Merrigan v. Bank of New York | ACLU Charges High-Speed Florida Foreclosure Courts Deprive Homeowners Of Chance To Defend Homes

ACLU Charges High-Speed Florida Foreclosure Courts Deprive Homeowners Of Chance To Defend Homes

April 7, 2011

“Mass Foreclosure Docket” In Lee County Ignores Procedural Safeguards In Rush To Clear Cases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

CAPE CORAL, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a petition in a Florida appellate court charging that the foreclosure court system in Lee County systematically denies homeowners a fair opportunity to defend their homes against foreclosure.

The special “mass foreclosure docket” established in December 2008 operates under rules that differ substantially from those that govern the rest of Lee County’s civil cases and was designed to speed through as many foreclosure cases as possible without providing homeowners facing foreclosure a meaningful opportunity to develop their cases or present defenses, according to the petition.

“Operating against the backdrop of well-documented disarray and fraud in mortgage documentation, the shortcuts taken in Lee County courts mean that homeowners may never have a meaningful opportunity to refute faulty evidence supposedly supporting foreclosure,” said Larry Schwartztol, staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program. “By elevating speed over accuracy, Lee County subjects homeowners to foreclosure proceedings that violate the due process rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”

The petitioner in the ACLU’s case, Georgi Merrigan of Cape Coral, FL, is facing foreclosure after leaving her job as a flight and ground paramedic to care full time for her husband, who suffered massive injuries in a catastrophic car accident. Merrigan has every intention of vigorously contesting her foreclosure case. But because Merrigan’s case is assigned to the “mass foreclosure docket,” the ACLU charges that she cannot get a fair shot at defending her home. The ACLU’s petition asks that Merrigan’s case be re-assigned to the general civil division so that she will be afforded due process under the Florida and U.S. Constitutions.

“No one should ever have to go to court with the deck already stacked against them,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “Nowhere does it say someone is entitled only to the justice we have time for. We can’t allow the basic protections of due process to be the victim of judicial shortcuts.”

The ACLU’s petition is the culmination of a months-long investigation into foreclosure court systems throughout the state of Florida, where media reports have long suggested that the constitutionally-protected due process rights of homeowners have been ignored in a rush to push foreclosure cases through the courts. With one in every 288 housing units in foreclosure, Lee County has the highest percentage of foreclosures in the state of Florida, arguably the epicenter of the nation’s foreclosure crisis.

According to the ACLU’s petition, officials in Lee County seek to clear the foreclosure court docket as quickly as possible, at the expense of complying with basic procedural rules. Despite explicit instructions from the chief justice of the state supreme court that reducing the backlog of foreclosure cases should not “interfere with a judge’s ability to adjudicate each case fairly on its merits,” judges move through cases at lightning speed, sometimes seeing as many as 200 cases a day, according to the petition.

“Despite the extremely high stakes for homeowners, procedural violations in the ‘mass foreclosure docket’ are rampant,” said Rachel Goodman, an attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program. “Homeowners face systemic handicaps, and banks get a pass in proving their cases because the courts have effectively suspended the rules that give homeowners a chance to review the evidence against them.”

About 25 percent of Lee County’s population is black or Latino, and government data show that the foreclosure crisis across the country has disproportionately impacted communities of color. According to a recent report by the Center for Responsible Lending, nearly 8 percent of both African Americans and Latinos have lost their homes to foreclosures, as compared to 4.5 percent of whites. Additionally, the indirect losses in wealth that result from foreclosures as a result of depreciation to nearby properties will also disproportionately impact communities of color. The Center for Responsible Lending report estimates that by the end of 2012, the African American and Latino communities will be drained of $194 and $177 billion, respectively, in these indirect “spillover” losses alone.

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4closureFraud.org

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Merrigan v. Bank of New York – Petition Challenging Constitutionality Of Lee County, FL Foreclosure Court

Merrigan v. Bank of New York – Appendix

Comments
10 Responses to “Merrigan v. Bank of New York | ACLU Charges High-Speed Florida Foreclosure Courts Deprive Homeowners Of Chance To Defend Homes”
  1. Mary says:

    I started reading the petition yesterday around 4. First I read the Appendix. I was transfixed. Could not stop and certainly didn’t know that I would be spending the next few hours reading, taking only a couple of short breaks to do things that needed to be done..ie: dinner. I couldn’t read the sideways papers and perhaps will find that ‘pamphlet’ somewhere else so kinda of skimmed it leaned over. Finished some four hours later by reading the first 52 pages. I take back everything I said in some of the other threads about honest attorneys and the potential to make alot of money winning cases for homeowners, I was wrong…it certainly won’t be happening in Lee County. And this is one County, one Court. How many of these ‘Courts’ exist in the U.S.
    I kept wondering what the judges and lawyers reading this (or that will read this) thought. Will they be as ashamed of their chosen career as I am. The saying “Pride always goes before the fall” is so true.

    What really sickened me was how the victims of the scam had to address the judge as “Your Honor” but Bill, the banks attorney called the judge…”judge”. A friendly term, a common bond. The victims were reduced to pleading and honoring a criminal in a black robe. Can only imagine how big his ego was after seeing the little people groveling at his feet for hours and the stories he told having his cocktails after a hard day at the office, laughing about all the pitiful people and pitiful stories he had to endure that took more than 5 minutes of his time on rocket docket day. And the nerve of throwing out terms like ‘assignment’ that the Court didn’t understand so it didn’t have to address.

    I am wondering about the friends and family of the ‘Court’. Are they proud of their judge. Are they proud to read his actual words printed online for the world to read. The whole world! Do they have a clue what has just happened here…my mind tells me they don’t, no, they don’t have a clue. I doubt they will read any of this and those in the company of the “Court” who do know, who did read it will pretend they didn’t and life will go in their fairy tale world.

    Bless Georgi Merrigan and the ACLU…all the people involved and everyone that reads this powerful work. I thought I knew, but I didn’t, I learned so much, another piece of the scam falls into place. Another dot connected. (And now I know why 60 minutes ran their story…they couldn’t not.)

    • l vent says:

      It is sickening to go to court and see the way these judges treat the homeowners, who are in my opinion, the true victims of FORECLOSUREGATE.These HOMES were OUR AMERICAN DREAM, OUR BIGGEST INVESTMENT IN OUR LIVES FOR MOST OF US. WE NEVER AGREED TO INVEST IN THIS PONZI SCHEME. I had a hunch that these judges were invested in the MBS fraud as well as CONgress and many of the ATTORNEYS, and sure enough someone commented here at this website that is absolutely true. These very Judges that took an oath to deliver justice, are also part and parcel to the ownership of the FRAUDULENT MBS’s. That right there is a completely UNCONSTITUTIONAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST AS WELL AS IS the GOVERNMENT SPONSORED ENTERPRISE, FANNIE AND FREDDIE’s INVESTMENTS IN THESE MORTGAGES. THE GSE’s SHOULD NEVER have been allowed to invest in this PONZI SCHEME. Going to court and witnessing first hand these JUDGES NEARLY SHOUTING AT HOMEOWNERS, YOU BETTER BE PAYING YOUR MORTGAGE, WHILE YOU ARE TRYING TO GET A LOAN MOD. IT IS COMPLETE TYRANNY, A DICTATORSHIP. VERY UNDEMOCRATIC AND VERY DEMEANING FOR DEFENSELESS HOMEOWNERS. RESCIND OUR LOANS, THEY NEVER EXISTED. THE ORIGINATION FRAUD COMPLETELY DESTROYED ANY PROOF OF VALIDITY OF OWNERSHIP BY ANY LENDER OR INVESTOR. OUR TITLES AND PUBLIC RECORDINGS PROVE ONE THING AND ONE THING ONLY, THE ORIGINAL LENDER NEVER EXISTED. IT WAS ALL A SCHEME, A SCAM TO CREATE COLLATERAL FOR THE GSE’s TO SPECULATE WILDLY WITH ON WALL STREET. THEY NEVER PERFECTED THE COLLATERAL LIEN BECA– USE THEY WERE MAKING TRILLIONS OFF OF US BY USING US AS THEIR COLLATERAL UP ON WALL STREET AND SELLING THAT FRAUD TO INVESTORS WHO WERE MAINLY INSIDERS, LIKE CONGRESSMEN AND JUDGES. THIS WAS AN INSIDE JOB WELL PLANNED AND INSTITUTED BY TREASONISTS POSING AS AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND WHO ARE WELL HIDDEN WITHIN OUR OWN GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE. RESCIND OUR LOANS.

    • Mary…You question how the friends and family feel about the courts / judges….well, I really don’t think they even care…afterall they are not the ones who are fighting to save their homes…they are not the ones being talked to like a dog…after all…. these judges bring home a fat paycheck and carry a title of being a judge. That is all that matters to these people… they are a rude..obnoxious arrogant class of people. I am the type of person who would feel that if a judge talked to me like that…I would take it as that judge has a background not fitting to be a judge.
      I have not read all of the pages yet…but I do know what I have read before on this court and it was shocking that it was even allowed to be run like this…This is not justice…it doesn’t even come close. Thank heavens my daughter does not live in that area….it sucks. Those poor people who had to deal with that… I read where one judge in that court even said he did not go by the laws…I guess he had his own laws…just like the banksters have their own laws. I wonder if this ‘ type ‘ of judges sleep with one eye open. Something has to be done to stop this arrogant system of justice. It will be interesting to hear the outcome of this court case.

