Losing Strategy: “Getting it on the Record”

I know I am going to take some heat for what I am about to say. In my opinion “getting it on the record” is an excuse for losing and implies that the judge’s decision was wrong and can be appealed when in fact the judge’s decision was correct and will be easily affirmed on appeal.

Clients and lawyers and others frequently ask me to “review” something they have written. Below you will find my usual responses. The main trap door that losing homeowners fall through is that they bury their own argument in an attempt to litigate the entire case (i.e., to get it on the record, AGAIN) on each and every filing they submit to the court.

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

Purchase now Neil Garfield’s Mastering Discovery and Evidence in Foreclosure Defense webinar including 3.5 hours of lecture, questions and answers, plus course materials that include PowerPoint Presentations. Presenters: Attorney and Expert Neil Garfield, Forensic Auditor Dan Edstrom, Attorney Charles Marshall and and Private Investigator Bill Paatalo. The webinar and materials are all downloadable.

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

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments. It’s better than calling!

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

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Here is my reply to most people whether they professionals or lay people.

The only caveat to this is that I personally know of many excellent legal writers “out there” for whom this article does not apply. They understand that the goal is to win in litigation and that means victory in as many points in the timeline of motions and discovery as is possible. You don’t win without that.

The second caveat is that persuasion and credibility are two sides of the same coin. You gain nothing by tossing out allegations that you can never prove and that are not backed up with foundation and corroboration. Practices like that lead to stuffing pleadings with irrelevant gibberish which might be true, but will dilute the good arguments and will never be considered, much less allowed into evidence.

Here are some of my common replies, shortly before they ask what it will cost for me to rewrite the pleading or memorandum.

In my opinion this needs to be rewritten, it needs to be much shorter and it must focus in on a small number of bullet points. The first points must catch the attention of the judge since it is unlikely that the judge will read beyond page 2.A “Reply” should be exactly that, to wit: something that answers the objection filed by or on behalf of ABC. While components of a reply are present they are buried under what is largely re-litigating the entire case.
Your point about all defendants being represented by the same attorney is well-taken. Do something with that, don’t just say it. Perhaps you could float an argument like “Opposing counsel seeks to invoke alter ego status on the one hand in order to invoke res judicata and on the other hand wants us to believe that ABC is a separate and independent entity with no connections to the alleged violations of law asserted by Plaintiff.
Under either scenario the baseline narrative is completely dependent upon a chain of ownership of the debt that is neither asserted nor substantiated by any foundation or documentary exhibits or evidence. In a sleight of hand maneuver, Defendants instead want us to focus on the note or mortgage (deed of trust), which at best are only paper instruments supposedly memorializing a transaction that is neither asserted nor in existence.
Thus they argue a false equivalency between the debt and the note despite no allegation nor proof that the note accurately memorialized a financial transaction in the real world between maker and payee on the note. They neither allege nor argue the merger doctrine in which the debt is absorbed into the note. This would force them to prove the money trail which nobody in the shoddy history of false claims of securitization is ever willing to allege or even provide a response.
“Getting it into the record” is not a trial strategy. It is a losing strategy both at the trial level and appellate level. That is because the goal is wrong. The goal is really to win, which can be and has been done in tens of thousands of cases. Getting something into the record is a euphemism for negligence, because it means that it is a data dump rather than a compelling narrative designed to persuade the trier of fact. Data dumps are virtually ignored by judges, just as you would if you were sitting on the bench.
“Defendant Counsel’s “Representation” of all defendants, each with supposedly different interests is at odds with his grouping of all the defendants together — ignoring the fact that if the case is decided against one of them it might be applied to them all. Do all the Defendants consent to this representation? Or, as alleged by Plaintiff, are they all sham conduits working for a fee in a common enterprise to create the illusion of an interest in ownership, servicing and transfers of the recorded encumbrance? Does one of them own the debt or are any of the defendants in privity with the owner of the debt?

Is a Neg-AM Note a Negotiable Instrument?

The UCC is not ambivalent about protecting both the maker of a negotiable instrument and the party seeking to enforce it. The maker does not assume the risk of double liability except for instances where the note is purchased for value in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses. In all other circumstances the object is to prevent the maker from being exposed to double liability.

The fact that a note is not a negotiable instrument does not mean that it cannot be enforced, or that it is void or whatever else people are saying on the internet. If the note does not meet the definition of a negotiable instrument then it is simply not entitled to the legal presumptions that are given to a negotiable instrument to ease its trading and enforcement. Any other approach would be equivalent to propelling parties who seek to enforce a note being vaulted into the elevated class of holder in due course.

In other words, if the note is not a negotiable instrument then enforcement can only be achieved by pleading and proving the facts needed to enforce without the benefit of legal presumptions that each State adopted as a a statute when the Uniform Commercial Code was made law.

In cases where a negative amortization is involved, the courts have blurred the issues. Such a loan has many extrinsic factors that should disqualify the note from being treated as a negotiable instrument.

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

Purchase now Neil Garfield’s Mastering Discovery and Evidence in Foreclosure Defense webinar including 3.5 hours of lecture, questions and answers, plus course materials that include PowerPoint Presentations. Presenters: Attorney and Expert Neil Garfield, Forensic Auditor Dan Edstrom, Attorney Charles Marshall and and Private Investigator Bill Paatalo. The webinar and materials are all downloadable.

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

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments. It’s better than calling!

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

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We must always remember that the purpose of the UCC is not to provide a vehicle for tricking anyone. The purpose is to allow for free flow of commerce and enabling the passing of paper instruments is essential to that function. Like many statutes creating legal presumptions, perhaps all of them, the point is simply to take what is almost always true in fact and simply create a legal presumption that the matter asserted is in fact true, until proven otherwise. Lest the use of such presumptions tip the due process scales, the definitions and rules regarding the use of legal presumptions must be strictly construed.

The issue of negative amortization is highly relevant on many levels including the one frequently mentioned — negotiability. The courts are probably confusing the ability to negotiate an instrument with BEING a negotiable instrument. The words of art are important. A marketable instrument is not the same as a negotiable one. The fact that someone is willing to buy a note does not make the note negotiable. A note featuring negative amortization should not be considered a negotiable instrument even though it might be marketable.

One of the problems with consumer loans is that they are subject to TILA Rescission. That means that they are potentially enforceable if no notice of rescission has been mailed. Certainty is gone from that scenario. You cannot determine whether the note is an asset or a liability. It is practically the opposite of a negotiable instrument since it might well be worthless, and the even the purchaser of the note might suffer a total loss unless the purchaser had paid value for the debt in a transaction in which the seller owned the debt.

Most Neg-AM loans allow the borrower (or can’t stop the borrower) from switching from one payment plan to another, e.g. paying full amortization none of which changes are reflected on the face of the note. This creates relevant events that occur off the face of the note, making the actual amount of principal due (and interest on the changing principal) at any time subject to calculation, not just from the face of the note but from the face of extrinsic or parole records.

An interesting characteristic of most Neg-AM notes is that they contain provisions that require conversion or reset when the accrued interest is added to principal in such amount as to require the reset — i.e., usually at 115% of the original loan amount. But none of these features necessarily extrinsically change the terms on the face of the note. Modifications do that, but not Neg-AM loans. It is in the calculation of the principal and interest thereon that one must go to “business records.”

If Neg-AM notes can be negotiable instruments then buyers of the notes are expected to rely upon the legal presumptions that the note is what it appears to be. Such buyers, much like the borrowers, are in for a surprise when the loan resets, based upon an extrinsic calculation of when 115% of principal has been exceeded, and if exceeded, by how much. Certainty is gone. If certainty is gone then facts are necessary. No legal presumptions should apply.

There are very simple elements required in order to gain the legal presumptions that would apply to a negotiable instrument.

The main one is that the instrument must be payable in an amount that can be computed based upon the information on the face of the note. On the face of a Neg-AM note, there are terms and conditions that can easily be used to compute the total indebtedness, assuming that extrinsic factors have not come into play. All notes change every day in terms of the amount of interest due and, in the case of Neg-AM notes, the amount of principal, which goes up automatically by underpayment of interest.

It is generally agreed that a note on which there is a known or declared default is NOT a negotiable instrument for purposes of Article 3. You can’t know with certainty the amount due because you don’t know when the borrower defaulted. A DOT or Mortgage is not a negotiable instrument, and to enforce a DOT/Mortgage you must have paid value for the mortgage (Article 9), regardless of whether the note that is secured is a negotiable instrument or not. These are protections to be sure, but they are also insurance that the legal presumptions lead correctly to the truth of the matter.

A second element is that the payment must be due as of a date certain. A mortgage/DOT can’t be a negotiable instrument and cannot invoke the presumptions that a “holder” of a note can invoke, based upon possession and endorsement.

With Neg-AM notes the problem comes into high relief — when the “lender” knows that the reset will be in excess of the entire household income thus creating a virtual guarantee that the alleged loan contract will terminate in 3 years rather than 30 years. Hence the supposed indorsee of such a note is buying into a foreclosure situation, if he/she/it has done due diligence. If not, then here is a second situation where the note might be worthless and the buyer loses, unless the buyer bought the debt from a seller who owned the debt.

A third element is that the original note must either be made out to bearer or to a defined party. But it is possible for a note made payable to a non-lender or a fictitious party might be construed as bearer paper — if there was an actual transaction in which someone gave the borrower money, even if the identity of the funding source was concealed. The obviously violations of disclosure requirements are separate matters.

In all the elements the point is that in order for an instrument to be called “Negotiable” under Article 3 you must not need to inquire into parol or extrinsic evidence. All presumptions arise when the note is facially valid and there are no circumstances that the indorsee knows about that would undermine enforcement. With a DOT/mortgage, by definition on the face of the instrument, you must go to extrinsic evidence as to the presumed default on another instrument (the note) and you can only enforce upon proof of value paid for the mortgage/DOT.

