In an action uncovering robo-signing and false affidavits with a few foreclosure mills, one of the attorneys identified himself to the court as "Mickey Mouse". Is there a reason he did this?
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Baltimore firm dismisses nine foreclosure filings
by Brendan Kearney
Until last Monday, hearings on signature irregularities in foreclosure filings in Baltimore City Circuit Court have made for surprisingly good courtroom drama.
Special Master Elizabeth A. Ritter, a former prosecutor, has asked tough questions about practices and processes at three local law firms, and the lawyers on the stand have either conceded mistakes or faced further grilling.
Perhaps having read about their predecessors' experiences, the Baltimore firm of Wittstadt & Wittstadt P.A. took a different tack last week.
The Wittstadt brothers and their lawyer, along with the firm's support staff and their lawyer, showed up in Judge W. Michel Pierson's third-floor courtroom in the morning and, after identifying themselves on the record, consented to moving the whole proceeding behind closed doors.
According to a video recording of the proceeding, before he left the courtroom, Michael Pate turned to his clients, the notaries, and said, "Watch my stuff, please. If something happens we're all in trouble, OK? You guys more than me."
But all that happened during the next few minutes, according to court records filed thereafter, was the firm agreed to dismiss nine of the 10 cases in question, and Judge Pierson agreed to dismiss the show cause order in the other. There would be no cross-examination of veteran attorneys this time, no notaries invoking their Fifth Amendment rights.
The Wittstadt firm seemed to have fared better than firms like Shapiro & Burson LLC or Friedman & MacFadyen P.A., but they were in no mood to talk about it as they left the courthouse.
The Wittstadts' attorney, Timothy M. Gunning, identified himself but would not say whom he represented. Gerard W. Wittstadt introduced himself as "Mickey Mouse."