Lender Processing Services’ Law Firm And Judge Targeting Foreclosure Defense Pioneer

Apparently,  mortgage servicers are relying on their Florida lawyers to get payback for the excellent work performed against them by a foreclosure defense legal aid attorney in Florida.   According to a report in Folioweekly, pro-bank members of the Florida bar are seeking a political solution to the termination of attorney April Charney and her legal aid boss. Charney was amongst the first attorneys to raise the issue of whether the mortgage servicers and lenders actually had the right to sue homeowners to foreclose on mortgages.  Charney is one of a number of attorneys who assist lawyers all over the country in defending homeowners against the banks.  Consumer attorneys have issued a call to action and ask those willing to help to contact JALA (Jacksonville Area Legal Aid) to let them know their actions are not occurring in the dark and they should cease and desist efforts to fire her simply because they feel “embarrassed” by her efforts to expose the systematic injustice in foreclosures and bank collection practices.

via naked capitalism via  FolioWeekly:

In some ways I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner, but pro bank members of the Florida bar are apparently orchestrating an effort to get Charney fired from Legal Services of Jacksonville, which on its face is absurd. If you want to help April, 4ClosureFraud has provided names and contact information of the JALA (I assume Jacksonville Area Legal Aid) board members. I hope you tell them (nicely) that getting rid of Charney, given her track record, would raise a lot of questions and likely very unfavorable press for JALA.

By way of background, Lender Processing Services, a firm that provides various software platforms and other services to mortgage servicers, is in a great deal of hot water. Its stock is down over 50% despite buybacks to prop it up, largely as a result of litigation taking aim at its dubious business model (see here and here for background).

Here are the details from FolioWeekly:

It’s not really surprising that attorneys whose law firms represent those big mortgage holders would like to silence Charney and punish her boss JALA executive director Michael Figgins for not reining her in. But it’s shocking that attorneys from Holland & Knight, the firm that represents LPS, and a local judge would be working behind the scenes to convince the JALA board to fire Figgins as a set up to go after Charney.

On August 3, Holland & Knight attorneys Buddy Schulz and Dominic MacKenzie and Duval County Circuit Court Judge Hugh Carithers hosted an informal lunch at the law offices with 10 members of the board of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and JALA board president Hugh Cotney. A painting of a pod of sharks that hangs in the lobby of Holland & Knight offices set the tone.

Schultz, MacKenzie and Judge Carithers, who told the group he wasn’t speaking as a judge but as a private person, yeah right, described Charney as a “loose cannon.” Cotney seemed to share their view. They criticized her for embarrassing Jacksonville by bringing Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi to the foreclosure court of Judge A.C. Soud. (Taibbi wrote a wickedly scathing story on foreclosure in Florida that was published in November 2010 issue of the magazine). Charney’s lawsuit against the sacred cow nonprofit HabiJax was also discussed. Charney represents residents of HabiJax’s Fairway Oaks subdivision, which was built on top of an old garbage dump, see Folio Weekly, “Buyer’s Remorse,” published Feb. 13, 2007. fairway-oaks-1 fairway-oaks-2 fairway-oaks-3 fairway-oaks-4 fairway-oaks-5 fairway-oaks-6 fairway-oaks-7 (The details of negotiations between Legal Aid and Habijax have been discussed at JALA board meetings but are supposed to be kept private, and it bothered one board member that the Holland and Knight attorneys, who aren’t on the board, seemed to know about it.)

The lunch was billed as a casual one, but the intent was to build a consensus to replace Figgins. His contract is up for review and board members will be asked to make of vote of confidence in his leadership at their September meeting. In addition to Charney, the attorneys also opposed the surcharge on criminals tagged for JALA and a commercial where Figgins talks about the support of JALA by personal injury attorney Eddie Farah. A board member said it was wrong that Figgins wasn’t there to defend himself. “It was kind of a covert friendly little conversation over lunch,” she said, “but it felt like a mutiny.”


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Four Major Mortgage Servicers Get Approval To Resume Uncontested Foreclosures

Via New Jersey Law Journal

Four of New Jersey’s six largest mortgage servicers got approval Monday to resume uncontested foreclosures after demonstrating they have taken steps to remedy improper “robo-signing” and other shoddy practices. Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson permitted Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Wells Fargo to begin bringing uncontested actions for the first time since December, when the judiciary effectively halted them. A special master, retired Appellate Division Judge Richard Williams, reported that the four institutions had made a prima facie showing that they implemented new processes. The six servicers, which account for a large chunk of New Jersey’s foreclosures, were implicated in the robo-signing charges.