Ocwen asks judge to throw out securities fraud lawsuit
(Reuters) – Lawyers for mortgage servicer Ocwen Financial have asked a federal judge to toss a securities fraud lawsuit accusing it of misleading investors by hiding servicing misconduct and potential conflicts of interest in 2013 and 2014.
In a motion on Monday in a West Palm Beach federal court, Ocwen’s lawyers said they have produced over a million pages of documents in the long-running case and plaintiffs have still not been able to find evidence supporting their fraud claims. The lawyers asked for a judgment in Ocwen’s favor before trial.
Filed in 2014, the lawsuit accused Ocwen of artificially inflating the price of its shares by hiding the risk of regulatory action over its servicing practices.
Ocwen’s shares fell 27 percent in December 2014 when the company agreed to pay $150 million to resolve claims by New York’s Department of Financial Services of improper foreclosures and other servicing problems, the lawsuit said.
Based in West Palm Beach, Ocwen is one of the country’s largest mortgage servicers, with more than 1.5 million customers, according to its website.
The lawsuit seeks damages for investors who bought Ocwen’s stock between May 2013 and December 2014.
Plaintiffs’ lawyer David Kessler declined to comment. Lawyers for Ocwen could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to the complaint, Ocwen falsely assured investors that it was complying with the government’s mortgage servicing guidelines and that its compliance set it apart from peers.
Specifically, Ocwen stated at a December 2013 investor presentation that it complied with the 2012 national mortgage settlement, an agreement between the U.S. government and five major banks accused of mortgage servicing abuses. Ocwen was not part of that settlement but had to abide by it after it acquired mortgages from the participating banks.
In reality, Ocwen’s servicing system was not able to accommodate the huge numbers of mortgages it acquired while complying with the settlement’s servicing requirements, the investors’ complaint said.
Ocwen also assured investors it had procedures in place to prevent conflicts of interest involving its then-chairman William Erbey, according to the complaint.
While serving as Ocwen’s chairman, Erbey also was a major shareholder in four mortgage-related businesses that he created and spun off from Ocwen, the lawsuit said. Ocwen failed to assure that Erbey recused himself from any transactions between Ocwen and Erbey’s related companies, the investors alleged.
In Monday’s motion, lawyers for Ocwen said the company’s statements that it complied with the settlement were true when they were made. Plaintiffs had cited potential violations found by the settlement’s monitor in December 2014, but that was one year after Ocwen made the compliance statement, the lawyers said.
Ocwen’s statements that it had practices in place to avoid conflicts of interest with Erbey’s related companies also were true, the lawyers said. Erbey recused himself on numerous occasions from transactions with related parties and those transactions were also reviewed by Ocwen’s board to ensure they were in the company’s best interest, the lawyers said.
The case is In re Ocwen Financial Corporation Securities Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, No. 14-81057.
For the plaintiffs: David Kessler, Lee Rudy and Sharan Nirmul at Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check and Joshua Katz at Sallah Astarita & Cox
For the defendant: Jeffrey Hirsch at Greenberg Traurig and John Coffey at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
—- Index References —-
Company: GREENBERG TRAURIG LLP; KRAMER LEVIN NAFTALIS AND FRANKEL LLP
News Subject: (Crime (1CR87); Financial Fraud (1FI18); Fraud (1FR30); Funding Instruments (1FU41); Securities Law (1SE59); Social Issues (1SO05))
Industry: (Banking (1BA20); Consumer Finance (1CO55); Financial Services (1FI37); Investment Management (1IN34); Mortgage Banking (1MO85); Retail Banking Services (1RE38); Securities Investment (1SE57))
Region: (Americas (1AM92); Florida (1FL79); North America (1NO39); U.S. Southeast Region (1SO88); USA (1US73))
Why would Goldman Sachs buy Delinquent and Defective Mortgages?
Posted on March 18, 2017 by Neil Garfield
By the Lending Lies Staff
Just last year Goldman Sachs entered into settlements with state and federal governments over the sale of toxic mortgage backed securities to investors while subsequently shorting the very same securities they were selling. Goldman would agree to provide $1.8 billion in debt relief to delinquent borrowers. However, since Goldman (and likely no other identifiable party) doesn’t owns the debt, Goldman cuts its losses by repackaging the toxic debt, assigning it an AAA rating and selling it to unsuspecting investors and pension funds for a fee, thus off-loading any liability. Goldman knows the feds won’t do anything to stop its crimes spree- so why not sell mortgage backed securities you know are toxic?
Goldman has once again successfully masterminded a new strategy to satisfy the $1.8 billion settlement without having to fund a dollar of that outstanding obligation, and while also profiting on this RICO scheme.
Goldman’s plan includes buying up billions of dollars of non-performing and defective loans at massive discounts. Goldman just announced they were purchasing 4.5 billion dollars in non-performing loans from Fannie Mae. It would be interesting to research if Fannie Mae discloses that these loans have material defects that cannot be remedied.
Goldman then contacts the homeowners and negotiates loan modifications by incentivizing the homeowner to participate by reducing their principle balance. Most desperate and unsuspecting homeowners have no idea that Goldman is acting as a debt collector and there is no underlying party that owns the debt or has a right to modify the mortgage contract in the first place. Once the modification is signed, in theory, a “new” loan is issued that rectifies all past endorsement, assignment and trust issues, while whitewashing all prior fraud.
The homeowner is now making payments on a new loan that is less than Goldman’s initial discount on the original purchase. Goldman than credits the principle forgiveness against its $1.8 billion dollar mortgage relief obligation while making money! Goldman is able to skirt the punishment and the fine costs them nothing because the debt was acquired at an even larger discount.
Finally, the true ingenuity of this plan emerges. Once the loan is modified and performing, the loans can be repackaged and resold as Triple-A paper once again to unsuspecting buyers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the debt scavengers at Goldman Sachs are the largest buyer of Fannie Mae’s non-performing loans, having purchased $5.7 billion worth of unpaid loans over the past several months. Goldman Sachs should have been barred from ever participating in mortgage backed securities transactions after its last criminal enterprise.
Over the past year-and-a-half, Goldman Sachs has become the largest buyer of severely delinquent home loans from Fannie Mae. In fact, Goldman has acquired nearly two-thirds of $9.6 billion in loans the agency has auctioned off, representing unpaid loan balances in excess of $5.7 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal’s review of government records.
In all, Goldman has spent roughly $4.5 billion on some 26,000 Fannie-owned loans, according to government records. It has also been buying mortgages, from private sellers and Freddie Mac. Apparently while everyone is unloading zombie mortgage loans, Goldman Sachs is buying as much toxic sludge that is available.
According to the government-sponsored enterprise, the portfolio was split into four pools of loans and auctioned off.
The winning bidder of the smallest of the four pools is Igloo Series II Trust (Balbec Capital). That pool contained 1,465 loans that carry an aggregate unpaid principal balance of $246,748,844.
The pool has an average loan size of $168,429; a weighted average note rate of 4.51%; a weighted average delinquency of 29 months; and a weighted average broker’s price opinion loan-to-value ratio of 78.75%.
The remaining $1.43 billion in unpaid principal balance went to MTGLQ Investors, a “significant subsidiary” of Goldman Sachs.
MTGLQ Investors is now a fixture among the NPL sales from both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Last year, MTGLQ Investors bought billion-dollar pools of NPLs from Fannie and Freddie in several different sales.
In this latest sale, MTGLQ Investors bought the remaining three pools of NPLs.
The first pool contained 3,062 loans that carry an aggregate unpaid principal balance of $496,205,215.
Goldman has an excellent business plan. By renegotiating and repackaging worthless mortgage loans it can polish high-risk loans into grade-A paper. The pension funds take on all of the risk if the homeowners default, and Goldman will have kicked the can down the road to the newest suckers in the scheme.
On Tuesday Goldman won the majority of defective loans at Fannie Mae’s latest auction, its largest to date. The bank bought about 8,000 loans with unpaid balances of $1.4 billion.
Goldman has paid between 50 and 90 cents on the dollar for the loans, according to Fannie Mae, however, some (if not all) of these loans are likely not worth a dime until fraudulently modified.
Meanwhile, because Goldman is getting credit toward fulfilling the terms of its settlement, it can afford to pay more for the delinquent loans than other competing bidders, which essentially means they’ve not only created but they have cornered an entire market.
Every day it seems, I read something about Judges in this Country, or someone contacts me about them, or I experience them first hand, or perhaps, one of the attorneys that I have worked with feels their wrath.
The judges hate pro se litigants. The judges hate foreclosure defense lawsuits. The judges hate almost everything and/or everyone, except their fellow judges, or people they knew while they were attorneys, or maybe their own families. It has come to the point, that I told someone the other day, we need to get rid of all govt., and all judges, and start anew.
I’m serious. Most people don’t encounter the crimes that the judges are committing. Or so I thought. I have read some things lately, where more and more people are noticing that unless you are a bank, an attorney on the judge’s good side, or a multi-billion dollar corporation, there is no justice for you in the US.
Read on, and see some of what I am talking about. I have added in parts of articles supporting what I am claiming. There will be links to the articles, so that you can see for yourself, where the information came from:
Judge William Kent’s preliminary ruling seemed like a first step toward compromise. Margaret and Stuart Besen, who agreed their marriage was beyond repair, would remain in their suburban Suffolk County house, living in separate rooms – and keeping away from each other – while sharing custody until a resolution could be reached.
But within weeks, the situation deteriorated. Stuart Besen, a politically connected attorney for the town of Huntington, had an anger problem, Margaret told authorities. The couple’s screaming matches left Margaret feeling intimidated and their children – a daughter, 11, and son, 7 – terrified, she said. So in August of that year she obtained an order of protection prohibiting Stuart from harassing her. Three weeks later, Stuart entered Margaret’s bedroom and hovered over her as she slept, she told police. They arrested him for violating the order, reporting that Stuart had stared down at Margaret with his arms folded on three consecutive nights. She got temporary possession of the family home.
In the years that followed, Besen’s hopes for an equitable settlement dwindled as she battled a series of harsh and hard-to-explain decisions against her. Though she could never prove anything, she suspected that the scales had tipped for reasons unrelated to the evidence in her case. If true, Besen faced what experts say is one of the most troubling threats to our nation’s system of justice: judges, who, through incompetence, bias or outright corruption, prevent the wronged from getting a fair hearing in our courts.
“The decorum and bias and the perfectly unethical behavior of the judges is really rampant,” said Amanda Lundergan, a defense attorney in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, who confronted a nest of judicial conflicts in her state’s rapid-fire foreclosure rulings – dubbed the “rocket-docket” – following the housing market collapse. “It’s judicial bullying.”