A note might be facially valid and enforceable, which means that a party who pleads and proves they are entitled to enforce is entitled to a money judgment but not foreclosure unless they plead and prove they are a holder in due course, which by definition means that value was paid and hence the mortgage or DOT is also enforceable by them.

Other than an HDC, all the other categories of potential enforcement by a party should enable them only to enforce the note. Of course if the owner of the debt shows up, there would be no problems with enforcement of either the note or the mortgage because the owner of the debt is entitled to enforce the obligation to pay the debt.

Under securitization schemes in practice it is possible to own the mortgage but not be able to enforce it without having paid value. Courts that decide cases based upon the “mortgage follows the note” are missing the point of LAW that resides in their State’s adoption of the UCC, to wit: under no circumstances may a party force the sale of homestead property without being the owner of the debt. That is not a proposal. It is the law in all 50 states.

While the encumbrance may not be enforced, this does not invalidate the mortgage or deed of trust. When it comes time to sell or refi the property you will learn that you still must deal with the holder of the mortgage. An action in equity might be decided in your favor or you might have to pay a sum of money to the owner of the mortgage encumbrance even though they paid nothing for it.

People forget that there are three items here, not two. In addition to the note and mortgage, which serve only as evidence as the debt, there is the actual debt. Back before claims of securitization, all three were used interchangeably. Now it is different. If the funding source is not the payee on the note, then the doctrine of merger does not apply, to wit: the note becomes separate from the debt that arises to the person or party who advanced the money. If the Payee is in privity with the funding source then merger does apply. But most Payees were not in privity with the source of funds. The banks boast of how they created remote vehicles and relationships.

The very fact that there are terms allowing the payment to be less than PI for the month suggests that the borrower might very well have made some payments more than the minimum due. In other words, inquiry must be made to determine the debt balance with certainty. There is certainly an argument here that reference is to the payment history rather than just the note. If that is true then the face of the note is inadequate to determine the “certain sum” currently due. This can become an issue in any installment note.

A finding that all these questions are irrelevant would have dire consequences in the marketplace where certain types of predefined paper can be received in the free flow of commerce without uncertainty as to whether the paper can be enforced. This is a two edged sword. Opening the door beyond the strict definitions of the UCC is opening the door for more mischief involving fabrication of documents, forgery and robosigning.

The UCC is not ambivalent about protecting both the maker of a negotiable instrument and the party seeking to enforce it. The maker does not assume the risk of double liability except for instances where the note is purchased for value in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses. And the purchaser should not bear the risk of a total loss immediately upon paying for the note — unless the purchaser knew there were problems and was willing to take his chances.

The final point I would make is that the question should be asked: Given the fact that so-called REMIC Trusts are supposedly buying the loan pools aggregated by the likes of Countrywide and its progeny, why do lawyers firmly announce that their clients are “holders” and not “holders in due course”.

The latter designation (HDC) would allow the possessor of the note to enforce both note and mortgage despite lending violations when the alleged loan was “originated.” Being an HDC might also avoid defenses that current abound — that there are breaks in the chain of title. If the would-be enforcers simply included the allegation (and proof) that they were the owners of the debt or a holder in due course it would be game over for borrowers. That they don’t assert that position is a tacit admission that the reason why they don’t is that they can’t.

Thus we continue to be mired in litigation with phantoms, ghosts,  smoke and mirrors.

Tonight! How to Defend Against a Claim of “Holder” Status to Discredit Standing

“Holder” vs “Agency”

Thursdays LIVE! Click in to the The Neil Garfield Show

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

Tonight I will discuss the central point of of false claims of authority to enforce the note, and inferentially the authority to enforce the mortgage.

In 2008, I called to confront a lawyer about the false claim of being authorized to enforce the note and mortgage, his reply to all my questions was “We’re a holder.”

No matter what I said or asked, that was his answer. He was relying upon a carefully thought out strategy of taking the term “holder” and stretching it to unimaginable lengths. And in that conversation it became clear that he — and the rest of the investment banking industry — were essentially “banking” on a single fact, to wit: that Judges are lawyers who went to law school and for the most part slept through classes on negotiable instruments. He was right.

Why Everyone (except SCOTUS) is Wrong About TILA Rescission

All contrary arguments are erroneous since they would insert a contingency where the statute contains no room for any contingency. The language of the statute bars any such contingency when it says that the TILA Rescission is effective upon delivery, by operation of law. If anyone wants the statute to say or mean anything different they must get their remedy from the legislature, not the courts, who have no authority whatsoever to interpret the statute otherwise. The status of any case involving foreclosure is that it does not exist. Hence the court is left ONLY with the power to perform the ministerial act of dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction.

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

Purchase now Neil Garfield’s Mastering Discovery and Evidence in Foreclosure Defense webinar including 3.5 hours of lecture, questions and answers, plus course materials that include PowerPoint Presentations. Presenters: Attorney and Expert Neil Garfield, Forensic Auditor Dan Edstrom, Attorney Charles Marshall and and Private Investigator Bill Paatalo. The webinar and materials are all downloadable.

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

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments. It’s better than calling!

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

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So in answer to questions about putative “modifications”, eviction or unlawful detainer, bankruptcy, and TILA Rescission this is what I have written in response to some inquiries.

Should the rescission be recorded? Not necessarily but

YES. I would like to see it recorded. You need to check with the clerk in the recording office or an attorney who understands recording procedure. Generally recording a document with an old date must be attached to an affidavit that is recorded with the notice of rescission attached. The affidavit explains that the attachment was inadvertently not recorded at the time it was created.

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Should a copy of the notice of rescission be filed in the court record also?

YES. If there is any way to get the recorded document into the court record, it should be pursued.

This presents title issues because if you are recording this long after events have transpired, some of which are also recorded as memorializing transactions, fake or real. Any recorded instruments that purports to be a memorialization of a transaction before the rescission was recorded would generally be given priority.
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The lawyer sent me an answer to my notice of rescission. Now what?
Either file to enforce the duties to be performed (if you are within one year of the date of delivery of the notice of rescission), or file a quiet title action if the one year has expired. There are several different scenarios actually, but this is the one I would focus upon.
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I am getting kicked out of bankruptcy court. Now what?
Getting “kicked out” of BKR court probably means that you are back in the state court system which might open some opportunities for you to get more into the court record. (Like an old rescission).
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My property is being sold. Does that mean that I have to get out?
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They can’t get you out without filing an unlawful detainer (eviction in some jurisdictions) based upon an asserted change of title. There might be a period of time between the sale and the attempt to get you out of the home (eviction or unlawful detainer). If the property is sold to a “third party” they want want rent from you, which could allow you to stay.
The unlawful detainer action presents another opportunity to raise the issue of rescission, since the entire action is based upon a valid change of title. It also sets off potentially another round for appeal, especially on the issue of rescission. Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel do not apply to jurisdictional issues. If the rescission was mailed then by operation of the law the note and mortgage are void.
The defense is ordinarily that the “sale” was a fabrication based upon fictional claims and was contrary to the notice of rescission, which voided the note and mortgage upon which they were relying. The time for challenging the rescission has long passed. Hence all enforcement actions after the date of the 2009 rescission are void since they were based upon various claims attendant to paper instruments that were void, effective the day of delivery of the rescission.
Note that delivery of TILA Rescission notice is complete when dropped in a USPS mailbox and your testimony that it was sent via US Postal Service is all that is necessary as foundation.
I sent 2 notices of rescissions. Is that better or worse for me?
If I was defending against your claim of rescission I would argue that sending the 2016 rescission was either an admission that the earlier one had not been sent or that it was a concession that, for whatever reason, the 2009 rescission notice had been abandoned.
Hence I suggest you put very little emphasis on the new rescission and maximum emphasis on the old rescission.
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I sent the rescission less than 3 years after the modification but more than 3 years since the alleged consummation. Hoes my rescission affect my loan in that instance?
In most cases “modifications” are not treated as new loans. But the fact that something is called a modification and it really changes everything including the “lender” it may be possible to characterize it as a new loan subject to TILA Rescission. TILA Rescission hinges on whether the “modification” was a new loan — a fact, we would argue — that must be determined by trial. Since intent is part of the analysis of a contract, this could present another opportunity to force them to admit they don’t know the identity or intent of the creditor and whether said creditor had given them authority to make a new contract.
And the underlying narrative for this approach is that as a new contract, the “lender” was required to comply with disclosure requirements at the time of the new contract, thus triggering the three day right of rescission and the the three year limitation. Under my theory, based on Jesinoski, it doesn’t matter whether the three years has expired or not.
We know for certain that the notice of rescission is effective upon mailing; it is not based upon some contingent event or claim or court order. The date of consummation is itself a factual issue that can be in the pleading of the creditor (who is the only one with standing, the note and mortgage having been rendered void) claiming that the notice of rescission should be vacated based upon the three years, the date of consummation etc. 
Any alternative theory that puts the burden on the property owner would be contrary to the express wording of the statute and the SCOTUS ruling in Jesinoski. The statute 15 USC §1635 and SCOTUS are in complete agreement: there is no law suit required to make rescission effective. It would make the statutorily defined TILA Rescission event indefinite, requiring a court ruling before any rescission would be treated seriously. In other words, the opposite of what the statute says and the opposite of what SCOTUS said in Jesinoski. 
All contrary arguments are erroneous since they would insert a contingency where the statute contains no room for any contingency. The language of the statute bars any such contingency when it says that the TILA Rescission is effective upon delivery, by operation of law. If anyone wants the statute to say or mean anything different they must get their remedy from the legislature, not the courts, who have no authority whatsoever to interpret the statute otherwise. The status of any case involving foreclosure is that it does not exist. Hence the court is left ONLY with the power to perform the ministerial act of dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction.
All this is important because we ought to be heading toward any defensive strategy that reveals the absence of a creditor. We are betting that the fight to conceal the name of the creditor is a cover for not knowing the the identity of the creditor, hence fatally undermining the authority as holder, servicer, trustee or anything else.
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What if consummation never occurred?
It may turn out that consummation between the parties to the note and mortgage never occurred. It’s important to remember that would mean the rescission is irrelevant since the loan contract does not exist. But such a finding by a court of competent jurisdiction would negate the legal effect of the note and mortgage; this is true as long as the note was not purchased for value in good faith by a buyer without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses.
In that case, the burden does shift to the homeowner and it is entirely possible that under that scenario there could be no consummation but nevertheless homeowner liability would continue on the falsely procured note and potentially the mortgage as well. The reason is simple: that is what the State statute says under Article 3 and Article 9 of the UCC, as adopted by all 50 states. The homeowner’s remedy in such a scenario would be limited to actions for damages against the intermediaries who perpetrated the the fraudulent and fictitious “transaction” in which the named lender failed to loan anything.

