Thursday, September 23, 2010

She's Leaving Home

You might ask why this is in a farm law blog, and the simple answer is that we in the farm belt have seen this all before, particularly those of us with long memories of the cold seventies and blustery eighties. We ended up with farm debt mediation, which turned out to be a pretty useful tool for keeping people honest.

The Washington Post reports this morning that the foreclosure process is "...riddled with faked documents, forged signatures, and lenders who take shortcuts reviewing borrower's files...the problems, which are so widespread that some judges approving the foreclosures are ignoring them, are coming to light as (the inartfully named-ed.) Ally Financial, the country's fourth biggest lender halted home evictions in 23 states this week."

The tale goes on to describe how an employee of GMAC Financial signed off on at least 10,000 foreclosure papers a month without verifying whether the information justified the process, as did a flunky who worked for JP Morgan Chase. A low level flunky at another foreclosure bucket house claimed to be an executive of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, US Bank and numerous other anthropophages while signing off on foreclosure affidavits-which, of course, are subject to the penalties of perjury. To add to the mess, numerous other flunkies forged the perjurer's signature too-poetic justice of a sort, no?

As a prefatory matter, we at the Dougloid Towers have always liked our poison straight, undiluted, and bottled in bond. We recommend that all banks, mortgage bucket shops, and all floggers of dodgy loans should be compelled to add to their corporate names the following suffix: "A predatory, onerous and prevaricating retailer, so be warned We'll screw you to the wall if we get a chance." until proven otherwise.

Truth in lending, y'know.

Yet, the pattern has always been clear. Creditor side litigators and their sycophants and toadies in the law firms that service them are infamous for dodging the law, and the robobanks that enforce the garnishments are oblivious to even the simplest principles-such as, you can't garnish social security or pension money.

It used to happen all the time when I was in that trade, and the main reason it happened was that the creditor side got arrogant, and the reason they got arrogant is that debtors usually do not have the kind of money it takes to hire a conscientious and thorough attorney who will put the creditor to their proof in the time allotted. So why should the foreclosure process be any different?

So...what's the takehome?

Well, those of us who have at one time or another labored in debtor side litigation have known this for years, and it forced some of us into dodgy alliances with outfits that were predatory bottom feeders lunching on the remains that fall off the conveyor belt that leads to the bankruptcy courts. The occasional victory was sweet.

That being said, many of the foreclosures are justified, because the banks of all people should know that they lent mortgage money to people who did not have a prayer of paying it back unless property continued to appreciate at 20 per cent per annum, world without end, amen.

The banks, of course, are now acting for all the world like reformed drunks at a church picnic.

If you're looking at this coming down the road, you're entitled-and should feel obliged- to put the bank to its proof, and it is highly recommended that you do so, at the most advantageous time in the process. Check everything out, including names, dates, places, people, the validity of notarial offices, jurisdictional issues, proofs of service, and all other formal requirements.

Chances are good that you can trip them up and stall the process. You may not win in the end but you'll at least have the comfort of knowing you made somebody's life truly miserable for a while.


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