Making Objections and Opposing Them

Posted on August 15, 2018 by Neil Garfield

A new publication has come to my attention that every trial lawyer should have, regardless of where they practice. It’s entitled NEW YORK OBJECTIONS. Obviously once you latch on to a point you would need to refer to the laws of evidence in your state or the laws of evidence in Federal proceedings or both. But because of constitutional protections all states must and do subscribe to the same rules of evidence with very few variations. The link is to an article/advertisement for the book. From there you can go buy it. I’m not selling it. I am recommending it.

If you are like most lawyers and pro se litigants you will need help in how to use your new found knowledge of objections and cross examination (there are separate books on cross examination).

Trial law is all about evidence. And evidence is all about the rules under which information or data can be accepted into evidence. Evidence is an asserted fact that can be considered by the trier of fact in making a final determination as to who wins and who loses. The amount of weight given to any evidence is entirely up to the trier of fact. Getting evidence into the record does not mean you won anything.

The trial court has maximum discretion on what evidence carries greater weight than other evidence admitted into the record. Decisions are reversed on appeal in only 15% of the filed appeals. The job of the appellate court is to determine whether there is any evidence that could support the Judge’s decision in the trial. The appellate court might tacitly agree with you that had they been trying the case it would have been decided differently. But that is not the standard. And THAT is why doing well at the trial level is the key to all cases.

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All information proffered as evidence, whether in testimony or documents, must have foundation. Foundation is credible information supporting the existence of an asserted fact. So for example if the question is “what is the amount presently due?” then in the absence of foundation, the answer is not admissible. However, if the objection is not made timely then the objection is waived. A late objection without some realistic explanation as to why it is late, will fail to keep the information out of evidence AND it will drill home the fact being asserted by mentioning it for a second time. Before asking a question like that the lawyer proffering the witness must establish that the witness knows through personal knowledge of facts showing that he/she knows the answer and not because someone else told him/her.

There are many other objections about which I have written on this blog. The most common error by lawyers representing homeowners is their failure to object as soon as the question is asked. And the most common excuse for that is that they don’t want to irritate the judge or look  foolish. You might just as well concede the entire case if you feel that way. At my age, it’s like doing squats at the gym. If your legs get tired after jumping up to object so often, then you may be doing the right thing. My legs often hurt and I have been known to seek permission of the court to remain seated for my objections.

Raising objections is more of an art rather than any objective set of rules. Preparation for trial means figuring out what objections you will raise and why. It’s easy for a judge to overrule your hearsay or foundation objection if you either don’t know what you are talking about or if you haven’t thought this out. The general practice is to rise and say “objection!” at the same time, the moment you figure out that the question is objectionable — which needs to be before the witness speaks. I like to do that adding”may I explain?” At that point I better have something thought out before trial as to why I raised an objection.

So in order to go to trial and be effective as defense counsel for a homeowner, you need to have a clear narrative in your head as to what you believe to be true and tailor your objections to that narrative. And your narrative needs to be extremely focused on the few paths that might provide traction for the defense. Shotgun trial objections almost always fail.

Timeliness is the principal reason why objections are overruled. Lawyers and pro se litigants will wait patiently, politely for the line of questioning to be concluded. That is when virtually every objection you could ever think of will be overruled.

Be careful about trial orders. I have seen judges repeatedly overrule any objections to admission into evidence simply because the objections were not preserved in accordance with the trial order. That doesn’t mean you lost the case; because on cross examination you can destroy the credibility of the witness and the evidence by showing a lack of foundation, even though you were not permitted to raise the objection. If something is admitted into evidence, that doesn’t mean you can’t attack it.

In foreclosure litigation cases, cross examination is all about foundation. Cross examination continues the narrative driving your objections. Each objection, each question should drive home the central points of your defense strategy.

