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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Within some recent correspondence with other participants of this forum, I had occasion to share some links to online legal resources that my correspondents found to be interesting or useful.  And, upon reflection, it struck me that those who are participating here, who neither lawyers nor otherwise skilled at legal research might benefit from a public posting of these same links.

Of course, this information can also be readily found doing a Google search on the Web and there are MANY excellent compilations of online legal resources available elsewhere.  But to the extent that a person found their way to this message board, posting the information here makes it that much more convenient!

First, I would point out LEXIS-NEXIS and WestLaw each have extensive online fee-based legal research utlities.  To do independent research and SEARCH for the law on a particular topic without going to a law library, these online resources are essential!  But pulling up the individual documents found at fee-based services online can be VERY EXPENSIVE.

LEXIS-NEXIS
However, searching LEXIS using the LEXIS by Credit Card facility can be FREE.  The cost usually arises when you follow the linked search results and actually pull up the document identified by your search.

LEXIS is generally available from this link:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/


LEXIS by Credit Card is accessible at this Link:

http://web.lexis.com/xchange/forms/uas/catalog.asp


BE CAREFUL!  You can spend a LOT of money very quickly on LEXIS.  But the SEARCHING can be FREE.

Very often, you may obtain access to LEXIS at academic or law libraries WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY FOR THE SEARCH RESULTS.  Sometimes, these library collections are limited to current students.  But this is NOT universally the case.  CHECK WITH YOUR LIBRARIAN.  But also note some of the additional FREE case resources below. 

*

Before spending a grat del of time searching, read some of the online HELP documentation.  Understanding HOW to do good searches can vastly improve your research efficiency.

For example, take a look at this page:

http://web.lexis.com/help/xchange/default.asp?Page=searchformshelpbody


Very often, one good case leads to another.  And a case a bit off subject may nevertheless cite relevant cases.  So sometimes getting to a library to COMBINE searching with READING the cases is particularly useful.

* * *

LexisOne
In addition to the FULL SERVICE LEXIS site, LEXIS maintains a FREE thin site for those on a budget called LexisOne:

http://www.lexisone.com/


The LexisOne site features a facility called "Find Cases for FREE":

http://www.lexisone.com/lx1/caselaw/freecaselaw?action=FCLDisplayCaseSearchForm&l1loc=L1ED


The cases available on this facility are a small fraction of the cases found on the full fee-based site.  The cases available for free generally include ALL U.S. Supreme Court decisions, as well as published state and federal court decisions for the past five years.

One of the reasons that LEXIS can offer this FREE thin service is that MANY if not MOST of the recent decisions are being compiled and posted elsewhere anyway.  So it is somewhat more difficult for LEXIS to SELL the recent opinions.

The LEXIS full service search facility is far more robust than the search facility at LexisOne.  So use LEXIS to search and LEXISOne to view the Supreme Court cases and recent state and federal appellate opinions.

* * *

Cornell UniversityLaw School's Legal Information Institute (LII)
Cornell University has one of the premier collections of online legal information available at a university nationally:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/


This is a particularly good source of information relating to national (federal) law, including the U.S. Constitution, United States Code, and federal court decisions.

When seeking a better understanding of federal law without leaving home, this is a great place to start!  You will find that Cornell's LII has great FREE federal legal resources that generally extend further back than the LexisOne collection of FREE cases.  See, for example:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/federal/opinions.html


Bear in mind that if BANKRUPTCY is one of the defenses you might want to investigate that this is a subject of federal law and the LII resources are likley to be helpful.

Cornell's Law School also has a helpful facility explaining the basics of legal research, which explains how to approach the problem with far great clarity than I can relate:

http://library.lawschool.cornell.edu/WhatWeDo/ResearchGuides/Basics.cfm


* * *

Most of what you probably need to learn about in terms of mortgage foreclosures is going to generally be found amongst the law relating to promissory notes and negotiable instruments which is generally covered by the Uniform Commercial Code, which is a matter of STATE LAW for your jurisdiction, as well as the law of real property for your jurisdiction.

The Uniform Commercial Code is, as its name implies, fairly uniform nationally (see, for example, the LII UCC pages beginning at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uniform/ucc.html .  But CASES interpretting the UCC do VARY between and amongst the States.

And real property law varies greatly across the United States.

So as you focus in on the particulars of your case, you are going to need to acquaint yourself with both the statutes and the cases for your jurisdiction.

Your State's web site is going to be a good place to start to find the statutes.  Most states now make their own laws publicly available at the state's web site.  But the completeness and accessibility of these online resources vary greatly.

Very often, the web sites of leading law schools or law school libraries include online research resources.  For example, I went to the University of Pennsylvania, which has both an excellent law school (the FIRST in the United States) and a great law library:

http://www.law.upenn.edu/bll/


There is nothing magic about Penn Law as a starting place, but it would be a pretty good place to start if you lived in Pennsylvania.

If you do not already KNOW the names of the leading law schools in your state ask some other people you respect and trust or search online.  Almost any leading law school is going to have some online resources which will serve to point you in the right direction.  And if you are able to VISIT that library, you will find the librarians there to be very helpful!

* * *

I cannot emphasize enough that LIBRARIES are great sources of legal information.  This includes public libraries in many major cities.  Some state or county bar associations also maintain their own libraries.

The Library of Congress has an EXCELLENT Law Library, which also maintains a good guide to online law:

http://www.loc.gov/law/guide/index.html


Bear in mind that lawyers will charge you by the hour.  Librarians are salaried or waged employees who will help you find answers for FREE.  But the librarians CANNOT give you legal advice.  You need to go tothe library with specific research topics in mind:
  • Where can I find materials explaining promissory notes under the Uniform Commercial COde?
  • Where can I find texts, cases and materials on mortgage foreclosure?
  • Where can I find legal forms pertaining to foreclosure?
  • Where can I find the Court Rules on discovery?
  • etc.
* * *

I have left out a more thorough discussion of WestLaw, which is also a great fee-based source.  But, frankly, I haven't used WestLaw as much as Lexis and feel less capable of describing the economic ways of making use of that online resource.  Perhaps someone with more experience using WestLaw can post something generally useful to this forum.

* * *

Finally, I want to emphsize that I am NOT suggesting or recommending that you do your own legal research in lieu of obtaining the services of an attorney.  To the contrary, I would encourage you to do independent research and read the law as a SUPPLEMENT to finding and hiring a capable attorney.  Whether you are readily able to do this depends upon your intelligence and skill as well as your time.  If you are reasonably well educated and having trouble because you are unemployed, doing some of your own research may make sense.  If you are having financial problems because you are hospitalized or disabled or if you are illiterate or not fluent at English, doing yor own reserach might be impractical. 

In any case, there exists a necessity to both obtain an understanding of the FACTS and an understanding of the LAW as it relates to those facts.  When you hire an experienced lawyer, he or she ought to be generally acquainted with the LAW (though highly specialized attorneys may be either more or less familiar with foreclosure, depending upon their specialty).

You will have to PAY for the time for the attorney to become acquainted with the FACTS in YOUR CASE and the LAW as it applies to those facts.  A capable, experienced attorney should know how to elicit the critical facts from you.  But sometimes a disconnect occurs when you are aware of a FACT that might be important, but neglect to share it and the attorney neglects to ASK.  Moreover, the attoney may be inclined to BELIEVE some of the representations of the LENDER which are, in fact, UNTRUE.

So it can be very HELPFUL if you are able to independently obtain a sufficient understanding of the law to be able to marshal and present your facts to your own attorney.  And since some aspects of foreclosure -- such as foreclosures in the name of MERS -- are still fairly NEW to the mortgage arena, you may find it uneconomic to pay a lawyer to learn ALL of the law that might prove helpful or critical to your case.

It appears to me that several of the lay participants at this message board have developed a great deal of expertise in the mortgage servicing and foreclosure industry as well as foreclosure law at least as it pertains to their own jurisdictions.  With concerted effort, you could develop your own expertise. 

