How to Deal with the “Free House” Bias

If you are dealing with a bias held by most judges the only effective way of dealing with it is to meet the challenge head-on. If you dance around it it looks like you are trying to “get off on a technicality.”

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

I provide advice and consent to many people and lawyers so they can spot the key required elements of a scam — in and out of court. If you have a deal you want skimmed for red flags order the Consult and fill out the REGISTRATION FORM. A few hundred dollars well spent is worth a lifetime of financial ruin.

PLEASE FILL OUT AND SUBMIT OUR FREE REGISTRATION FORMWITHOUT ANY OBLIGATION. OUR PRIVACY POLICY IS THAT WE DON’T USE THE FORM EXCEPT TO SPEAK WITH YOU OR PERFORM WORK FOR YOU. THE INFORMATION ON THE FORMS ARE NOT SOLD NOR LICENSED IN ANY MANNER, SHAPE OR FORM. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 202-838-6345 or 954-451-1230. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).

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

===========================

A client asked me this morning about he “free house” bias and whether that will interfere with the decisions and ruling of the court. The answer is “of course it does.” And I again raise the issue that nobody wants to talk about — whether it is right or proper to voir dire the judge not just for bias, but for prejudgment decision before the case started. Here is the response I sent:

The answer to your “free house” question is this: You are correct in identifying that problem. We always start with presumption that the presiding judge will carry that bias with him/her into the courtroom.
However, as I have repeatedly found, once you pierce the foreclosure case, the credibility of the would-be foreclosing party declines to the point where the biased judge will ordinarily rule in favor of the homeowner — faced with inescapable legal defects in the position and assertions made by parties without standing.
But there are exceptions — judges who, in addition to having bias, have already ruled in their minds. For them the proceedings are a sham requirement and a test to see if the judge can APPEAR fair and impartial.
Countering the “free house” mindset first requires a demonstration that the homeowner is well aware that he can neither seek nor get a free house. That requires a presentation that concedes the fact that even if the note and mortgage were completely void, the debt remains and a judgment on that debt will result in a  judgment lien that could be foreclosed by the owner of that debt. That “concession” take the angst out of the “free house” conundrum for the judge and will often be an effective predicate to establishing the primary defense narrative.
So the question is not whether the homeowner will get a free house; it is whether this party seeking to foreclose title and take possession of this home has any right to do so. To say otherwise would be an invitation for anyone to fabricate documentation and foreclose, especially in cases where the homeowner concedes, relying upon false documentation of a false party. That scenario I have seen multiple times where the foreclosure is complete, the homeowner has moved out and basically forgotten about the house. The homeowner is later served with process or given notice that the house was foreclosed AGAIN by a different party.

The most important thing about cross examination in foreclosure cases

Whether it is on voir dire, which is a limited examination before the witness testifies to determine the legal competency of the witness, or on actual cross examination, the object is to bring out facts that are helpful in making your case or defending your position. When I teach cross examination, I refer to the triad — three things you must do in order to reach your goal. The three things are first to have a simple question with a goal in mind. Second to listen to the answer. Third, is the follow up, because you knew the probable answer and now you want to bring home your point. This applies to every question.

The first requires preparation for trial in which you decide your narrative and then develop the key points necessary to bring the court to the point where the trier of fact (mostly judges in foreclosure cases) joins your narrative. You’ll know if they have joined you or are leaning that way by their ruling on objections, by the questions they ask — and one warning sign that you are losing them is when they ask you for the relevancy of your question. Without preparation and a strong narrative to which you are committed, you won’t be able to answer the question about relevancy and you will have no issue preserved for appeal. You are probably looking to establish a question of ownership of the loan and to establish a question of the balance due, if any. The details on this are left out of this article because the opposition reads this and will be ready for you if we publish the series of retreads that apply to trying a foreclosure case.