Filed under: foreclosure | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Fla 2d DCA: HELOC Instrument Not Self-Authenticating Article 3 Note

Posted on May 30, 2018 by Neil Garfield

Just because an instrument is not self-authenticating doesn’t mean it can’t be authenticated. Here the Plaintiff could not authenticate the note without the legal presumption of self-authentication and all the legal presumptions that follow.  And that is the point here. They came to court without evidence and in this case the court turned them away.

Florida courts, along with courts around the country, are gradually inching their way to the application of existing law, thus eroding the dominant premise that if the Plaintiff is a bank, they should win, regardless of law.

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see HELOC Not Negotiable Instrument and Therefore Not Self Authenticating

This decision is neither novel nor complicated. A note can be admitted into evidence as self-authenticating without extrinsic evidence (parol evidence) IF it is a negotiable instrument under the State adoption of the UCC as State Law.

The inquiry as to whether a promissory note is a negotiable instrument is simple:

  • Does the body of the note claim to memorialize an unconditional promise
  • to pay a fixed amount
  • (editor’s addition) to an identified Payee? [This part is assumed since the status of the “lender” depends upon how and why it came into possession of the note.]

A note memorializing a line of credit is. by definition, not a fixed amount. Case closed, the “lender” lost and it was affirmed in this decision. There was no other choice.

The only reason why this became an issue was because counsel for the homeowner timely raised a clearly worded objection to the note as not being a negotiable instrument and therefore not being self-authenticating. And without the note, the mortgage, which is not a negotiable instrument, is meaningless anyway.

This left the foreclosing party with the requirement that they prove their case with real evidence and not be allowed to avoid that burden of proof using legal presumptions arising from the facial validity of  a negotiable instrument.

The typical response from the foreclosing party essentially boils down to this: “Come on Judge we all know the note was signed, we all know the payments stopped, we all know that the loan is in default. Why should we clog up the court system using legal technicalities.”

What is important about this case is the court’s position on that “argument” (to ignore the law and just get on with it). “This distinction is not esoteric legalese. Florida law is clear that a “negotiable instrument” is “an unconditional promise or order to pay a fixed amount of money, with or without interest or other charges described in the promise or order.”§ 673.1041(1), Fla. Stat. (2012) (emphasis added).”

So THAT means that if the trial court is acting properly it will apply the laws of the state and THAT requires the court to rule based upon the UCC and cases involving


negotiable instruments.

But none of that invalidated the note or mortgage, nor should it. THAT is where it gets interesting. By denying the note as a self authenticating instrument the court was merely requiring the foreclosing party to proffer actual evidence regarding the terms of the note, including the manner in which it was acquired and how the foreclosing party is an injured party — a presumption that is no longer present when the note is denied admission into evidence as a self authenticating negotiable instrument.

The foreclosing party was unable to produce any testimony or exhibits demonstrating the prima facie case. Why? Because they are not and never were a creditor nor are they agent or representative of the actual party to whom the subject underlying DEBT was owed.

Florida law requires the authentication of a document prior to its admission into evidence. See § 90.901, Fla. Stat. (2012) (“Authentication or identification of evidence is required as a condition precedent to its admissibility.”); Mills v. Baker, 664 So. 2d 1054, 1057 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995); see, e.g., DiSalvo v. SunTrust Mortg., Inc., 115 So. 3d 438, 439-40 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) (holding that unauthenticated default letters from lender could not be considered in mortgage foreclosure summary judgment). Proffered evidence is authenticated when its proponent introduces sufficient evidence “to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.” § 90.901; Coday v. State, 946 So. 2d 988, 1000 (Fla. 2006) (“While section 90.901 requires the authentication or identification of a document prior to its admission into evidence, the requirements of this section are satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the document in question is what its proponent claims.”).

