“Sometimes You Gotta Roll The Hard Six” – Commander William Adama
Abigail Field who normally writes for AOL Daily Finance, had a great article in Fortune on Monday talking about how foreclosure litigation is a crap shoot in Florida because some judges still want to blame the homeowner for their foreclosure regardless of what the bank or the bank’s attorney did wrong. Even now there are judges who still take this stance even with every media outlet in the country doing a piece on Robo-signing and the shenanigans of foreclosure mills run by David J. Stern or Marc Ben-Ezra.
Many of us who have been involved in this fight against the banks can tell you this problem isn’t just a Florida problem. I see it with my Michigan clients all day long. I’m even getting ready to file a Request For Investigation with the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission into the actions of Oakland County Circuit Judge Martha Anderson. The only reason why my request hasn’t been filed yet is because I’m waiting for a copy of the transcript from Lynne Lucas’ hearing on February 9th.
At the Lucas hearing, Judge Anderson didn’t seem to care about how the attorneys for Orlans filed fraudulent documents with Benzie County, violated Michigan law or that they conducted attorney misconduct. She had a prepared judgment on hand that appeared to have been written nearly two weeks before the motion hearing. When I get the transcript I will be making it available to the people who read this site.
Judge Anderson is also a woman who was accused of using her influence as a judge to have another Oakland County Judge declare her mother-in-law incompetent so her husband could become her legal guardian.
She also tried to get her husband elected Circuit Court Judge in Oakland County but his campaign fell apart when it was discovered his law license was suspended in the late 1990s for what his sister called, “aiding and abetting the fraud of one of the insurance companies he represents”
You also have Judge Michael Haley in Traverse City, Michigan who was once censured by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission for openly taking a gift in open court from an attorney. In one hearing he actually dictated to a foreclosure mill attorney how to present a Motion for Summary Judgment and ignored the ineptness of Trott & Trott Attorney, Charles Milne.
One of Judge Haley’s clients from his days as a public defender twenty years earlier had his murder prison sentence and conviction re-examined by a judge on appeal because of “inadequate legal representation” by Michael Haley. The client was accused of killing a gas station attendant by shooting him in the head from across the street with an M-16 assault rifle. The only problem was Haley’s client was discharged from the Army 18 months before because he had blind spot in his eye which prevented him from aiming the rifle correctly. A defense Haley never mentioned at his trial.
In the Lucas case, the consensus was to try it in Oakland County where Orlans committed the document fraud because the judges may be a little more in tune to the Robo-signing scandals and misconduct committed by attorneys at foreclosure mills across the US. Lucas’ attorney rolled the hard six and lost. However, this case is still alive because of Judge Kida of the 85 District Court in Benzie County adjourned Lucas’ eviction for thirty days because Orlans’ substitute counsel, former Benzie County Prosecutor, Antony Cicchelli couldn’t prove Fannie Mae had legal standing. Cicchelli was forced to agree to the thirty day adjournment because Orlans neglected to tell him about the history of this case or give him any supporting information.
I have friends who are lawyers and I make lawyers a lot of money. The problem is not that these judges are not necessarily prejudiced against homeowners, it’s because they were bad lawyers who became bad judges. How do the good lawyers from the bad ones? The good lawyers live in big houses and don’t run for judge because it would mean taking an 80-90% pay cut. Judge Anderson never litigated a case before becoming a judge. She was a mediator for the family court and Haley worked as public defender. So when these two attorneys got elected judge they received a 300% pay increase.
These two judges didn’t begin their legal careers working for their respected counties out of some sense of community service, it was because they couldn’t compete for the jobs at the more prestigious firms. This is also true for lawyers who work for legal-aid clinics and foreclosure mills but that another story.
Now don’t don’t get me wrong, I’ve known some great attorneys in Michigan who have become great judges, namely, the late Wayne County Judge Kaye Tertzag who was a role model of what a judge should be and strive for. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway is another great jurist who was brilliant lawyer before becoming a judge.
Michigan homeowners have two choices, they can wait until their judges finally wake up as the majority of the judges did in Florida. Michigan is where Florida was three years ago in terms of foreclosure defense. In 2008, judges held the same attitude that most Michigan judge have now, that a foreclosure is all the homeowner’s fault. It wan’t until the Florida Supreme Court got involved and the Robo-signing scandal broke that the circuit judges there started paying attention.
A robo-signing scandal is about to break wide open in Michigan within the next 30 days. So with any luck, judges in Michigan who have to answer to the voters, will wake up as their colleagues in Florida did.
Michigan homeowners also need to pay more attention to who they elect as judges. Voter turnout in judicial races is usually 10% of those who vote for governor or president.
So until Michigan voters elect more judges like Kaye Tertzag or Diane Hathaway to the Michigan Courts, homeowner will need to keep rolling the hard six to save their homes.