Mortgage Servicing Fraud
occurs post loan origination when mortgage servicers use false statements and book-keeping entries, fabricated assignments, forged signatures and utter counterfeit intangible Notes to take a homeowner's property and equity.
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William A. Roper, Jr.
The leaks keep appearing nationwide in MERS' business model faster than the MERS spinmeisters can spin new explanations dismissing the significance of the total implosion of that firm.

In addition to losing a stunning decision in Michigan, MERS was also spanked by the Court of Appeals in Texas in a Quiet Title Action.

The case was:

MERS v. Groves, NO. 14-10-00090-CV, 2011 Tex. App. LEXIS 2696, 2011 WL 1364070 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 2011)

This isn't an earthshattering setback for MERS.  The decision is on very narrow grounds, but the decision DOES vindicate those that assert that a successful quiet title action might be brought to extinguish the deed of trust encumbering a property.

In this case, it seems that Plaintiff-Appellee Nancy Groves brought a quiet title action naming MERS.  MERS failed to timely answer the suit and Groves obtained a default judgment against MERS.  The regular thirty day appeals period then seems to have run and MERS failed to timely appeal.

MERS later filed a so-called restricted appeal.  This is a special limited appeal available in Texas for an additional period.  But only certain matters can be raised in a restricted appeal.

It is therefore important to distinguish that MERS LOST mostly through its initial default -- by simply not showing up, answering and defending the initial suit.  The appellate decision then really is nothing more than a refusal to overturn the default judgment on the grounds raised by MERS on appeal.

Still, the outcome demonstrates that a quiet title CAN be obtained when MERS is behaving like an air traffic controller, asleep at the controls!

Some energetic person should obtain Ms. Nancy Groves' pleadings from the 334th District Court in Houston, Texas, and post them online!

And perhaps a few of our better word-smiths can incorporate additional language into the petition to address the issues raised by MERS within its appeal!  There is no harm on improving on the Groves pleadings by using the legal research of MERS' high priced lawyers! 
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Speaking of that, what is the situation of plagarism as it relates to court pleadings.  Is there some sort of copyrights for lawyers within pleadings or no?  Do you just have to quote it and cite the case?
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Speaking of that, what is the situation of plagiarism as it relates to court pleadings.  Is there some sort of copyrights for lawyers within pleadings or no?  Do you just have to quote it and cite the case?

While looking for an attorney to represent me, I had this discussion with a local attorney.  She stated that it is very common to "copy" all or parts of effective pleadings.  Rather than this being plagiarism, it is more looked at as "efficient use of legal resources" and that there is no stigma associated with "copying" effective pleadings.  Why reinvent the wheel.

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William A. Roper, Jr.
Angelo said:
Speaking of that, what is the situation of plagarism as it relates to court pleadings. Is there some sort of copyrights for lawyers within pleadings or no? Do you just have to quote it and cite the case?


While Bill's answer is, I think, generally correct, I want to somewhat elaborate and distinguish based upon my own understanding of Copyright law.

Generally, under both the common law and copyright law, an author, composer or artist has a valid copyright in rights of his or her own creation from authorship.  So if you have an inspiration, and jot down a lovely poem, you have rights to that poem.

But the author also must necessarily recognize that without asserting his or her ownership of the copyright that others may fail to recognize it and might copy and distibute your poem without permission, other authorization or compensation.  Therefore U.S. copyright laws typically impose a duty to ADD an explicit copyright notice when an author claims a copyright to this original material.

There are also provisions in the copyright law for registration of copyrighted material, and such registration was usually a prerequisite to bringing a suit on copyright infringement or seeking criminal prosecution of those who are infringing.

While copyrights can be assigned, they cannot simply be asserted by those who didn't, in fact, author the material.  So upon discovery of YOUR unprotected poem, for which the notice is omitted, I cannot simply ADD a copyright notice and claim it to be my own.  Or perhaps I should more correctly say I am not entitled to do so.  But IF I DID SO, this might present a proof problem.

