ForeclosureHamlet.org aka Lisa Esptein’s Response to Nationwide Title Clearing Cease and Desist Letter
March 30, 2011
Michael B. Colgan
GLENN RASMUSSEN FOGARTY & HOOKER
100 South Ashley Drive
Tampa, Florida 33607
RE: Cease and Desist Demand Letter to Lisa Epstein dated March 14, 2011
Dear Attorney Colgan:
Please be advised that this Law Firm has been retained to represent Lisa Epstein regarding your Cease and Desist Letter to Lisa Epstein dated March 14, 2011 seeking to silence Lisa Epstein regarding matters of great public interest in order to discourage debate on these important issues of public concern directly impacting and complicating the foreclosure crisis in Florida.
My first concern with regard to your letter is that you state that your Office is counsel to Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc. (“NTC”) but your Office seems to be seeking redress concerning individuals who are employees of NTC but who are not represented by your law firm. For instance, the first example involving Crystal Moore does not even mention your client, NTC, yet your Office insist that Lisa Epstein remove this very old posting (September 20, 2010) directing her attention to an Order by Sarasota Circuit Judge Rick DeFuria enjoining Christopher Forrest and The Forrest Law Firm, implying that the Judge’s Temporary Injunction somehow applies to her and her blog, www.foreclosurehamlet.org Not only is the Judge’s Order not directed at her or her blog, www.foreclosurehamlet.org but you failed to inform her that on or about December 10, 2010 that Order was appealed by the ACLU, who is representing Christopher Forrest and The Forrest Law Firm, to the Second District Court, which places its viability in question.
I would note that these videotaped depositions can be found in a number of places on the internet including some State Governmental sites. Furthermore, posting a third party article directing people to a YouTube site is not defamation nor can it be considered “posting, publishing, disseminating, or maintaining materials” related to those depositions. All of which is done on YouTube.
In fact, in a letter to the Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Canady, Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida, Executive Direct said, “Putting the videotaped depositions of ‘Robosigners’ on YouTube give the world an opportunity to see how the practices of Banks and Title Companies are affecting homeowners facing financial problems. This is a public service that shouldn’t be subject to a court imposed gag order.” This Letter was co-signed by the Florida Association of Broadcasters, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida Press Association, Florida Times-Union Newspaper, and the First Amendment Foundation. More information can be found at a site that my Office sponsors, www.4closurefraud.org, authored by Michael Redman.
Example two in your letter is an objection to Attorney Lynn Szymoniak’s summary of Brian Bly’s deposition. Now if summarizing the sworn testimony or statements of an individual is actionable then every newspaper and newsroom needs to be shut down immediately. The public would instantly be cast into the dark ages – a time when a few powerful individuals attempted to control the people by keeping the masses in ignorance. As with Example one, NTC is not even mentioned, with the exception that example two indicates that Brian Bly is employed by Nationwide Title Clearing. However, your letter adds the additional information that, in your legal opinion, it is not legally improper for NTC to direct Brian Bly to sign documents as an officer of over 20 banks although Mr. Bly has no knowledge of what he is signing or the contents of the assignments. In other words, your letter admits that he just “robo signs” documents put in front of him because NTC directs him to do it.
Since your are being so open an honest, I will also be open an honest. I have in my office sworn Affidavits – not assignments – signed by both Crystal Moore and Brian Bly. Based on your candid statement, I can surmise that Crystal Moore and Brian Bly sign these affidavits without any knowledge of the contents because they are directed by NTC to sign these documents as an officer of over 20 banks. Does your Law Firm find this policy regarding sworn Affidavits also legally permissible?
It may be your legal opinion that your clients do not need to read the documents that they sign but, in my legal opinion, I inform all my clients to read and understand everything that they sign; especially, if that document is going to be recorded in the county records and used in a court of law as evidence. Moreover, if – as you state – “the signer is not required to read them before signing” – then how do you, as the attorney for NTC, know that Crystal Moore and Brian Bly only signed Assignments since “not reading” a document means, by definition, that neither of them knows what kind of document they signed – whether it be an Assignment, Lost Note Affidavit, Affidavit in Support of Summary Judgment, Satisfaction of Mortgage or any other document – because neither of them had any knowledge of the contents of the documents that they signed. To use your phrase, “I am sure you know” that both Crystal Moore and Brian Bly signed sworn Affidavits of all kinds.
By Mr Bly’s own admission, he signed 5000 documents a day in batches of 200. Assuming an 8 hour day, Mr. Bly would have had to sign over 600 documents every hour or 10 documents every minute. Mr. Bly accomplished this feat by not reading the documents, which prevents him from having any knowledge of the content of the document or what type of document he was signing. I am sure he did not even care what he was signing as his job was signing – not reading, understanding, or knowing. As pointed out in Example 3, the document signed is a Satisfaction of Mortgage – not an Assignment of Mortgage. To sign a Satisfaction of Mortgage, Mr. Bly would have to have some knowledge of whether or not the mortgage was in fact paid off. However, he was not reading the documents he signed, which, of course, begs the questions – Was the mortgage really satisfied?
Example 4, relates to Crystal Moore and Brian Bly signing Affidavits and Example 5 relates to a question posted by a reader of www.foreclosurehamlet.org regarding another employee of NTC, Mary Jo McGowan. Although you state that these statements are false and materially misleading, you don’t explain your statement. In my legal opinion, a person who signs an Affidavit swearing to facts set forth therein without any personal knowledge of those facts is making a false statement. It is fraud on the Court to utilize such fraudulent affidavits as evidence in a court of law. One law firm has, this very week, agreed to pay a paltry $2 Million in fines to Florida regarding the filing of such false affidavits and paper work. I guess that the Attorney General’s Office in Florida is seeking to hold someone “accountable” for these “sworn false statements.”
Twice you make the rather amazing statement that my client “knows” that NTC has duly executed resolutions or power of attorney for the financial institutions for which its employees executed assignments. Need I point out that my client does NOT “know” anything of the sort. I have been practicing in this area of the law (Mortgage Defense Law) since early 2008 and I have never seen such a resolution or power of attorney. So not even I know anything about “resolutions” or “power of attorneys” authorizing Mr. Bly, Ms. Moore, or anybody else to sign for any bank, lender or financial institution. Since these resolutions you mention deal only with “assignments”, can I assume that there are not resolutions authorizing the signing of Affidavits, Satisfactions of Mortgages, or other sworn statements, which have been filed in courts throughout Florida?
Your statement that such confidential resolutions or power of attorneys exists secretly, hidden from view, is meaningless, pointless, and not trustworthy. For example, you provide a copy of a three year old, November 20, 2008 “Unanimous Written Consent of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Citi Residential Lending Inc.” which is neither “unanimous”, as it is signed by only two out of three people, nor does it authorize the signing of any and all assignments no matter what State or legal case the assignments relates. Half the resolution seems to be missing. (See, Page 2). Its not authenticated – but just a copy. Its old. I have no idea if Sanjiv Das and Paul R. Ince have really signed this alleged resolution or are authorized to sign this resolution. The resolution “specifically” relates to something happening in Colorado, not Florida. The resolution is not even valid until NTC executes an Indemnity Agreement. Who knows if NTC executed this Indemnity Agreement. Since this alleged resolution is no longer confidential, can I assume that your Law Office will be making all these “confidential” resolutions or power of attorneys available for discovery should your Client decide to sue my Client?
Again your letter states that these duly-executed corporate resolutions or powers of attorney allows the employees of NTC to execute assignments only. Again, can I assume that there are no secret, confidential resolutions or power of attorneys granting the employees of NTC the right to sign sworn affidavits, satisfactions of mortgages, or other sworn statements? If that is true, as you imply, then any Affidavit, Satisfaction of Mortgage, or sworn statements signed by Mr. Bly, Ms. Moore or other employees of NTC are, consequently, legally invalid.
Now let me tell you a little bit about Lisa Epstein and her blog, www.foreclosurehamlet.org. The blog specifically states that it is for “Supporting, Informing, & Connecting People in Foreclosure.” The blog posts every day the latest news in this very important public interest subject of foreclosure and foreclosure fraud. This area is of such importance that the ACLU has become involved in Florida due to the blatant violations of Floridian’s constitutional due process rights. The Florida Attorney General is actively investigating several law firms for filing false affidavits and false documents in the courts. A paralegal at the now defunct law firm of David Sterns gave a deposition to the Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum’s Office indicating that virtually every affidavit, assignment, or other sworn document coming out of the firm was faked. All these issues and many, many more are tracked on Lisa Epstein’s blog, www.foreclosurehamlet.org.
On a daily basis, Lisa Epstein’s blog provides its readers with up to date information and news regarding events surrounding Foreclosures; including, but not limited to changes in the court administrative rules and recent rulings from Judges throughout Florida. The Blog receives over 3,000 hits every day from people seeking information on this vitally important area of public importance in Florida. In short, www.foreclosurehamlet.org receives approximately 100,000 hits per month. Every day the number of hits increase.
