2016 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

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
century.
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.
Thank you.

Bar Groups See Threat from Nonlawyers

The American Lawyer
http://www.americanlawyer.com/printerfriendly/id=1202748892813
from: The American Lawyer

At ABA Meeting, Bar Groups See Threat from Nonlawyers

Susan Beck, The Am Law Daily

February 4, 2016


(Stanford Law School Professor Deborah Rhode criticized the opposition to Resolution 105, which some fear could lead to more non-lawyers providing legal services.
Photo: Jason Doiy/The Recorder)

A modest proposal that hints at opening the door to nonlawyers providing simple legal services faces a tough fight at the American Bar Association’s midyear meetings, which are currently underway in San Diego.

The ABA’s Litigation Section, as well as the bar associations of Illinois, Nevada, New York, New Jersey and Texas, are all on record opposing Resolution 105, which was submitted by the Commission on the Future of Legal Services and five other ABA divisions. The commission was formed in August 2014 by then-incoming ABA president William Hubbard, who has been vocal about the need to improve access to justice. Under the leadership of former Northrop Grumman Corporation lawyer Judy Perry Martinez, the commission has explored new ways to improve the delivery of civil legal services to the public, especially to those who can’t afford a lawyer or are confused by the legal system.

While the 30-member commission has considered many possible solutions—from technological innovations to allowing nonlawyers to provide limited legal services—Resolution 105 doesn’t propose any specific changes to the status quo. Instead, it asks the ABA to adopt “Model Regulatory Objectives for the Provision of Legal Services” that are guided by such benign principles as protection of the public and meaningful access to justice. It also urges each state’s highest court to be guided by these objectives if it is considering new rules to allow activity by “nontraditional legal service providers.”

While the resolution doesn’t advocate for such changes, the mere mention of “nontraditional legal service providers” raises hackles for some in the ABA. The Texas state bar board, for example, has asked Texas delegates to withhold their support for Resolution 105. State bar president-elect Frank Stevenson II of Locke Lord said the board opposes the proposal because it seems to presume there’s a place for nonlawyers to provide legal services. He added that Texas’ chief justice has already set up a commission to study how lawyers can reach more of the public, and his group wants to wait for that group to finish its work.

“Our position shouldn’t be interpreted as rigidly opposed to innovation in the provision of legal services,” Stevenson said. But he added, “We feel lawyers are not fungible with nonlawyers.”

The New Jersey State Bar Association’s board of trustees voted unanimously to oppose the resolution, also because it envisions new categories of legal service providers. The ABA’s Litigation Section voted 17-8 against it.

Philadelphia lawyer Lawrence Fox of Drinker Biddle & Reath, who has long crusaded against allowing nonlawyers to provide legal services, sent a Jan. 29 email to all delegates with the subject line “Save Our Profession.” He implored them to reject Resolution 105: “If we are going to show leadership, it ought to be in opposing the unauthorized practice of law, wherever it rears its ugly head,” he wrote.

The resolution does have some organized support, including from the South Carolina Bar Association, the ABA’s Business Law Section, the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Washington State Bar Association. (In Washington state, licensed nonlawyers already provide some legal services.)

ABA President Paulette Brown declined to comment on the resolution or the work of the commission.

The commission will hold a roundtable discussion in San Diego on Saturday and will meet again on Sunday. The ABA’s House of Delegates will consider the resolution on Monday.

A simple majority vote is needed to adopt a resolution. The ABA has 560 delegates, but it’s not clear how many will be present Monday.

Over the past year and a half, the Commission on the Future of Legal Services has sought new ideas to improve the public’s access to legal solutions. In May of last year it held a National Summit on Innovation in Legal Services at Stanford Law School that drew 200 participants, including 12 state court chief justices, the CEO of LegalZoom, a Microsoft Corp. in-house lawyer and numerous academics.

The following month, in a podcast on the Legal Talk Network, commission chairman Martinez sounded optimistic that the profession might change. “There’s room in this space to think differently about how we provide legal services,” she said. “This has the potential for sea change.”

Some of the profession’s rules, she said, serve as barriers that don’t protect the public. “We’re making sure that lawyers understand what services aren’t needed to be delivered by a lawyer and can in fact be delivered by somebody else.”

Martinez also noted that some lawyers might have trouble adjusting to a new model: “[There] will be some pain for those not alert and ready for change.”

Martinez could not be reached for comment.

The United Kingdom has already allowed some of the changes that are being fought over in the United States. In 2007 it passed the Legal Services Act, which permits so-called alternative business structures in the practice of law. The U.K. law breaks down many of the barriers that prevented nonlawyers from providing legal services or supplying capital to legal service providers.

Stanford Law School professor Deborah Rhode, who co-chaired last year’s summit and who directs the Center on the Legal Profession at Stanford University, called the May gathering an “extraordinary show of support for innovation” by ABA leadership. Four past, current and future ABA presidents attended, she noted.

“The major challenge for the ABA is how to get the rank and file behind some of these innovative initiatives,” she said. “A lot of lawyers feel very threatened.”

