14 Foreclosure Cases Dismissed

Posted by revolt | 14 Foreclosure Cases Dismissed,Proof: Promissory Note Defense Works 3 | Tuesday 12 January 2010 2:56 pm

14 Foreclosure Cases Dismissed

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON

Published: November 15, 2007

A federal judge in Ohio has ruled against a longstanding foreclosure practice, potentially creating an obstacle for lenders trying to reclaim properties from troubled borrowers and raising questions about the legal standing of investors in mortgage securities pools.

Judge Christopher A. Boyko of Federal District Court in Cleveland dismissed 14 foreclosure cases brought on behalf of mortgage investors, ruling that they had failed to prove that they owned the properties they were trying to seize.

The pooling of home loans into securities has been practiced for decades and helped propel real estate prices in recent years as investors sought the higher yields that such mortgage trusts could provide. Some $6.5 trillion of securitized mortgage debt was outstanding at the end of 2006.

But as foreclosures have surged, the complex structure and disparate ownership of mortgage securities have made it harder for borrowers to work out troubled loans, in part because they cannot identify who holds the mortgage notes, consumer advocates say.

Now, the Ohio ruling indicates that the intricacies of the mortgage pools are starting to create problems for lenders as well. Lawyers for troubled homeowners are expected to seize upon the district judge’s opinion as a way to impede foreclosures across the country or force investors to settle with homeowners. And it may encourage judges in other courts to demand more documentation of ownership from lenders trying to foreclose.

The ruling was issued Oct. 31 by Judge Boyko, and relates to 14 foreclosure cases brought by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. The bank is trustee for securitization pools, issued as recently as June 2006, claiming to hold mortgages underlying the foreclosed properties.

On Oct. 10, Judge Boyko, 53, ordered the lenders’ representative to file copies of loan assignments showing that the lender was indeed the owner of the note and mortgage on each property when the foreclosure was filed. But lawyers for Deutsche Bank supplied documents showing only an intent to convey the rights in the mortgages rather than proof of ownership as of the foreclosure date.

Saying that Deutsche Bank’s arguments of legal standing fell woefully short, the judge wrote: “The institutions seem to adopt the attitude that since they have been doing this for so long, unchallenged, this practice equates with legal compliance. Finally put to the test, their weak legal arguments compel the court to stop them at the gate.”

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the ruling. But the inability of Deutsche Bank, as trustee for the pools, to produce proof of ownership at the time of the foreclosures will fuel borrowers’ concerns that they are being forced out of their homes by entities that may not even hold the underlying loans.

“This is the miracle of not having securities mapped to the underlying loans,” said Josh Rosner, a specialist in mortgage securities at Graham-Fisher, an independent research firm in New York. “There is no industry repository for mortgage loans. I have heard of instances where the same loan is in two or three pools.”

The process of putting together a mortgage pool begins when a home loan is originated by a bank or mortgage lender. That loan is typically sold to a Wall Street firm that pools it with thousands of others. Once a pool is packaged, it is sold to investors in different slices, based on risk. A trustee bank oversees the pool’s operations, ensuring that payments made by borrowers go to the appropriate investors.

Lawyers who represent troubled borrowers complain that trustees overseeing home loan pools often do not produce proof, usually in the form of a mortgage note, that their investors own a foreclosed property. And a recent study of 1,733 foreclosures by Katherine M. Porter, an associate professor of law at the University of Iowa, found that 40 percent of the creditors foreclosing on borrowers did not show proof of ownership. Such proof gives a creditor standing to foreclose against a borrower and is required by law.

“The big issue in all these cases, whether we are dealing with a bankruptcy court, a state court or a federal court, is who really owns the mortgage note, and that is allegedly what they securitized,” said O. Max Gardner III, a lawyer who represents borrowers in foreclosure in Shelby, N.C. “A collateral question is, has that mortgage note really been transferred and assigned to the securitization trust? If not, then they really don’t have standing. It’s Law School 101.”