There are a number of recognized exceptions to the authentication requirement. One, as relevant here, relates to commercial paper under the Uniform Commercial Code, codified in chapters 678 to 680 of the Florida Statutes. “Commercial papers and signatures thereon and documents relating to them [are self-authenticating], to the extent provided in the Uniform Commercial Code.” § 90.902(8); see, e.g., U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n for BAFC 2007-4 v. Roseman, 214 So. 3d 728, 733 (Fla 4th DCA 2017) (reversing the trial court’s denial of the admission of the original note in part because the note was self-authenticating); Hidden Ridge Condo. Homeowners Ass’n v. Onewest Bank, N.A., 183 So. 3d 1266, 1269 n.3 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016) (stating that because the endorsed note was self-authenticating as a commercial paper, extrinsic evidence of authenticity was not required as a condition precedent…

We cannot bicker with the proposition that “for over a century . . . the Florida Supreme Court has held [promissory notes secured by a mortgage] are negotiable instruments. And every District Court of Appeal in Florida has affirmed this principle.” HSBC Bank USA, Nat’l Ass’n v. Buset, 43 Fla. L. Weekly D305, 306 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb. 7, 2018) (citation omitted). That is as far as we can travel with Third Federal.

The HELOC note is not a self-authenticating negotiable instrument. By its own terms, the note established a “credit limit” of up to $40,000 from which the Koulouvarises could “request an advance . . . at any time.” Further, the note provided that “[a]ll advances and other obligations . . . will reduce your available credit.” The HELOC note was not an unconditional promise to pay a fixed amount of money. Rather, it established “[t]he maximum amount of borrowing power extended to a borrower by a given lender, to be drawn upon by the borrower as needed.” See Line of Credit, Black’s Law Dictionary, 949 (8th ed. 1999).

This distinction is not esoteric legalese. Florida law is clear that a “negotiable instrument” is “an unconditional promise or order to pay a fixed amount of money, with or without interest or other charges described in the promise or order.”§ 673.1041(1), Fla. Stat. (2012) (emphasis added).

Filed under: burden of pleading, BURDEN OF PROOF, CASES, CORRUPTION, discovery, Discovery -Subpoena, evidence, Fabrication of documents, foreclosure, hearsay, legal standing, originator, Pleading, Servicer | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Ocwen Boarding Process Was Shot Down Last Year

Posted on December 11, 2017 by Neil Garfield

As foreclosure defense lawyers have been saying for years, the Ocwen Boarding process is a sham. “This boarding process is a legal fiction, and it means something different to every entity,” Butchko ruled from the bench during a March 17 hearing.

Ocwen does not verify any of the data. It downloads it and then “calls it a day.”

“I have done this investigation for a long time,” he said, noting, “The appellate courts are going under this presumption that there is some type of meaningful auditing and verification.” But Jacobs maintained, “You just heard it from a lawyer who knows how to properly phrase the questions that she’s basically testifying to all — all of this is still hearsay.

”Butchko granted an involuntary dismissal in HSBC Bank USA’s suit against Miami homeowner Joseph Buset, whose loan was initially serviced by Litton Loan Servicing LP, which Ocwen acquired in 2011.

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See Home Foreclosure Fails on OCwen Servicing Records

Bruce Jacobs, a Foreclosure defense lawyer won this case. It was in 2016 and was, as usual, under-reported. The case hinged on the prior records of Litton Loan Servicing that Ocwen had acquired. The robo-witness could only testify that Ocwen employees had matched fields and columns on the payment history and had done nothing else. Hence verification was nonexistent.

[Judge] Butchko had to decide how to treat loan documents that became part of Ocwen’s business records but remained subject to hearsay objections unless the company could show it independently verified the data after transferring the loans. She considered evidence on Ocwen’s boarding process — the procedure by which financial services companies transfer account data from one lenders’ management system to another after trading loan portfolios.

Witnesses for lenders in foreclosure cases must show they did independent fact-checking to qualify their files as business records and not hearsay.

