Discovery Changes and Broadens After Hawaii Supreme Court Decision

Based on questions that greeted me when I got to my desk this morning, here are just some of the thoughts that apply — a case review and analysis for each case being necessary to actually draft the right questions and to close any trap doors.

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NOTE: Procedural questions should be posed to local counsel who knows local discovery rules and court procedure. My answer is based upon general knowledge and not based upon any experience in litigating discovery issues in your state.
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The effect of the new decision in the link above is most probably (a) a broadening of existing discovery requests (b) rehearings on recent decisions denying discovery and (c) an opportunity and a reason to ask the questions you really want to ask.
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The first question is whether the questions you would ask now are already within the scope of the questions you have already asked. If so, generally speaking, there is nothing to do. In this scenario you could send a letter, I think, that clarifies your questions in view of the new Supreme Court ruling. The letter would specifically address certain issues that were raised in questions already asked and tells them the details you expect. This could be done in a supplemental request for discovery citing the new Supreme Court decision. Check with local counsel.
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Second, and this is more likely, your case should be analyzed within the context of the new decision. It seems to me that the decision opens up some broader scope of discovery than had previously been submitted. Your opposition will fight this tooth and nail. Pointing to the Hawaii Supreme Court decision is not going to be enough even if the property is in Hawaii. You need to have a very clear narrative that explains why you are asking for the answers to questions and the production of documents and answers to request for admissions. Without a clear defense narrative your first Motion to Compel them to respond will likely fail. The general rule is that discovery, with certain exceptions, can be any request that could lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. By “admissible” the meaning is evidence that is relevant and “probative” to the truth of the matter asserted. It isn’t relevant unless it ties into either the case against you or the defense narrative. Lack of clarity can be fatal.
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The opposition is going to claim privilege, privacy, and proprietary information. You should force them to be more specific as to how the identification of the creditor is proprietary, or an invasion of privacy or some privilege. Tactically I would let them paint themselves into a corner, so you need someone who knows how to litigate. Once it is established that they can’t or won’t disclose the matters into which you have inquired, then the question becomes how they will prove authority from the creditor without identification of the creditor from whom all authority flows.
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That could lead to a motion for summary judgment wherein you allege that they have failed and refused to make disclosure as to the most fundamental aspect of pleading a case. Since their authorization to initiate and maintain a foreclosure action must relate back to the authorization of the creditor (owner of the debt) and they now have not or will not identify that party(ies), the presumption of authority must be considered rebutted, thus requiring them to prove their case with facts and not with the benefit of legal presumptions.
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Since they have admitted on record that they cannot prove they are acting on behalf of the creditor, it follows that they cannot prove authority to initiate or maintain a foreclosure action. Hence, the outcome is certain. They will not be able to prove standing although they might have made certain assertions or allegations that might pass for standing such that they can withstand a motion to dismiss or demurrer. The essential assertion of standing is either rebutted or barred from proof. Hence judgment should be entered for the homeowner.
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Some of this might come out in a motion for sanctions which is virtually certain to come from you when they fail to properly respond to your requests for discovery. This is intricate litigation that should be handled by a local attorney.
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Again don’t start a second front in the battle if you have already covered it in your previously submitted requests for discovery. I think you have asked most of the right questions, although now with this decision it becomes more refined.Among the questions I would ask in view of the new decision from the Supreme Court of Hawaii are the following presented only as narrative draft, subject to improvement by local counsel:
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  1. Does the trust exist under the laws of any jurisdiction? If yes, describe the jurisdiction in which the trust is recognized as existing.
  2. Was the trust organized under the laws of any jurisdiction? If yes, when and where?
  3. Does the trust own the subject debt? If yes, please explain why the trust is not claimed as a holder in due course.
  4. Does the trust allow the beneficiaries an interest in the assets of the trust?
  5. Please describe the manner in which the certificate holders are beneficiaries of a trust.
  6. Does the named Trustee of the Trust have any rights or obligations to monitor trust assets?
  7. Does the named Trustee of the Trust engage in any activities in which it is administering the assets of the Trust.
  8. Describe the assets of the Trust.
  9. Please identify the Trustor or Settlor of the Trust.
  10. Please identify the date, place and parties involved in any transaction in which assets were entrusted to the named trustee for the benefit of named or described beneficiaries.
  11. Please identify the date, place and parties involved in any transaction in which assets were purchased by the Trust or in which a Trustor or Settlor purchased assets that were then entrusted to the named trustee of the Trust for the benefit of named or described beneficiaries.
  12. Is the named Trust a fictitious name being used by one or more other entities?
  13. Do the certificates contain provisions in which the holder of the certificate disclaims any right, title or interest to assets of the Trust or any right, title or interest to the subject loan? If yes, please describe the provision, in what document it is located, the date of the document, and where that document currently exists in the care, custody and/or control of the Trust or any party doing business as or on behalf of the named Trust.
  14. Please describe the owner of the debt, to wit: describe the party currently carrying a receivable on its books that includes the subject loan, wherein no other party is ultimately entitled to proceeds of payments, proceeds or recovery on the subject loan.
  15. Is it your contention that residential foreclosure is legally allowed without ownership of the underlying debt from the borrower? If so, describe the elements of a party who would be legally allowed to foreclose on a residential mortgage without ownership of the underlying debt.
  16. Does the Trust have a bank account in the name of the Trust?
  17. Does the Trust have a bank account in the name of the named Trustee as Trustee for the Trust.
  18. If the answer to either of the two preceding question is yes, please describe the account, its location and identify the signatories on said account.
  19. Please describe the retainer agreement between the named Trust and current counsel of record including all the parties thereto, the date(s) of execution and date that the agreement became effective, the names of the signatories, and their authority to execute the instrument.
  20. With respect to loans attributed to or allegedly owned by the Trust please describe the parties who make decisions, along with a description of their authority, with respect to the following relating to the subject loan:
    1. Whether to foreclose
    2. When to foreclose
    3. What documents are needed for foreclosure
    4. Applications for modification
    5. Terms of modification
    6. Terms for settlement of the debt
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