  2. Maria says:

    I was today in the Duval County Courthouse where I filed Motion to Substitute of Plaintiff, to Dismiss Case With Prejudice and for damages (32 pages of Exhibits). I filed also the Notice of Evidentiary Hearing for …opposing Counsel – they are so shy! I want them to show their hands, it is time to answer my 4th Request for Production (previously ones NEVER have been answered). Clerks of “foreclosure” Court were in punic, they told me that judge WILL NOT set such hearing at date you show, how did you choose this date? This is DEAD LINE to answer the discovery request. Simple! or no, no, no! I said you are clerks, you MUST accept ALL papers people bring you. Their eyes were like silver dollar… Then I added that my Motion set for Hearing before Circuit Judge, not Senior Judge. They are keeping my Case about two years and do NOTHING! I’m sick & tired to “MEDIATE” with NO-PLAINTIFF and before closed door. About 30 min. I tried to educate clerks about Rules of Civil Procedure with no success… They paid for their time, but I am PRO SE. Why should I told to them at all? They must take my paper, enter into computer Record and put on judges table, they must decide what to do with it. Right? I received three (3) Assignments AFTER FACT, but ALL of them FORGED. I just check on Google the address of, so called, Plaintiff and no such address exists whatsoever…. What a hell is it? How long those judges are going to torture people??? Some ideas???

    • In my belief… I say the backlog of foreclosure cases is to be blamed on the courts and the Plaintiff and their Mills…It is not the fault of the respondents. The respondents follow the rules but the rules end there. As far as the ‘ dead line ‘ or the time limit goes to answer the discovery…the respondents better get the answer in before midnight of that date or they are screwed…BUT…the plaintiff refuses to answer the discovery and goes for months and months into years and not a damn thing is done to them. In most cases they NEVER answer. Does this not tell you that the courts have ‘ premeditated ‘ the case or cases before even going to court.? Most judges ( Not all judges) look over fraud as if air…fraud filed in court mind you…and it is approved by a judge….So what does that say about that judge??? NOT hard to answer that one….the writting is on the wall….Being PRO SE is a hard way to go…and what I have read and heard most judges look the other way…no consideration given for someone fighting to prove fraud done to them and the courts. With this…one can only keep on fighting… motion after motion…don’t give up…cause that is what the courts and plaintiffs want ..for you to give up the fight. Lets hope some changes come after this court case in Lee County is over…the homeowners are treated like the criminal when in fact the criminals are the plaintiffs and the mills standing in front of a judge with lies and fraud……the courts have this all backa$$ward…this is so disgusting.

  3. Heartmuscle says:

    I read it all. Special thanks go to the ACLU, Mr. Marshall & Ms. Kayanan in Miami and Mr. Schwartztol & Ms. Goodman in New York. It’s wonderful work of composition and presentation. Completely wall-to-wall and irrefutably compelling; an indictment of the Lee County judicial system exposing it for the Alice In Wonderland kangaroo nonsense that it truly is.

    Great work, all. The residents of Lee County will sleep better tonight.

    Heartmuscle

  4. Fury says:

    ACLU,
    thank you!
    homeowners’ civil rights have been egregiously violated and no one seems to give a damn!

  5. l vent says:

    AMERICA is SOO UNBELIEVABLY CORRUPTED and our POLITICIANS are such COWARDS that the unions are coming to the forefront of FORECLOSUREGATE and THE UNIONS are trying to protect our rights and save the people from FRAUDCLOSURE? ALL POLITICIANS MUST BE THROWN OUT ON THEIR HEADS. DO NOT VOTE FOR ANY OF THE DEMORATS OR ANY OF THE REPUBLICONS IN 2012, HERE IS THE PROOF THEY WERE ALL IN ON THIS WHOLE SCHEME. RESCIND OUR LOANS.

    • The silence is the dead ringer….silence tells it all. As far as I am concerned they are useless…every single one of them. they all have had a joy ride …but it will end. I have an idea of who may be the one to come to the ‘ rescue ‘ of America. I don’t believe he carries either party as a ‘ label ‘ . But time will tell on this.
      But the corruption has been there for many years….there were warning signs all along…Dem or Rep. it didn’t matter….money talks big time. End the lobbyists….crime breeds crime. ..end the federal reserve… money worth nothing makes no sense…..money needs a backup…a value worth something. JFK wanted the money backed in gold and silver…It’s a shame he was murdered. He saw the light……..So we welcome the Union… and to say Thanks for whatever help they can give….Florida homeowners have to fight this on our own…No State or Federal help…AG that hasn’t ‘ got it yet ‘….and the courts ‘ who MAY be getting it ‘..,,,AND A LEGISLATURE THAT ARE BUDDIES WITH THE BANKSTERS ASSOCIATION …..DO WE NEED HELP>>>YES WE DO….IN MORE AREAS THAN ONE..

      • I called the help we are so thankful for… the Union … but it is the American Civil Liberties Union…..I took a short cut but that may throw some people to think I meant the ‘ Union”…..

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