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Foreclosure candidates travel to Tallahassee to ensure their day in court: TampaBay.com

Foreclosure candidates travel to Tallahassee to ensure their day in court: TampaBay.com


Foreclosure candidates travel to Tallahassee to ensure their day in court

By Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist
Posted: Apr 21, 2010 05:19 PM

About 60 people from Tampa Bay and West Palm Beach gladly climbed aboard buses in the middle of the night to arrive Wednesday morning outside the Capitol in Tallahassee just to press one issue with legislators.

We may be facing foreclosure on our homes, protesters told elected officials. But do not take away our right to have our day in court before an impartial judge. Do not switch the burden of proof from lender to homeowner. And do not empower banks to pursue “nonjudicial procedures” just to speed up foreclosure proceedings and boot homeowners out of their own houses in just three months.

At 63, Woody Ryan’s been fighting his own foreclosure for more than a year. He hopped aboard a chartered bus in Sarasota at 2 a.m. It made a 3 a.m. stop for passengers in Tampa before speeding on to Tallahassee.

“I came because I wanted to let legislators know that the measures (to alter the foreclosure process) would create definite harm to the rights of people in Florida,” Ryan said via phone from Tallahassee.

One measure, pushed by the Florida Bankers Association and sponsored by Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, ran out of steam last week. A second measure was targeted by the protesters who know enough about politics to realize anything can happen before the session ends.

Florida attorneys who represent folks facing foreclosure are raising red flags over some dangerous legal shortcuts and misrepresentations becoming the norm in a court system awash in foreclosures. The lawyers say many mortgage lenders and their lawyers working for so-called “foreclosure mills” are, in effect, creating “legal” documents with false signatures, and trying to pass them off in court as proof that suing lenders legitimately own the mortgage paper on homes they are trying to seize.

Tampa Bay attorney Mark Stopa, who traveled Wednesday to Tallahassee, represents about 300 area homeowners in foreclosure. Earlier this week, he showed me examples of documents known as “assignment of mortgages” that are supposed to identify the rightful bank owner of a mortgage on a home.

Many such documents are being doctored to appear legitimate. But the lender that made the original mortgage to the then new homeowner never legally handed over that mortgage to the institution now seeking to foreclose.

Stopa says banks already get away with this most of the time because 90 percent of all foreclosure proceedings happen without legal counsel, outside of court, by already financially drained homeowners.

State courts overwhelmed by the volume of foreclosures have been slow to recognize and respond to the corruption of legal documents.

Still, says Stopa, as troubling as foreclosure cases may be in court, they sure beat just letting banks — lenders that may or may not be the rightful mortgage owner — push homeowners out of their houses.

“I trust judges more than bankers,” Stopa says, “and that’s what this boils down to.”

This isn’t just about slippery or careless banks. Many homeowners failed to pay their mortgages. They will eventually have to give up their houses.

But this absolutely is about folks getting a fair shake in an impartial court — without the deception of mass-produced paperwork.

Contact Robert Trigaux at trigaux@sptimes.com

[Last modified: Apr 21, 2010 05:19 PM]

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Rally in Tally to fight new foreclosure bill that would change Florida foreclosure laws

Rally in Tally to fight new foreclosure bill that would change Florida foreclosure laws


Rally in Tally to fight new foreclosure bill that would change Florida foreclosure laws

 Grayson Kamm    

Tampa, Florida — The idea of foreclosures that happen months faster and never go before a judge has some homeowners so angry, they piled onto a bus bound for Tallahassee hours before sunrise Wednesday.

It may have been the wee hours, but these folks were fired up.

A bus scooped up a handful of people at International Plaza in Tampa, and organizers expected to have about two-dozen upset homeowners on board by the time the bus made the last of its passenger pickups and rolled into Florida’s capital at around 8:30 a.m.

The bus-riding protestors are angry about a proposed foreclosure law that’s being pushed in the Florida Legislature by the banking industry.

