More Evidence That Judges Have Had it With Banks

Today, we linked to an article in the New York Times that illustrates a considerable change in the attitude of some judges in the wake of the robosigning scandal. Before, the assumption was that of course, the bank was right and any borrower trying to block a foreclosure had better have an awfully compelling case. But a lot of judges were stunned by the level and institutionalization of bank abuses of procedure. And in a small, happy note, some of the employers of the worst foreclosure mills are finally cutting them lose. Per Michael Olenick, Fannie Mae has ceased doing business with the Baum law firm in New York (the one with the now notorious 2010 Halloween party that made fun of mortgage borrowers fighting foreclosures as future homeless people).

We first got wind of this decision below from Matt Weidner. Frankly, it reads like a parody, but we got it from April Charney, and it does have the stamps you’d see on the real deal. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it even if it is an artful fabrication, and even more if someone with access to Pacer can confirm that it is genuine.

Phillips v US Bank, N.a., Sup Ct Carroll Cty Ga.20111102

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  1. Bill Clay

    I think this is real. The Hon. Dennis Blackmon is a judge on Georgia’s Coweta Circuit, which includes Carroll County. See for contact info.

    An old campaign Web page is still on line. Judging by its content, he looks like a good fella. I can believe he’s the source of this gem.

    I bet if you called him up to verify it, he’d be delighted and informative (within the confines of judicial discretion).

  2. Cheyenne

    Didn’t the CEO of US Bank recently state that “the banks are breaking the law, blah, blah, blah; get over it”?

    Too bad he found a judge who disagreed with his legal analysis.

  3. weinerdog43

    I don’t know much about bankruptcy law, but I DO know basic trial law, and I felt the smackdown all the way over here in Illinois. Unless the bank can produce some extremely good reasons for the failure to modify, the judge has just drawn a roadmap for the plaintiff’s bad faith case against the bank.

    Even if they want to settle now, you would have to be an idiot plaintiff attorney to consider settling. I wonder if GA law permits treble damages on bad faith cases?

  4. LucyLulu

    Another jurist whose patience has worn thin, from yesterday’s editorial pages:

    Justice Catherine M. Bartlett of New York State Supreme Court cut off the lawyer. You, she said, are telling me lies.

    “Bank of America got a bailout, and this is an outrage, how this man has been treated,” she said. “Hard-working, middle-class Americans are trying to make it, trying to refinance with your bank.”

    Either bank officials show up in person, the justice said, or I’m going to order them “here in handcuffs.”

  5. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    I’ve reached out to the judge for an interview; his secretary is seeing if he’ll chat with me, either about the order or his views on the crisis generally. I’ll write up whatever happens.

    I loved the Arlo Guthrie reference, even though it’s ironic that it takes an awakened judiciary to get ‘blind justice’

  6. Dave of Maryland

    Some of these judges will be standing for reelection next year. Cold, heartless judges who throw people out of their homes might face some unexpected competition.

    1. Art Eclectic

      More likely that the banks will finance their own candidates that are more friendly. See also, SCOTUS.

      1. PL

        Or have done so already. There are plenty judges who rule in favor of banks that refuse to communicate about mods and commit illegal acts to foreclose. Campaign contributions should be scrutinized.

  7. Wendy

    I have access to PACER but only al courts are available through this (federal) service. This decision is from a state court; state courts have not gone electronic so it is not available electronically. However a phone call to chambers will confirm its authenticity; hopefully Ms Fields above is at least confirming this.

  8. Blurtman

    “Mr. Pecora found more questions than answers, and insisted on more subpoenas, more forensic investigators and more brokers testifying under oath. Like a man reaching into a barrel of dead fish, he found a great stink. Not least, he discovered that National City (the lineal ancestor of the same misbehaving Citigroup) had sold flawed investments and that its president engaged in something close to tax evasion.

    Seventy-eight years later, the Obama administration has Shaun Donovan, secretary of housing and urban development; the economic adviser Gene Sperling; and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. dialing liberals, activists and bloggers, urging them to pressure the rebellious attorneys general to forgo emotionally satisfying inquiries and take the deal.

    Banks make money and find loopholes, the president noted last month. These actions aren’t “necessarily against the law.”

    That raises the question: How does he know?”….

    Obama on the Jay Leno show, a mere two and a half months into his first term as president, absent any investigation by his administration:

    “Here’s the dirty little secret, though. Most of the stuff that got us into trouble was perfectly legal.”

    How would he have known this at the time? Sadly, it seems that this is the message that he has been directed to issue, and that he continues to do so.

    1. Ye Olde Eric

      Extra credit if you can spot the editorial bias in the second quoted paragraph. Hint: It’s not especially subtle.