When a loan goes into a securitization, the mortgage note is not sent to the trust. Instead it shows up as a data transfer with the physical note being kept at a separate document repository company. Such practices keep the process fast and cheap.

Because most foreclosures proceed without challenges from borrowers, few judges have forced trustees like Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York to prove ownership by producing a mortgage note in each case.

Borrower advocates cheered Judge Boyko’s ruling.

The plaintiff’s argument that “‘Judge, you just don’t understand how things work,’” the judge wrote, “reveals a condescending mindset and quasi-monopolistic system where financial institutions have traditionally controlled, and still control, the foreclosure process.” The cases could be filed again in state court, however.

April Charney, a consumer lawyer at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid in Florida, who has been practicing foreclosure law since the late 1980s, said she rarely sees proof of ownership in cases involving securitization trusts. Her group has 30 to 50 such cases and not one of the lenders’ representatives has produced proof of ownership predating the foreclosure action.

“We see a trend toward judges having enough of this trampling of the rules and procedure and care and reverence with which lawyers and litigants and participants in the judicial process should comply,” Ms. Charney said. “Hopefully this will convince everybody that the time to work out these home loans is now.”

Time is of the essence when they’re trying to take your home. Click now to download your Take Your Property Back Step-By-Step Manual instantly, and arm yourself for the mortgage war, and WIN!

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How To Stop Foreclosure In Nevada

Posted by revolt | How To Stop Foreclosure In Nevada | Tuesday 12 January 2010 2:50 pm

‘How to Stop Foreclosure in Nevada?’

Role of the Mortgage Servicer?

 April 9, 2009 at 5:36 am

Today, we are leaving the omnipresent and of course omnipotent lenders aside, and discussing the role of the servicer. Your servicer is no less omnipotent in any way. He does everything on behalf of much covered lenders. Servicer, as you may know, are not the lenders: they just service your loans. They also do an important job: they hide the real lenders from you. Servicers take out their cut and send the remaining payments to the lenders. This can be clarified better if you know the traditional role of the landlord and property manager. They keep and maintain all the record of the lenders and are accountable to them for this purpose. The property manager just manages the property, takes his cut, and sends the remaining amount along with the property audits and accounting to the landlord who generally is an absentee landlord. Again, your lenders may be in USA, somewhere in Bahamas or in southwest China. Most mortgage loans are pooled and sold to investors in the secondary market. This process is called securitization. Basically, it is little complex topic, and we may leave it for another discussion, but securitization is the root cause of our current financial problems. The loans are packaged, bundled and sold as security to various investors. Again, your servicer collects all the payments, maintain all necessary accounts, including escrow accounts for taxes, insurance, property taxes etc. The servicer receives a percentage of all this collection. The rights to service, mortgage loans can be sold and of course purchased.

Sometimes investors like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae enters into this game with servicers to administer the mortgages. The servicers do not hold any interests in these loans which they service. You may have noticed that the servicers very intelligently and shrewdly hide the names of the lenders. There is a way to get the name of the lenders which probably only attorneys can do. Our office also can help in this regard. Oh yes, we make them disclose the names of your lenders. That is a specific job and only Nevada licensed attorney should handle it.

The original of any note sold to investors must be endorsed in blank and delivered to the investor’s document custodian. The servicer is assigned the mortgage. However, the servicer is then required to assign the mortgage to the investor, but this assignment is unrecorded. Thereafter the servicer will be the mortgagee of record to ensure all those legal notices which they continuously send to borrowers.

How to Challenge the Servicers Standing to Foreclose?

This is the most crucial question, and we are going to discuss it with little bit more details here. Okay, when a foreclosure action is initiated, the servicers’ standing to bring any action mostly depends on state statues and case laws. Here, comes the tricky part. It is common for servicers to file the foreclosure action through an investor or trust is the actual holder of note and mortgage. A challenge can be very successful from a borrower where state law clearly defines who is the holder of the note, and defines the mortgage as the real party in interest. Let us say in a state for strict foreclosure, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of evidence that it is the owners of the note and mortgage and the borrower defaulted on the note.

The servicer has only rights to collect mortgage payments from you. It cannot foreclose on you because this is not included or generally not included in the right of assignment from the lender to servicer. In Nicholson v. Washington Mutual the court, (2001 WL 1992418 (Tex. App. Aug. 32, 2001) (not designated for publication (deed of trust must be strictly construed. There was no authority in the deed of trust for the lender to delegate these tasks to the servicer. Some other courts have also found that the servicer has a pecuniary interest in the mortgage.

What should an Attorney Do?

The attorney (again a Nevada Licensed Attorney, not an attorney-affiliated or attorney-backed, what is this is a joke, we are not biased, we tell the truth) should examine the agreement between the servicers and holder to find out the contractual rights to foreclose, or to release the interest right. However, if the servicer brings an action under its name, without disclosing the true holder of the mortgage, the foreclosure may be delayed by court and it can be asked to identify the real party in interest. (in re Viencek, 273 B.R. 354 (Bankr. N.D.Y. 2002) delay granted by Court for servicer to amend proof of claim to identify actual creditor).

More later. How bout’ some discussion on MERS now? The servicers may have an economic interest, but MERS have none. MERS do not have any active interest and they don’ become holder of the loans. They do not have any beneficial interest in the mortgage. They are not trustee and can be nominee only, holding title to the mortgage and but not the note. Despite these shortcomings, MERS claims that they are the nominee of the lender and has the right to foreclose in their own name

Author:

Malik Ahmad Nevada Attorney at Law

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Judges As Criminals

Posted by revolt | Judges As Criminals | Tuesday 12 January 2010 2:44 pm

Judges as Criminals


CIRCUIT COURT A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Circuit Court of Cook County is a criminal enterprise. U.S. v. Murphy, 768 F.2d 1518, 1531 (7th Cir. 1985).

The United States Supreme Court recently acknowledged the judicial corruption in Cook County, when it stated that Judge “Maloney was one of many dishonest judges exposed and convicted through ‘Operation Greylord’, a labyrinthine federal investigation of judicial corruption in Chicago”. Bracey v. Gramley, 519 U.S. 1074, 117 S.Ct. 726 (1997).

There has been no finding that the Circuit Court of Cook County is no longer a criminal enterprise, nor that judicial corruption no longer exists in Chicago.

Since judges who do not report the criminal activities of other judges become principals in the criminal activity, 18 U.S.C. Section 2, 3 & 4, and since no judges have reported the criminal activity of the judges who have been convicted, the other judges are as guilty as the convicted judges.

The criminal activities that the Federal Courts found in the Circuit Court of Cook County still exist, and are today under the care, custody and control of Judge Greylord III (Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans). The Circuit Court of Cook County remains a criminal enterprise.

JUDICIAL IMMUNITY

Judges have given themselves judicial immunity for their judicial functions. Judges have no judicial immunity for criminal acts, aiding, assisting, or conniving with others who perform a criminal act, or for their administrative/ministerial duties. When a judge has a duty to act, he does not have discretion – he is then not performing a judicial act, he is performing a ministerial act.

Judicial immunity does not exist for judges who engage in criminal activity, for judges who connive with, aid and abet the criminal activity of another judge, or to a judge for damages sustained by a person who has been harmed by the judge’s connivance with, aiding and abeting, another judge’s criminal activity.

TRESPASSERS OF THE LAW

The Illinois Supreme Court has held that “if the magistrate has not such jurisdiction, then he and those who advise and act with him, or execute his process, are trespassers.” Von Kettler et.al. v. Johnson, 57 Ill. 109 (1870)

Under Federal law which is applicable to all states, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that if a court is “without authority, its judgments and orders are regarded as nullities. They are not voidable, but simply void; and form no bar to a recovery sought, even prior to a reversal in opposition to them. They constitute no justification; and all persons concerned in executing such judgments or sentences, are considered, in law, as trespassers.” Elliot v. Piersol, 1 Pet. 328, 340, 26 U.S. 328, 340 (1828)

The Illinois Supreme Court held that if a court “could not hear the matter upon the jurisdictional paper presented, its finding that it had the power can add nothing to its authority, – it had no authority to make that finding.” The People v. Brewer, 128 Ill. 472, 483 (1928). The judges listed below had no legal authority (jurisdiction) to hear or rule on certain matters before them. They acted without any jurisdiction.

When judges act when they do not have jurisdiction to act, or they enforce a void order (an order issued by a judge without jurisdiction), they become trespassers of the law,and are engaged in treason (see below).

The Court in Yates v. Village of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, 209 F.Supp. 757 (N.D. Ill. 1962) held that “not every action by a judge is in exercise of his judicial function. … it is not a judicial function for a judge to commit an intentional tort even though the tort occurs in the courthouse.”

When a judge acts as a trespasser of the law, when a judge does not follow the law, the judge loses subject-matter jurisdiction and the judges orders are void, of no legal force or effect.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 1687 (1974) stated that “when a state officer acts under a state law in a manner violative of the Federal Constitution, he “comes into conflict with the superior authority of that Constitution, and he is in that case stripped of his official or representative character and is subjected in his person to the consequences of his individual conduct. The State has no power to impart to him any immunity from responsibility to the supreme authority of the United States.” [Emphasis supplied in original].

By law, a judge is a state officer.

The judge then acts not as a judge, but as a private individual (in his person).

VIOLATION OF OATH OF OFFICE

In Illinois, 705 ILCS 205/4 states “Every person admitted to practice as an attorney and counselor at law shall, before his name is entered upon the roll to be kept as hereinafter provided, take and subscribe an oath, substantially in the following form:

‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be), that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Illinois, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of attorney and counselor at law to the best of my ability.'”

In Illinois, a judge must take a second oath of office. Under 705 ILCS 35/2 states, in part, that “The several judges of the circuit courts of this State, before entering upon the duties of their office, shall take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation, which shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of State:

‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of Illinois, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of judge of ______ court, according to the best of my ability.'”

Further, if the judge had enlisted in the U.S. military, then he has taken a third oath. Under Title 10 U.S.C. Section 502 the judge had subscribed to a lifetime oath, in pertinent part, as follows: “I, __________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; …”.

The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that “No state legislator or executive or judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his undertaking to support it.”. Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 78 S.Ct. 1401 (1958).

Any judge who does not comply with his oath to the Constitution of the United States wars against that Constitution and engages in acts in violation of the Supreme Law of the Land. The judge is engaged in acts of treason.

Having taken at least two, if not three, oaths of office to support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, any judge who has acted in violation of the Constitution is engaged in an act or acts of treason (see below).

If a judge does not fully comply with the Constitution, then his orders are void, In re Sawyer, 124 U.S. 200 (1888), he/she is without jurisdiction, and he/she has engaged in an act or acts of treason.

TREASON

Whenever a judge acts where he/she does not have jurisdiction to act, the judge is engaged in an act or acts of treason. U.S. v. Will, 449 U.S. 200, 216, 101 S.Ct. 471, 66 L.Ed.2d 392, 406 (1980); Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat) 264, 404, 5 L.Ed 257 (1821)

What is the penalty for treason?

Citizens for Legal Responsibility suggest that the following judges may have acted without jurisdiction and therefore may have engaged in an act or acts of treason:

Judge Philip L. Bronstein

Justice Robert Chapman Buckley

Judge Grace G. Dickler

Judge Thomas C. Dudgeon (DuPage County)

Presiding Judge Timothy C. Evans

Judge Lester D. Foreman

Chief Judge Michael Galasso (DuPage County)

Justice Michael J. Gallagher

Judge Francis A. Gembala

Justice Thomas E. Hoffman

Judge Moshe Jacobius

Judge Thomas James

Judge Aubrey F. Kaplan

Judge Philip S. Lieb

Judge Veronica B. Mathein

Justice Sheila M. O’Brien

Chief Judge Donald O’Connell (Cook County)

Judge Edmund Ponce de Leon

Judge Daniel J. Sullivan

Justice Mary Jane Theis

Judge William F. Ward, Jr.