Rhode criticized the organized opposition against Resolution 105. “It’s such a mindless reflexive response,” she said. “This [change] is coming whether the bar likes it or not. Sticking their heads in the sand and trying to block even such an unobjectionable compromise position [in Resolution 105] seems a step in the wrong direction.”

She added, “This is why I titled my book ‘The Trouble with Lawyers,’” referring to her 2015 book critiquing the profession.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say that everyone who has concerns is sticking their heads in the sand,” said Locke Lord’s Stevenson, the Texas bar president. “A lot of criticism has been very nuanced and raises some issues that need to be addressed.”

“Four judicial appointments are being denied Gov. Nathan Deal”. “over a period of decades, it has become customary throughout Georgia for a judge to resign mid-way through the final elected term, which allows the governor to install an incumbent of his choice in time for the next nonpartisan election. Which usually discourages all challengers. Bestowing these prizes has become one of the great perks of the governor’s office.”


(Judge Irma Glover speaks to the audience during a criminal arraignment at Cobb County State Court in Marietta in 2013. Her retirement was announced on Tuesday. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com)
Greg Bluestein
@bluestein
Daniel Malloy
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Jim Galloway
@politicalinsidr
http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2016/01/06/cobb-county-judges-deny-gov-nathan-deal-four-bench-appointments/

Cobb County judges deny Gov. Nathan Deal four bench appointments
January 6, 2016 | Filed in: Cobb County, Elections – President, Georgia Legislature, Jimmy Carter, John Lewis, Nathan Deal.

Judge Irma Glover speaks to the audience during a criminal arraignment at Cobb County State Court in Marietta in 2013. Her retirement was announced on Tuesday. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

Judge Irma Glover speaks to the audience during a criminal arraignment at Cobb County State Court in Marietta in 2013. Her retirement was announced on Tuesday. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

We told you earlier this morning that Allison Barnes Salter, daughter of former Gov. Roy Barnes and a managing partner in the Barnes Law Group, will run for an open seat on the Cobb County State Court bench.

But that is only part of the story.

(Allison Salter Barnes, who announced her candidacy for a state court judgeship on Tuesday).

Allison Salter Barnes, who announced her candidacy for a state court judgeship on Tuesday.

A total of four judges in Cobb County – all women, one on the superior court bench and three on the state court bench – have announced that they will not be running for re-election when their terms expire this year.

Which means that four judicial appointments are being denied Gov. Nathan Deal.

This is actually how the system is supposed to work. But over a period of decades, it has become customary throughout Georgia for a judge to resign mid-way through the final elected term, which allows the governor to install an incumbent of his choice in time for the next nonpartisan election. Which usually discourages all challengers. Bestowing these prizes has become one of the great perks of the governor’s office.

One can’t rule out the possibility that these departing judges hold a fervent belief in the power of voters. Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs, who is retiring at age 72, won her seat on the bench in a 2000 election. State Court Judge Melanie Clayton first won her seat in an open-field election in 1992.

But we also may be seeing something of a Democratic hangover here. Kathryn Tanksley, another departing state court judge, was appointed as one of the last acts of Governor Barnes before he left office in 2002. And State Court Judge Irma Glover, whose retirement was announced Tuesday in the Daily Report, was a 1995 appointee of Gov. Zell Miller.

Fukushima Cs-137 Found in Beef, Milk, Vegetation, Beginning in 2011 Through now

Fukushima nuclear material reported in West Coast groundwater; It’s discharging into Pacific Ocean — Fallout also found in meat and fish from same area — “Routinely detected’ in plant life long after March 2011

 
Published: September 4th, 2014 at 11:02 am ET
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Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) Units 1 and 2 Annual Radiological Environmental Operating Report, published April 30, 2014: Isotopic releases occurred in Japan and were carried by the jet stream to the west coast of the United States… [DCPP] periodically detected cesium (Cs-137) within market fish and cow meat due to deposition of Cs-137 from [Fukushima]… Fukushima Cs-137 was detected within one sample of monitoring well… Cs-137 was detected in three samples of market fish most likely due to rainwater washout of Fukushima Cs-137… Cs-137 was detected in [a] 2013 meat samples due to the Fukushima Japan nuclear accidents. This detection occurred… in October… [DCPP] detected cesium within milk, vegetation, and meat throughout 2011 [and] continued to detect cesium within groundwater, fish, vegetation, and meat throughout 2012.

Diablo Canyon Power Plant Units 1 and 2 Annual Radiological Environmental Operating Report, Apr. 30, 2013: Throughout 2012 [we] continued to detect cesium (Cs-137) within milk, vegetation, monitoring wells, fish, and meat due to deposition of Cs-137 from that event… Concentrations of cesium (Cs-137) were also detected in two shallow monitoring wells… This cesium was evaluated and attributed to rain-washout of Fukushima fallout… Due to topography and site characteristics, this groundwater gradient flow discharged into the Pacific Ocean… Cs-137 was detected in three samples of fish most likely due to rainwater washout of Fukushima Cs-137… Cs-137 was detected in 2012 vegetation samples… due to rainwater washout of Fukushima Cs-137 [that] was absorbed by plant life and the soil. DCPP… has routinely detected Cs-137 in plant life since March of 2011 due to this Fukushima event… Cs-137 was detected in… [cow] meat samples due to the Fukushima Japan nuclear accidents… Vegetation uptake and subsequent digestion by the animals were the source of these Cs-137 isotopes into the meat.