All records in  digital or hard copy are hearsay by definition. The only issue is whether a proper foundation has been offered by the robo-witness to claim that the “documents” qualify as an exception to the hearsay rule and that therefore they should be admitted into evidence. This case on Ocwen clearly shows that the testimony by dozens of Ocwen robo-witnesses has been false.

Based upon information I have received from credible sources I think the problem is worse than that. My sources tell me that the records are not uploaded or transferred. The only thing that happens is that the user name and password is changed. That is why the records of the prior servicer are NEVER introduced. It may be that Ocwen changes the fields and columns to make it appear that the records have been processed, but based upon my information the Ocwen records are often taken from the same database. That being the case, the robo-witness should have been an employee of the former Litton servicing.

Filed under: boarding process, foreclosure, hearsay, legal standing, standing | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

“Resecuritization”

Posted on March 7, 2017 by Neil Garfield

the basic thrust of the defense is to point out what is absent rather than attack what is not absent.

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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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As predicted on my blog back in 2008, we are seeing new names of Trusts emerge in foreclosure cases — involving old loans that were declared in default years ago by parties asserting they represent the alleged servicer of either a named bank or servicer or an old trust. What happened? As our sources had revealed, the alleged trusts had nothing in them and were the source of extreme liability of the Master Servicer acting as underwriter to the investors and third parties who traded in securities based upon the representation that the Trust actually owned the debts of millions of homeowners.

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We have not seen the agreements, but we are told, and our analysis confirms, that the old trusts were “retired” and that new trusts, also empty, are now being used wherein the paperwork for the new “Trusts” is far more complete than what we have previously seen.

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As far as we have determined thus far the mechanics of the change of trust name are along the following lines:

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  1. There is probably a purchase and sale agreement between the old trust and the new trust. Like previous documentation there are no warranties of ownership but ownership of the debts is implied.
  2. Like the old Trusts, foreclosures are brought in the name of the new trusts, using US Bank or other major institution as the “Trustee.”
  3. Investors in the old trusts are given certificates in the new trust as settlement of claims brought by investors for malfeasance in the handling of their money — namely the origination of loans instead of the acquisition of loans and the granting of loans that were far lower in quality than agreed and far higher risks than allowed for stable managed funds.
  4. This “resecuritization” process is a sham just like the original old trust. But it follows the playbook the banks have been using for over a decade. By adding another level of paper to fabricated documents based upon nonexistent transactions, it promotes the illusion of valid transactions and valid documents.
  5. Like all other trusts and hybrid situations in which trusts were involved but not named, the entire scheme is based upon a simple premise. The banks have managed information and data such that there remains a false sense of security that they are still credible sources of information — despite all evidence to the contrary. The additional layer of documents then adds to the illusion because it is counterintuitive to believe that these high level complex documents represent transactions in the real world that don’t exist.

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Defense strategies remain the same, however. The issues in evidence laws and rules are foundation, and hearsay.The basic defects in the bank’s credibility must be revealed even if it does not get to the point where everything is revealed. The rent-a-name practice for appointment of trustees that have no obligations or duties continues. The “apparent authority” of the servicers is based upon a trust document of an entity in which there is no asset. But the website of US Bank and others suggest that they have business records — which in actuality do not exist. Hence, the basic thrust of the defense is to point out what is absent rather than attack what is not absent.

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This takes strict logical analysis by the attorney representing the homeowner — an exercise that in most cases cannot be accomplished by a pro se litigant. It may be beyond the confidence of the lawyer too, but there are many people in the country who provide services that assist with the logical analysis and factual analysis — including but not limited to the team at LivingLies and LendingLies. The analyst should be well-steeped in the three classes of securitization — concept, written documents and actual practice in order to come to conclusions that are not only correct but are likely to give traction in court.

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While tempting, attacking the existing documentation on the basis of authenticity or validity is a rabbit hole. The only parties that actually have the proof as to the fabrication of any one particular transaction are the parties with whom you are in litigation and the parties who created them and use them as sham conduits. They resist by all means available any attempt to provide access tot he real information and the real monetary transactions which look very different from the ones portrayed in court.

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By making an allegation you are now required to prove what you have said by evidence that the other side simply will not give up. This is not to say that there is no value in sending a QWR (Qualified Written Request), (DVL) Debt Validation Letter, or a complaint to the state AG or the CFPB. Much of the inconsistent statements come from those responses and can be used in court. And there is also considerable value in seeking discovery even if we know that in most cases, while it should be allowed, the judge will issue protective orders or sustain objections to requests seeking the identity of the owner of the debt.

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The value of those apparently futile endeavors can be that at trial the foreclosing party will almost certainly rely on legal presumptions that depend upon information contained in your discovery request.

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OBJECTIONS AT TRIAL: This requires research and analysis of potential objections and how they should be used. While a motion in limine before trial would seem to be the better practice, the real traction seems to come at trial when the homeowner raises objections and moves to exclude evidence that relies upon data contained in discovery they refused to answer and which the court ruled was irrelevant. It is of utmost importance, however, that in order to use the discovery exchanges, you must file a motion to compel and set it for hearing and get it heard. The risk of a motion in limine is that the court is more likely to deny it and then when raised at trial in an objection will regard your objection as a second bite an apple that has already been the subject of a dispositive ruling.

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Cross examination of the robo-witness should be aggressive and relentless pointing to the actual lack of knowledge of the witness about anything other than the script from which he was trained to testify.

Filed under: foreclosure | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

JUDICIAL NOTICE EXPOSED

Posted on March 6, 2017 by Neil Garfield

JUDICIAL NOTICE is just one more legal device by which Banks and Servicers introduce fake documents or documents they can’t get because they are “lost”.

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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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The use of Judicial notice is widespread. Banks attempt to use it in order to get something into evidence they could not otherwise prove. Homeowners use it for the same reason. Usually both are mistaken in the use of Judicial notice and the Court is in error for accepting it unless the other side fails to raise a proper objection. Like most things, if you fail to object the document or record will be in evidence. That still leaves the issue of how much weight to give the document as evidence.

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Generally Judicial Notice is meant to allow introduction of a document that is in the Public Domain and which is maintained by a government institution. Technically the only proof issue that is satisfied by granting judicial notice is that the document exists. What is written on the document or record introduced by way of Judicial Notice is NOT in evidence — only that the document exists. Thus when homeowners try to use judicial notice of something derogatory about the banks or servicers, all they have is a recognition that this document or report is in the public domain — not that the words themselves are true or even in evidence.

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The strategy of the Banks and servicers is to file something somewhere in the public domain and then ask for judicial notice without proper foundation for the documents or its contents. The banks and servicers extend this even further if they can get away with it — by getting the Court to take judicial notice of the note, mortgage or assignment. Or by getting the court to accept into evidence the Pooling and Servicing Agreement.

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Objections raised on the basis of lack of notice, hearsay, hearsay on hearsay, lack of foundation, and other rules of evidence should be employed aggressively. However this is a two-edged sword. If the Banks get it in they will then argue that since the homeowner is not a party to the PSA the homeowner is barred from raising violations of the PSA as a trust instrument. If the Banks fail to proffer the PSA or fail to get the Court to accept judicial notice they will proceed anyway arguing that the provisions of the PSA are irrelevant anyway.

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In fact if you drill down in cross examination you will probably find that it is the self-proclaimed servicer who is the real party in interest with apparent possession of the original note and mortgage, but which in truth are newly minted, doctored or entirely fabricated, instruments that appear at trial.

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If you look at the Florida Rules (most states are the same or similar) you will see that even the SEC site is questionable as a source of documents because the documents are not certified. In truth ANYONE can file ANYTHING on the SEC site and then try to get it accepted into evidence — even though the document (PSA) is not even signed or is not even complete.