Second is listening. This is something that lawyers need to do and is the reason they were hired in the first place. The homeowner is too emotionally attached to listen. They hear but they don’t listen and they don’t understand the significance of the question or the answer. Coming to court with a list of questions is a good idea. But many lawyers and pro se litigants fail because of the difference between hearing and listening. The answer is that most people just hear what’s being said. Others take the time to actually listen to what’s being said. There is a significant and monumental difference between hearing and listening. Hearing means that someone “hears” what’s being said and then translates the message into a meaning for himself. When you listen, however, you also take an extra moment to think about the person who’s speaking. It’s only then that you’ll have a clear understanding of what is trying to be conveyed. And only then can you move on to the third step.

The third step is follow-up. This is often confused with moving on to the next question. But your first question in the triad is merely the set up. The real stuff is in your follow-up because you actually listen to exactly what is being said. If the lawyer for the bank asks if the witness is familiar with the books and records of the Servicer, your objection is going to be leading, lack of foundation, and potentially hearsay. If you don’t object then the testimony comes in simply because you failed to object and thus preserve the issue for appeal. You will be subject to the same objections from the other side if you don’t have your ducks in a row.

So if the witness says he is “familiar” with the books and records, you should ask why, and then follow up with questions directed at how he prepared, how he actually knows (personal knowledge) that there was a loan from ABC, and exactly what he looked at in terms of documentation or computer screens. The answers will surprise you in some cases. Take the time to listen to the surprise answer and pause a moment on what you want to do with it and how you can make that answer serve the interests of your client.

Federal Bankruptcy Judge Explains Wells Fargo Servicer Advances

In order to obtain forensic reports including servicer advances please go to http://www.livingliesstore.com or call 520-405-1688. for litigation support to attorneys call 850-765-1236.

———————————

Mortgage Lenders Network v Wells Fargo, Chapter 11, Case 07-10146(PJW), Adv. Proc., Case 07-51683(PJW)

In an adversary proceeding in which evidence was presented, Judge Walsh dissected the confusing complex agreements involving the real set of co-obligors’ liability to the Creditor REMIC trust. Many thanks to our legal intern, Sara Mangan, currently a law student at FSU.

I had no idea the case existed. It apparently got buried because of all the ancillary issues presented. If you really want to understand the complexity of repayments to the creditor, this is one case that deserves your full attention.

As usual the best decisions are found when the adversaries are both institutions. We are looking for more such cases. This certainly applies to any Wells Fargo case and explains the nervousness of the witness during trial when I asked him about whether the records he brought were complete.

The LPS Desktop system (formerly Fidelity) INCLUDES servicer advances and computations made based upon that. The unavoidable conclusion, drawn by this Judge, is that everything we have been saying about servicer advances is true. Everything in our forensic report is true as to all properties. The servicer makes those payments based upon a payment of enlarged fees for taking the risk on itself, according to the agreements. Whether there is an actual right to recover from anyone is actually not specifically stated except that the net proceeds of liquidation of REO properties after the auction are subject to servicer claims. This might include other insurance or guarantees.

There is no default experienced by the creditor. There is a new potential for a new party (not mentioned in note or mortgage) for recovery outside the terms of the note and mortgage. The expectation is that there will be a foreclosure and there will be a sale. If there is no foreclosure and there is no sale, then the amounts are not recoverable — unless the servicer too is insured. But all of those insurance contracts seem to have been purchased and procured by the broker-dealer (investment bank) that sold the bogus mortgage bonds. The conclusion to be drawn is that the default notice to the homeowner-borrower might be valid (probably not, because servicer advances have already begun) but it is cured immediately after it is sent by payments, often from the same party who sent the default notice.

Remember the language in US Bank and Chase et al. The servicer SHALL make the advances unless it believes the advances are not recoverable. If the servicer was merely making a loan to the trust beneficiaries there would be little doubt that the advances were recoverable. They can argue that the advances are recoverable in substance from the borrower, but that is only AFTER the foreclosure Judgement and AFTER the sale and AFTER the liquidation of the property after the auction sale.