Any judge or attorney who does not report the above judges for treason as required by law may themselves be guilty of misprision of treason, 18 U.S.C. Section 2382.


NOTE: Citizens for Legal Responsibility® is in the process of compiling a list of laws detailing the penalties for treason. Citizens for Legal Responsibility® requests that readers who have knowledge of any laws relative to the penalties for treason, please either mail or email such information to us.


Copyright© 1997-2003 by Citizens for Legal Responsibility®.

All rights reserved.

email: clr@clr.org

Time is of the essence when they’re trying to take your home. Click now to download your Take Your Property Back Step-By-Step Manual instantly, and arm yourself for the mortgage war, and WIN!

It’s time to join the revolution! THE HOMEOWNERS REVOLT.COM.

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Lenders Inability To Produce The Note

Posted by revolt | Lenders Inability To Produe The Note | Tuesday 12 January 2010 2:31 pm

Lenders Inability to “Produce the

Note” Leads to Shady New Practice

May 4, 2009

Mortgage lenders who were sloppy with important paperwork in the hey-day of the housing boom are now turning to questionable practices to clean up their mess so they can foreclose on homeowners.  It all stems from the lenders inability to “produce the note” when they try to take someone’s home.

To get around the break-down in paperwork, these companies hire people to be “fake” Vice Presidents to sign documents from one company to another, so a foreclosure can proceed.  The St. Petersburg Times exposed the practice in an investigative report, in which they interview CWN founder Chris Hoyer.

Read the St. Pete Times article below:

Companies help lenders transfer home loans to foreclose

By Susan Taylor Martin, St. Pete Times Senior Correspondent
In Print: Sunday, May 3, 2009

PALM HARBOR

Despite the turmoil in the lending industry, Bryan Bly seems to have no trouble finding a job.

On Aug. 3, 2007, Bly signed a document as vice president of Option One Mortgage.

On Feb. 13, 2009, Bly signed a document as vice president of Deutsche Bank.

And on Feb. 18, 2009, Bly initialed dozens of documents – this time as vice president of Citi Residential Lending.

In fact, Bly never worked for any of those. His real employer is Nationwide Title Clearing, a Pinellas County company that helps lenders clean up problems that can complicate efforts to foreclose.

Bly, who lives in a Clearwater trailer park, is one of several Nationwide employees authorized by lenders to sign as “vice president” in assigning loans from one company to another. Assignments are key in determining who actually owns the loan, an issue that has become all-important as banks foreclose on millions of loans that were bundled into securities and sold to investors.

Nationwide says the assignments and other services it handles for lenders help ensure everything is legal and above board if they sell a loan or need to foreclose.

“We’re pretty much sticklers that what we put in the record is legitimate,” says Jeremy Pomerantz, a Nationwide spokesman.

Critics, though, say that Bryan Bly and “vice presidents” like him at similar companies are part of an assembly-line process designed to resolve a big problem: In the rush to “flip” loans as fast as possible in order to make more money, the new loan holders often failed to get the proper paperwork showing they owned the loan and had the right to foreclose.

“The problem is that when lenders foreclose, they have to have all their ducks in a row,” says Rob Napolitano, a New Jersey mortgage expert. “They’re trying to doctor up these assignments in order to create an ownership trail that didn’t exist in the first place.”

Signatures challenged

At a time when one in every 159 American homes is in foreclosure, the seemingly slapdash way in which loans change hands is giving homeowners a tool to delay or even stop the foreclosure process. More and more judges are demanding that the party seeking to foreclose prove that it owns the loan “note” – the borrower’s promise to repay the debt.

In New York, a judge dismissed Deutsche Bank’s motion to foreclose on a $408,000 loan last year because it had started foreclosure proceedings while the loan was still owned by IndyMac Bank.

The judge said he wouldn’t reconsider the case unless Deutsche explained why one woman – Erica Johnson-Seck – had signed as vice president of two different companies. The judge also said he was “perplexed” as to why both Deutsche and IndyMac had the same address, and why an affidavit by Johnson-Seck, who supposedly worked in California, was notarized in Texas.

In New Jersey, another foreclosure case was thrown out after the “vice president” for Deutsche Bank acknowledged she was only an assistant secretary. “She said she was told to fill out the paperwork however it needed to be done in order to make the document look valid,” Napolitano said.

To help homeowners protect themselves from questionable, even illegal foreclosures, Tampa attorney Chris Hoyer started the Consumer Warning Network last year. The Web site, which now gets as many as 80,000 hits a day, gives tips on challenging foreclosures – “Make ‘em produce the note!” – and sample letters for contacting lenders.

“The intent is not to get someone a free house, but to delay the foreclosure and put pressure on the lender to negotiate,” said Hoyer, a former federal prosecutor.

Among those who have been helped by the site is Thomas Worthington, who lost his information technology job in November. Although he has yet to miss a payment on his Sarasota home, he decided in February to try to modify his loan terms.

That’s when Worthington learned that the right to collect his payments had been sold to American Home Mortgage Servicing, AHMS. But public records showed that the loan itself had been assigned to Deutsche Bank on a document signed by Crystal Moore, a vice president of Citi Residential Lending.

“So I called AHMS and asked them who owned my mortgage,” Worthington said. “I got a service rep in India, and he said, ‘We own your mortgage.’ ”

Suspicious, Worthington sent the company a letter asking for the loan note, appraisal and other documents proving that it really did own his loan. The response he received might help him fight foreclosure if it ever comes to that.

“What I got back was a copy of the title report,” Worthington said, “which leads me to believe they have squat.”

Nationwide steps in

Worthington’s loan wasn’t the only one assigned to Deutsche Bank in February. Records in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties show scores of assignments with Crystal Moore as vice president. Moore appears to have been in a big hurry – instead of signing her full name she scrawled a single loopy initial.

Like Bryan Bly, Moore is actually an employee of Nationwide Title Clearing. And the assignments she and Bly initialed in February were done under a contract with Citi Residential to make sure Deutsche Bank was shown as the owner of thousands of securitized loans.

Founded in 1992, Nationwide is a private company that occupies a swath of low, white buildings in Palm Harbor.

From 300 to 400 employees at the peak of the real estate boom, Nationwide now has about 115 who handle tax and title searches, lien releases and other services for dozens of lenders. It also updates information for MERS, the electronic mortgage tracking system created by the lending industry to reduce paperwork and recording fees as loans change hands.

To expedite transactions, Nationwide gets resolutions from lenders that authorize Bly, Moore and other employees of “proven reliability” to sign as their vice presidents, said Pomerantz, the Nationwide spokesman. On a big project like the Citi-to-Deutsche loan assignments, “they may sit there all day for a week and sign.”

“We follow every little requirement, far better than most banks do,” Pomerantz said, adding that “every one of our competitors uses the same methodology.”

But it is exactly that assembly-line process that makes critics wonder if “vice presidents” can be certain that what they are signing is accurate and legal.

“Papering over a hole doesn’t make the hole disappear,” Hoyer said. “Using this device to present an air of legitimacy is an affront to the judicial system and a stain on society.”

Time is of the essence when they’re trying to take your home. Click now to download your Take Your Property Back Step-By-Step Manual instantly, and arm yourself for the mortgage war, and WIN!

It’s time to join the revolution! THE HOMEOWNERS REVOLT.COM.