Judges in local, state and federal courts across the country routinely hide their connections to litigants and their lawyers. These links can be social – they may have been law school classmates or share common friends – political, financial or ideological. In some instances the two may have mutual investment interests. They might be in-laws. Occasionally they are literally in bed together. While it’s unavoidable that such relationships will occur, when they do create a perception of bias, a judge is duty-bound to at the very least disclose that information, and if it is creates an actual bias, allow a different judge to take over.
All too often, however, the conflicted jurist says nothing and proceeds to rule in favor of the connected party, while the loser goes off without realizing an undisclosed bias doomed her case.
Hundreds of judicial transgressions have been uncovered during the last decade, with results that cost the defeated litigants their home, business, custody, health or freedom.
But court critics say that one reason judicial violations are common is because they frequently go unpunished. When litigants ask a judge to back away because of a conflict, they risk being told no, then face possible retaliation, so many don’t bother. If a litigant or an attorney files a complaint with an oversight body, there’s only about a 10% chance that state court authorities will properly investigate the allegation, according to a Contently.org analysis of data from 12 states.
The analysis shows that a dozen of these commissions collectively dismissed out of hand 90% of the complaints filed during the last five years, tossing 33,613 of 37,216 grievances without conducting any substantive inquiry. When they did take a look – 3,693 times between 2010 and 2014 – investigators found wrongdoing almost half the time, issuing disciplinary actions in 1,751 cases, about 47%.
The actions taken ranged from a letter of warning to censure, a formal sanction that indicates a judge is guilty of misconduct but does not merit suspension or removal.
Actually removing a judge was a rarity. Just 19 jurists in 12 states were ordered off the bench for malfeasance, which is about three per decade for each state. And even that result is becoming less common, with only one removal in 2014 and three in 2013 among all 12 states.
The states examined – California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Georgia and South Carolina – were chosen because they comprise a representative sample from different populations and areas of the country and because they had matching data for the years 2010 through 2014.
Judicial discipline at the federal level is almost non-existent. A Contently.org examination of the most recent five years of complaint data shows that 5,228 grievances were lodged against federal jurists between 2010 and 2014, including 2,561 that specifically alleged bias or conflict of interest. But only three judges were disciplined during those years and each got the mildest rebuke on the books: censure or reprimand. None was suspended or removed.
Margaret won a court order of protection barring Stuart from contact with her children for a year. But when Kent issued his final decree less than six weeks later, he awarded Stuart full custody, while Margaret was allowed only supervised visits. And he ordered Margaret to pay back half the cost of her nursing degree and to sell her diamond engagement ring and split the proceeds with Stuart. The judge also reversed the support arrangements. While Stuart would pay $1,500 a month in maintenance to Margaret, she now owed Stuart $153.90 a week for the children, even though she was earning about $13,000 a year as a part-time aide in an assisted-living facility.
Margaret began to look into her husband’s dealings and discovered, through searching public records, that he and judge Kent had possible connections. In 2010, Stuart was appointed as the Suffolk County representative on a statewide commission for vetting local judicial candidates. That same year, an organization based at Stuart Besen’s Garden City law office, the Long Island Coalition for Responsible Government, donated $7,500 to candidate Richard Ambro, who got elected and became one of Kent’s fellow Supreme Court judges in Suffolk’s 10th district. In his role as Huntington’s town lawyer, Besen argued cases before these very judges. He’d entered a circle of judicial insiders.
“I’m in the middle of a large group of people who’ve got money and influence and who are all connected,” said Margaret Besen. “I’m not being afforded an opportunity to get a fair shake.”
Above: Margaret Besen stands in front of the former Besen family home, now unoccupied in Commack, Long Island. Photograph: Alan Chin
Margaret had no way of knowing whether the connections she uncovered played any role in how Kent ruled in her case. But her concern deepened when she made an additional discovery about her house. Kent had ordered the Besen home, the most valuable marital asset, to be sold and the proceeds divided, putting Margaret in line to receive possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then she found an online listing offering the property for sale – with the judge’s wife, Patricia Kent, as broker. The home, which was listed for $749,999 with Patricia Kent’s photo and contact information on Realty Connect USA, is currently more than $15,000 in arrears on its property taxes and no longer appears to be actively offered. Margaret was evicted from the house in 2013 and lives in a modest apartment a few miles away. She has yet to receive a penny for her interest in the property.
Scott L Cummings, a professor of legal ethics at UCLA law school, said the case raised “significant ethical red flags”, because of the judge’s wife’s alleged involvement in offering the Besen family home for sale. “Not knowing the details of how his spouse might have been assigned as broker, the idea that a judge might benefit financially from the sale of a property in dispute in a pending matter seems to raise a serious question of impartiality.”
Ronald Rotunda, a professor at Chapman University law school in Orange, California, said: “What judge Kent did here seems odd. The husband makes over a half million a year, she makes $13,000 a year, and the judge orders her to pay child support (which is tax free to him and not deductible for her).”
But a culture of judicial impunity extends far beyond Long Island’s county courts. Indeed, even the US supreme court has been tarnished on this issue.
Justice Steven Breyer owned $215,000 in health-care stocks when deciding on the legality of the Affordable Care Act in 2012. Justice Samuel Alito’s portfolio included $2,000 in stock in The Walt Disney Co. in 2008, the year the court heard Disney, FCC v. Fox Television Stations. And perhaps most famously, justice Antonin Scalia has participated in the Bush v. Gore case, even though his son Eugene’s law firm represented one of the parties. In another case, Scalia remained in the panel despite having gone on a duck hunting trip with former Vice-President Dick Cheney while he was being sued to reveal the details of secret meetings he held with oil company executives in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The online vitriol directed at unscrupulous judges, which began in the mid- 2000s, has built to a howling digital crescendo. Websites including The Robe Probe, The Judiciary Report and The Robing Room, which rate judges the way Yelp rates restaurants, are rife with railing as embittered, mostly anonymous plaintiffs rip into judicial decisions they feel were biased or corrupt.
In an appeal of a case in West Virginia court, A.T. Massey Coal Co. CEO Don Blankenship spent $3m to elect Brent Benjamin, who ultimately provided the swing vote that overturned a $50m judgment against his company. Benjamin rebuffed repeated demands that the newly elected justice recuse himself because of his obvious conflict.
The US Supreme Court ruled that Benjamin’s bias was so extreme that his failure to step aside violated Caperton’s right to due process under the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. The case, which spawned Grisham’s 2008 best-seller, “The Appeal,” underscored the kind of underhanded dealing that has stained the judiciary.
A further nudge for reform came last year when the Center for Public Integrity published a report on financial conflicts of interest. Among its findings: on 26 occasions in the preceding three years, federal appellate judges ruled on cases involving companies in which they owned stock or where they had a financial tie to an attorney appearing before them.
A further nudge for reform came last year when the Center for Public Integrity published a report on financial conflicts of interest. Among its findings: on 26 occasions in the preceding three years, federal appellate judges ruled on cases involving companies in which they owned stock or where they had a financial tie to an attorney appearing before them.
It also created a grading system to gauge how diligent each state was in collecting personal financial information from its judges, including stock ownership and outside sources of income, and how accessible that data was to the public. The center said that 42 states, plus the District of Columbia, failed its test. Six others earned a D grade, while two – California and Maryland – got Cs. California’s score, 77, the highest of any state, was seven points below the federal government’s grade of 84.
The report highlighted the type of conflict that can be most readily identified and that doing so requires full disclosure from the judges. Stock ownership, even if minimal, should automatically disqualify a judge from hearing a case, many experts believe. “If a judge owns a single share in a company involved in a case, he should recuse himself instantly,” says Rotunda, a leading law scholar.
It’s been more than two years since Margaret Besen has seen her children, who are now 12 and 16. There’s no money to pay the court supervisor, so they can’t visit. Nor does Besen have the funds to continue fighting. Kent retired shortly after making his decision.
“The hardest thing in my life is that I can’t be with my children and I can’t have an impact on my children’s upbringing,” Besen said over coffee at a Long Island diner. “A lot of people do not have any idea how the judicial system works or doesn’t work until you’re in it. We think we’re in a democratic society. We think we’re run by rules. But they are not being upheld by the court at all.”
In recent years, America’s corporations have created a private system for handling disputes that benefits them greatly while denying consumers their day in court.
Worse, according to a recent series in The Times, that system has become vast and more entrenched as companies increasingly require customers, employees, investors, patients and other consumers to agree in advance to arbitrate any disputes that arise in their dealings with a company, rather than sue in a court of law.
Such forced-arbitration clauses, found in the fine print of contracts, also typically bar aggrieved parties from pressing their claims as a group in a class action, often the only practical way for individuals to challenge corporations. In addition, corporations effectively control the arbitration process, including the selection of the arbitrator and the rules of evidence, a stacked deck if ever there was one.
As if that is not troubling enough, it is extremely difficult to avoid or get out of forced-arbitration clauses and class-action bans, particularly since they were upheld by two misguided Supreme Court decisions in 2011 and in 2013.
From 2010 to 2014, corporations prevailed in four out of five cases where they asked federal judges to dismiss class-action lawsuits and compel arbitration, according to The Times’s articles. People who were blocked from going to court as a group usually dropped their claims entirely, in part because class actions are often the only affordable way to file lawsuits. If successful, they can deter future corporate wrongdoing because even small payouts, multiplied over all similarly mistreated customers, can be very large.
Indeed, faced with arbitration, it appears that most people do not pursue remedies to their grievances at all. Verizon, with more than 125 million subscribers, faced 65 consumer arbitrations between 2010 and 2014, The Times’s report found. Sprint, with more than 57 million subscribers, faced six. Time Warner Cable, with 15 million subscribers, faced seven.
Even more disturbing, the shift away from the civil justice system has gone beyond disputes about money. Nursing homes, obstetrics practices and private schools increasingly use forced-arbitration clauses to shield themselves from being taken to court over alleged discrimination, elder abuse, fraud, hate crimes, medical malpractice and wrongful death.
For the most part, Congress has looked the other way. Federal regulators, however, are starting to fight back. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to propose a rule soon to forbid arbitration clauses that ban class actions in cases involving financial services and products. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is expected to issue updated nursing home regulations next year, is considering a ban on forced arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts.
Reversing the broader trend of forced arbitration, however, will require public outcry loud and long enough to stir the White House and Congress to action. Many people interviewed in The Times’s series did not realize that their right to sue had been lost until they needed it. A common refrain was the disbelief that this could happen in America. But it is happening, and it needs to stop.
(NaturalNews) The democrats have bribed electoral college representatives to “fix” the election outcome in favor of Hillary Clinton, admits George Soros in a recently unearthed video. Soros, the same globalist terrorist who funded Black Lives Matter executions of police officers in Dallas — and who also funds hundreds of liberal websites and violent activist organizations who staged violence at Trump rallies to blame Republicans — says in the video that Trump will win the popular vote in a “landslide” but that he will lose the electoral vote because it’s already a “done deal” for Hillary Clinton.
SOROS: It’s going to lead to a landslide for Donald Trump in the popular vote, not in the electoral vote, because there, paid political announcements will have a big role… the popular vote will be a landslide because we are a small minority of extremists… I don’t think that Donald Trump has any chance of being elected.
REPORTER: But you think that Hillary Clinton is a done deal?
This astonishing revelation confirms what Dave Hodges recently told me in an interview: That electoral college representatives (“Electors”) are being approached with bribes to buy their final votes.
Watch the Soros video here:
George Soros literally says Trump will win popular vote but it’s already been decided that Clinton will be the POTUS pic.twitter.com/fz2Tjt70nt
— South Lone Star (@SouthLoneStar) August 31, 2016
Yes, Electors can be bought off to vote for anyone they want… democracy be damned!
There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. Some states, however, require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not require that Electors be completely free to act as they choose and therefore, political parties may extract pledges from electors to vote for the parties’ nominees… The Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on the question of whether pledges and penalties for failure to vote as pledged may be enforced under the Constitution. No Elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged.
You might be shocked to learn that only 29 states require Electors to case their electoral votes in accordance with the popular vote of their state. Those 29 states, listed here are:
Alabama (Code of Ala. SS17-19-2)
Alaska (Alaska Stat. SS15.30.090)
California (Election Code SS6906)
Colorado (CRS SS1-4-304)
Connecticut (Conn. Gen. Stat. SS9-176)
Delaware (15 Del C SS4303)
District of Columbia (SS1-1312(g))
Florida (Fla. Stat. SS103.021(1))
Hawaii (HRS SS14-28)
Maine (21-A MRS SS805)
Maryland (Md Ann Code art 33, SS8-505)
Massachusetts (MGL, ch. 53, SS8)
Michigan (MCL SS168.47)
Mississippi (Miss Code Ann SS23-15-785)
Montana (MCA SS13-25-104)
Nevada (NRS SS298.050)
New Mexico (NM Stat Ann SS1-15-9)
North Carolina (NC Gen Stat SS163-212)
Ohio (ORC Ann SS3505.40)
Oklahoma (26 Okl St SS10-102)
Oregon (ORS SS248.355)
South Carolina (SC Code Ann SS7-19-80)
Tennessee (Tenn Code Ann SS2-15-104(c))
Utah (Utah Code Ann SS20A-13-304)
Vermont (17 VSA SS2732)
Washington (RCW SS29.71.020)
Wisconsin (Wis Stat SS7.75)
Wyoming (Wyo Stat SS22-19-108)
As that same page writes:
Over the years, however, despite legal oversight, a number of electors have violated their state’s law binding them to their pledged vote. However, these violators often only face being charged with a misdemeanor or a small fine, usually $1,000. Many constitutional scholars agree that electors remain free agents despite state laws and that, if challenged, such laws would be ruled unconstitutional. Therefore, electors can decline to cast their vote for a specific candidate (the one that wins the popular vote of their state), either voting for an alternative candidate, or abstaining completely.
The same corrupt democrats that have rigged the debates, rigged the polls, rigged the news media and rigged the justice system are now about to STEAL the election through bribery of Electors
Now it’s all becoming clear. Having failed to destroy Donald Trump despite the world’s most vicious barrage of lies and defamatory news slander, George Soros and the corrupt democrats have bribed enough Electors to “lock in” a victory for Hillary Clinton no matter what happens on election day.
What you’re going to see the night of Nov. 8th, in other words, is a landslide popular vote victory for Donald Trump, immediately followed by electoral votes handing the official election victory to Hillary Clinton.
The theft of the presidency will be achieved thusly. And as you might expect, the American people are going to REVOLT en masse. image upload no ads
We the People will not accept the theft of power and the nullification of democracy
We the People will not accept the theft of power by a corrupt, criminal regime run by deceptive leftists who lie, cheat and steal their way to power at every election. The bribery of Electors is, of course, the nullification of democracy in America, since it means wealthy globalists can simply buy off the electoral votes and put anyone they want into the White House… the voters be damned.
When the American people realize their votes have just been nullified through massive bribery and corruption, they are going to revolt like we’ve never seen before. They will take to the streets in protest, and the greater the margin of victory in the popular vote by Donald Trump, the more angry the voters are going to be.
We have quite simply reached the point in American history where the people will no longer tolerate the theft of power and massive election fraud that’s now routinely pursued by democrats (and especially Clinton operatives). If this election is stolen by George Soros via the bribery of Electors, I anticipate a full-on revolt where the military, the police and the citizens storm Washington and depose the corrupt Obama / Clinton regime and install the proper election winner as President. That would be Donald J. Trump, of course.
Frankly, We the People have every right to demand that democracy be restored. It is time to take America back from the thieving, lying commie bastards running the democrat party today.
Reprimanded last month for presiding over his own divorce case for four months after it was randomly assigned to his own court, a Texas judge told a local newspaper that doing so did no harm.
“This was my personal divorce,” said 383rd District Judge Mike Herrera to the El Paso Times on Tuesday, explaining that there was “no rush” to transfer the case to another judge because he and his wife were trying at the time to work things out.
Hence, “the fact that it was in this court made no difference. It stayed there,” Herrera said of the divorce case. “I wasn’t actively doing anything. Me and my former spouse were working on everything. She and I were working on everything carefully.”
The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct noted that Herrera had filed motions in the case while it was in his own court. The commission said that the judge “failed to comply with the law, demonstrated a lack of professional competence in the law, and engaged in willful and persistent conduct that was clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his judicial duties,” the newspaper reports.
In addition to reprimanding Herrera, the commission ordered him to get six hours of training.
016 STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS
THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH P. THOMPSON
SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA
January 27, 2016, 11 a.m.
House Chambers, State Capitol
Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, President Pro Tem Shafer, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, members of the General Assembly, my fellow judges and my fellow Georgians:
Good morning. Thank you for this annual tradition of inviting the Chief Justice to report on the State of Georgia’s Judiciary. Thanks in large part to your support and the support of our governor, as we move into 2016, I am pleased to tell you that your judicial branch of government is not only steady and secure, it is dynamic; it has momentum; and it is moving forward into the 21st century with a vitality and a commitment to meeting the inevitable changes before us.
Our mission remains the same: To protect individual rights and liberties, to uphold and interpret the rule of law, and to provide a forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes that is fair, impartial, and accessible to all.
Our judges are committed to these principles. Each day, throughout this state, they put on their black robes; they take their seat on the courtroom bench; and they work tirelessly to ensure that all citizens who come before them get justice.
Our Judicial Council is the policy-making body of the state’s judicial branch. It is made up of competent, committed leaders elected by their fellow judges and representing all classes of court. They are assisted by an Administrative Office of the Courts, which is under a new director – Cynthia Clanton – and has a renewed focus as an agency that serves judges and courts throughout Georgia.
A number of our judges have made the trip to be here today. Our judges are here today because the relationship we have with you is important. We share with you the same goal of serving the citizens of this great state. We could not do our work without your help and that of our governor.
On behalf of all of the judges, let me say we are extremely grateful to you members of the General Assembly for your judicial compensation appropriation last year.
Today I want to talk to you about Georgia’s 21st century courts – our vision for the future, the road we must travel to get there, and the accomplishments we have already achieved.
It has been said that, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Since a new state Constitution took effect in 1983, our population has nearly doubled to a little over 10 million, making us the 8th most populous state in the country. We are among the fastest growing states in the nation, and in less than four years, our population is projected to exceed 12 million.
Because it is good for our economy, we welcome that growth. Today, Georgia ranks
among states with the highest number of Fortune 500 companies, 20 of which have their global headquarters here; we have 72 four-year colleges and universities; we have the world’s busiest airport and we have two deep-water ports. Georgia is a gateway to the South, and for a growing number of people and businesses from around the world, it is a gateway to this country.
All of this growth produces litigation – increasingly complex litigation – and just as our state must prepare for this growth by ensuring we have enough roads and modes of transportation, enough doctors and hospitals, and enough power to reach people throughout the state, our courts also must be equipped and modernized for the 21st
While our population has nearly doubled since 1983, the number of Georgia judges has
grown only 16 percent. We must work together to ensure that our judicial system has enough judges, staff and resources in the 21st century to fulfill the mission and constitutional duties our forefathers assigned to us.
A healthy, vibrant judiciary is absolutely critical to the economic development of our state. Thanks to many leaders in the judiciary, as well as to our partnership with the governor and to you in the legislature, we are well on our way to building a court system for the 21st century.
This time next year, with your support, we will have put into place an historic shift in the types of cases handled by the Georgia Supreme Court – the highest court in the state – and by the Court of Appeals – our intermediate appellate court. Thanks to Governor Deal’s Georgia Appellate Jurisdiction Review Commission, this realignment will bring the Supreme Court of Georgia in line with other state Supreme Courts, which handle only the most critical cases that potentially change the law. Serving on the Commission are two of my colleagues – Justice David Nahmias and Justice Keith Blackwell – as well as two judges from the Court of Appeals – Chief
Judge Sara Doyle and Judge Stephen Dillard.
I thank you, Justices and Judges, for your leadership.
Under the Georgia Constitution, Supreme Court justices collectively decide every case that comes before us. Currently the state’s highest court hears divorce and alimony cases; we hear cases involving wills; we hear cases involving titles to land; and we hear disputes over boundary lines.
But the Governor’s Commission, and a number of reports by other commissions and
committees issued since 1983, have recommended that such cases should be heard by our intermediate appeals court, not by our highest court.
Both of our courts are among the busiest in the nation. But unlike the Supreme Court, which sits as a full court with all seven justices participating in, and deciding, every case, the Court of Appeals sits in panels of three. With your approval last year of three new Court of Appeals judges, that court will now have five panels, so it will have the capacity to consider five times as many cases as the Supreme Court.
Modernization of the Supreme Court makes sense. In a 19th century court system, when
most of the wealth was tied up in land, maybe title to land cases were the most important. Maybe they had the greatest implications for the public at large. But as we move into the 21st century, that is no longer true.
In answer to questions such as who owns a strip of land, what does a will mean, and who should prevail in a divorce settlement or an alimony dispute, most judicial systems believe that three judges are enough to provide the parties with a full and fair consideration of their appeal. It no longer makes sense to have seven – or nine – justices collectively review these types of cases.
There is no doubt these cases will be in good hands with the Court of Appeals.
Let me emphasize that all these cases the Commission recommended shifting to the Court of Appeals are critically important to the parties involved.
Let me also emphasize that the purpose of this historic change is not to lessen the burden on the Supreme Court. Rather, the intent is to free up the state’s highest court to devote more time and energy to the most complex and the most difficult cases that have the greatest implications for the law and society at large.
We will therefore retain jurisdiction of constitutional challenges to the laws you enact, questions from the federal courts seeking authoritative rulings on Georgia law, election contests, murder and death penalty cases, and cases in which the Court of Appeals judges are equally divided.