Lisa Epstein’s name is known even in Tallahassee. Recently she was one of the leaders in the Rally to Tally where she traveled with two bus loads of fellow advocates to Tallahassee to protest the new attempts to cut short the due process rights of homeowners in Florida. There in Tallahassee, she met with representatives of the Attorney General’s Office as well as members of the State Legislator regarding bills presently pending before the House of Representatives and State Senate.
Lisa Epstein has been named the Homeowners Advocate by the Palm Beach Post. In December, 2010, Florida Trend named Lisa Epstein and Michael Redman the Florida News-makers of the Year for 2010.
Lisa Epstein and Michael Redman have assisted the Florida Attorney General’s Office in investigating and providing evidence of the the fraudulent documents that have been filed in the county records and in different courts throughout the States. Both Lisa Epstein’s, www.foreclosurehamlet.org, and Michael Redman’s, www.4closurefraud.org, investigative journalism have been responsible for exposing how different signatures appear for the same robosigners, how the banks have filed two blue ink notes, and exposed all the different kinds of fraudulent affidavits, assignments of mortgages, and other fraudulent documents have been filed in the courts and in the county records. Lisa Epstein and Michael Redman have investigated and reported on many issues that are now in the forefront of newspapers and the nightly news. In addition, both web blogs are considered the two most important sites for seeking information in this most critical area for Floridians who are losing their homes and their finances. Without a doubt, Lisa Epstein’s blog, www.foreclosurehamlet.org, concentrates on gathering, selecting, and preparing, for purposes of publication to a mass audience, information about current events of interest and concern to her audience — specifically, “Supporting, Informing & Connecting People in Foreclosure.”
It is well settled law that Lisa Epstein is entitled to the protections provided by the First Amendment with respect to the freedom of free speech. In addition to her investigative work, Lisa Epstein’s republishes articles picked up from other new sources, blogs or internet news sites. In the Pentagon Papers case, New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 714 (1971), the federal government sought to enjoin The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing a stolen classified documents on United State decision-making policy in Vietnam. The documents contained highly classified information that presumably threatened national security. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court held that even those threats to important governmental interests could not overcome the established presumption against prior restraint on speech. It is a “hallowed First Amendment principle that the press shall not be subjected to prior restraints.”
Moreover, the activities of Brian Bly and Crystal Moore have made them infamous throughout the United States. These two names are well-known. Whether Brian Bly or Crystal Moore intended the notoriety, these two people – along with many others – have become famous and will be forever linked to the name “robosigner”. Consequently, any defamation action will need to meet a higher standard to state a cause of action.
My client will not waive her First Amendment Rights which protect and guarantees the full and uninhibited discussion of the vitally important public issues surrounding foreclosure litigation in Florida; especially since there has been no statements that can be reasonably interpreted as stating false and defamatory facts about Mr. Bly or Crystal Moore or NTC reputations, which may warrant stifling the First Amendment rights to public debate. The First Amendment guarantees a full and uninhibited discussion of public issues. In the arena of public discussion, differing views may be voiced within the established limits of verbal discord or rhetorical hyperbole’, and even offensive utterance, without violating the law of defamation; especially, where such statements cannot reasonably be interpreted as stating actual facts about an individual’s reputation. The public has a right to weigh all the facts in arriving at conclusions related to any individual who signs for companies he or she is not employed with or who swears to facts in affidavits where the individual admittedly has no personal knowledge. Fifty States are now investigating these activities. The Florida Bar has now stated that lawyers may loose their Florida Bar licenses over filing such false and fraudulent paper work in the courts.
To the extent that your Law Firm does not represent the individuals you seek redress for, my client declines to comply with your demand letter to abridge her Constitutional Right guaranteed under the First Amendment in favor of demands your Law Firm has no legal right to make. With regard to NTC, you letter simply refers to “implications” you have drawn from statements your Law Firm have interpreted as being defamatory to the reputation of NTC. My client declines to accept those interpretations; therefore, she will continue to exercise her Constitutional Rights of free speech.
As far as Matthew Weidner’s actions with regard to NTC’s law suit, he has chosen the higher ground and the better fight. His energy is better served in the court room and not being drawn off into some legal battle that draws his attention away from the real battle. On the other hand, my client, Lisa Epstein, is an advocate for the People of Florida and her arena is the public. Her strengths are in her First Amendment rights as a journalist and an Advocate. That is why your letter and this response will be posted on her Blog, www.foreclosurehamlet.org, as well as, www.4closurefraud.org.