In this case, the following issues are addressed:

1. Servicer advances — in 4 categories. Why they are advanced and when and how they might be recoverable — when the properties are liquidated. There is some confusing language in there about the trusts, so you need to read it carefully. But the main point is that this is a case of prior servicer and new servicer, both of whom take on the obligation of making servicer advances whether the borrower pays or not. If there is a short fall, the servicer pays — or an insurer. In reality, and not addressed by the Court is the fact that in all probability the actual money advanced by the servicer most likely comes from a slush fund created by language buried deep inside the Prospectus or Pooling and Servicing Agreement that allows the investment banker to pay the trust beneficiaries using their own money advanced by them when they became trust beneficiaries.
2. Recovery is clearly stated as whatever money is left after the REO property has been liquidated or from the borrower. [Note there is ONE reference by the Judge to recovering from the Trust but he doesn’t explain it nor does he cite to anything in the agreements]. Since this provision is not referenced in the mortgage, they cannot be traveling under the mortgage and there is no mention of the mortgage provisions in this decision. Since those proceeds frequently are far less than the amount advanced, there is ono direct right of action by the servicer against the borrower, although I postulate that they could potentially bring an unsecured claim for restitution or unjust enrichment.
3. In the end one previous servicer owes the other new servicer the advances, not the trust and not the borrower.
4. There is insurance that makes sure that if the servicer doesn’t make the payments, then the insurer will make-up the shortfall. The insurers do not appear to have any recourse against anyone.

5. There can be no doubt that there are two types of default — one where the borrower stops paying on a note and mortgage (assuming the note and mortgage are valid) and the other, where the REMIC trust beneficiaries fail to get the required distribution as set forth by the Prospectus and Pooling and Servicing Agreement.

6. The conclusion I draw is that the recovery of advances “by the servicer” takes place after the mortgage has been foreclosed, by which time the initial homeowner borrower is out of the picture. Hence, it seems that while there are “proceeds” that can be claimed by the servicer, it is under a separate transaction with the REMIC Trust and under a potential right to claim money from the borrower for contribution or unjust enrichment — with unjust enrichment being a center-point of this case.

This case also explains many other transactions that occur between the servicer and other entities. It isn’t the encyclopaedia of servicer advances, but it explains a lot of what I have been talking about. When the borrower stops making payments for any reason (and perhaps legal reasons for withholding payment, or being prevented from making payments by a servicer who proclaims the loan to be in default), the creditor keep getting paid. So even if the allegation is that the cessation of payments was a default under the note and mortgage, the fact remains that the creditor is not experiencing any default because payments are being made in full by various parties to the creditor. Hence, my question to corporate representatives, about whether they are showing the full record, and whether the books of the creditor show a default. They don’t, if servicer advances were made. I have personally seen a Wells Fargo witness get quite agitated as I approached this subject.

Servicers have kept this information away from borrowers and have withheld it from the courts when they do their accounting.  I would add that if the  argument from opposing counsel is that the servicer advances are secured by the mortgage because of language that includes the word “advances” then they are admitting at this point that the entire structure of the loan as presented to the homeowner borrower was a lie. Under the federal truth in lending act such disclosure was entirely necessary to complete the transaction.

It will also be inevitably argued that this gives the homeowner borrower a free ride. Of course we all know that there is no free ride in this. The homeowner has usually made a substantial down payment and has made monthly payments for years. The homeowner had spent a lot of money on furnishing and completing the house. There is no free ride. But the best argument against the “free ride” allegation is that this is asserted by the party with unclean hands (and often intentionally withheld information from the court or even committed perjury).

read all about it: case on servicer advances and unjust enrichment

WEIDNER: SHARP LAWYERING = NO FORECLOSURE CASE

MOST POPULAR ARTICLES

COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary CLICK HERE TO GET COMBO TITLE AND SECURITIZATION REPORT

OBJECTIONS TIMELY MADE TURN THE TIDE

CUSTOMER SERVICE 520-405-1688

Editorial Comment: Hat tip to Weidner: The bottom line is that the pretender lender was prevented from introducing evidence of “default” and was further prevented from introducing evidence establishing the pretender’s right to foreclose.