See also: California Nuclear Plant Engineer: We were hit by explosion at Fukushima Unit 3 (MAP) — “The public started to freak out” — Tell colleagues what radioactive material is coming their way… don’t notify public — Don’t release initial data to officials until they’re ‘on board’

City of Springfield Banned all Foreclosures! How Will The Supreme Court Rule On That?

 

BOSTON – A group of Western Massachusetts banks argued before the state’s highest court on Thursday that the city of Springfield’s anti-foreclosure ordinances should be overturned.

The banks say the local ordinances contradict state laws, and a bond levied on lenders constitutes an illegal tax. “It’s not that banks are opposed to mortgage laws and reform, but to how it’s being done,” said Craig Kaylor, general counsel for Hampden Bank, one of the banks that brought the lawsuit. “These are for the state to decide, not city by city.”

But the city disagrees and says the laws are necessary to avoid blight and protect neighborhoods that have high rates of foreclosure.

“This is the city’s response to the foreclosure crisis,” said Springfield Assistant City Solicitor Thomas Moore, who argued the case before the Supreme Judicial Court. “It’s a response from the city council and mayor based on what they see every day in the city. They’ve taken the strongest stance to protect homeowners and the city itself.”

The city of Springfield passed two anti-foreclosure ordinances in 2011 as the city was being hit hard by the mortgage foreclosure crisis. One ordinance requires a bank that forecloses on a home to pay for a $10,000 bond, which can be used by the city to maintain the foreclosed properties, if the bank fails to do so.

The other ordinance requires the establishment of a mandatory mediation program to help homeowners facing foreclosure. The bank would be responsible for paying most of the cost of the mediation.

Springfield is among the top cities in the state in the number of distressed properties it has. The city says high rates of foreclosures lead to health and education problems for children in families that lose their homes, and high rates of blighted or vacant properties lead to crime and violence in those neighborhoods.

Six western Massachusetts banks, with Easthampton Savings Bank as the lead plaintiff, challenged the ordinances. A U.S. District court judge upheld the ordinances. However, on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a stay preventing Springfield from enforcing them. The federal court then asked the Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court, to answer two questions related to state law before the federal court makes its ruling. The case is Easthampton Savings Bank and others vs. City of Springfield.

The SJC must decide whether the local foreclosure ordinances are preempted by existing state foreclosure laws. The court must also decide whether the $10,000 bond is a legal fee or an illegal tax. Cities and towns cannot create taxes without legislative approval.

The banks also argue that the ordinances violate the contract clause of the U.S. Constitution by impairing the contract between the homeowner and the mortgage-holder, a question that remains before the federal court.

During Thursday’s arguments, Tani Sapirstein, an attorney representing the banks, argued that the bond is a tax because banks do not get any particular benefit from paying it – which is the criteria for calling something a fee. The way the bond works is when a foreclosed property is sold, if the city did not have to use the bond money to maintain it, $9,500 would be returned to the bank and $500 is kept by the city as an administrative fee, used to maintain blighted properties and implement the foreclosure laws.

Chief Justice Ralph Gants questioned Sapirstein on whether the bank does not actually receive benefits. “You have an interest in preserving the value of your property,” Gants said. “If there are foreclosed properties going to hell all around your property, it diminishes the value of your property and diminishes the value of what you receive on the foreclosure. Why is this concern about avoiding blight not something that would benefit the bank as well as the city?”

Sapirstein replied that eliminating blight would benefit the bank “as well as the city and other property owners in the neighborhood.” “How is that a particularized benefit?” she said.

Moore argued that the bond is a fee, which the city needs to hire code inspectors and create a database of who controls foreclosed properties.

But Justice Geraldine Hines said if she pays for a copy of her birth certificate, she gets a document in return for the fee. “Here I don’t see that,” she said. “The property owners, the mortgagees, don’t have something tangible.”

Moore said the banks get a “well-regulated industry” and preservation of their property values. In addition, when a bank registers ownership in the database, the city knows who is responsible and problems can be resolved more easily.

Sapirstein also argued that local law cannot require more than state law in an area that is regulated by the state or the result would be “a patchwork of ordinances.”

Gants indicated that the court may move to narrow the ordinances – for example, applying them only to a bank that has taken possession of a house, not a bank that is in the process of foreclosure when the homeowner is still living there. Gants said the ordinance as written could fine a bank for not maintaining a property where the homeowner still lives. As a homeowner, Gants said, “I’d say I’m still living here. This is my home. How can they be punished for not invading what’s still my home just because they happen to be foreclosing on it?” Gants said.