RESCISSION: Reviewing Wells Fargo v Frazee, NJ App.

At what point does a final decision of SCOTUS actually mean anything? When confronted with TILA rescission, virtually all lower courts, state and federal, have taken up legislating from the bench, essentially over-ruling the Supreme Court of the United States (literally legally impossible).

Agree or disagree — everyone has that right. But to obey or not obey a SCOTUS decision attacks the foundation of our democratic and judicial institutions and makes the U.S. Constitution into a optional guide to the universe of disputes, delegating the real power to lower courts and removing the power and finality of SCOTUS as delineated in our Constitution.

Opinions like the one reviewed in this article are thus both irrelevant and irreverent — unless we amend or abandon our Constitution as the highest law of the land.

see Wells Fargo v Frazee

This case is just another example of a judicial tantrum defying the ultimate authority of SCOTUS. Unless the Supreme Court itself reverses the Jesinoski decision, it is quite obvious what the next SCOTUS decision is likely to be on the issue of TILA (Truth in Lending Act) rescission 15 USC §1635. Here is what I expect and hope for:

  1. Any court entering a decision or opinion after a notice of notice of TILA Rescission has been delivered must vacate such orders and must dismiss any pending foreclosure.
  2. Failure to dismiss the foreclosure is acting ultra vires — outside their authority.
  3. Dismissal of foreclosure is mandatory inasmuch as notice of TILA rescission removes the operative documents — note and mortgage — from consideration, rendering them void, by operation of law.
  4. As to all prior decisions, judgments and orders that ignored TILA rescission, all such decisions are void, the title consequences of which are left to state legislatures to decide, so long as the Federal Statute is obeyed and the law does not nullify the effect of delivery of a notice of TILA rescission.
  5. Any claims to vacate the effect of the TILA Rescission must be brought within one year from date of delivery.
  6. Neither tender nor a lawsuit is required for TILA rescission to become effective. An Aggrieved party with standing has adequate remedies at law to vacate a notice of TILA rescission, that must be raised as a new claim for relief from TILA rescission  based upon the pleading that the homeowner was wrong in sending the notice.
  7. TILA Rescission is an event, not a claim that a trial or appellate court can grant or deny. The legislature (Congress) has already granted the remedy. As stated in the Jesinoski SCOTUS decision, the statute is clear and unambiguous on its face, thus barring interpretation by a court. That is the difference between the rule of law vs. the rule of man.
  8. The Courts may neither overrule legislative action nor overrule a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Legislative action may not be overruled by a court unless there are clear violations of constitutional provisions and restrictions.

It’s possible that we will see the above menu in more than one decision from SCOTUS. The essential focus is going to be this: The rule, as stated repeatedly over decades by SCOTUS in admonishments to lower trial and appellate courts is that if it isn’t broken you can’t “fix” it to suit your personal views. 

Now we turn to the unlawful, ultra vires decision of the Superior Court of New Jersey, appellate division in Frazee (See link above).

The Court starts its analysis on page 6.

The opinion of the court is that Wells Fargo had standing because of its possession of the note and mortgage. But the note and mortgage are and were void at the time of this decision. So there is no standing to enforce except by the actual creditor, i.e., the owner of the debt.

This court recognized a potential “issue” (invented by the court, in opposition to the final decision that no court has any authority to interpret the TILA rescission statute). So it creates its own quagmire and falls deeper and deeper into trouble.

The panel obviously recognized that there could be no standing for Wells Fargo unless the TILA rescission could somehow be ignored without a claim to vacate the rescission from a party who owned the debt where the claim was that the rescission was unwarranted because all necessary disclosures had been made.

Diving right in this appellate court immediately misquotes and totally ignores the 2015 Jesinoski decision. It is only by mangling both the statute and the SCOTUS decision that this court can arrive at its predetermined destination. It intentionally misstates the law and effect of Jesinoski. If TILA Rescission was not effective without tender, there would be no TILA rescission.

The whole purpose and methodology of the statutory procedure was to first void the loan contract, second void the encumbrance by operation of law, third void the note, thus allowing the borrower to obtain refinancing from another institution. The key points of the Truth in Lending Act were (1) make certain the borrower knew who he/she was dealing with and (2) make certain the borrower had a fighting chance of understanding the enormously complex loan products being sold, dating back to the 1960’s when TILA was first passed.

