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Maryland Court of appeals adopts new foreclosure rule

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s highest court on Tuesday approved an emergency rule designed to identify and weed out irregularities in the mortgage foreclosure process.

The new rule, which takes effect immediately, allows circuit courts to appoint independent lawyers to review foreclosure documents for problems. If a problem with the lender’s paperwork is detected, it has 30 days to show — at its own expense — why the foreclosure should not be dismissed.

Judges may also summon lawyers and notaries public into court when the authenticity of a signature or the veracity of an attestation to the accuracy of a document’s contents is in question.

While the changes may seem far-reaching, retired Judge Alan M. Wilner, head of the committee that drafted the new rule and presented it to the Court of Appeals, said the rule simply consolidates existing powers.

Judges have “the inherent authority” to require attorneys to answer questions regarding their affidavits and to “show cause” why a case, including a foreclosure action, should not be dismissed, he told the court.

The rule merely provides “a template for the courts to follow,” added Wilner, who chairs the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure.

In addition, passing the rule will put the high court’s “imprimatur” on it and make clear to litigants, lawyers and the public that foreclosure documents will be scrutinized, he said.

Lawyers who are appointed to scrutinize the documents (known as special masters) can do so on a pro bono or no-cost basis, but only if they agree to do so, the rule provides.

‘The proverbial iceberg’

The adoption of the rule followed revelations that attorneys in at least two Maryland law firms had not personally signed affidavits that bear their names in foreclosure proceedings. Notaries public who validated those signatures have had their commissions revoked by the Maryland secretary of state.

The questioned signatures that have come to light so far are merely “the tip of the proverbial iceberg,” and there are probably more, Wilner told the high court.

Such signatures are “at worst fraudulent, at best irregular,” and call into question the validity of a lender taking possession of a home and reselling it, Wilner said.

The two law firms currently implicated in the signature scandal are Covahey, Boozer, Devan & Dore PA in Towson and Bierman, Geesing, Ward & Wood LLC of Bethesda.

Attorneys Thomas P. Dore and Jacob Geesing subsequently filed corrective affidavits — that is, an admission that the lawyer whose signature appears on the document did not, in fact, sign it.

Neither Dore nor Geesing returned telephone messages seeking comments on the rule and on their corrective affidavits.

Howard County Circuit Administrative Judge Diane O. Leasure, who attended the Court of Appeals vote, said 1,400 foreclosure cases are pending in her Ellicott City court, including 150 cases that involve corrective affidavits

And Prince George’s County Circuit Administrative Judge Sheila R. Tillerson Adams said 10,000 foreclosure cases are pending in her courthouse in Upper Marlboro. Adams said she did not know offhand how many involved corrective affidavits.

Attorney Michael Gregg Morin has filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Greenbelt against the Bierman firm on behalf of 8,000 homeowners in foreclosure.

Morin submitted a statement to the high court Tuesday, in which he praised the rule and expressed the belief that more pending foreclosures are tainted by invalidly signed affidavits.

“I do not believe that the Rules Committee or this court appreciates the nuances at the trial court level of the foreclosure bars’ efforts to avoid Maryland statutes, Maryland Rules, the Rules of Professional Conduct and common decency,” wrote Morin, an Annapolis solo practitioner.

No foreclosure attorneys testified before the high court as it considered the rule Tuesday.

But as Wilner’s committee pondered the rule Friday, attorney Mark Wittstadt urged the panel not to punish the overwhelming majority of foreclosure attorneys based on the misbehavior of relatively few.

“Bad facts make bad law and we are in a bunch of bad facts right now,” said Wittstadt, of Morris|Hardwick|Schneider in Baltimore.

The court’s consideration of the rule on Tuesday drew such a large crowd that the session was moved from the judges’ conference room to the courtroom, where the judges donned their robes and took their seats on the bench. Though the nearly hour-long session had the feel of oral arguments, the judges remained largely silent as Wilner made his case for the rule’s adoption.

Judge Sally D. Adkins was the only member of the Court of Appeals to miss the session and the vote. She was sidelined by illness, said Chief Judge Robert M. Bell.

The other members of the court adopted new Rule 14-207.1 by a 6-0 vote.

6 comments

  1. FINALLY! Now all we have to get them to see is that the bank foreclosing..is not necessarily the holder of the note…

  2. Colin Derek Moncrieff-Yeates

    This is only the tip of the iceberg! What they are calling “irregularities is actually FRAUD, FRAUD UPON THE COURTS, AND FRAUD IN THE EXECUTION!!!!! They are not the holders in due course of the note and deed of trust, they have not kept the Note and Deed of Trust together as is necessary, and they are not the Owners of the Note and Deed of Trust!! They are not Party to the contract and have NO Standing to bring a foreclosure!!!! A Trustee has no Standing and is not a party of interest but only an assignees (servant told what to do) and thus a substitute trustee has no standing as well!! Also, under law the trustee must sign over to the next trustee their position and powers!! This is never done but merely an affidavit of the substitution by the mortgage co. More fraud.
    Now lets get to the crux of the matter, THERE NEVER WAS A LOAN TO BEGIN WITH!!!!!!!! They tricked us into signing a negotiable instrument which they then cashed by signing it (converting it, another crime of securities fraud) PAY TO THE ORDER OF, WITHOUT RECOURSE. Done, the alleged lender got paid once right there, then again when payments were not made the insurance (underwriters) pay again, then again with a bond, and who knows how many times they copied the note and signed it Pay to the order of and bundled it so as to hide it and then bet against it with options. We found one case where they copied it 64 times and monetized it at least that many times.
    They can not produce and will not produce the original note because if they ever did it would show the fraud of the other copies they made. As long as they do not produce the original then t other copies are only questionable and the original will show how many times it was exchanged and cashed.
    The whole thing is fraud in the inception because the Bank does not do anything it is always another party you do not know anything about which then writes pay to the order of. That is misleading and failure to disclose properly. Second… Look at thee Note itself,, the copy you may have.. it clearly says, “In return for a loan I have received, I promise to pay…..” Ok, has anyone ever received anything from a bank or anyone BEFORE “have received” they signed the Note? NO NO, NO NO. THEY HAVE NOT!!!! Therefore it is fraud in and of itself!!! it must be written that way in order for them to cash it. It is all fraud from every aspect and every piece of paper!!! oh and what about the title company??
    Will the courts do the right thing and obey the law or will they cover it all up and continue to cal it clerical errors, discrepancies, and other disinformation words?
    are the courts Honorable? Do they care about the truth? It seems at least one judge does and blessings upon all those the do!! reserving all powers, not for sale or obligation, i-am known as Colin

  3. i was illegally foreclosed onm and the courts are aware mof it but look tnhe other waqhy. they said that ni didn’t make the time limit for complaint.my first lawyers took my monry and dropped me..second atthy came in late and judge said i didn’t file in proper time. this guy who stole my property is evicting me on thursday and i will be hpomeless with my cat rescue…he know this property was illegally foreclosed on but he doesn’t care.i need advice to file a fraud against thetrustees and stop the evection..could someone help me please……..thanks

  4. i just looked at my comment and i am sorry for the bad spelling..i have been up for 2 days and i am physcially ill over this.i need HELP if there is someone there who can help me against these foreclosure attys and trustees i will appreciate ..thanks

  5. Need help immediately in reference to foreclosure!!

  6. WHAT A CROCK!!! Now the Judge’s are openly and blatantly helping foreclosing entities! how is that NOT prejudicial? How is that NOT the equivalant of an ex parte communication? If they can afford Attorneys to check out the paperwork… then why can’t they have those very same Attorneys helping struggling homeowners. Taxpaying homeowners that already, in many cases illegally losing their houses to the largest theft in history perpetrated by the very same organizations the judges are helping! This just screams the fact the courts are all for the Lenders and telling all homeowners… “what you say… we just don’t give a shit. The Banks are obbviously right… they’re making lots and lots of money and who makes the most money in the New America is who’s right!” BTW… that’s called sarcasm.

    Billions now paid by the Lenders to the Govt to hide from having to admit their crimes… 10′s of thousands (probably millions) of cases filed by Lenders Counsel who had no legal authority to file in the first place, 10′s of thousands of cases KNOWN to be deficient in legal standing of the lender, 10′s of thousands of cases involving document forgery! All of this known and shown in lots of places all around the internet… but I guess our Country’s judges can’t extricate their heads out of their …. long enough to read.

    What a horrible and sickening example of store bought justice…

    Once America was great… out judiciary sold it out.

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