Welcome to the Rocket Docket

A specially designated, high-speed housing court, nicknamed “the rocket docket,” set up specifically to process legally murky foreclosures as fast as possible; presided over by an apparently uninformed, utterly disinterested, retired judge who openly states his only goal is to resolve an astonishing TWENTY FIVE CASES AN HOUR. In layman’s terms, this means he wants to ‘throw someone out of their home approximately every two and half minutes.’ This same clueless magistrate, moving so fast he can’t possibly give the cases coming before him even a perfunctory once over, threatens – THREATENS – to cite a defense lawyer with contempt for simply talking to a reporter in front of said judge.

 

 

Is this taking place in some godforsaken, Third World banana republic?

No…

According to Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, it’s happening right here in America, in the so-called ‘Sunshine State,’ Florida.

The numbers are staggering:

In Las Vegas, one in 25 homes is now in foreclosure. In Fort Myers, Florida, one in 35. In September, lenders nationwide took over a record 102,134 properties; that same month, more than a third of all home sales were distressed properties. All told, some 820,000 Americans have already lost their homes this year, and another 1 million currently face foreclosure.

Nearly a million homes foreclosed on in 2010; another million coming this year; and almost all of those foreclosures fraudulent:

Virtually every case of foreclosure in this country involves some form of screwed-up paperwork. “I would say it’s pretty close to 100 percent,” says Kowalski. An attorney for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid tells me that out of the hundreds of cases she has handled, fewer than five involved no phony paperwork. “The fraud is the norm,” she says.

Out of hundreds of cases, less than FIVE were NOT fraudulent.

Those hundreds of cases were not just fraudulent, but blatantly, screamingly bare-faced fraudulent, based on documentation that makes such ridiculous claims it leaves you speechless…

In Cooper’s case, the document with Kennerty’s signature on it places the date on which Wells Fargo obtained the mortgage as May 5th, 2010. The trouble is, the bank bought the loan from Wachovia — a bank that went out of business in 2008. All of which is interesting, because in her file, it states that Wells Fargo sued Cooper for foreclosure on February 22nd, 2010. In other words, the bank foreclosed on Cooper three months before it obtained her mortgage from a nonexistent company.

Simply stunning, isn’t it?

What happens when a bank gets caught attempting to take someone’s house using such obviously fake documents?  Nothing.  That’s right – nothing!

Well, maybe another chance to take that house:

Now, one might think that after a bank makes multiple attempts to push phony documents through a courtroom, a judge might be pissed off enough to simply rule against that plaintiff for good. As I witness in court all morning, the defense never gets more than one chance to screw up. But the banks get to keep filing their foreclosures over and over again, no matter how atrocious and deceitful their paperwork is.

The scope of the fraud is mind-boggling.  One knows not what to think, no?

Zooey sums it all up so succinctly…

No evidence?  No problem!
Perjury?  No problem!
Paperwork forged or manipulated?  WHO CARES!?

Indeed, who does care?  Clearly not mortgage lenders who first made many millions and millions of dollars, issuing millions and millions of bad loans; clearly not the bankers who bought those millions and millions of bad loans, made billions and billions of dollars turning them into bad bonds, and then made even more billions and billions of dollars again by turning the worst of those bad bonds into even more toxic securities; and clearly not the banks and foreclosure mills now cashing in on those millions and millions of fraudulently made loans, making — you guessed it — millions and billions of dollars, yet again.

In the long run, some enterprising hedge fund types will probably make billions and billions of dollars by buying those bad mortgage bonds at a dime on the dollar, from our government no less, content to wait for this mess to go away and some of those bonds’ value to return.

As of late last fall, and in the absence of any meaningful effort by Treasury, Justice, or the Federal Reserve, the Attorneys General of all fifty states had begun joint investigations of our nationwide mortgage foreclosure disaster/disgrace.

While that so-called Florida ‘rocket docket’ described by Taibbi continues to run at full speed, a recent State Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts has the potential to not only undo tens of thousands of foreclosures in that state, but eventually challenge the way mortgages are bundled and turned into bonds – ‘securitized’ – all over the country and world.

In other jurisdictions all over the country, lawsuits accusing mortgage lenders such as Bank of America of “impropriety or outright fraud at virtually every level of the mortgage process” are moving ahead, slowly but surely wending their way through the legal system and often resulting in major judgments against the defendants when they finally come to trial.

If you’d like another take on this unfolding, epic disaster, here’s another cogent view worth reading at Daily Finance.

Meanwhile… in just the time it took me to write this post, at least another sixty to eighty poor schlubs have probably been tossed out of their homes by that one ridiculous kangaroo court in Florida alone… and so it goes.

5 thoughts on “Welcome to the Rocket Docket

  1. Much of the securitization could have been circumvented in the first place, if the ratings agencies, Moody’s, Fitch’s, and Standard and Poor’s, had been honest about the quality of the bundled mortgages. Without AAA ratings, there would have been little demand for these investments, and no profit to be made insuring them. Without insurance, the risk would have been unattractive. With the incentive gone for quantity, quality would have been at a premium, forcing close, careful scrutiny of all mortgages, ending the advantage of defrauding borrowers into loans for which they didn’t qualify.

  2. TRoS, really do appreciate your efforts in putting this all together. I have a much better understanding greedy bastards and judges that shouldn’t be.

    Thank you!

  3. That’s my understanding of it too, House… it does appear the ratings agencies were complicit in this nightmare… I recently talked to someone who actually worked for one of the bigger subprime mortgage originators at the center of this fiasco.

    He was pretty clear about what he said to me… that the ratings companies were in a pay-to-play mode, and that the mortgage companies were PAYING the ratings companies to say their shite was AAA when everyone involved knew the mortgages in question were not.

    It was bad enough to underwrite millions (apparently something SEVEN MILLION PLUS) of bad mortgages during those years… it was a whole new level of mean-spirited financial buggery to take them and deliberately, knowingly turn them into bonds doomed to failure, and then take the tranches of those bonds so bad they couldn’t be sold, and turn them into even worse bonds – or as they liked to call them – ‘synthetic collateralized debt obligations’ – a frackin’ Frankensecurity if there ever was one.

    The gall exhibited by our banking overlords as they grandly farked their way to billion dollar bonuses at OUR expense is astonishing… the person I mentioned above happened to say that if people actually understood what had happened, they’d be LIVID at how the banksters have hosed us all on this one…

  4. There is another horse in the running. A reverse mortgage is an established weapon in the foreclosure industry. Say an elderly couple, widow or widower is offered a 80% reverse and the property declines to 75% of the initial valuation. Now (.75 x .8 x 100%) = 60%, and the victim is left with up to an 8% exposure (.2 x .4 x 100%) on the total evaluation. There have been cases in upstate NY where this has lead to severe hardship for those hit. Their homes have been pulled out from under them and they are left to fend for themselves, without a home, on less than 50% of the initial evaluation for their property after fees are extracted.

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