What I am basically saying is that YOUR OWN reading of the law can help you to better prepare for yor interactions with your attorney and help to frame the issues.  But be careful as you do this to frame things in terms of questions for your attorney rather than substituting your lay reading of the cases for your lawyer's reading and understanding of those same cases (that is use what you learn to learn from your lawyer rather than substituting your conclusion for those of your lawyer).

Again, this is NOT intended to be LEGAL ADVICE.  Rather, it is RESEARCH advice.  I do my own legal research.  I am comfortable with this.  This approach might also work for you.  But it involves a LOT of TIME to do well.  And given the compressed time horizons of most foreclosure actions, you will have more than a little difficulty developing sufficient expertise to overcome three years of formal legal training and the years of litigation and courtroom experince your lawyer may have.

The key is BALANCE.  There is a LOT about legal practice which never much appears in textbooks.  The cases are not generally going to give you great insight into how a judge manages his docket and caseload or his manner in the courtroom.  But unless your attorney routinely litigates mortgage foreclosure, consumer debt matters and/or bankruptcy, he or she may not be quite as up to speed on the LAW or foreclosure practice as the plaintiff's lawyer, who may handle foreclosures EXCLUSIVELY and therefore on a daily basis.

So you are sometimes hiring a generalist to defend you against a specialist.   The deck is stacked AGAINST YOU.   And you will have difficulty affording to PAY your attorney to develop the expertise you need.  So if you are able to do SOME of your own research and SHARE what you find with your attorney, he or she may be able to READ the cases and materials you find and help you to make effective and focused use of those cases and materials.

I hope this is HELPFUL to someone on this board!

* * * * 

I would encourage others to POST links to useful online legal resources as replies to this message!  What online legal resources were helpful to YOU??

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Excellent post.

Legal research can be tough and because of complexities you don't even know about (nor should be expected to know) can throw you off.

I still believe the Pleadings on the United States of America v Fairbanks Capital Corp

gives you much of the codes and even some case law to get you started in your reading and research.

I like Cornell too.  I've found amazing stuff there.  Not all about mortgages though lol...

He's giving you good advice and it is certainly more useful than the topic that has taken over the threads lately.

Dee
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That was very nice of you to post that. Thanks  for taking the time.

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Mike Dillon

Nice find, Bill! We can use all the tools we can get around here. Especially since law libraries aren't as easily accessible to some...

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Ed
Jurisdictionary:

http://www.jurisdictionary.com

Even the free stuff is valuable. I can't speak for the seminars.

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Joe B
All excellent information. Does anyone know where I can find the Fairbanks pleadings?

The FTC website has some basic information, but I don't recall seeing the pleadings that were mentioned...

Thanks to everyone!

Joe
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FTC Press Release
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/08/sps.shtm

Actual stipulated motion will be to the right side of the page under "related documents"
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Joe B
Mike-

Got it, thanks...

Frankly, I am not sure how this really helps any of us. It really just re-states the obvious...Fairbanks, don't break the law! The laws already state provide for this requirement.

The additional reporting and audit don't provide any relief for those who have been harmed, and any penalties for non-compliance. I also don't see any fast track provisions or immediate penalties for failure to follow the order, just more bogus requirements that Fairbanks will continue to thumb their noses at.

It still requires each of us to spend a gross amount of money to enforce their compliance, and stop their illegal foreclosures.

Or, am I missing something?

Joe
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Nope....You summed it up fairly well, Joe. This new stipulation even goes as far as to admit that Fairbanks/SPS charged borrowers for legal services that may or may not have actually been performed, etc. yet Fairbanks/SPS admits no wrongdoing. The bottom line here is that, even after revisiting the issue several years later, Ms. Brown and the FTC are still unwilling to assist homeowners with any kind of serious legal enforcement action.

The only way that consumers anywhere, but especially Mortgage Servicing Fraud victims, are ever potentially going to see any kind of actual justice is if the phrase "without admitting wrongdoing" is stricken from the legal dictionary. Otherwise, any settlement agreements made are simply the cost of doing business for the companies.

Heck, the $40 million that Fairbanks/SPS put up LAST time didn't even come out of their own pocket.
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Joe B.:

I realize that yours is a fairly old post now and you have probably already found your answer, but your question presents an opportunity to share with ALL another useful piece of information.

