Matt Taibbi: Courts Helping Banks Screw Over Homeowners

Retired judges are rushing through complex cases to speed foreclosures in Florida

By  Matt Taibbi
Nov 10, 2010 2:25 PM EST

The following is an article from the November 11, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone. This issue is available Friday on newsstands, as well online in Rolling Stone’s digital archive. Click here to subscribe.

The foreclosure lawyers down in Jacksonville had warned me, but I was skeptical. They told me the state of Florida had created a special super-high-speed housing court with a specific mandate to rubber-stamp the legally dicey foreclosures by corporate mortgage pushers like Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Chase. This “rocket docket,” as it is called in town, is presided over by retired judges who seem to have no clue about the insanely complex financial instruments they are ruling on — securitized mortgages and laby­rinthine derivative deals of a type that didn’t even exist when most of them were active members of the bench. Their stated mission isn’t to decide right and wrong, but to clear cases and blast human beings out of their homes with ultimate velocity. They certainly have no incentive to penetrate the profound criminal mysteries of the great American mortgage bubble of the 2000s, perhaps the most complex Ponzi scheme in human history — an epic mountain range of corporate fraud in which Wall Street megabanks conspired first to collect huge numbers of subprime mortgages, then to unload them on unsuspecting third parties like pensions, trade unions and insurance companies (and, ultimately, you and me, as taxpayers) in the guise of AAA-rated investments. Selling lead as gold, shit as Chanel No. 5, was the essence of the booming international fraud scheme that created most all of these now-failing home mortgages.

The Real Reason America’s Cities and Towns Are Broke

The rocket docket wasn’t created to investigate any of that. It exists to launder the crime and bury the evidence by speeding thousands of fraudulent and predatory loans to the ends of their life cycles, so that the houses attached to them can be sold again with clean paperwork. The judges, in fact, openly admit that their primary mission is not justice but speed. One Jacksonville judge, the Honorable A.C. Soud, even told a local newspaper that his goal is to resolve 25 cases per hour. Given the way the system is rigged, that means His Honor could well be throwing one ass on the street every 2.4 minutes.

Exclusive Excerpt: America on Sale, From Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia

Foreclosure lawyers told me one other thing about the rocket docket. The hearings, they said, aren’t exactly public. “The judges might give you a hard time about watching,” one lawyer warned. “They’re not exactly anxious for people to know about this stuff.” Inwardly, I laughed at this — it sounded like typical activist paranoia. The notion that a judge would try to prevent any citizen, much less a member of the media, from watching an open civil hearing sounded ridiculous. Fucked-up as everyone knows the state of Florida is, it couldn’t be that bad. It isn’t Indonesia. Right?


Well, not quite. When I went to sit in on Judge Soud’s courtroom in downtown Jacksonville, I was treated to an intimate, and at times breathtaking, education in the horror of the foreclosure crisis, which is rapidly emerging as the even scarier sequel to the financial meltdown of 2008: Invasion of the Home Snatchers II. In Las Vegas, one in 25 homes is now in foreclosure. In Fort Myers, Florida, one in 35. In September, lenders nationwide took over a rec­ord 102,134 properties; that same month, more than a third of all home sales were distressed properties. All told, some 820,000 Americans have already lost their homes this year, and another 1 million currently face foreclosure.

Throughout the mounting catastrophe, however, many Americans have been slow to comprehend the true nature of the mortgage disaster. They seemed to have grasped just two things about the crisis: One, a lot of people are getting their houses foreclosed on. Two, some of the banks doing the foreclosing seem to have misplaced their paperwork.

Taibbi’s Takedown of ‘Vampire Squid’ Goldman Sachs

For most people, the former bit about homeowners not paying their damn bills is the important part, while the latter, about the sudden and strange inability of the world’s biggest and wealthiest banks to keep proper records, is incidental. Just a little office sloppiness, and who cares? Those deadbeat homeowners still owe the money, right? “They had it coming to them,” is how a bartender at the Jacksonville airport put it to me.

But in reality, it’s the unpaid bills that are incidental and the lost paperwork that matters. It turns out that underneath that little iceberg tip of exposed evidence lies a fraud so gigantic that it literally cannot be contemplated by our leaders, for fear of admitting that our entire financial system is corrupted to its core — with our great banks and even our government coffers backed not by real wealth but by vast landfills of deceptively generated and essentially worthless mortgage-backed assets.

