Make us your home page
Instagram

Foreclosure candidates travel to Tallahassee to ensure their day in court

About 60 people from Tampa Bay and West Palm Beach gladly climbed aboard buses in the middle of the night to arrive Wednesday morning outside the Capitol in Tallahassee just to press one issue with legislators.

We may be facing foreclosure on our homes, protesters told elected officials. But do not take away our right to have our day in court before an impartial judge. Do not switch the burden of proof from lender to homeowner. And do not empower banks to pursue "nonjudicial procedures" just to speed up foreclosure proceedings and boot homeowners out of their own houses in just three months.

At 63, Woody Ryan's been fighting his own foreclosure for more than a year. He hopped aboard a chartered bus in Sarasota at 2 a.m. It made a 3 a.m. stop for passengers in Tampa before speeding on to Tallahassee.

"I came because I wanted to let legislators know that the measures (to alter the foreclosure process) would create definite harm to the rights of people in Florida," Ryan said via phone from Tallahassee.

One measure, pushed by the Florida Bankers Association and sponsored by Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, ran out of steam last week. A second measure was targeted by the protesters who know enough about politics to realize anything can happen before the session ends.

Florida attorneys who represent folks facing foreclosure are raising red flags over some dangerous legal shortcuts and misrepresentations becoming the norm in a court system awash in foreclosures. The lawyers say many mortgage lenders and their lawyers working for so-called foreclosure mills are, in effect, creating "legal" documents with false signatures, and trying to pass them off in court as proof that suing lenders legitimately own the mortgage paper on homes they are trying to seize.

Tampa Bay attorney Mark Stopa, who traveled Wednesday to Tallahassee, represents about 300 area homeowners in foreclosure. Earlier this week, he showed me examples of documents known as "assignment of mortgages" that are supposed to identify the rightful bank owner of a mortgage on a home.

Many such documents are being doctored to appear legitimate. But the lender that made the original mortgage to the then-new homeowner never legally handed over that mortgage to the institution now seeking to foreclose.

Stopa says banks already get away with this most of the time because 90 percent of all foreclosure proceedings happen without legal counsel, outside of court, by already financially drained homeowners.

State courts overwhelmed by the volume of foreclosures have been slow to recognize and respond to the corruption of legal documents.

Still, says Stopa, as troubling as foreclosure cases may be in court, they sure beat just letting banks — lenders that may or may not be the rightful mortgage owner — push home­owners out of their houses.

"I trust judges more than bankers," Stopa says, "and that's what this boils down to."

This isn't just about slippery or careless banks. Many homeowners failed to pay their mortgages. They will eventually have to give up their houses.

But this absolutely is about folks getting a fair shake in an impartial court — without the deception of mass-produced paperwork.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

Foreclosure candidates travel to Tallahassee to ensure their day in court 04/21/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  2. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  3. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  4. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  5. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]