Significantly, we want to be able to accept more of what we call “certiorari” cases
which are appeals of decisions by the Court of Appeals. The number of petitions filed in this category during the first quarter of the new docket year is nearly 14 percent higher this year over last. Yet due to the amount of appeals the law now requires us to take, we have had to reject the majority of the petitions for certiorari that we receive.
These cases are often the most complex – and the most consequential. They involve
issues of great importance to the legal system and the State as a whole. Or they involve an area of law that has become inconsistent and needs clarification.
Businesses and citizens need to know what the law allows them to do and what it does
not allow them to do. It is our job at the highest court to reduce any uncertainty and bring consistency and clarity to the law.
Under the Commission’s recommendations, our 21st century Georgia Supreme Court will
be able to accept more of these important appeals.
As we move into the 21st century, plans are being discussed to build the first state Judicial Building in Georgia’s history that will be dedicated solely to the judiciary. We are grateful for the Governor’s leadership on this. The building that now houses the state’s highest court and the Court of Appeals was built in 1954 when Herman Tallmadge was governor. Back then, it made sense to combine the state judicial branch with part of the executive branch, by locating the Law Department in the same building.
But the world has changed since 1954, and the building we now occupy was not designed with visitors in mind. It was not designed with technology in mind. And it surely was not designed with security in mind. Indeed, it was designed to interconnect with neighboring buildings that housed other branches of government.
A proper Judicial Building is about more than bricks and mortar. Outside, this building will symbolize for generations to come the place where people will go to get final resolution of civil wrongs and injustices; where the government will go to safeguard its prosecution of criminals; and where defendants will go to appeal convictions and sentences to prison for life.
Inside such a building, the courtroom will reinforce the reality that what goes on here is serious and solemn; it is a place of great purpose, in the words of a federal judge. The parties and the lawyers will understand they are all on equal footing, because they are equal under the law.
There is a majesty about the law that gets played out in the courtroom. It is a hallowed place because it is where the truth must be told and where justice is born. The courtroom represents our democracy at its very best.
No, this building is not just about bricks and mortar. Rather it is a place that will house Georgia’s highest court where fairness, impartiality, and justice will reign for future generations.
We are no longer living in a 1950s Georgia. The courts of the 21st century must be
equipped to handle an increasingly diverse population. Living today in metropolitan Atlanta alone are more than 700,000 people who were born outside the United States. According to the Chamber of Commerce, today some 70 countries have a presence in Atlanta, in the form of a consulate or trade office. We must be ready to help resolve the disputes of international businesses that are increasingly locating in our state and capital. Our 21st century courts must be open, transparent and accessible to all. Our citizens’ confidence in their judicial system depends on it. We must be armed with qualified, certified interpreters, promote arbitration as an alternative to costly, courtroom-bound litigation, ensure that all those who cannot afford lawyers have an avenue toward justice, and be constantly updating technology with the aim of improving our courts’ efficiency while saving literally millions of dollars. For all of this, we need your help.
When I first became a judge, we had no email, no cell phones, no Internet. People didn’t Twitter or text, or post things on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. The most modern equipment we had was a mimeograph machine.
This past year, by Supreme Court order, we created for the first time a governance
structure to bring our use of technology into the 21st century. Chaired by my colleague Justice Harold Melton, and co-chaired by Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson, this permanent Judicial Council Standing Committee on Technology will lead the judicial branch by providing guidance and oversight of its technology initiatives.
Our courts on their own are rapidly moving away from paper documents into the digital age. At the Supreme Court, lawyers must now electronically file all cases. This past year, we successfully launched the next phase by working with trial courts to begin transmitting their entire court record to us electronically. The Court of Appeals also now requires the e-filing of applications to appeal, and this year, will join the Supreme Court in accepting electronic trial records.
Our goal is to develop a uniform statewide electronic filing and retrieval system so that lawyers and others throughout the judiciary can file and access data the easiest way possible.
Using a single portal, attorneys will be able to file documents with trial courts and appellate courts – and retrieve them from any court in the state. This is the system advocated by our partner, President Bob Kaufman of the State Bar of Georgia, and by attorneys throughout the state.
Such a system will not only make our courts more efficient at huge savings, but it will make Georgia safer. When our trial judges conduct bond hearings, for example, they often lack critical information about the person before them. They usually have reports about any former convictions, but they may not have information about cases pending against the defendant in other courts. The technology exists now to ensure that they do.
Also on the horizon is the expanded use of videoconferencing – another electronic
improvement that will save money and protect citizens’ lives. After a conviction and sentence to prison, post-trial hearings require courts to send security teams to pick up the prisoner and bring him to court. Without encroaching on the constitutional right of confrontation, we could videoconference the inmate’s testimony from his prison cell. Again, the technology already exists.
Our Committee on Technology will be at the forefront of guiding our courts into the 21st century.
As Georgia grows, it grows more diverse.
Our Georgia courts are required by the federal government to provide language services free of charge to litigants and witnesses, not only in criminal cases but in civil cases as well.
Even for fluent English speakers, the judicial system can be confusing and unwelcoming.
My vision for Georgia’s judiciary in the 21st century is that every court, in every city and every county in Georgia, will have the capacity of serving all litigants, speaking any language, regardless of national origin, from the moment they enter the courthouse until the moment they leave. That means that on court websites, signs and forms will be available in multiple languages, that all court staff will have the tools they need to assist any customers, and that court proceedings will have instant access to the interpreters of the languages they need.
Chief Magistrate Kristina Blum of the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court has been
working hard to ensure access to justice for all those who come to her court, most of whom are representing themselves.