The reason was a series of objections in which the shell game became apparent to the Judge and the Judge refused to play. In the end proffers of counsel for the pretenders are no substitute for the admission of evidence. Facts are different from evidence. Facts may exist, but unless they are accepted into evidence, the court may not consider it. So this Judge entered an order of involuntary dismissal (directed verdict, as the term is sometimes used, usually in a jury trial) and the homeowner won the case.

This is a precise example of why I say that there are no cases in which the facts in dispute are heard all the way through to a verdict. Once it gets to the point where the pretender can no longer fake their way around the judge, the truth is left lying on the floor — that the pretender has no idea whether there is a default, has no idea of the balance due under the mortgage, does not represent any real creditor and seeks to foreclose in its own name merely as the “holder” without ever disclosing any principal (because in most cases there is no principal).

When I say there is no principal I mean one of two things. Either the principal creditor has already received a a settlement and therefore has been been fully satisfied or the principal wants no part of any litigation in which it could be named as a counter-defendant for predatory or deceptive lending practices. Either way, the real creditor is never in the room.

It is at this point that cases go into the mode of what Matt Weidner correctly coined the term “cash register justice.” When it look like they have run out of options they dismiss the case and then hit the investor with a bill that is, like in a case recently reported, 140% of the actual loss. Where does the other 40% come from? Well of course it comes from any place the servicer can get it which is out of the payments received from borrowers whose notes specifically state that their payments should only be booked as payments to reduce their debt, and not for any other purpose.

And need we add that the request for modification would have left the investor with approximately 50% of the loan intact — which means the investor took a bath for 90% while the servicer got paid in full, the banks were always paid in full because they only used investor money to fund mortgages, and of course the banks also got to keep the bailout money, insurance money, and proceeds of credit default swaps and cross collateralization.

With the banks owning the service companies and the trustees and other “foreclosure specialist” companies, the banks get all the money coming in PLUS the house, leaving the investor with net losses far in excess of their initial investment.

Somehow Eric Holder, our Attorney General has arrived at the conclusion that this might not be illegal. Ask the investor how legal this is. Ask this homeowner who now has a clear shot at clear title through a quiet title action, with no mortgage, no note and no obligation.

As an add-on to what this very good lawyer did at “trial” I would say that the lawyer should have conducted a voir dire examination of the witness proffered by the pretender. The witness admitted only 18 months experience with PHH and no experience or knowledge as to the actual trail of payments. He further admitted that he had no direct knowledge as to how or why payments were posted in this case and implied that he had no knowledge as to whether the accounting was complete, which we all know means that the payments the actual unidentified creditor received was never shown nor intended to be shown in a court of law. The best the witness could pretend to know were the business procedures AFTER declaration of default with no knowledge of what happened before that or outside of the relationship between the borrower and the servicer.

The lawyer made his point but almost missed it when he showed that the paper presented did not have the name of PHH anywhere on it and instead had a name that was neither in the pleading nor the exhibits: a mistake often made by lawyers (but not by this one) was that once you get the pleadings and exhibits from the would-be forecloser and the chance to amend has expired, they have no right to introduce evidence contrary to their own allegations and exhibits. This lawyer correctly held the pretender to stay within the four  corners of the complaint and the exhibits attached.

A Foreclosure Trial Transcript, Evidentiary Objections Made and SUSTAINED, Judgment for Defendant!

February 23rd, 2012 | Author:

mortgage-civil-action

I want to share with the class a transcript of a foreclosure trial where defense counsel rattles off the evidentiary objections, many of which were properly sustained by the judge.

Servicers have a very real problem proving their cases over proper and clear evidence objections….they just cannot link up their evidence from one servicer to another without real effort…and in some cases they will not be able to do it.

So this is a roadmap that shows how to do it correctly….bone up folks, work hard.

Fight like every single case represents the very fate and future of the entire American judicial system.

because every case does

PARRISTRANSCRIPT

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.

%d bloggers like this: