Somehow, “predatory pro se borrower” reminds me of “The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” Pro se defendants are generally lost souls in the court system. They typically get up, flail around before a frustrated judge, and lose (cinematic examples to the contrary, like “Find Me Guilty,” notwithstanding). So the idea that they could rise to the level of being threatening enough to be “predatory” seems like more than a bit of an oxymoron.
But this document depicts these usually hapless defendants as a danger (hat tip April Charney):
As we learn, the big reason that these clueless defendants have come to annoy plaintiff firms like LockeLordBissell is that
Pro se cases are expensive to defend because the plaintiff’s lack of familiarity with the legal process often creates more work for the defendant
I’m a little surprised at that; perhaps enough judges have patience in dealing with pro se clients that the time spent in court is protracted. But irrespective of the cause, the outcome is that these pro se clients mess up foreclosure mill economics by behaving in non-standard and time-consuming ways; hence they need to be dealt with.
There are some revealing, as well as amusing threads in this presentation. The authors make strong declarations about the motives of borrowers that range from incomplete to biased. For instance, it notes a meaningful uptick in the number of pro se defendants. It blames this development on “negative press….emboldening borrowers to pursue legal action”. It bizarrely makes them sound like the instigators when they are responding to legal action taken against them. And it further contends that many are unwilling to hire attorneys, when the more obvious explanation is they can’t afford counsel and there aren’t enough Legal Aid lawyers to go around.
The presentation also makes a “good defendant/bad defendant” parse, or in this case, “frustrated borrower” versus “predatory borrower”. The only borrowers depicted as having legitimate complaints fall into a short list: those who want a loan modification versus those who are (presumably” trying to get a free house. While there are always scamsters, the idea that there are a significant number of people going to court pro se who are trying to pull a fast one (as opposed to desperate as well as deluded as to their viability with a deep modification) is inconsistent with reports from local courtrooms and foreclosure defense lawyers (including their comments on clients they turn down; they report they see more cases with meritorious defenses than they can handle, and not surprisingly also report that some borrowers simply can’t face the fact that they are too far gone to be salvaged).
Other interesting observations: the document fails to acknowledge servicer-driven foreclosures, which is a non-topic as far as the mortgage industrial complex is concerned. And anyone who resorts to “show me the note” or standing-based arguments is presumed to be a predatory borrower. Did these guys miss first year law, in which all good lawyers learn standing is a threshold issue? If you are vulnerable to a standing challenge (and there would be no reason to list it if there wasn’t a large and growing pile of decisions all over the US that have found this to be a legitimate beef in quite a few cases), exactly who is predatory?
I’d be curious to get informed reader comments on the legal, as opposed to ill-founded moralistic, ideas in this presentation.