“To me this appears to be some type of a midnight pardon,” Bates said. “It certainly sends a confusing message to the public and to the courts and the 10th Circuit as to why the chief law enforcement agency in the state is dismissing its claims in defense of the laws of the state.”
Lawyers question Shurtleff’s 180 in foreclosure case
Just days before leaving office, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has reversed the state’s position and personally signed on to a settlement in a foreclosure lawsuit that Bank of America appeared to be losing.
The practical effect of Shurtleff’s move, according to an attorney who filed the lawsuit, is to weaken Utah’s ability to enforce state law. It also weakens the state’s position in other lawsuits challenging foreclosures carried out by ReconTrust Co., Bank of America’s foreclosure arm, Abraham Bates said.
Members of the Attorney General’s Office said Shurtleff’s actions blind-sided them, but they declined to comment publicly. The office had previously successfully intervened in the case as a plaintiff and argued that ReconTrust had violated state law in foreclosing on Utah homeowners Timothy and Jennifer Bell.
U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins, who presides over the case, issued a strong ruling in favor of the homeowners’ and the state’s position. The assistant attorneys general conducting the state’s case hoped to keep it alive for a final ruling by Jenkins before a likely appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for a definitive decision that would guide other similar lawsuits.
Shurtleff leaves office on Monday and has announced he’ll join the international law firm of Troutman Sanders LLP. On its website, the firm says it “regularly represents Bank of America.”