues are joined, the Court shall enter an order requiring the parties to enter into a process of mediation. The purpose of the mediation shall be to fashion a settlement which provides relief and incentives to all affected parties, including non-party litigants. Mediation shall take place no earlier than thirty (30) days after the entry of the mediation order, and not later than is reasonably possibly given the volume of cases and the availability of competent mediators.

These rules are subject to review by the Court but are effective immediately. Comments and applications to be heard shall be available in keeping with the usual and customary methods of proposed rule changes. Said rules shall be effective unless and until stated otherwise by the Court.

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