It’s Time To Engage Oakland County Circuit Court Candidates And Hold Them Accountable
Last week, the Michigan Court of Appeals or COA reversed a foreclosure action that had been upheld by the Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan. In Everbank v Zeer, the COA ruled that the Circuit Court ruled incorrectly and that there is evidence of violations of MCL 600.3204(3) that states the following:
(3) If the party foreclosing a mortgage by advertisement is not the original mortgagee, a record chain of title shall exist prior to the date of sale under section 3216 evidencing the assignment of the mortgage to the party foreclosing the mortgage.
This ruling highlights a serious issue at the court and it’s one I’m familiar with. Nearly 18 months ago I wrote about how Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Martha Anderson ruled against Lynne Lucas without reading the case and for not allowing an affidavit as evidence that was submitted to Lucas’ attorney 4 days before a Summary Disposition hearing. During her ruling, it was apparent that Judge Anderson was reading from an already prepared script written either by her staff or the staff of Chief Judge Nanci Grant.
The Everbank v. Zeer ruling, just confirms what happened in the Lucas case and what I have been hearing from foreclosure defense attorneys who tell me of having similar experiences when arguing cases in Oakland County Circuit Court since the foreclosure crisis began in Michigan. It is now apparent that there is a systematic problem with case management at the Oakland County Circuit Court.
In Everbank v. Zeer (see below), it is apparently clear that there was a break in the chain of ownership with the mortgage and had the circuit judge actually looked at the complain and briefs, he or she would have seen it.
This tells me, the judges in Oakland County are either incompetent, don’t want to deal with these types of cases or are on the secret payroll of the foreclosure mills. Either way, there is a serious problem at the Oakland County Circuit Court that need to be addressed. Fortunately, this problem tends to be isolated to Oakland County because judges in other counties especially in Northern Michigan are actually taking the time to read the arguments presented before them.
The one positive thing to come out of the financial crisis was that it reminded people how important it is to pay attention to county politics. Offices like the Register of Deeds or Clerk, have the reputation of being an office where local politicians go to retire so they still collect a government paycheck. John O’Brien in Massachusetts, Curtis Hertel in Michigan and Jeff Thigpen in North Carolina have now shattered that stereotype with their dedication to investigating robo-signing and document fraud.
The Everbank v. Zeer COA ruling show how important county judges are and yet they are usually overlooked by voters. This year in Oakland County, there will be nearly an 80% voter turnout but of that 80% less than 10% will vote for county offices including judges. As the financial crisis taught us how important of a role the Register of Deeds and Clerks offices play, the foreclosure crisis should teach us how important county judges play in keeping banks and lenders accountable. It’s time to engage judicial candidates about the foreclosure crisis and remind them they also have be accountable for their rulings and turn the politics of foreclosure from the legislatures to the court.