You’ve heard of Too Big to Fail — the foreclosure crisis is Too Big for Fraud. Think of the Bernie Madoff scam, only replicated tens of thousands of times over, infecting every corner of the financial universe. The underlying crime is so pervasive, we simply can’t admit to it — and so we are working feverishly to rubber-stamp the problem away, in sordid little backrooms in cities like Jacksonville, behind doors that shouldn’t be, but often are, closed.

Matt Taibbi blogs on the Taibblog

And that’s just the economic side of the story. The moral angle to the foreclosure crisis — and, of course, in capitalism we’re not supposed to be concerned with the moral stuff, but let’s mention it anyway — shows a culture that is slowly giving in to a futuristic nightmare ideology of computerized greed and unchecked financial violence. The monster in the foreclosure crisis has no face and no brain. The mortgages that are being foreclosed upon have no real owners. The lawyers bringing the cases to evict the humans have no real clients. It is complete and absolute legal and economic chaos. No single limb of this vast man-­eating thing knows what the other is doing, which makes it nearly impossible to combat — and scary as hell to watch.

What follows is an account of a single hour of Judge A.C. Soud’s rocket docket in Jacksonville. Like everything else related to the modern economy, these foreclosure hearings are conducted in what is essentially a foreign language, heavy on jargon and impenetrable to the casual observer.

Continue reading here…

It is long, but it is a must read…

~

4closureFraud.org


I sure could use some…

Comments
16 Responses to “Matt Taibbi: Courts Helping Banks Screw Over Homeowners”
  1. jodi van slee says:

    PLEASE SOMEONE HELP HOW DO WE SAVE OUR HOMES I DO NOT WANT TO LOSE MY HOUSE PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME i found one of those appraisals jodiandre@yahoo.com

  2. jodi van slee says:

    PLEASE SOMEONE HELP HOW DO WE SAVE OUR HOMES I DO NOT WANT TO LOSE MY HOUSE PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME jodiandre@yahoo.com

  3. l vent says:

    Matt Taibi, you are one of America’s heroes!!! We need more credible reporters like you to come forward and tell the world about the injustice in our justice system. I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THESE FRAUDCLOSURES ARE STILL GOING ON. THIS IS BEYONG DESPICABLE. COULD THE TRUTH BE SCREAMED ANY LOUDER IN WASHINGTONS FACE!!! The American People are being treated like the criminals by the MAINSTREAM MEDIA AND OUR VERY OWN COURT SYSTEM. THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND THE JUDGES SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THIS. THEY ARE BECOMING THE LAUGHING STOCK OF THE WORLD. PRES. OBAMA’S OVERSEAS TRIP ONLY PROVES HE IS BECOMING A LAUGHING STOCK. LETTING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BE THROWN OUT INTO THE STREETS FULL KNOWING ABOUT ALL OF THE FRAUD IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE SYSTEM AND THIS GOVERNMENT IS STILL ALLOWING ITS PEOPLE TO BE FRAUDULANTLY FORECLOSED BY THESE AHOLE JUDGES AND THE BANKS AHOLE ATTORNEYS WHO ARE AS DIRTY AS ALL OF THE REST OF IT!! IT IS BEYOND A DISGRACE ON THE PRESIDENCY OF OUR GREAT NATION. I MEAN, SERIOUSLY, COULD IT NOT BE SCREAMED LOUDER IN PRES. OBAMA’S FACE!! WHAT THE HELL IS IT GOING TO TAKE HERE TO STOP THIS FRAUDCLOSURE MADNESS????? THE GOVERNMENT HAVE BEEN SHOWN THE PROOF AND HAS ADMITTED THE FRAUD IN THE ENTIRE SYSTEM AND THAT IT IS BROKEN (CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT PANEL VIDEO FROM A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, 4CLOSURE FRAUD POSTED IT). THIS COUNTRY IS BECOMING AN INTERNATIONAL DISGRACE. WHAT THE HELL, PRESIDENT OBAMA. LET’S GET REAL HERE!!!! THERE IS NO IGNORING THIS FRAUD OCCURED. WHY IS OUR GOVERNMENT AND JUDICIAL SYSTEM ALLOWING FRAUDCLOSURE TO STILL BE HAPPENING WHEN THEY KNOW THESE DEBT COLLECTORS AND MERS AND THESE ATTORNEYS HAVE NO LEGAL PROOF THEY ARE OWED ANY MONEY BY ANY OF US??? THEY ARE CAUSING ANOTHER CRISIS THAT IS SURE TO OCCUR WHEN ALL OF THESE FRAUDCLOSED ON PEOPLE START SUEING FOR THE RIGHTFUL RETURN OF THERE STOLEN PROPERTY!!!!! STOP THE MADNESS NOW PRES. OBAMA!!! IT IS BEYOND BELIEF THAT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS ALLOWING FRAUDCLOSURES TO STILL OCCUR IN OUR GREAT NATION TO IT’S GREAT PEOPLE.. THIS IS BEING DONE TO THE VERY PEOPLE WHO ELECTED HIM AS PRESIDENT JUST TWO SHORT YEARS AGO. QE2 BY THE FED AND BEN BERNANKE ARE ANOTHER DISGRACE ON OUR GREAT NATION. THE GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO IMPOSE MORE AUSTERITY MEASURES ON IT’S PEOPLE AS IF SKYROCKETING PROPERTY TAXES, TAX-PAYER FUNDED BAILOUTS, SKYROCKETING GROCERY BILLS AND UTILITY BILLS AND FORECLOSUREGATE AREN’T ENOUGH. NO WONDER THE REST OF THE WORLD SENT OBAMA HOME PACKING WITH ZERO, NOTHING. WHAT THE HELL IS OBAMA THINKING?? . I CAN’T THINK OF ANOTHER REASON FOR ALL OF THIS OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOR BY OUR PRESIDENT. SOUNDS LIKE WE ARE ALL BEING FORCED TO TAKE MATTERS INTO OUR OWN HANDS . GOOGLE OR YAHOO SEARCH; “WEARECHANGE.ORG’, YOUTUBE VIDEOS BY RON PAUL, FINANCIAL COLLAPSE VIDEOS,KARL DENNINGER’S VIDEO ON YOU TUBE ENTITLED; FORECLOSUREGATE-NOT SIMPLY LOST PAPERWORK!,LOOSE CHANGE YOU TUBE VIDEO; END OF LIBERTY, JESSE VENTURA CONSPIRACY THEORIES, ALEX JONES, INFOWARS.COM, PRISONPLANET.COMNEW WORLD ORDER BILDERBERG GROUP, GEORGE SOROS, GLENNBECK.COM, CFR, TRILATERAL COMMISSION. JUST FOR STARTERS SPREAD THE WORD TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW. IF THIS STUFF DOESN’T INFURIATE THE PEOPLE I DO NOT KNOW WHAT WILL.

