Comments RE: NJ Emergent Rule Amendments. The Art of the Dodge

February 18, 2011

Comments RE: Residential Mortgage Foreclosures December 20, 2010 Emergent Rule Amendments in response to http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/notices/2011/n110131g.pdf

THE ART OF THE DODGE

In The Trenches with Florida Supreme Court’s Amended of Rule of Civil Procedure 1.110(b) – Verification of Foreclosure Complaints

Lisa Epstein, foreclosure/financial fraud citizen activist, pursuant to the Notice to the Bar published January 31, 2011, on the New Jersey Court website[1] files these comments regarding the Residential Mortgage Foreclosures December 20, 2010 Emergent Rule Amendments.  I thank this Honorable Court for the opportunity to offer comments.

INTRODUCTION

I am an American nurse greatly concerned by the foreclosure fraud crisis and the resulting dispossession of millions of families from their American homes.  I am not an attorney; however, I have spent thousands of hours researching foreclosure files in another judicial foreclosure state, Florida. On October 15, 2009, I submitted comments[2] to the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Residential Foreclosure Cases regarding a similar emergent rule change as is the subject of this comment.  I will leave it to the legal scholars, legal professionals, and citizens of New Jersey to comment on the specifics of the New Jersey emergent foreclosure complaint rule amendments.  Many of the evasive tactics employed by Foreclosure Mills will be more difficult to propound upon the New Jersey courts since the emergent New Jersey rules are more detailed than the Florida rule.  I will limit my comments to that which I have carefully observed was the response, or lack thereof, to Florida’s amended rule, including that of foreclosure defense attorneys, foreclosure plaintiffs’ law firms (hereafter Foreclosure Mills), and Florida judges.  I appreciate the opportunity to recount Florida’s experience on this matter in order that New Jersey may anticipate and avert Foreclosure Mill equivocators.

THE PURPOSE OF THE RULE CHANGES

The language of In Re: Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure, 2010 S09-1460 (Fla. 2010) clarifies the primary purposes for the change:

(1)    to provide incentive for the plaintiff to appropriately investigate and verify its ownership of the note or right to enforce the note and ensure that the allegations are accurate;

(2)    to conserve judicial resources that are currently being wasted on inappropriately pleaded –lost note counts and inconsistent allegations;

(3)    to prevent the wasting of judicial resources and harm to defendants resulting from suits brought by plaintiffs not entitled to enforce the note; and

(4)    to give trial courts greater authority to sanction plaintiffs who make false allegations.

This rule did not address the emerging concerns regarding broken chain of title, defiled property records, sanctions for massive perjury, nor the expectation that the judiciary should exhibit zero tolerance for fraud upon the court.

THE ESSENTIAL PROBLEM:  REQUIRING VERIFICATION FOR THAT WHICH MAY NOT BE VERIFIABLE

Dodge #1: The Court Doesn’t Understand Standard Industry Practices

On February 11, 2010, the Florida Supreme Court released and published an opinion on SC09-1460[3] requiring foreclosure complaints to be verified.  On February 26, 2010, a Shapiro network Foreclosure Mill, Shapiro and Fishman, LLP, filed a Motion For Re-Hearing[4] in which they stated, inter alia, “the holders of the note are often unfamiliar with the status of the loans”, “may not have necessary knowledge”, “the loan servicer would, presumably have that knowledge”, “subsequent holders of a note will not have knowledge”, “it is unclear whether an attorney or law firm can verify a mortgage complaint based on any information he/she/it obtained from the client”.  I encourage the Honorable New Jersey judges to read this Motion, if for nothing else it’s educational and entertainment value.

Dodge #2: The Effective Date of the Amended Rule is in Dispute

While the language was very clear that the rule was effective immediately upon the February 11, 2010 release and publication of the opinion on SC09-1460, the Foreclosure Mills en masse ignored the rule or took the position that Shapiro Fishman’s motion for rehearing acted as a peremptory  stay of the implementation of the verification rule amendment.  Per the court docket[5], on June 3, 2010, the Florida Supreme Court revised the original February 11, 2010 opinion[6] and denied Shapiro and Fishman’s Motion for Rehearing.

Dodge #3:  The Verification Shuffle

By mid-summer 2010, most of the Foreclosure Mills were verifying their foreclosure complaints using a variety of gimmicks; verifications on free floating sheets of paper, undisclosed corporate identity of verifier, unauthenticated attorneys-in-fact-for or powers-of-attorney, non-party verifiers, no caption or other identifiers specific to the compliant allegedly verified, law firm employee as sole verifier, same verifier signing for many different corporations, and robo-verifiers.  A Wells Fargo foreclosure complaint verifier stated, “And I rely that our attorneys do their job put the information in those complaints accurately and correctly based on the information that was provided to them in our referral process.”[7] Attached are examples to review.