ALL current federal court docket information and many pleadings, motions and orders nationally are now available online through the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts PACER Service:

http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/


It is INSTANT, fairly comprehensive and reasonably INEXPENSIVE.  Those looking for Federal court pleadings can usually find what they are looking for HERE. 

I would also encourage anyone who obtains a pleading, motion, order or opinion that might behelpful to others to Post information about it in this forum and to SEND a copy to MSFraud.org so that it can be added to the Legal Lounge for the benefit of ALL! 
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One charming old resource is:

A LAW DICTIONARY
ADAPTED TO THE CONSTITUTION AND LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND OF THE SEVERAL STATES OF THE AMERICAN UNION
by John Bouvier
Revised Sixth Edition, 1856

http://www.constitution.org/bouv/bouvier.htm

 

While securitization has added a number of new terms, it is remarkable how LITTLE certain elements of commerical and real estate law have changed in 152 years!

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O -

Thanks for posting all this.  It can be a big help to some of us I'm sure.

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Scholar
I like doing my own research rather than outsourcing it to India.  Others have made some suggestions about sources within this message thread.
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William A. Roper, Jr.
Some two and a half years after last post in this thread, I inadvertently created a new thread on this same topic.  It is probably useful to link the more recent thread.  These two threads should be read together:

"Online Sources of Law" [11/17/10 at 01:36 AM]

http://ssgoldstar.websitetoolbox.com/post?id=4974639

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How to Find a Competent Foreclosure Defense Attorney

If you can afford an attorney, it is advisable to hire one to defend your foreclosure. The big “if” of course is affordability. Having said that, we should keep in mind that all attorneys are not created equal. An incompetent attorney can cost you money and your case; there are enough of them to be wary. Here is some advice in finding a good foreclosure defense attorney.

Once the initial foreclosure complaint is filed by the plaintiff, your name and address will become public record and will be available for mass mailing. You will certainly receive numerous solicitations from local attorneys. Armed with the solicitation letters, go to your county clerk web site and do a party search on some of the attorneys on your list. Some counties’ system allows you to do searches by parties; some systems do have that functionality. Once you’re able to pull a list of cases with the attorney as a defense counsel, check the docket entries. Has the attorney been fighting vigorously for his/her clients?
By reviewing a few cases, you can determine how good an attorney is.
Has he files any pre-answer motions?
Has he filed any affirmative defenses and counter –claims?
Was he persistent in his discovery method?
What is his win/lose ratio?

If you want more information beyond dockets review, go to the court house and request to see the files you’re interested in. Read the pleadings filed by the attorney. You can even make copies to take home. Once you feel comfortable with an attorney’s competence, then you should make the jump. There is no guaranty, but at least you made an educated guess
Courtesy of http://www.foreclosureprose.com

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Nancy

I cannot seem to get the LEXIS by Credit Card feature to work.

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J

I use the PACER system, the charge is only .08 cents per page and if the document exceeds 30 pages the remaining pages are free.

https://www.pacer.gov/psco/cgi-bin/regform.pl

 

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...
J wrote:

I use the PACER system, the charge is only .08 cents per page and if the document exceeds 30 pages the remaining pages are free.

https://www.pacer.gov/psco/cgi-bin/regform.pl

 


Pacer is a great source of information but this covers Federal cases.  Most foreclosure actions are State cases.  Pacer alone doesn't provide enough information and cases.
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J

google scholar is excellent source, for not only obtaining court opinions but also the search tool eg. Google Advanced Search and the ability to notify by email any other 'cites' of the case or 'search terminology' ~ it is awesome. 

 

ps google scholar now provides a ranking of the cited cases.

 

http://scholar.google.com/

 

another alternative is to go to the Clerk of the Court, pull-up the docket history and request any brief/filings etc. from them.

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

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J

ps my location charges $1.00 per page, and will either mail the info or email upon payment.

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Walt

Although Federal case law is usually less helpful in state foreclosure cases, it bears mention that Open Jurist is now a useful and FREE source of Federal appellate case law:

 

Open Jurist

http://openjurist.org/

 

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