In order to be certain these two disclosures were made, Congress had a choice. They could either greatly enlarge an existing agency to enforce these goals, laws and rules, or they could create a new administrative agency. Neither of those choices were remotely acceptable by most legislators. So they agreed on a plan that would force the banks to comply with TILA with consequences so horrendous that no bank in their right mind would transgress.

Enter TILA Rescission. By putting enormous power in the hands of borrowers that shifted the entire burden of pleading and proof to the banks it was thought that banks would comply. The statute provides for an order of things (a statutory scheme not unlike nonjudicial foreclosure) after notice of rescission is delivered. Like nonjudicial foreclosures it is a form of extrajudicial relief for homeowners who believe they were not protected at closing.

Within 20 days they must either comply or seek relief from a court of competent jurisdiction. The statute was designed to completely bar stonewalling. But like any law, if nobody enforces it, the statute does not enforce compliance with the two main goals of disclosure requirements — the identity of the lender and the breakdown of the main characteristics of the proposed loan.

Failing to seek relief puts them in violation of the statute, and enables a borrower to sue to enforce the three statutory duties under TILA rescission: return of the cancelled note, release of encumbrance and return of moneys paid by the borrower. If the borrower does not bring such suit within 1 year he/she loses the right to enforce compliance with those three duties.

THIS DOES NOT CHANGE THE EFFECT OF RESCISSION. THE MORTGAGE AND NOTE ARE STILL VOID BY OPERATION OF LAW.

If the bank does not comply with the three statutory TILA duties the bank has no right to demand tender or any relief. If the banks fails to comply within the same one year, they lose the right to demand the money under any scenario. The court goes off the tracks when it states

“nothing in the Supreme Court’s opinion . . .would override TILA’s tender requirement”. Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 196 F. Supp. 3d 956, 962 (D. Minn. 2016), aff’d, Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., No. 16- 3385, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 4974 (8th Cir. Feb. 28, 2018).

 

That statement on its face is true. But ignores the content of TILA’s tender requirement. It only arises AFTER the “lender” fulfills the three statutory duties.

That is what Congress wrote. That is what they meant. And that was the substitute for an unwieldy bureaucracy.

The court confirms the content of the statute but repeats the tender “error” when it says

With regard to an alleged TILA violation, it is not enough to seek rescission and stop paying the mortgage to gain ownership of the home outright. Defendants argue they own the home outright because Wells Fargo failed to respond to the rescission notice within twenty days. Although failure to respond to a rescission notice within twenty days would constitute another TILA violation, TILA also explicitly states that if a “creditor does not take possession of the property within 20 days after tender by the obligor, ownership of the property vests in the obligor without obligation on his [or her] part to pay for it.” 15 U.S.C. § 1635(b) (emphasis added).

The problem here is the term “own the home outright.” That’s another way of repeating the myth about the “free house.” More importantly it is contradicting the express wording and purpose of the statute — to force banks to comply with TILA disclosure requirements. The ultra vires interpretation of this court, like so many others, gives the banks a way out without ever being penalized for their lack of proper disclosure.

NOTE: THIS DOES NOT CREATE A FREE HOUSE. If the parties seeking foreclosures were not creditors, the actual creditor can still bring an action for legal and equitable relief. But in order to do so, they would need to show that the parties seeking relief were not in any way authorized to do so by the real creditor.

But the court nevertheless faults the homeowner for not tendering even though tender was not due.

 

The erroneous nature of the court’s decision becomes crystal clear when it says

Additionally, Jesinoski did not overturn Third Circuit precedent that “a notice of rescission is not effective if the obligor lacks either the intention or the ability to perform, i.e., repay the loan.” Sherzer v. Homestar Mortg. Servs., 707

F.3d 255, 265 n.7 (3d Cir. 2013). Jesinoski also did not take away a court’s discretion to modify the rescission procedures. See 15 U.S.C. § 1635(b) (stating that the rescission “procedures prescribed by this subsection shall apply except when otherwise ordered by a court”) (emphasis added); see also 12 C.F.R. 226.23(d)(4) (stating that the rescission “procedures outlined in paragraphs (d)(2) and (3) of [§ 226.23] may be modified by court order”) (emphasis added).

It is quoting yet another court who has put blinders on and is disregarding the intentionally punitive aspect of TILA rescission. In most cases the homeowner cannot perform unless the “lender” gives up the note and mortgage and returns money paid under the canceled loan contract. The homeowner can ONLY perform if the deck is cleared for them to get a new loan from a new lender and to apply the proceeds of disgorgement required by the statute.

And to add insult to injury the court is putting yet another constraint on the borrower that TILA does not mention, to wit: the intention of the borrower to perform (tender). Forget the logistics of “intention” which is ridiculous — any such requirement places TILA rescission in the position of a claim instead of the event that the statute says has occurred by operation of law at the moment of delivery of the note of rescission. In direct contradiction to the TILA rescission statute (and SCOTUS in Jesinoski), this requires the borrower to submit to a trial before the rescission is effective.

The bottom line is that it appears that all courts are only interested in treating rescission under common law in which the rescission would only be effective upon a court order after a trial. The fact that the TILA Rescission statute clearly and unquivocably says otherwise won’t stop them, because they have prejudged the case as presenting a choice to the courts that can only be made by the legislature — who pays the price for violation of disclosure requirements under the Truth in Lending Act.

 

NJ Court: Possession of note + mortgage assignment is prerequisite to foreclosure

Pretender lenders are going to cite this case as support for the idea that the note and mortgage can be separated and that either one can be the basis of a successful foreclosure. They will rely on the “exception” implied in the court decision wherein the owner of the note has an agency relationship with the servicer who is the foreclosing party.

In this case Freddie Mac clearly possessed the note, although there was no evidence cited that Freddie Mac had actually purchased it. That was presumed in this case. The purchase of the note was not an issue on appeal.

Freddie Mac had made it clear in public announcements that foreclosures should be in the name of servicers. So the possession of one part of the paperwork by the agent and the other by the principal are joined as a single unit.

This decision was correct in ruling against the homeowner, given the issues before it. The homeowner was attempting to make a technical distinction contrary to the facts and contrary to law. The issue brought on appeal was whether Freddie Mac was the only party with standing to foreclose. I would say that shouldn’t have been the issue. Both Freddie Mac and Capital One had standing depending upon who asserted it. Either one could have foreclosed.

Any party may foreclose in its own name or through an agent with authority to do so — if they otherwise plead and prove their status as holder in due course, or holder, or non-holder with rights to enforce. The issue on appeal was a non-starter.

Despite the article, there is no exception here. This New Jersey court simply followed the law.

see Court-says-note-and-mortgage-assignment-both-prerequisites-to-foreclosure-but-makes-an-exception/

see case decision: Peck adv Capital One

The difference between this case and most other cases is that in this case there appears to be a tacit admission that Freddie Mac, as possessor of the note, was a holder or non-holder with rights to enforce because they had purchased the note. It is assumed in this case that Freddie was the actual owner of the debt.

The key differences between this case and most other cases are as follows:

  1. The “principal” in this case has been identified and assumed to be the owner of the debt.
  2. The “agent” in this case, Capital One, is a servicer whose authority to act as agent was not contested.

What is missing is whether Freddie Mac actually purchased the debt or the note and whether Freddie Mac still owned anything at all. Purchase of the note does not mean purchase of the debt if the debt is owned by someone other than the seller of the note. It is well settled law that only the owner of the debt can foreclose. But even if a purchase transaction did in fact take place, the question remains as to whether the interest of Freddie Mac was sold back to some private label REMIC Trust or some other third party such as the seller who may have given warranties as tot he performance of loans.

But if the note was purchased in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses, if any, then the purchaser of the note increases their status to holder in due course where there are no defenses even if the preceding origination or transfers had defects.

On the other hand, if the seller of the note did not own the note, then the purchase by Freddie would be nullity. This is also well settled law. A seller of an interest that is nonexistent or in which the seller has no interest, cannot create the interest by selling it. This is the basic problem with “originations” and most “transfers” by endorsement or assignment. In such circumstances the buyer would be a possessor without rights to enforce unless the owner of the debt was in privity with the buyer of the note. The buyer would have a potential claim against the seller, but not the maker of the note.

In such circumstances, the owner of the debt or the true owner of the note would be able to file a claim against the maker and the buyer of the note, explaining how the possession of the note was lost and pleading (and proving) ownership of the debt.

NOTE THAT THERE IS A DEEPER ISSUE PRESENT. But it probably won’t get you any traction despite the clear basis in law and fact. Freddie Mac may or may not have actually made a purchase of the subject loan. If they didn’t then asserting them as the owner of the note might be OK for pleading, but the case ought to fail at trial — if the homeowner denies that they are the owner of the note.  

If it paid in money, then to whom was payment sent? This is different than who claimed ownership of the note and mortgage. More often than not the money trail is NOT the same as the paper trail.

Note that many transactions occurred in which the “Mortgage Loan Schedule” was incomplete or nonexistent at the time of the purported sale. The identity of the seller in such purported transactions is also obscured by clever wording.

If they paid using RMBS certificates, then things get more interesting. Because the RMBS certificates were in all probability worthless. Hence there would a failure of consideration and Freddie Mac could not claim to be a purchaser for value. The vast majority of RMBS were sold under the false pretense that they were “backed” my residential mortgages. The issuer of the certificates is asserted to be a named trust. But if the trust never came into ownership of the alleged mortgage loans, then the RMBS certificates were backed by nothing at all.

Not to draw too fine a point here, it is still possible that Freddie could be considered a purchaser for value even if the RMBS certificates appeared to be worthless. That is because in the  shadow banking marketplace, such certificates and the synthetic derivatives deriving their purported value from the purported value of the certificates nevertheless take on a life of their own. Even if they have no fundamental value they may well have a trading value that far exceeds anything that is fundamental to the certificates (i.e.m, zero).