If the bill is passed, foreclosing banks would be able to switch from a “judicial” to a “non-judicial” foreclosure process. That means — if a bank chooses — a judge would be removed from a foreclosure case, and the dispute would be handled directly between the foreclosing bank and the homeowner.

The process would apply mainly to second homes or rental homes; houses that have a homestead exemption on them would still need a judge’s involvement before the homeowners could be evicted and foreclosed on.

If the change is approved, it could dramatically speed up some kinds of foreclosures.

A “non-judicial” foreclosure could be wrapped up in as little as three months. Judicial foreclosures currently often take more than a year.

Bankers, who are backing the bill, say it will help Florida clear up the backlog of hundreds of thousands of foreclosure cases plugging up the state’s court system.

Supporters also say the bill would help neighbors of empty foreclosed properties by getting those homes back on the market, and help condo associations by putting new owners who will pay association dues into foreclosed units that don’t currently contribute to building maintenance.

Folks fighting against the proposal say it takes away the guarantee that no one will be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” promised by the U.S. Constitution, and the proposal would hand over too much power to banks.

The bus to Tallahassee from Tampa was paid for by the Stopa Law Firm, which handles foreclosure cases in the middle of Florida. The Tampa bus will be joined by similar buses from other parts of the state in Tallahassee.

The bill they’re arguing against originally had the questionable title of “Florida Consumer Protection and Homeowner Credit Rehabilitation Act,” but has since been given more realistic names in the Florida House and Senate.

Both the House and Senate versions of the latest bills, HB 1523 and SB 2270, seemed to die in committee earlier this month, but opponents fear the bills may still be revived this year or next year.

Connect with 10 Connects multi-media journalist Grayson Kamm on Twitter as @graysonkamm, on his Facebook page, or by e-mail at this link.

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RALLY in TALLY Activists Heading to Tallahassee to Oppose Judicial Foreclosures…They are OFF!!

RALLY in TALLY Activists Heading to Tallahassee to Oppose Judicial Foreclosures…They are OFF!!


Just spoke with Foreclosure Hamlet & 4closurefraud:

They are on the bus and on their way to Jacksonville… Follow 4closurefraud tweets here

‘Angel’ of Foreclosure Defense April Charney will kick things off at the Rally in Tally!

Come hear April Charney speak to a crowd of fellow Foreclosure Fraud Fighters at 9 am!

Be sure to Join us at The Rally in Tally Wednesday April 21st, 2010 for a full day at the Capitol

Come tell YOUR Story

We Hope to See YOU There!

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Homeowner Road Trip: Rally in Tallahassee WAY TO GO!!! Huffington Post

Homeowner Road Trip: Rally in Tallahassee WAY TO GO!!! Huffington Post


 

Richard Zombeck Richard Zombeck
HuffPost’s Eyes & Ears Mortgage Specialist
Posted: April 17, 2010 12:30 PM

Homeowner Road Trip: Rally in Tallahassee

In a time when you can stroll over to the computer and rattle off an e-mail to your elected official because you think your taxes are too high or leave an anonymous comment on a blog or article voicing your disapproval with a particular reporter, it would seem that the days of face-to-face action and rallies are unfortunately a thing of the past.Not for a group of activists in Florida heading to the Capitol in Tallahassee on Wednesday, April 21.

Michael Redman (4closureFraud), and Lisa Epstein (Foreclosure Hamlet), in an effort to convince Florida legislators to listen to their constituents, are organizing a transport to the capital. An old fashion road trip of attorneys, advocates, and homeowners. Transportation is being organized and buses will be available from key areas throughout Florida and along major roadways. Redman and Epstein had initially dipped into their own pockets to charter buses for the event.