Dodge #3: Skirt the Rule when Required to Amend a Grandfathered Complaint

In the rare occurrence that a Florida foreclosure action is contested, defendants’ Motions to Dismiss are granted with twenty days leave to amend granted to the Foreclosure Mills.  The Foreclosure Mills attempt to persuade the Court that the amended complaint should not be subject to the verification rule since the original complaint, now dismissed, was grandfathered in as an unverified complaint not subject to the amended rules.

JUDICIAL RESPONSE to FORECLOSURE MILLS’ CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF AMENDED RULES

Florida trial court judges have slowly started to address the arrogant refusal to comply with the spirit and intent of Florida’s amended verification rule 1.110(b).

On October 21, 2010, Pinellas County, Florida Judge Anthony Rondolino addressed case-specific lack of standing issues as he dismissed for a non-verified amended complaint with leave to file a second amended complaint.  He wrote an order[8] explaining that amended complaints are to be verified in cases in which the original complaint was filed prior to the effective date of the verification rule.  “The court hereby places the Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s counsel on notice that any complaint filed in this cause shall be verified as required by In Re: Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure, 2010 WL 455295 (Fla. 2010)…If it is thereafter determined that the verification was not based on an appropriate investigation or that the allegations which may include; dismissal of the action with prejudice, assessment of fees and costs, monetary of incarcerative sanctions and referral to the State Attorney for prosecution pursuant to F.S. 837.  Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Decker, Case No. 09-20548-CI-13 (6thJud.Cir.Pinellas.Cty. 10/21/2010 Anthony Rondolino, Judge)

On January 14, 2011, Brevard County, Florida Judge Charles Halcomb wrote an order[9] dismissing a foreclosure case with 20 days leave to amend.  His order addressed the insufficiency of non-party and separate sheet verifications.  “The amended complaint SHALL be verified by an officer of Plaintiff and such verification must be part of the Complaint and not filed as a separate document.” PNC Bank v. Peckham, Case No. 05-2010-CA-33741 (18thJud.Cir.Brevard.Cty. 01/14/2011 Charles H. Holcomb, Judge)

On the 24th and the 26th of January 2011, in two separate Indian River County, Florida foreclosure cases, Judge Cynthia Cox dismissed without prejudice and also without leave to amend non-verified foreclosure compliant. In the order[10], she wrote, “The verification must be included in the complaint itself for the Court to be certain that the affiant has read the actual allegations and to make it clear what is being verified.  The purpose of the verification is to create accuracy and accountability.  There is no provision in the rule for the filing of a separate verification in a separate document.  Common sense dictates that without verification in the complaint itself, it would never be clear what the affiant reviewed and what allegations they verified.  The rule does not permit qualifying or limiting language.”  She then clarified the obvious, “Designations such as “authorized agent”, “authorized signatory”, “authorized officer”, “representative of plaintiff’s servicer”, “representative of the plaintiff” and the like are meaningless, insufficient and tell the reader nothing.  The rule requires a clean, plain statement of accuracy by a person who actually verifies the truth of the claims made, and who is identified as being in a position to actually do so. Bank of America v. Nebraska Investments, Case No. 10-CA-3882 (19thJud.Cir.Indian River.Cty. Cynthia L. Cox, Judge) and  Aurora Loan Services v. Fleetwood, Case No. 31-2010-CA-073506 (19thJud.Cir.Indian River.Cty.  01/26/2011 Cynthia L. Cox, Judge)

On February 7, 2011, Pinellas County, Florida Judge George Jirotka ordered[11] a foreclosure case dismissed with 30 days leave to amend by verification of the complaint.  The Foreclosure Mill attorney argued that the rule was not effective until June 2, 2010, perhaps in a last ditch dodge referring to the period between the publication of the rule on February 11, 2010 and the Florida Supreme Court’s denial of the Motion for Rehearing and issuance of a revised order on June 3, 2010.   NationStar Mortgage LLC v, Lunt, Case NO. 10-6330-CI-20 (6thJud.Cir.Pinellas.Cty. 02/09/2011 George Jirotka, Judge

Besides case dismissals, I have not heard of any Florida judges meting out sanctions for lack of compliance with the verification rule.

A WORD ON SEWER SERVICE

In addition to a requirement in uncontested cases for a certification of diligent inquiry, a requirement that all Motions for Summary Judgment include, within the body of the motion itself, a verified statement by a licensed attorney, under penalty of professional liability for perjury and sanctions for fraud upon the court, that the docket reflects return of service, details the facts of the service by publication, and/or notes that any appointed guardian was actively involved in the case might be worth consideration.

OUTSMARTING WILE E COYOTE

In closing, I call to memory Wile E Coyote, a favored Looney Tunes cartoon character known for a cleverness matched by foolishness, a tendency for his tricks to rebound on himself, and the ability to regenerate himself over and over again each time he’s squashed flat.  One might consider the Foreclosure Mills’ implementation of Florida’s verification rule as one would view Wile E Coyote’s antics as he stalks his prey.  Ah, but were this only a cartoon.  People across our nation, all ages, both genders, all ethnicities, the healthy, the ill, the disabled, the unemployed, the old, the young, the mortgagors, the tenants, we as investors in the scam-nothing-backed securities, the people of America; millions losing their homes and dispossessed of a lifetime of wealth and personal safety nets.

Lisa Epstein

ForeclosureHamlet.org

Comments
6 Responses to “Comments RE: NJ Emergent Rule Amendments. The Art of the Dodge”
  1. housemanrob says:

    Lisa……..you the man!! Uh……..I mean…….. person! God bless you girl!

  2. Eugene Villarreal says:

    Thank you Lisa Epstein for helping New Jerseryans. In New Jersey, Judge Wm. Todd from Atlantlic County is the only judge (Trial Court) who has written and often quoted for his 53-page legal opinion in a case about STANDING and SECURITIZATION, but has not had any effect on the rest of the judges. Then, with a report from Legal Services of New Jersey, Supreme Court Justice Rabner put out the Emergent Rule Amendments because New Jersey had 95% UNCONTESTED foreclosure cases. These new amendments is only shifting the burden of PERJURY from the ROBO-SIGNERS to the Plaintiff’s Attorneys. The other New Rules have always existed, but never enforced. The proof is in JP Morgan Chase Bank and Chase Home Finance, LLC ‘s Response to the Supreme Court Justice Order to Show Cause. In their Response, they state that will continue to submit Certifications instead of Affidavits( as required by the New Jersey Statues- Rule 4:64-2(b) ) because they have been previously allowed to submit the Certifications in the past and they site cases to that affect in the Response. As a homeowner in foreclosure in New Jersey, that tells me that the Banks and not the New Jersey judiciary is going to make the rules and enforce them. All this comes to a head supposedly on March 1 and then we will see who makes and enforces the rules in New Jersey.
    Florida and New York has been the leaders in foreclosure advocacy, but the New Jersey judiciary has just reinvented the wheel. Even with these new rules reinstated, reinstated and reinstated, the judges are the ones who have to read and follow them.

  3. l vent says:

    The only thing that is verifiable that the banks did was the mortgage fraud. That is all they have, alot of fraudulent docs and bogus assignments and NO original blue ink notes (so they could cover-up for the origination fraud, and the FRAUDULENTLY INDUCED MORTGAGES) and they have NO deeds. How can they still be fraudclosing with NO ORIGINAL BLUE INK NOTES and NO DEEDS. The trusts are another scam. These so called trust are hiding under new, NOT FDIC INSURED, NOT SECURITIZED identities. These so called “trusts” appear to be the same cabal who robbed all of us and bilked us and unsuspecting investors out of trillions. The whole thing reeks of corruption and yet they are still trying to fraudclose or force fake loan mods to try and save their asses because the eliteist cabal of gangsters stole all of the money. The ROBBER BARONS of the ELITE must not be allowed to STEAL anymore of the people’s money or homes or force any more debt unto the people. They need to be forced to pay for their crimes. The people REF– USE to PAY to cover-up for their PONZI SCHEME ROBBERY OF OUR WEALTH. We The People will not be the slaves of their created serfdom. America is NOT BROKE, America was ROBBED by the elite. THE ELITE and their robber baron CAPITALIST CRONIES MUST PUT BACK THE STOLEN MONEY. WE THE PEOPLE WILL NOT BE SLAVES OF THE ELITE.

  4. Stupendous Man - Defender of Liberty - Foe of Tyranny says:

    Brilliant!

  5. mike says:

    Lisa thanks for this article you are a very smart person, I live in Ohio and would only hope us Ohio’s are helped soon.

  6. John says:

    Lisa,

    Once again, thank you for all your efforts in helping so many.

    I don’t know of a time or person that has taken the responsibility upon themselves to right wrong as far as you have and saved so many.
    Even better, there are so many that have already been hurt that can come back and get the justice they deserved. Good thing is also that justice after the hurt is far more severe than before the hurt.

    Renewed hope is a wonderful thing!

    Again, my hat is off to you and thank you!

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