Moore acknowledged that the ordinance may be overbroad and said the city does not anticipate pursuing a violation in a case like that. Moore said the lenders’ lawsuit is premature because there is no information yet about how the city will enforce the laws. “We have the lenders essentially saying the sky will be falling, we are worried about x, y, z happening. None of that has happened and none of that may happen,” Moore said.

Moore said the city is still writing the regulations for the ordinances and if they are upheld, “The city is ready to go forward with implementation within a period of weeks.”

Similar foreclosure ordinances were established in Lynn and Worcester, and local banks challenged those as well. That lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Worcester. The case involving Lynn and Worcester could be affected by the SJC’s ruling in the Springfield case.

Several activists supporting homeowners came in from Lynn and Springfield to hear the arguments. Candejah Pink, a Springfield homeowner and community organizer battled foreclosure for four years before reaching an agreement to keep her home. She helped write the Springfield ordinances. Pink said the bond is there to ensure that homes are maintained, which keeps crime and violence down. The mediation program, she said, is important to help homeowners come to an agreement with lenders. “We’re not asking to live in our homes for free. We’re asking for some mediation,” she said.

By Paul Craig Roberts – Police Are More Dangerous To The Public Than Are Criminals, (Explained to Where Even Sheeple Can Understand!)

A MUST READ FOR EVERY AMERICAN!

From:  http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/09/16/police-are-more-dangerous-to-the-public-than-are-criminals-paul-craig-roberts/

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Police Are More Dangerous To The Public Than Are Criminals — Paul Craig Roberts

The goon thug psychopaths no longer only brutalize minorities–it is open season on all of us –the latest victim is a petite young white mother of two small children

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36211.htm

Police Are More Dangerous To The Public Than Are Criminals

Paul Craig Roberts

The worse threat every American faces comes from his/her own government.

At the federal level the threat is a seventh war (Syria) in 12 years, leading on to the eighth and ninth (Iran and Lebanon) and then on to nuclear war with Russia and China.

The criminal psychopaths in Washington have squandered trillions of dollars on their wars, killing and dispossessing millions of Muslims while millions of American citizens have been dispossessed of their homes and careers. Now the entire social safety net is on the chopping bloc so that Washington can finance more wars.

At the state and local level every American faces brutal, armed psychopaths known as the police. The “law and order” conservatives and the “compassionate” liberals stand silent while police psychopaths brutalize children and grandmothers, murder double amputees in wheel chairs, break into the wrong homes, murder the family dogs, and terrify the occupants, pointing their automatic assault weapons in the faces of small children.

The American police perform no positive function. They pose a much larger threat to citizens than do the criminals who operate without a police badge. Americans would be safer if the police forces were abolished.

The police have been militarized and largely federalized by the Pentagon and the gestapo Homeland Security. The role of the federal government in equipping state and local police with military weapons, including tanks, and training in their use has essentially removed the police from state and local control. No matter how brutal any police officer, it is rare that any suffer more than a few months suspension, usually with full pay, while a report is concocted that clears them of any wrong doing.

In America today, police murder with impunity. All the psychopaths have to say is, “I thought his wallet was a gun,” or “we had to taser the unconscious guy we found lying on the ground, because he wouldn’t obey our commands to get up.”

There are innumerable cases of 240 pound cop psychopaths beating a 115 pound woman black and blue. Or handcuffing and carting off to jail 6 and 7 year old boys for having a dispute on the school playground.

Many Americans take solace in their erroneous belief that this only happens to minorities who they believe deserve it, but psychopaths use their unaccountable power against everyone. The American police are a brutal criminal gang free of civilian control.

Unaccountable power, which the police have, always attracts psychopaths. You are lucky if you only get bullies, but mainly police forces attract people who enjoy hurting people and tyrannizing them. To inflict harm on the public is why psychopaths join police forces.

Calling the police is a risky thing to do. Often it is the person who calls for help or some innocent person who ends up brutalized or murdered by the police. For example, on September 15 CNN reported a case of a young man who wrecked his car and went to a nearby house for help. The woman, made paranoid by the “war on crime,” imagined that she was in danger and called police. When the police arrived, the young man ran up to them, and the police shot him dead. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/15/justice/north-carolina-police-shooting/

People who say the solution is better police training are unaware of how the police are trained. Police are trained to perceive the public as the enemy and to use maximum force. I have watched local police forces train. Two or three dozen officers will simultaneously empty their high-capacity magazines at the same target, a minimum of 300 bullets fired at one target. The purpose is to completely destroy whatever is on the receiving end of police fire.

US prosecutors seem to be the equal to police in terms of the psychopaths in their ranks. The United States, “the light unto the world,” not only has the highest percentage of its population in prison of every other country in the world, but also has the largest absolute number of people in prison. The US prison population is much larger in absolute numbers that the prison populations of China and India, countries with four times the US population.

Just try to find a prosecutor who gives a hoot about the innocence or guilt of the accused who is in his clutches. All the prosecutor cares about is his conviction rate. The higher his conviction rate, the greater his success even if every person convicted is innocent. The higher his conviction rate, the more likely he can run for public office.