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Angel Of Foreclosure Defense Bedevils Lenders

Posted by revolt | Angel Of Foreclosure Defense | Tuesday 12 January 2010 2:09 pm

Florida attorney trains hundreds of

others to help troubled borrowers

By Mike Stuckey

Senior news editor

msnbc.com

updated 3:39 a.m. PT, Fri., Dec. 19, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Talking about what she sees as one of America’s darkest hours, attorney April Charney uses some pretty colorful language.

“You ever look into a place where snakes hang out?” she asks in the middle of a conversation about the loan officers, appraisers, investment bankers, attorneys and others that she believes are responsible for the nation’s worsening financial crisis. “That’s what I see here. They’re writhing and oozing and morphing into creepy stuff with slime all over it.”

Then in her quiet, gentle drawl — the kind of voice that could get you invited to afternoon drinks on the finest porches in South Florida, where she grew up — she leans forward and says quite earnestly, “Not to discredit snakes or anything.”

Charney, a lawyer with the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid agency, is quickly developing a national reputation as a champion of homeowners facing foreclosure and a serious adversary for those attempting to take possession of those homes. Her encyclopedic knowledge of contract law, debt-collection practice, securitized mortgages, the trusts that hold them and the agreements that govern the trusts have put her at the forefront of the rapidly expanding specialty of foreclosure defense.

While carrying her own load of 70 to 100 foreclosure cases as a legal aid attorney, Charney, 51, also has become one of the nation’s top trainers of other lawyers eager to learn how to serve the growing clientele spawned by America’s mortgage meltdown.

About 1,500 lawyers have attended her daylong classes on foreclosure law so far, 80 to 200 at a time. She has taught in Ohio, California, Minnesota, South Carolina, Missouri and throughout Florida. She offers the classes at cost with the help of local bar associations and aid groups and requires that all students perform 20 hours of pro bono legal work in their communities.

A trail of trouble
Charney said her crusade was born out of experience. Over and over again, she said, in her cases and those of other attorneys she met, she found sloppiness, fraud and outright criminality in the nation’s mortgage lending industry. Regardless of why her clients have been unable to pay their mortgages, she maintains that nobody deserves to lose a home to the unethical and illegal foreclosure procedures that she claims are now being used by many banks and loan servicers.

Her work has earned her the enmity of many a lender and high praise from consumer advocates. “She is definitely a woman who walks the talk and carries a big stick that will crush those who defy consumer laws,” wrote Moe Bedard, president of Loan Safe Solutions, a company that tries to help homeowners prevent foreclosure.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, the trade group that represents 2,400 companies from all sectors of real estate finance, did not respond to msnbc.com’s invitation to comment about Charney and her sweeping indictment of the industry and its business practices. And the American Bankers Association, unfamiliar with her work, had no comment.

But clients like Vickie Lewis of Jacksonville, for whom Charney has staved off foreclosure for more than four years, adore her. “She’s an angel,” said Lewis. “Without Miss Charney, I would have been out a long time ago.”

Long days, even on ‘vacation’
Charney pursues her calling with energy and enthusiasm. On a recent “vacation day,” she met for hours with a reporter, then saw clients until 8:30 p.m. in her downtown Jacksonville office, which is so crammed with case files, law books and other materials she hasn’t been able to shut the door or hold a meeting there for quite some time.

She has no sacred cows, and is currently taking on the Jacksonville area Habitat for Humanity, a darling of many liberal social activists, over construction quality and other issues.

Charney, separated from her husband, is often at her desk preparing briefs after midnight but manages to maintain close contact with a daughter, 25, a third-year law student, and a son, 23, who received a degree in anthropology last year and is now interning with the U.S. Park Service. She prefers sweaters and jeans to suits, and dreams about being able to spend more time running rivers and hiking wilderness trails.

A University of Miami law school graduate who spent years in private practice in Arkansas and worked in other legal aid offices before coming to Jacksonville four years ago, Charney said she became an expert on lending law when her caseload of foreclosures increased and she began to notice a number of disturbing trends that have yielded her key defense strategies.

First, because of the way mortgages have been securitized, it’s often unclear who actually owns the debt, she said. “What we see is that systematically, the originating lenders only pledged these loans and didn’t actually transfer them” to the trusts that are supposed to hold them and issue the securities, she explained.

But only the true debt owner has the legal standing to be a plaintiff in a foreclosure, she continued. “That’s first-year law school stuff. If you’re Joe and the debt doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to Marjorie, then Marjorie better be in court, not Joe. Don’t come in as Joe and tell me you have the right to be there when you know full well you don’t.”

Sketchy documentation
Yet, time and again, loan servicers and others have sought plaintiff status, often by using affidavits stating that the actual notes had been lost, she said. “I’ve seen paperwork filed by lawyers saying, ‘We anticipate assignment’” of the debt, she said with a scoff.

And the loan originators can’t appear in court and claim the right to foreclose because they would be in violation of securities laws for not transferring the loan to the trust when they were supposed to, she said.

Making an issue out of the actual ownership of the securitized title might strike some as a shameless stalling tactic aimed at abetting a debtor who, after all, owes the money. But Charney said that if such basic legalities aren’t adhered to, a homeowner could pay his or her way out of a foreclosure jam only to wind up in another when a new plaintiff emerges claiming to own the debt. She described cases in which homeowners have been sued for foreclosure by two different trusts, each claiming they owned their house, and cases where trusts have been sent documents on the same case by two different servicers.

Charney has a number of other defenses that focus on other sloppy and illegal practices by lenders and mortgage servicers. Some homeowners in foreclosure, such as those with FHA-insured loans like her client Vickie Lewis, were “entitled to very special default case management, and they didn’t get it,” she said. These people might not be in foreclosure if they had, she said.

Trouble is in the stock
The FHA loan program exists to enable low- and moderate-income Americans, including many with poor credit, to buy homes. FHA anticipates that borrowers in its programs will have more difficulty staying current on their loans than so-called prime borrowers, and therefore requires lenders to offer a range of options to troubled clients.

“I think that they are entitled to relief” because they didn’t get the help they were supposed to, Charney said.

Still other clients wind up in foreclosure because they were the victims of predatory lending practices and outright fraud when they got their loans, Charney said. If that can be shown in court, the foreclosure may be tossed out.

Charney prefers to settle cases, often using the flaws she exposes in debt ownership and loan servicing to gain reworked, more manageable mortgages for her clients.

“Where we were settling cases at 7 percent interest, I’m now wanting to settle them at 4 percent interest or 3 percent interest,” she said. “I’m now settling for tenants where the lender, in lieu of rent, has them maintain the property. You have to adjust to the circumstances.”

Charney said that in a number of her cases, once there is no longer an ability for the loan servicer to profit, the foreclosure “just goes to sleep, and unless I’m going to pursue it, nobody’s setting hearings, nobody’s pursuing anything to get it to trial.”

After five years, which is the statute of limitations to enforce a contract in Florida, she can try to help her clients own their homes mortgage-free, Charney said. The first opportunity for her to help clients do that may arise next year.

Most cases remain in limbo
And that legal limbo is where the lion’s share of her cases stand now, Charney said. So far this year, she has achieved two “workouts” and lost two cases. “Many, many, many” of the rest are in sleep mode or getting a single filing each year by plaintiffs’ attorneys just to keep them alive.

Bert Ely, a longtime analyst of the financial services industry and a scholar at the conservative Cato Institute who was among the first to predict the S&L scandal of the 1980s, said lenders may detest tactics like the ones Charney employs, but “this is well-established in bankruptcy practice, that you have to properly perfect the security interest, and if you haven’t, you’re screwed. … Debtors’ lawyers immediately start looking for flaws in how the debt is protected. Creditor attorneys always worry about this.”

“It kind of boggles my mind that this is even an issue” in the nation’s current mortgage mess, he said. “I don’t understand how lawyers let this happen in the first place.” Mortgage-lending and servicing is “a matter of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. … That’s what puts the discipline in the process.”

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