That is, did YOU first write it or did I?  And what if we wrote the SAME poem independently?  While that might seem unlikely in respect of Shakespeare's collected works or "War and Peace", it is not altogether unlikely or impossible in respect of a short and simply Haiku.


I mention all of this because one certainly COULD add a copyright notice to one's own pleadings.  And failing to do so probably doesn't inherently waive the copyright, if the material is really original.  Moreover, if I found a pretty good pleading by someone else, I am really NOT entitled to ADD a copyright notice to someone's else's creative work and to distibute it as my own, though some unscrupulous persons often do (as discussion in another thread alludes).


Moreover, there are a couple of other problems presented by copyright in respect of legal pleadings.  First, court records are generally in the public domain.  Adding a copyright notice would almost certainly NOT preclude the clerk from making copies of the pleadings and selling certified copies to whomever sought to purchase records from the case.  Nor would it preclude the opposition from quoting from the copyrighted material in aid of argument and refutation.

It probably WOULD preclude someone from including your pleading in a forms book that the other person SOLD as their own creative work.

But even so, the protection extended by copyright is exceptionally thin in respect of something like legal documents.  The protection is of the form of expression, the artistry of the pleading.  But it does NOT protect the IDEAS therein.  So if I simply excised the ideas and used my own words, this would generally NOT be an infringement.

And there is also a "fair use" exception to the copyright law, which well exceeds the scope of this post in its complexity.  Under fair use, making a single copy for my personal use or for academic use might be acceptable, while taking someone else's copyrighted material and makign multiple commercial copies for sale to others would usually not.

So if I see a rather compelling pleading and copy it verbatim from the public records for use in my own case, I am pretty much OK (fair use).  If I took that pleading and added it to a compilation and offered it for sale, this would probably be an infringement.  But if the author had omitted any conspicuous copyright notice, I would have a rather compelling defense that I believed the work to be in the public domain and that no copyright had been claimed or asserted.  If I took the copyrighted pleading and altered it to employ the same legal ideas and argument presented in a different way, then this would also probably avoid infringement. 

And even using the very SAME words, infringement probably wouldn't be found (in respect of publication) where there was really only ONE way to economically express the idea.  For example, suppose that your copyrighted "model pleading" contained five paragraphs that simply and concisely stated that corresponding paragraphs in the plaintiff's pleading were denied (e.g. "5. Paragraph 5 of the petition is DENIED.").  One can hardly expect that this sentence would merit copyright protection.  By contrast, the cleverly conceived and worded analogy or metaphor might be protectable, though probably only when using those very words.

And if the court was so impressed with your argument that they used exactly that wording in its published decision, good luck with asserting any copyright to the plagerized argument!

The bottom line is that court pleadings are generally PUBLIC RECORDS and the IDEAS in the pleadings cannot be protected.  The precise wording might be protectable IF COPYRIGHT IS ASSERTED, but even so the protection is thin and usually only available to preclude commerical use (Don't try to sell a book of Professor Adam LEVITIN's pleadings.).  

NOTE:  I am NOT a lawyer and this is NOT LEGAL ADVICE.  Moreover, it is written extemporaneously without any research or reference to current copyright law and based upon my recollection of what I read more than two decades ago.
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William A. Roper, Jr.
It should probably be noted that the quiet title action described seems to have voided the deed of trust, but it has no efficacy with respect to the alleged promissory note.  A lender validly shown to be the holder of such note could still bring a suit in court on the note itself.  But this would seem to be a suit on an unsecured note.

Depending upon the homestead laws, homestead exemption and otehr state bankruptcy exemptions, either this note or a judgment on such note might still be extinguished in bankrutpcy.  Whether the properly protected homestead is fully exempted from sale is usually a matter of state law.

I just wanted to clarify as a reality check that Ms. Nancy Groves is NOT strictly out of the woods with respect to her indebtedness.  But she certainly HAS improved her bargaining position with an alleged note holder!
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William A. Roper, Jr.
Google Scholar has posted the MERS v. Groves case with links to many of the the other cases cited therein:

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This is a recent interesting Appeal Court Opinion about Quiet Title.


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