Many prosecutors, such as Rudy Giuliani, target well known people so that they can gain name recognition via the names of their victims.

The American justice (sic) system serves the political ambitions of prosecutors and the murderous lusts of police psychopaths. It serves the profit motives of the privatized prisons who need high occupancy rates for their balance sheets.

But you can bet your life that the American justice (sic) system does not serve justice.

While writing this article, I googled “police brutality,” and google delivered 4,100,000 results. If a person googles “police brutality videos,” he will discover that there are more videos than could be watched in a lifetime. And these are only those acts of police brutality that are witnessed and caught on camera.

It would take thousands of pages just to compile the information available.

The facts seem to support the case that police in the US commit more crimes and acts of violence against the public than do the criminals who do not wear badges. According to the FBI crime Statisticshttp://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/summary in 2010 there were 1,246,248 violent crimes committed by people without police badges. Keep in mind that the definition of violent crime can be an expansive definition. For example, simply to push someone is considered assault. If two people come to blows in an argument, both have committed assault. However, even with this expansive definition of violent crimes, police assaults are both more numerous and more dangerous, as it is usually a half dozen overweight goon thugs beating and tasering one person.

Reports of police brutality are commonplace, but hardly anything is ever done about them. For example, on September 10, AlterNet reported that Houston, Texas, police routinely beat and murder local citizens.http://www.alternet.org/investigations/cops-are-beating-unarmed-suspect-nearly-every-day-houston?akid=10911.81835.yRJa7d&rd=1&src=newsletter894783&t=9&paging=off

The threat posed to the public by police psychopaths is growing rapidly. Last July 19 the Wall Street Journal reported: “Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment–from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers–American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the US scene: the warrior cop–armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”

The Wall Street Journal, being an establishment newspaper, has to put it as nicely as possible. The bald fact is that today’s cop in body armor with assault weapons, grenades, and tanks is not there to make arrests of suspected criminals. He is there in anticipation of protests to beat down the public for exercising constitutional rights.

To suppress public protests is also the purpose of the Department of Homeland Security Police, a federal para-military police force that is a new development for the United States. No one in their right mind could possibly think that the vast militarized police have been created because of “the terrorist threat.” Terrorists are so rare that the FBI has to round up demented people and talk them into a plot so that the “terrorist threat” can be kept alive in the public’s mind.

The American public is too brainwashed to be able to defend itself. Consider the factthat cops seldom face any consequence when they murder citizens. We never hear cops called “citizen killer.” But if a citizen kills some overbearing cop bully, the media go ballistic: “Cop killer, cop killer.” The screaming doesn’t stop until the cop killer is executed.

As long as a brainwashed public continues to accept that cop lives are more precious than their own, citizens will continue to be brutalized and murdered by police psychopaths.

I can remember when the police were different. If there was a fight, the police broke it up. If it was a case of people coming to blows over a dispute, charges were not filed. If it was a clear case of assault, unless it was brutal or done with use of a weapon, the police usually left it up to the victim to file charges.

When I lived in England, the police walked their beats armed only with their billysticks.

When and why did it all go wrong? Among the collection of probable causes are the growth or urban populations, the onslaught of heavy immigration on formerly stable and predictable neighborhoods, the war on drugs, and management consultants called in to improve efficiency who focused police on quantitative results, such as the number of arrests, and away from such traditional goals as keeping the peace and investigating reported crimes.

Each step of the way accountability was removed in order to more easily apprehend criminals and drug dealers. The “war on terror” was another step, resulting in the militarization of the police.

The replacement of jury trials with plea bargains meant that police investigations ceased to be tested in court or even to support the plea, usually a fictitious crime reached by negotiation in order to obtain a guilty plea. Police learned that all prosecutors needed was a charge and that little depended on police investigations. Police work became sloppy. It was easier simply to pick up a suspect who had a record of having committed a similar crime.

As justice receded as the goal, the quality of people drawn into police work changed. Idealistic people found that their motivations were not compatible with the process, while bullies and psychopaths were attracted by largely unaccountable power.

Much of the blame can be attributed to “law and order” conservatives. Years ago when New York liberals began to observe the growing high-handed behavior of police, they called for civilian police review boards. Conservatives, such as National Review’s William F. Buckley, went berserk, claiming that any oversight over the police would hamstring the police and cause crime to explode.

The conservatives could see no threat in the police, only in an effort to hold police accountable. As far as I can tell, this is still the mindset.

What we observed in the police response to the Boston Marathon bombing suggests that the situation is irretrievable. One of the country’s largest cities and its suburbs–100 square miles–was tightly locked down with no one permitted to leave their homes, while 10,000 heavily armed police, essentially combat soldiers armed with tanks, forced their way into people’s homes, ordering them out at gunpoint. The excuse given for this unprecedented gestapo police action was a search for one wounded 19-year old kid.

