You know the powers that be are pretty desperate when they feel compelled to go after a Legal Aid attorney.
Admittedly, April Charney is no ordinary Legal Aid attorney. She was one of the first lawyers to focus on the question of whether party showing up in court really was the right party and whether it could demonstrate that it had the right to foreclose. Most judges (as in the non-captured-by-corporations kind) regard these as threshold issues. If someone shows up in court claiming that you owe them money and they want the judge to garnish your wages, I’m sure you’d want the judge to listen if the person who wanted your money couldn’t prove he had gotten your IOU from the chap who had made a loan to you years ago.
Charney has helped lawyers in Florida and around the US with these types of arguments, and has also been active in the group of lawyers working with Max Gardiner in North Carolina. She’s a diligent researcher and keeps on top of the rulings in her arena.
In some ways I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner, but pro bank members of the Florida bar are apparently orchestrating an effort to get Charney fired from Legal Services of Jacksonville, which on its face is absurd. If you want to help April, 4ClosureFraud has provided names and contact information of the JALA (I assume Jacksonville Area Legal Aid) board members. I hope you tell them (nicely) that getting rid of Charney, given her track record, would raise a lot of questions and likely very unfavorable press for JALA.
By way of background, Lender Processing Services, a firm that provides various software platforms and other services to mortgage servicers, is in a great deal of hot water. Its stock is down over 50% despite buybacks to prop it up, largely as a result of litigation taking aim at its dubious business model (see here and here for background).
Here are the details from FolioWeekly:
It’s not really surprising that attorneys whose law firms represent those big mortgage holders would like to silence Charney and punish her boss JALA executive director Michael Figgins for not reining her in. But it’s shocking that attorneys from Holland & Knight, the firm that represents LPS, and a local judge would be working behind the scenes to convince the JALA board to fire Figgins as a set up to go after Charney.
On August 3, Holland & Knight attorneys Buddy Schulz and Dominic MacKenzie and Duval County Circuit Court Judge Hugh Carithers hosted an informal lunch at the law offices with 10 members of the board of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and JALA board president Hugh Cotney. A painting of a pod of sharks that hangs in the lobby of Holland & Knight offices set the tone.
Schultz, MacKenzie and Judge Carithers, who told the group he wasn’t speaking as a judge but as a private person, yeah right, described Charney as a “loose cannon.” Cotney seemed to share their view. They criticized her for embarrassing Jacksonville by bringing Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi to the foreclosure court of Judge A.C. Soud. (Taibbi wrote a wickedly scathing story on foreclosure in Florida that was published in November 2010 issue of the magazine). Charney’s lawsuit against the sacred cow nonprofit HabiJax was also discussed. Charney represents residents of HabiJax’s Fairway Oaks subdivision, which was built on top of an old garbage dump, see Folio Weekly, “Buyer’s Remorse,” published Feb. 13, 2007. fairway-oaks-1 fairway-oaks-2 fairway-oaks-3 fairway-oaks-4 fairway-oaks-5 fairway-oaks-6 fairway-oaks-7 (The details of negotiations between Legal Aid and Habijax have been discussed at JALA board meetings but are supposed to be kept private, and it bothered one board member that the Holland and Knight attorneys, who aren’t on the board, seemed to know about it.)
The lunch was billed as a casual one, but the intent was to build a consensus to replace Figgins. His contract is up for review and board members will be asked to make of vote of confidence in his leadership at their September meeting. In addition to Charney, the attorneys also opposed the surcharge on criminals tagged for JALA and a commercial where Figgins talks about the support of JALA by personal injury attorney Eddie Farah. A board member said it was wrong that Figgins wasn’t there to defend himself. “It was kind of a covert friendly little conversation over lunch,” she said, “but it felt like a mutiny.”
If this crowd thinks getting rid of April is going to be a plus from a reputation standpoint, I shudder to think what Taibbi might do to them on a second go round. This sort of thing shows the arrogance of local fixers who fail to realize that trying to cover up corruption once the public is on to the con has high odds of backfiring.