As of April 16th, according to Redman’s blog, in a Friday post,

“Team Ice in West Palm has sponsored their bus and now one of Pinellas County’s toughest foreclosure fighters has generously agreed to sponsor a bus to make sure any attorney and homeowner who wants to go to Tallahassee and make his or her voice heard has the opportunity to get up there and meet face to face.”
“One of the most inspiring things about all of this is seeing how the defense attorneys are all throwing their time, talent and treasure into this fight.  We all share our ideas, insight and experience because doing so serves the interests of not just our clients but those folks out there who cannot afford an attorney and it especially serves the Constitution we took an oath to protect and the judiciary we respect,”

The most important piece of legislation the group was trying to stop was a push by bankers to change the way Florida handles foreclosures. Florida currently, and always has had Judicial foreclosures. The bank’s proposed legislation would have allowed banks to foreclose on Florida homes without going to court. According to Matt Weidner, a Florida attorney, the bill for now appears to have been stopped in the House, but the Senate will meet next week and according to an old Florida saying, “No one’s safe while the legislature is in session.”

A non-judicial foreclosure would mean that, “you the homeowner won’t automatically get your day in court if your lender tries to take your house away. The way it works right now is the lender is required by law to file a civil lawsuit against you in order to foreclose. You then have to answer it. If you don’t answer it or don’t show up to court, the judge issues a summary judgment against you. In a non-judicial foreclosure everything is done administratively and your right to due process is compromised and you have to beg for your day in court,” as explained by Steve Dibert of MFI-Miami.

Although the bill appears to have died, and the bankers appear to have conceded, this motivated band of advocates doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.

An e-mail from Weidner reads:

As Mark Twain said, ‘News of My death was greatly exaggerated.’ Although the legislation appears to have died, the passion and concern that its introduction incited has only increased with word of its demise.  Tapping into broad based anxiety and concern felt by homeowners all across Florida, the group has turned its focus from defeating this legislation to demanding legislation that will increase protections for Florida homeowners. Talk about turning the tables.  They are meeting with Senator Mark Aronberg and Rep. Darren Soto who introduced a “Homeowner’s Bill of Rights“. They’re asking that this legislation be resurrected… at the very least they want to make sure their legislators are fully aware of their concerns and the problems they’re facing.

According to Weidner’s press release,

“The response from legislators to this movement has been awe-inspiring. Our leaders in Washington may have trouble hearing the voices of their people, but the leaders who represent us in Tallahassee hear the voice of the people loud and clear! Already leaders from both houses have graciously agreed to meet with their voters, we’re confident many more will agree to meet with us when we arrive.”

Michael Moore spoke of the apathy and lack of action he witnessed despite his tireless work drawing attention to key issues affecting millions of Americans.

“Two years ago, I tried to get the health-care debate going, and it did eventually, and now where are we? We may not even have it. What am I supposed to do at a certain point?, ” Moore said in an 2009 Toronto press conference.

I wrote about that similar frustration with apathy in “Where are the Screaming Liberals?,” back in September 2009.

It’s refreshing and inspiring to think that may be changing.

Denise Richardson (givemebackmycredit.com) posted the following from Lisa Epstein on her blog:

This is not just for homeowners!We are ALL reduced by the actions behind the mortgage frauds and scams. Tenants! Anyone who relies on any public service funded by our now shrunken tax revenues! Anyone owning any property at all, fully paid off or not. Any business owner! Unemployed family members! Credit card/bank account fees victims! Those with drained 401Ks and college savings accounts!

We will be heard as was the Florida Bankers Association on their own “Capitol Day” on March 10, 2010. Florida Bankers, guess what? You wanted a “Taste of Florida”? You are gonna get one! We are having our own “Capitol Day”! But our collective voices will be a harmony; louder, clearer, unwavering, and with a foundation firmly planted in the historical roots of our country as a nation for WE, THE PEOPLE!

Bankers and other stealth foreclosing entities, listen up! We are NOT boobs, chumps, doormats, dupes, easy marks, fools, goats, gulls, patsies, pigeons, pushovers, saps, scapegoats, schmucks, sitting ducks, stooges, suckers, victims, or weaklings, And we most certainly are not “deadbeats”!

To find out more about the rally and let them know you’ll be along for the ride, see Redman’s site at 4closurefraud.org or Weidner’s blog for more information.

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GARY DUBIN LAW OFFICES FORECLOSURE DEFENSE HAWAII and CALIFORNIA
Kenneth Eric Trent, www.ForeclosureDestroyer.com

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