That such a completely unnecessary and unconstitutional event could occur in Boston without the responsible officials being removed from office indicates that “the land of the free” no longer exists. The American population of the past, suspicious of government and jealous of its liberty, has been replaced by a brainwashed and fearful people, who are increasingly referred to as “the sheeple.”

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About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

Corrupt Attorneys Being Held Accountable, Finally!

Courts

Judges Slam More and More Plaintiffs’ Attorneys for Corruption

March 13, 2014

Peasants in Leon, Nicaragua, march in 2007 to denounce the use of harmful pesticides at banana plantations

Photograph by Miguel Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-13/judges-slam-more-and-more-plaintiffs-attorneys-for-corruption#p1

Peasants in Leon, Nicaragua, march in 2007 to denounce the use of harmful pesticides at banana plantations

On March 7 a California appellate court upheld a trial judge’s finding that what had been billed as a watershed liability verdict against Dole Food over pesticide use in Nicaragua was actually the product of a conspiracy by corrupt plaintiffs’ lawyers. That decision came only three days after a federal judge in New York ruled that a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment against Chevron (CVX) in 2011 was so tainted by bribery and coercion that it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

Meanwhile, in Texas, a prominent class-action injury lawyer faces mounting woes because of allegations that he faked thousands of damage claims against BP (BP)related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. When you combine these cases with the criminal convictions several years ago of plaintiffs-bar titans Mel Weiss, Bill Lerach, and Dickie Scruggs—all of whom served time for corrupting the civil justice system—it’s hard to deny that there’s deep dysfunction within a powerful portion of the legal profession that claims to fight corporate abuse on behalf of the little guy.

A look at the Dole ruling illustrates the point. The California Court of Appeal in Los Angeles affirmed dismissal of one of a series of suits filed against Dole, alleging the company’s use of pesticides in Nicaragua left banana workers sterile in the late 1970s. In all, these suits resulted in billions of dollars in judgments against Dole.

The case at issue in the March 7 ruling, known as Tellez, went to trial in 2008 and produced a multimillion-dollar verdict for workers. That verdict was thrown out when Dole’s attorneys proved that many of the plaintiffs never worked for the company and weren’t, in fact, sterile. Witnesses and investigators were intimidated in Nicaragua, and plaintiffs were coached to concoct false stories. One supposed victim testified that he was instructed to memorize and repeat phony evidence “like a parrot.”

 

Plaintiffs’ lawyers and law firms are major political contributors, particularly to Democrats

The California appellate court said the trial judge correctly sent the Tellez plaintiffs packing. The ruling was a win for the Los Angeles firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which has engineered the negation of multiple pesticide verdicts against Dole. That accomplishment prompted Chevron to hire Gibson Dunn to fight back against a $19 billion oil-contamination judgment imposed by an Ecuadorean court in 2011. In the Chevron case, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of New York ruled on March 4 that plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger turned his Ecuadorean lawsuit against the oil company into a racketeering scheme, complete with extortion, bribery of judges, and fabrication of evidence. Donziger has denied wrongdoing and vowed to appeal.

Mass-tort and class-action securities-fraud suits reached their apogee in the 1990s, fueled in part by the energy and ingenuity of an elite fraternity of plaintiffs’ firms and individual lawyers, some of whom became phenomenally wealthy as a result of their success. There’s nothing necessarily wrong, of course, with plaintiffs’ attorneys doing well along the path to doing good, just as there’s nothing necessarily improper with corporate-defense lawyers getting richly paid.

But as the plaintiffs’ bar achieved lucrative triumphs in asbestos litigation and the tobacco cases, some of its leaders lost their bearings. Scruggs, who earned a fortune in both of those arenas, pleaded guilty in 2008 to crimes related to a judicial bribery scheme. Weiss and Lerach, impresarios of securities-fraud class actions, went to prison for paying kickbacks to shareholder plaintiffs-for-hire. Last year the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the disbarment of Stanley Chesley, a scourge of the pharmaceuticals and chemicals industries, among others. Chesley allegedly sought “unreasonable” fees in the settlement of a diet drug class action against Wyeth, now part of Pfizer (PFE).

Mikal Watts of San Antonio ranks among the nation’s most feared mass-injury lawyers. In the wake of the BP oil spill four years ago, his firm filed some 40,000 claims on behalf of deckhands and others alleging economic harm from the disaster that killed 11 rig workers and sullied the Gulf Coast. Last December, BP hit back, accusing Watts of seeking to shake down the company by filing claims for thousands of “phantom” clients who didn’t fit his description of them or didn’t exist at all. Then, in January, another well-known mass-tort attorney, Danny Becnel of Louisiana, filed a separate suit against Watts on behalf of Vietnamese American fishermen and business owners who say Watts used their names without authorization. Watts last year resigned from the plaintiffs’ steering committee helping to direct the litigation against BP after media reports that federal agents had searched his offices in connection with the phantom-claims scandal. The federal criminal probe is continuing. Watts, a major fundraiser for the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, has denied any wrongdoing—civil or criminal. His lawyers have said all his filings against BP were made in good faith.

Despite the egregiousness of the plaintiffs’ bar abuses, there’s little chance that Congress will enact tort reform anytime soon, says Victor Schwartz, a lobbyist for business on the issue and a partner in Washington with law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon. Plaintiffs’ lawyers and law firms are major political contributors, particularly to Democrats, who have fought attempts to cap settlements in big corporate liability cases and class actions. Lawyers spent about $135 million in 2012 helping to elect Democrats, compared with $56 million for Republican candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money. “There have been no major business civil justice victories [in Congress] for almost a decade,” Schwartz says. Likewise, President Obama has shown little interest in taking on attorneys who invested $28 million in his reelection effort in 2012, more than twice what they gave Mitt Romney, according to the center. And bar associations and state attorneys general rarely seek to prosecute litigation fraud, which is expensive to pursue and politically fraught. As a result, says Sherman Joyce, president of the corporate-funded American Tort Reform Association, “too many plaintiffs’ lawyers believe there’s not much risk in filing fraudulent suits.”

The bottom line: Dole and Chevron have won major court victories after federal judges ruled that plaintiffs’ lawyers engaged in fraud.

Barrett_190
Barrett is an assistant managing editor and senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek. His new book, Law of the Jungle, which tells the story of the Chevron oil pollution case in Ecuador, will be published by Crown in September 2014. His most recent book is GLOCK: The Rise of America’s Gun.

Thoughts on Foreclosures

James and I were working outside, and he called me over and we began talking about that which occupies most of out time…  

Foreclosures.  

Many people don’t realize it, but there are many unseen reasons that people are foreclosed on.  After putting people into  toxic loans, and putting those toxic loans into pools with numerous other toxic loans, there was just a matter of time before the loans would go default, we all know that, the payments would become unmanageable.  

But many people, those who came to a better standing than they had been before, and being more prosperous, and even those who were not,  would have gone on to refinance those loans.  That could not be allowed to happen, because the loans would be paid off and the loans dissolved.  How do you stop someone from refinancing their loan?  Foreclose before they can.

They could not have anyone pulling the loans out of the Trusts that the loans had allegedly gone into, there was no money in the Trusts anyway.  The Banksters have a way of turning everything into a matter of profit.

Foreclosure Defense Nationwide – Jeff Barnes, Esq

 

Jeff Barnes, Esq. On the Ball! 

http://foreclosuredefensenationwide.com/?p=533

US BANK ADMITS, IN WRITING FROM THEIR CORPORATE OFFICE, THAT THE BORROWER IS A PARTY TO AN MBS TRANSACTION; THAT SECURITIZATION TRUSTEES ARE NOT INVOLVED IN THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS; HAVE NO ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE OF WHEN A LOAN HAS DEFAULTED; THAT THE “TRUE BENEFICIAL OWNERS” OF A SECURITIZED MORTGAGE ARE THE INVESTORS IN THE MBS; AND THAT THE GOAL OF A SERVICER IS TO “MAXIMIZE THE RETURN TO INVESTORS”                                                                                                                                                                                                 November 6, 2013

 We have been provided with a copy of U.S. Bank Global Corporate Trust Services’ “Role of the Corporate Trustee” brochure which makes certain incredible admissions, several of which squarely disprove and nullify the holdings of various courts around the country which have taken the position that the borrower “is not a party to” the securitization and is thus not entitled to discovery or challenges to the mortgage loan transfer process. The brochure accompanied a letter from US Bank to one of our clients which states: “Your account is governed by your loan documents and the Trust’s governing documents”, which admission clearly demonstrates that the borrower’s loan is directly related to documents governing whatever securitized mortgage loan trust the loan has allegedly been transferred to. This brochure proves that Courts which have held to the contrary are wrong on the facts. 

The first heading of the brochure is styled “Distinct Party Roles”. The first sentence of this heading states: “Parties involved in a MBS transaction include the borrower, the originator, the servicer and the trustee, each with their own distinct roles, responsibilities and limitations.” MBS is defined at the beginning of the brochure as the sale of “Mortgage Backed Securities in the capital markets”. The fourth page of the brochure also identifies the “Parties to a Mortgage Backed Securities Transaction”, with the first being the “Borrower”, followed by the Investment Bank/Sponsor, the Investor, the Originator, the Servicer, the Trust (referred to “generally as a special purpose entity, such as a Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (REMIC)”), and the Trustee (stating that “the trustee does not have an economic or beneficial interest in the loans”). 

The second page sets forth that U.S. Bank, as Trustee, “does not have any discretion or authority in the foreclosure process.” If this is true, how can U.S. Bank as Trustee be the Plaintiff in judicial foreclosures or the foreclosing party in non-judicial foreclosures if it has “no authority in the foreclosure process”? 

The second page also states: “All trustees for MBS transactions, including U.S. Bank, have no advance knowledge of when a mortgage loan has defaulted.” Really? So when, for example, MERS assigns, in 2011, a loan to a 2004 Trust where the loan has been in default since 2008, no MBS “trustee” bank (and note that it says “All” trustees) do not know that a loan coming into the trust is in default? The trust just blindly accepts loans which may or may not be in default without any advanced due diligence? Right. Sure. Of course. LOL. 