          1. Justicia

            Nothing is real but what you feel. And TPTB want us to believe in the “feel good” economy of extend and pretend.

            If a real investigation showed that banksters have engaged in massive fraud, investors were swindled, and homeowners were bilked we wouldn’t feel so good about the economy. We might even want to change the system and put the crooks in jail.

    1. weinerdog43

      It’s a simple Motion to Dismiss. It does not need to cite anything. It can be as perfunctory as ‘Denied’.

    2. Jude

      True, he cited no laws, because none needed to be cited.

      The bank wanted the case dismissed. The Judge just said that they had no legal grounds to have the case against them dismissed, as stuff is already looking “iffy” concerning the banks.

    3. Yearning to Learn

      Did you ever stop to think that no citations are needed in such a clear cut and dry case? that USBank’s position is so preposterous that they received an equally preposterous judgement.

      No citations are needed here… it is adequate to simply state Georgia law (as the Judge did).

      Georgia and Federal law DO prohibit wrongful foreclosure. Do you really need a citation for that?

      Georgia law DOES allow a party to sue for negligence. Is a citation needed to prove that claim either?

      Georgia Law does allow a third party to sue if the third party is the intended beneficiary. Again, a citation is needed? (judge does state that there is little case law specifically with HAMP as it is such a new program).

      Again: the judge isn’t saying that the plaintiff should WIN the argument. He is only saying that the argument deserves a trial by jury.

      let US Bank come to court and make their case in front of a jury, just like everybody else.

      No thrown out cases for them.

      I forget who says it often around here, but these lawyers and bankers SHOULD be laughed out of court, and many of them into prison.

      1. dmyers

        As satisfying as this opinion is, he got the law related to the SPA wrong: numerous cases have found that there is *not* a third party beneficiary right to sue on the part of a person seeking a modification. This is in contrast to a claim under the TPP (temp. payment plan).

        While this won’t matter, at least right away, because you can’t generally appeal a denial of an MTD, the opinion is long on demagoguery and short on legal reasoning. I want someone to eviscerate the banks and be strong on the law, dammit.

  9. Earl Killian

    I think this judge will suddenly find a very well-funded opponent in the next election as US Bank exercises its “free speech” right under Citizens United v. FEC. This is presumably what Justice Kennedy had in mind when he authored that infamous opinion.

  10. kravitz

    More whining from Moynihan. Courtesy the plutocrat’s media outlet.

    Moynihan: Banking Now Not as Profitable

    “Bank of America Corp. (BAC) Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan said that slow economic growth and new regulations mean that the “new normal” in retail banking won’t be as profitable as before.

    The second-biggest U.S. lender by deposits is cutting costs and seeking to sell more services to existing clients to adjust, Moynihan said today at a conference in New York. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company loses money doing business with many households at its consumer-banking operation, he said.”

    1. Blunt

      What a wonderful dismissal of the motion to dismiss!!

      Although I agree that if Georgia has elections for those judgeships then I’m certain that the oligarchs will try to make an example of Judge Blackmon. Although when this goes viral I suspect that Judge Blackmon may have a hard time losing to anyone in such an election, regardless of money spent to oust him. Somehow ya gotta have voters to vote against him. The money will be the easy part.

      The addition of a NY judge effectively requesting the presence of representatives of BoA is also a salutary development.

      Personally, I’m finding the politicos from Mayor 1% to Obama to Boehner to Newt and Cain are just simply so blighted in their perceptions that they no longer realize that the very people they are asking for votes are so far beneath their comprehension of what’s important that they will never, ever be able to provide any sort of political or economic action or leadership that will appeal and seem legitimately helpful to the vast majority of us.

      Their worlds are totally subsumed in being beholden to and emulating the upper classes and the lapdogs of the upper classes. That’s why someone like Dean Baker is never, ever mentioned as someone the politicos pay any attention to at all.

      Hopefully there will be more judges like Blackmon and Bartlett who live close enough to the “real people” that they can make rulings that uphold law, rather than what the candidates and the talking heads of any and all of the networks and major papers “think” the law is.

  11. Jane

    ‘The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company loses money doing business with many households at its consumer-banking operation, he said.’

    Well then – let’s all help them out and move our money to a credit union!

    1. Mark P.

      Indeed, a good analysis, and all the better for its astringent ‘paleo-leftism’. Thanks for linking to it.

    1. just me

      Emptywheel has a story: Two MI Counties File Class Action Suit against MERS and Banks for Being Tax Cheats

      that links to court papers:

      Earlier story emptywheel had done on Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel:

      with youtube transcript:

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