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But regardless of the action by the court the proponent of a document or record introduced by Judicial Notice must still prove the truth of the matter asserted in the document. it is no different than introducing the document using as foundation the testimony of a witness (usually a robo-witness). But there again the testimony of the witness is going to be that the document is some sort of business record. The actual source of the document is almost always guarded and concealed by the Banks and Servicers.

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The reason is that many or most of the Bank and Servicer documents are fabricated, forged, robo—signed instruments that are self-serving and not based upon anything that happened in real life. The truth, difficult to prove but nonetheless true, is that the document the so-called business records of the servicer are neither business records of the servicer nor of the alleged REMIC Trust but rather come into real life by way of a printer that prints records and documents fabricated and maintained by a third party “vendor” like LPS/Black Knight in Jacksonville, Florida.

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The change in servicer thus involves no actual “boarding” process, since LPS operates like MERS. Anyone can have access and the transfer of the records is really a transfer of access to the IT platforms of LPS where the data and documents are manipulated to create the illusion of generally accepted and facially valid records or documents.

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Florida Statute §90.202 Matters which may be judicially noticed.—A court may take judicial notice of the following matters, to the extent that they are not embraced within s. 90.201:

(1) Special, local, and private acts and resolutions of the Congress of the United States and of the Florida Legislature.

(2) Decisional, constitutional, and public statutory law of every other state, territory, and jurisdiction of the United States.

(3) Contents of the Federal Register.

(4) Laws of foreign nations and of an organization of nations.

(5) Official actions of the legislative, executive, and judicial departments of the United States and of any state, territory, or jurisdiction of the United States.

(6) Records of any court of this state or of any court of record of the United States or of any state, territory, or jurisdiction of the United States.

(7) Rules of court of any court of this state or of any court of record of the United States or of any other state, territory, or jurisdiction of the United States.

(8) Provisions of all municipal and county charters and charter amendments of this state, provided they are available in printed copies or as certified copies.

(9) Rules promulgated by governmental agencies of this state which are published in the Florida Administrative Code or in bound written copies.

(10) Duly enacted ordinances and resolutions of municipalities and counties located in Florida, provided such ordinances and resolutions are available in printed copies or as certified copies.

(11) Facts that are not subject to dispute because they are generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.

(12) Facts that are not subject to dispute because they are capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot be questioned.

(13) Official seals of governmental agencies and departments of the United States and of any state, territory, or jurisdiction of the United States.

History.—s. 1, ch. 76-237; s. 1, ch. 77-77; s. 1, ch. 77-174; ss. 3, 22, ch. 78-361; ss. 1, 2, ch. 78-379.

Florida Statutes § 90.203 Compulsory judicial notice upon request.—A court shall take judicial notice of any matter in s. 90.202 when a party requests it and:

(1) Gives each adverse party timely written notice of the request, proof of which is filed with the court, to enable the adverse party to prepare to meet the request.

(2) Furnishes the court with sufficient information to enable it to take judicial notice of the matter.

History.—s. 1, ch. 76-237; s. 1, ch. 77-77; s. 22, ch. 78-361; s. 1, ch. 78-379.

Filed under: foreclosure | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Evidence: No Magic Bullet

Posted on November 8, 2016 by Neil Garfield

Information is not the same as Evidence. It’s only evidence if the Judge (1) rules it is evidence and (2) admits it into evidence into the court record. Once admitted, the Judge is free to consider the information with as much or as little weight as it chooses.

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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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Nearly all pro se litigants and too many lawyers combine a shotgun approach on legal argument and a single focus on unprovable facts. More than judicial bias, the presentation of information in court lies at the heart of “bad” decisions by the the courts. Combining presentation deficiencies with bad pleading and an utter failure to control the narrative, such litigants and their lawyers are doomed to failure.