However, that may be true, because the trustee banks do not want to know, for then they can take advantage of the numerous insurances, credit default swaps, reserve pools, etc. set up to pay the trust when loans are in default, as discussed below. 

The same page states that “Any action taken by the servicer must maximize the return on the investment made by the ‘beneficial owners of the trust’ — the investors.” The fourth page of the brochure states that the investors are “the true beneficial owners of the mortgages”, and the third page of the brochure states “Whether the servicer pursues a foreclosure or considers a modification of the loan, the goal is still to maximize the return to investors” (who, again, are the true beneficial owners of the mortgage loans). 

This is a critical admission in terms of what happens when a loan is securitized. The borrower initiated a mortgage loan with a regulated mortgage banking institution, which is subject to mortgage banking rules, regulations, and conditions, with the obligation evidenced by the loan documents being one of simple loaning of money and repayment, period. Once a loan is sold off into a securitization, the homeowner is no longer dealing with a regulated mortgage banking institution, but with an unregulated private equity investor which is under no obligation to act in the best interest to maintain the loan relationship, but to “maximize the return”. This, as we know, almost always involves foreclosure and denial of a loan mod, as a foreclosure (a) results in the acquisition of a tangible asset (the property); and (b) permits the trust to take advantage of reserve pools, credit default swaps, first loss reserves, and other insurances to reap even more monies in connection with the claimed “default” (with no right of setoff as to the value of the property against any such insurance claims), and in a situation where the same risk was permitted to be underwritten many times over, as there was no corresponding legislation or regulation which precluded a MBS insurer (such as AIG, MGIC, etc.) from writing a policy on the same risk more than once. 

As those of you know who have had Bloomberg reports done on securitized loans, the screens show loans which have been placed into many tranches (we saw one where the same loan was collateralized in 41 separate tranches, each of which corresponded to a different class of MBS), and with each class of MBS having its own insurance, the “trust” could make 41 separate insurance claims AND foreclose on the house as well! Talk about “maximizing return for the investor”! What has happened is that the securitization parties have unilaterally changed the entire nature of the mortgage loan contract without any prior notice to or approval from the borrower. 

There is no language in any Note or Mortgage document (DOT, Security Deed, or Mortgage) by which the borrower is put on notice that the entire nature of the mortgage loan contract and the other contracting party may be unilaterally changed from a loan with a regulated mortgage lender to an “investment” contract with a private equity investor. This, in our business, is called “fraud by omission” for purposes of inducing someone to sign a contract, with material nondisclosure of matters which the borrower had to have to make the proper decision as to whether to sign the contract or not. 

U.S. Bank has now confirmed, in writing from its own corporate offices in St. Paul, Minnesota, so much of what we have been arguing for years. This brochure should be filed in every securitization case for discovery purposes and opposing summary judgments or motions to dismiss where the securitized trustee “bank” takes the position that “the borrower is not part of the securitization and thus has no standing to question it.” U. S. Bank has confirmed that the borrower is in fact a party to an MBS transaction, period, and that the mortgage loan is in fact governed, in part, by “the Trust’s governing documents”, which are thus absolutely relevant for discovery purposes. 

Jeff Barnes, Esq.,

http://www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com

Why Does No One Do Anything?

Protesters Turned Into Those Whom They Were Protesting SUX!

BY NOOTKABEAR ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

You know, I have been thinking a lot lately about why it is that the Protesters from the 60′s and early 70′s are really pissing me off nowadays.   They act like a bunch of sheep or cattle.  The whole country is running amock and nobody says a damned thing about it.  IT SUX!  

I have come to the realization that the Protesters from the 60′-70′s turned into the very thing they were protesting, except even more so.  It SUX!

You would have thought that those protesters would have gone on to make a difference, and that there would not be all of this corruption that we deal with on a daily basis.  The flower children, peace – love and rock & roll.  What the hell happened?  Those people forgot everything about why they were protesting in the first place.  They forgot “let’s love one another”, forgot about “live and let live”.  Hell they are worse than the people they were protesting, because they are hypocrites.  

Now, they go sludging along, fuck it if everyone is being foreclosed upon, even if they paid for the property in full.  Fuck it if we have WWIII because our president is a fuck up.  Fuck it if Russia nukes us.  Fuck it if the Japanese have ended life on earth with their meltdown problem.  Fuck it if Russia’s Putin now speaks when the United States should have been speaking.  Fuck it if the Christians are being slaughtered.   Fuck it if there are no jobs.  Fuck it if Obamacare causes all of us to be denied healthcare we are entitled to.

Fuck it, Fuck it, fuck it.  THIS SUX!  This is not who we are.  This is not what are forefathers would have accepted.  This is not how we got to where we were.

So this week, the Protesters, turned cattle, sheep and couch potatoes are what SUX!!!