Recently her court created brochures that provide guidance for civil trials, family
violence matters, warrant applications, garnishments, and landlord-tenant disputes. These brochures provide basic information about each proceeding – what to expect and how best to present their case in court.
Judge Blum, who is in line to be president of the Council of Magistrate Judges and is a member of our Judicial Council, has had the brochures translated into Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. Such non-legalese forms and tutorial videos that our citizens can understand go a long way toward building trust in the judicial system, and in our entire government.
The Supreme Court Commission on Interpreters, chaired by Justice Keith Blackwell, is
making significant strides in ensuring that our courts uphold the standards of due process. With the help of Commission member Jana Edmondson-Cooper, an energetic attorney with the Georgia Legal Services Program, the Commission is working around the state to educate judges,court administrators and lawyers on the judiciary’s responsibilities in providing language assistance.
The essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. Our justice system is the envy of other countries because it is open and fair to everyone seeking justice. By helping those who have not yet mastered English, we reinforce the message that the doors to the best justice system in the world are open to everyone.
Our law demands it. Our Constitution demands it.
The courts of the 21st century will symbolize a new era. A turning point in our history occurred when we realized there was a smarter way to handle criminals.
Six years ago, my colleague and then Chief Justice Carol Hunstein accompanied
Representative Wendell Willard to Alabama to explore how that state was reforming its criminal justice system. Back in Georgia, Governor Deal seized the reins, brought together the three branches of government, and through extraordinary leadership, has made criminal justice reform a reality. Georgia is now a model for the nation.
Today, following an explosive growth in our prison population that doubled between
1990 and 2011 and caused corrections costs to top one billion dollars a year, last year our prison population was the lowest it has been in 10 years. Our recidivism rate is the lowest it’s been in three decades. And we have turned back the tide of rising costs.
For the last five years, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform – created by the governor and your legislation – has been busy transforming our criminal justice system into one that does a better job of protecting public safety while holding non-violent offenders accountable and saving millions in taxpayer dollars. I am extremely grateful to this Council and commend the steady leadership of co-chairs Judge Michael Boggs of the Court of Appeals and Thomas Worthy of the State Bar of Georgia.
Throughout this historic reform, Georgia’s trial court judges have been in the trenches.
Our number one goal in criminal justice reform is to better protect the safety of our citizens.
Central to that goal is the development of our specialty courts – what some call accountability courts.
These courts have a proven track record of reducing recidivism rates and keeping our
citizens safe. Nationwide, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain free of arrest two years after completing the program, and the most conservative analyses show that drug courts reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options. Last year, these courts helped save Georgia more than $51 million in prison costs.
From the beginning, you in the legislature have steadfastly supported the growth in these courts, most recently appropriating more than $19 million for the current fiscal year.
Georgia now has 131 of these courts, which include drug courts, DUI courts, juvenile and adult mental health courts, and veterans courts. Today, only two judicial circuits in the state do not yet have a specialty court, and both are in the early stages of discussing the possibility of starting one. In addition to those already involved, last year alone, we added nearly 3500 new participants to these courts.
Behind that number are individual tales of lives changed and in some cases, lives saved.
Our judges, who see so much failure, take pride in these success stories. And so should you.
Chief Judge Richard Slaby of the Richmond County State Court, speaks with great pride of Judge David Watkins and the specialty courts that have grown under Judge Watkins’ direction. Today the recidivism rate among the Augusta participants is less than 10 percent.
The judges who run these courts are committed and deserve our thanks. We are grateful to leaders like Judge Slaby, who is President-Elect of the Council of State Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council; to Judge Stephen Goss of the Dougherty Superior Court, whose mental health court has been recognized as one of the best mental health courts in our country; to Chief Judge Brenda Weaver, President of the Council of Superior Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council. Judge Weaver of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit serves on the Council of
Accountability Court Judges of Georgia, which you created last year by statute. Its purpose is to improve the quality of our specialty courts through proven standards and practices, and it is chaired by Superior Court Judge Jason Deal of Hall County. Judge Deal’s dedication to the specialty court model in his community, and his guidance and encouragement to programs throughout the state, are described as invaluable by those who work with him.
We may not have a unified court system in Georgia. But we have judges unified in their commitment to our courts. Among our one thousand four hundred and fifty judges, Georgia has many fine leaders. I’ve told you about a number of them today. In closing, I want to mention two more.
When the United States Supreme Court issued its historic decision last year on same-sex marriage, our Council of Probate Court Judges led the way toward compliance. Three months before the ruling was issued, the judges met privately at the behest of the Council’s then president, Judge Chase Daughtrey of Cook County, and his successor, Judge Don Wilkes of Emanuel County. Together, they determined that regardless of what the Supreme Court decided, they would follow the law. Both Governor Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens also publicly announced they would respect the court’s decision, despite tremendous pressure to do otherwise.
These men are all great leaders who spared our state the turmoil other states endured. The bottom line is this: In Georgia, we may like the law, we may not like the law, but we follow the law.
The day-to-day business of the Georgia courts rarely makes the news. Rather judges,
their staff and clerks spend their days devoted to understanding the law, tediously pushing cases through to resolution, committed to ferreting out the truth and making the right decision. It is not easy, and they must often stand alone, knowing that when they sentence someone to prison, many lives hang in the balance between justice and mercy.
So I thank all of our leaders, and I thank all of our judges who are leading our courts into the 21st century.
May God bless them. May God bless you. And may God bless all the people of Georgia.