  4. jim bethea says:

    If these judges are retired and do not have a current oath of office, then they are committing a crime which they would be liable for in a personal capacity. If this is the case then any rulings that they issue would be void and invalid.

  5. MEG says:

    Irate Today at 02:50 PM Reply with quote #11

    ——————————————————————————–

    Florida Judicial Complaints should be addressed to:

    Florida
    Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director
    Michael Schneider, Associate General Counsel
    Judicial Qualifications Commission
    1110 Thomasville Road
    Tallahassee, FL 32303-6224
    (850) 488-1581
    FAX (850) 922-6781
    http://floridajqc.com/

    The complaint form is online at:

    http://floridajqc.com/images/JQCComplaintForm.pdf

    While the complaint is required to be sworn, as long as the complaintant honestly represents the facts set forth, I cannot see why anyone couldn’t file a complaint.

    For example, if one were to state that while the person had no personal knowledge of the Judge’s misconduct, that a description of the misconduct appears in print in a news article within a newspaper of national circulation, etc., then citing the particular article, including an online link, I would think that the authorities would be put on formal notice of these matters.

    Some actual metrics relating to the disposition of cases heard by Judge Soud might also be sufficient proof of the misconduct. These judges are pointing to their case clearance rates as a badge of pride. These ought to be taken as a Scarlet letter and Judge Soud should find his public pension at risk for his clear misconduct.

    POST THIS INFORMATION AND THE LINKS ON EVERY NEWSPAPER COMMENT SECTION AND MESSAGE BOARD YOU CAN FIND. LET US SEE IF WE CAN GENERATE 1,000 OR MORE SWORN COMPLAINTS AGAINST JUDGE SOUD!

  6. l vent says:

    Please go WATCH THE VIDEO AND read the comments posted under the article entitled: FAKE SHERIFFS, FAKE COURTS AND FAKE JUDGES. WE MUST ALL ORGANIZE AND UNITE. WE CANNOT ALLOW THE NEW WORLD ORDER TO DESTROY THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY.

