South Florida Foreclosures and the Rise of the Robo-Witness: Part 2
Robo-signing isn’t dead – it’s just made it’s way from paper documents to the lips of witnesses in open court.
Our Miami foreclosure lawyers have become quite familiar with these “robo-witnesses,” and are often astonished by Miami-Dade judges’ refusals to toss out their clearly flawed testimony.
Attorney Bruce Jacobs was recently quoted in an article by the Daily Business Review, chronicling the scope of the problem.
Plaintiff witnesses in these cases have to meet a minimum criteria. In part, this means they have to have a basic understanding of the bank’s practice, and they also have to know how the firm handles record keeping. Further, they need specific knowledge of the case at hand.
But the witnesses testifying in these South Florida foreclosure cases increasingly don’t meet this criteria. And yet, judges are awarding verdicts in their favor anyway.
Admittedly, the system is overburdened with foreclosure cases, particularly in Miami-Dade, but that is no excuse whatsoever to so blatantly disregard the rights of citizens and homeowners.
The recent article highlights several examples of this practice. In one, a bank witness was questioned in a deposition about a default notice sent out to a homeowner. Asked from where the note originated, the witness said in all honesty, he wasn’t sure, though be thought maybe it was someone in the institution’s foreclosure department. That’s an answer anyone could have given. It certainly doesn’t indicate special knowledge of the facts at hand.
This same person is listed as a witness in more than 200 foreclosure cases in the last 11 months.
A number of these cases are pending a decision in appellate courts, after lower courts hastily issued rulings in favor of the plaintiffs.
One of those involves a witness testifying on behalf of a bank that was previously represented in foreclosures by a law firm that is no longer operational due to the extent of its foreclosure fraud practices. And yet, this individual was testifying as to the legitimacy of the filing, even though, as in so many of these cases, these mortgages were sold, and resold and then packaged as Wall Street investments. No one actually knows where the original records are or who created them or whether they are in fact legitimate. But here again, the court ruled in favor of the bank anyway.
As Jacobs was quoted as saying, if we saw this same thing happening in criminal court, there would be justifiable outrage. Why then are we not more concerned about the violation of rights of law-abiding citizens who are only trying to hang onto their homes?
Part of the problem is the urgency with which these cases have been funneled into fast-track resolution. Judges themselves admit that these cases take an inordinate amount of time and patience to ensure everything is done correctly. And yet, we have foreclosure cases being jammed through the system as quickly as possible.
As of July 2012, there were more than 52,200 foreclosure cases pending. By December 2012, we saw that dropped to about 47,700. That’s including the fact that we are discharging about 2,900 cases monthly and adding another 2,000.
It’s understandable that courts are concerned with the timeline, but such decisions should never be handed down with such blatant disregard for due process.
When you do this, in the long run, justice is denied to everyone.
If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Legal for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 305-358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on “Mortgage Wars,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.