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This is a summary of the subject of evidence at trial, as I see it. Information, testimony, documents and the public domain are the sources of information from which litigants and their lawyers draw conclusions and develop a narrative of the case. None of these constitute “evidence” and will therefore be ignored or ruled irrelevant by a court of law unless a court rules that the data or information is somehow connected to the case at hand. Even allegations of patterns of conduct are insufficient to support the proffer of such information unless the information is coupled with direct evidence (testimony, documents) connecting the behavior of the bank or servicer with the case at hand.

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Nothing is evidence that can be considered by the trier of fact (Judge, jury) unless the judge rules that it is evidence AND that it is admissible in the case at hand. Unless the homeowner can show that the preferred evidence is relevant to a defense or avoidance, the Judge has no choice but to exclude the information from evidence and thus from the Court record.

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My observation is that there are four levels of “EVIDENCE:”

  • General information not directly related to the case at hand
  • Specific information that is relevant to the defenses raised.
  • Persuasive evidence supporting either defenses or avoidance
  • Conclusory evidence that inescapably leads to a result either by logic or rule of law.

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INFORMATION AND BELIEF: Pro se litigants understandably don’t understand the difference between general information and the rules of evidence. They come to court with information from the media or other sources showing what they think is evidence of wrong-doing and they are frequently right. But information about wrong-doing in OTHER cases is not evidence of wrongdoing in your case.

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RELEVANT INFORMATION and EVIDENCE: Testimony, such as those cases where the bank or servicer mislead the homeowner by steering them into default through assertions that a workout or modification is only possible if they are 90 days behind is information. It is also evidence that the court will generally allow in evidence. But allowing it into evidence doesn’t mean that the trier of fact will give it any weight when coming to a decision. The well-versed lawyer will ask for the recordings of the conversations in which such misleading representations were made. More often than not the recordings are said not to exist. Their alleged nonexistence can be challenged by information, ruled as evidence by the court, that all other conversations had been recorded. The absence of conversations regarding the modification MIGHT be used as evidence of concealment and corroboration of the homeowner’s testimony that he/she was mislead into stopping payments and thus going into default.

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PERSUASIVE EVIDENCE: Just because information is allowed into the record as evidence doesn’t mean the trier of fact will use it in making a decision. As related in the preceding paragraph you can see how raw information becomes relevant evidence and then evolves into persuasive evidence. You are always working against the beginning supposition that no bank would want a loan to become non-performing. And you probably can’t prove that policy, although there have been occasions where testimony or recordings were admitted into evidence showing that the purpose of the alleged servicing company was to obtain a foreclosure judgment and foreclosure sale. Even then, the Judge is left wondering why such a policy would exist, using the reasonable man foundation for believing that the rational thing to do as a lender is to collect on a debt, not to waste the collateral or the debt. Thus the level of persuasion in order to win is much higher in that context.

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CONCLUSORY EVIDENCE: This falls into two categories — legal presumptions that are outside the judge’s scope of discretion and “weight of the evidence”that remains within the scope of the judge’s discretion. It is rare that you can introduce anything that requires the judge to rule in favor of the homeowner. But the reason why “greater weight of the evidence” is the rule is that the trier of fact is receiving evidence that cumulatively leads inescapably to the conclusion that the foreclosure is defective. Evidence does not rise to this level unless the robo-witness on the witness stand acts or says irrational things. I call this the “Perry Mason moment.” This is eminently possible in a proper cross examination because the robo-witness’ knowledge is intentionally limited and usually nonexistent as to the workings of the REMIC Trust, the distribution of income from servicer to the “creditor”, and the agreements in which servicing has been created or changed.

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Actual Example from My Recent Trial in Orlando:

Q: Here is the Power of Attorney you introduced as evidence that is signed by Chase. And here is the Pooling and Servicing Agreement. Can you show me where Chase is mentioned as being in the chain of ownership or authority?

A: NO.

Q: NO?

A: NO.

Q: Don’t you want to look?

A: NO.

At that moment the court was left with the inescapable conclusion that Chase had no authority to execute the POA and that the Plaintiff’s case had failed.

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