  7. RAMONA says:

    THIS IS VERY UPSETTING…THEY BUdgeted our tax dollars in the state of fl. to create fake courts to rocket docket the homes instead of using that money to help us thru this foreclosure crisis!! they took our tax dollars to foreclose our homes and steal them from us instead of helping homeowners stay in their homes .they are heartless and cold to thinking its ok to put families out in the cold. just so the fat cats can make more money in the stock market and fatten their pocket books. so they can eat in faNCY thousand dollar lobster dinners while children eat dirt!

  8. RAMONA says:

    the courts and city is also buying the properties…the city put aside money so they can buy property. so they want your property just steal it. It was bush who signed papers that allowed them to steal our homes. so who has first chose on the homes forced into foreclosure? Guess!

  9. If anyone has access, please forward this to Mike Taibbi. It is the culmination of two years of research and documentation to uncover the collusion in what appears to have been a well-choreographed Housing Crisis. America is a crime scene:

    THE MASTER MIND PLAN TO LAUNCH THE HOUSING BUBBLE:

    Step 1. An electronic highway had to be created to enable huge quantities of mortgages to travel quickly enough to satisfy investors. This was designed so that it could feed into the computer models created by quants so bundles could be created for investor trades.

    Step 2. The rating agencies had to be co-opted to provide proper ratings to satisfy investors.

    Step 3. The FBI Criminal Investigators had to be removed.

    Step 4. A Mortgage Fraud reporting system had to be put in place in order to cover the the missteps of the players with proof that the problem was caused by a “few rotten apples”.

    Step 5. Real estate appraisers had to be compromised with threats of getting no business and/or even blackballed.

    Step 6. Credit Default Swaps had to be an option to hedge the losses most knew would result.

    Step 7. President Bush had to announce the plan, and a few rules put in place to enable the Federal Government to back up some funding/risks, and to provide seed money to the developers/home builders.

    Step 8. All had to turn their backs, as millions of unqualified buyers were allowed to buy homes, so they could also be blamed for the problems when the bubble of greed burst.

    Step 9. The plans for mass foreclosures had to be in place.

    Step 10. An economic disaster warning from Paulson, causing the economy to crash so millions would lose their jobs and then be ripe to lose their homes, so the same players could re-run the housing bubble.

    Let me know if I missed a step or two.

    HERE’S THE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE:

    Go to this link for the short version:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/9/919007/-Help-Save-Peoples-Homes!-Armed-with-FACTS

    And this llink for the in-depth version with links to many resources:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/10/21/912375/-Housing-Fraud-Opus:-From-A-Z,-Collusion-by-All

    Proof Bernanke knew about the problem in 2005, but took no action until 2008:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/10/25/913492/-BS-Bernanke,-BS:-The-Fed-Knew-About-Appraisal-Fraud-Day-#1

    and

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/10/919356/-FedGOP-Enabled-Housing-Crisis:Willful-Neglect

    • Step 11. Re-wind and Play It Again

      Now millionaires and billionaires are buying up homes for ten cents on the dollar.

      Look for this crime to simply replay, as those homes increase in value while being rented out for exorbitant amounts to the very people who were used to create these homes.

      The banks simply can’t lose, can they? And the rich will get richer, while the rest of America struggles to survive.

      And if the re-run doesn’t work out, then the FED will bail them out as they did recently AGAIN.

  10. housemanrob says:

    PEASANTS, living in a BANANA REPUBLIC is what we are and our 1 TERM PRESIDENT will not save us. That is why he is a 1 term president. Maybe it’s time to defend our homes the OLD FASHION WAY. Especially, because OBVIOUSLY… WE NO LONGER LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY.

  11. Alina says:

    This is by far Matt’s best piece of investigative writing. It is superbly written and captures the reality of the Florida Rocket Docket system.

    KUDOS Mr. Taibbi. I loved the way you summarized it all up in the last paragraph of the article.

  12. maia says:

    STUPENDOUS reporting, Matt!
    I would add one thing–that the banks are buying all the mortgages for pennies on the dollar (not just the ones in foreclosure) –all part of the scheme–there are just so many layers to this fraud.

    This article should go to all the newspapers–wonder how many would actually print it?–Hmmm

  13. leapfrog says:

    Help, everyone!!! I just read on Neil’s site and on Karl’s site about MERS ex-post facto law – lame duck congress will try to pass law making MERS a-ok retroactively. What can we do? Help!

    P.S. Good article. I have Matt’s book on order.

Leave a Reply