Punitive Damages for Violations of Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy §362

Since 2008 I have called out bankruptcy practitioners for their lack of interest in false claims of securitization. The impact on the bankruptcy estate is usually enormous. But without aggressive education of the presiding judge the case will not only go as planned by the banks, it will also lock in the homeowner to “admissions” in bankruptcy schedules and orders that lead to a false conclusion of fact.

Where a pretender lender ignores the automatic stay Bankruptcy judges are and should be very harsh in their penalty. The stay is the bulwark of consumer protection under bankruptcy proceedings which are specifically enabled by the U.S. Constitution. Hence it is as important as free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and the right to keep and bear arms.

The attached article shown in the link below gives the practitioner a running start on holding the violator responsible and in giving the homeowner a path to punitive damages, given the corrupt nature of the mortgages and foreclosures that arose during the great mortgage meltdown.

This might be the place where a hearing on evidence is conducted as to the true nature of the forecloser and a place where the petitioner/homeowner will be given far greater latitude in discovery to reveal the emptiness behind the presumptions that the foreclosing “party” exists at all or to show that it never acquired the debt but seeks instead to enforce fabricated paper.

Remember that in cases involving securitization claims or which are based upon apparent securitization patterns the named “Trustee” is not the party in interest. The party is the named “Trust.” If the Trust doesn’t exist it doesn’t matter if the Pope is named as the Trustee, there still is no existing party seeking relief from the Court.

see Eviction Can Lead to Sanctions Including Punitive Damages for Violation of Automatic Stay

The challenge here is that most bankruptcy lawyers are not well equipped for litigation. So it is advised that a litigator be introduced into the case to plead and prove the case for sanctions, if the situation arises in which a violation of stay has occurred or if there is an adversary proceeding seeking to prevent the pretender lender from acting on its false claims.

Most of the litigation in bankruptcy court has simply been directed at motions to lift the automatic stay. In such motions, the petitioner is merely saying we want to litigate this in state court. The burden of proof is as light as a puff of smoke. If the court finds any colorable interest in the alleged loan, it will ordinarily grant the motion to lift stay — as it must under the existing rules. Homeowners in bankruptcy find it a virtually impossible uphill climb to defend because they are required to have evidence only in possession of the opposing party who also might not have the information needed to prove the lack of any colorable interest.

But the lifting of the stay applies to the litigation concerning foreclosure. It does not necessarily extend to the eviction or unlawful detainer that occurs afterwards. And where the stay has not been lifted the pretender lender is out of luck because there is no excuse for ignoring the automatic stay.

So further action by the foreclosing party is probably a violation of the automatic stay. And in certain cases the court might apply punitive damages on top of consequential damages, if any. The inability to prove actual damages is relatively unimportant unless the homeowner has such damages. It is the violation of the automatic stay that is paramount.

The article below starts with a premise that the “creditor” has received notice of the BKR and ignored it — sometimes willfully and arrogantly.

Here are some notable quotes from this well-written article by Carlos J. Cuevas.

The imposition of punitive damages for egregious violations of the automatic stay is vital to the function of the consumer bankruptcy system. Most consumer debtors cannot afford to pay their attorneys to prosecute an automatic stay violation. The enforcement of the automatic stay is predicated upon major financial institutions observing the automatic stay.

If there is a doubt as to the applicability of the automatic stay, then a creditor can obtain a comfort order as to the applicability of the automatic stay, or obtain relief from the automatic stay from the Bankruptcy Court.

“Parties may not make their own private determination of the scope of the automatic stay without consequence.”

What would be sufficient to deter one creditor may not even be sufficient to gain notice from another. Punitive damages must be tailored not only based upon the egregiousness of the violation, but also based upon the particular creditor in violation.

In determining whether to impose punitive damages under Bankruptcy Code Section 362(k), several bankruptcy courts have identified five factors to guide their decision. They are the nature of the creditor’s conduct, the creditor’s ability to pay, the motives of the creditor, any provocation by the debtor, and the creditor’s level of sophistication: In re Jean-Francois, 532 B.R. 449, 459 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2015).

The fact that Church Avenue pursued the eviction more than a week after it learned of the debtor’s bankruptcy suggests that Church Avenue either made its own—incorrect—legal conclusion with respect to whether the eviction would be a stay violation, or decided that moving ahead to empty the building quickly and evict the occupants was worth more to it than the risk associated with defending a future § 362(k) motion.

when a creditor acts in arrogant defiance of the automatic stay it is circumventing the authority of the bankruptcy judge to exercise authority over that particular bankruptcy case. A bankruptcy judge is the only entity vested with the authority to determine whether the automatic stay should be lifted.

Egregious violations of the automatic stay can be deleterious to a consumer bankruptcy debtor. For example, a creditor who refuses to return a repossessed vehicle after the commencement of a bankruptcy case can create a significant hardship for a consumer debtor. A debtor whose vehicle has been repossessed may not be able to rent a substitute vehicle. This can create a significant hardship for a debtor who has to commute to work, who has to transport a child to school, or who is a caregiver for a sick relative.

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