There is little doubt in the collective public mind that the shady machinations of large banks, including inflated home values, little income verification and in some cases outright fraud, led to the foreclosure crisis.
These financial giants have since been ordered by federal regulators to grant home loan modifications en mass to affected borrowers. What is less recognized, however, is that banks make more money when they foreclose on a property than when they help a borrower hang onto their home. This creates a powerful incentive for banks to block homeowners’ good faith efforts – an incentive that Miami foreclosure defense lawyers like Bruce Jacobs find themselves vigorously battling in the courtroom on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, as a recent Daily Business Review article outlined, taking on these cases can sometimes make committed attorneys targets of a system more interested in seeing the glut of cases dissipate than ensuring homeowner rights are thoroughly protected.
The Review’s article focused on an order to show cause handed down by the Third District Court of Appeals in Miami, concerning an appellate brief penned by Jacobs, who hosts, “Debt Warriors with Bruce Jacobs” on WZAB, 880 AM The Biz.
Orders to show cause are issued when the court expects one party to justify or explain their actions.
In this case, Jacobs was ordered to show cause following a brief he wrote for an ill colleague in an appeal following a trial court’s favorable ruling toward a Miami Shores couple. The court sided with the homeowners after it had been revealed the day before oral arguments that the bank didn’t actually own the loan in question (s more common occurrence than one might think).
That information came out only after attorneys for Bank of America’s mortgage servicing arm failed to show up for several hearings or answer affirmative defense motions filed by the homeowners, who were facing foreclosure on their $344,000 home loan.
The couple requested their loan be forgiven. The trial judge agreed.
The appellate court judge asserted that the trial court erred, and that the earlier decision violated the bank’s due process rights. Further, it was alleged that the defense lawyers made misleading statements to the court and the counterclaim redress should have come only in the form of monetary damages, rather than nullification of the loan (which, mind you, was already deemed to have been procured by fraud).
Jacobs would later say that in his 18 years of practicing law, this is the first area of practice in which there has been a backlash for bringing forth good faith arguments.
But Jacobs insists it isn’t just him.
“Other attorneys have faced threats of sanctions for making good faith arguments in foreclosure appeals,” Jacobs was quoted as saying.
The reality is that the foreclosure crisis could be quickly cleared up if banks would simply do their part to make meaningful home loan modifications. But because the banks make more money from foreclosures, they aren’t inclined to do this. That means everyday people continue to suffer.
Foreclosure law is an area of the legal system that is still evolving. And yes, there are some attorneys who overstep their bounds and do a poor job of representing their clients. They deserve to be sanctioned.
But an attorney who alleges fraud by a lender using a well-researched legal argument is not acting unethically. He’s doing his job.
Homeowners can have success when they fight back, but it requires the aid of a lawyer who isn’t afraid to do battle – even in the face of such threats.
If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Keeley 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.
Justice Watch: Foreclosure Attorneys Targeted In 3rd DCA Ruling, Dec. 2, 2013, By John Pacenti, Daily Business Review
More Blog Entries:
“Zombie” Foreclosures and “Vampire” REOs Haunt Miami Homeowners, Nov. 5, 2013, Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog