Friday, March 25, 2011

Witches and Warlocks now part of the foreclosure team

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the rising use of witches, warlocks and faith based "house cleansing" ceremonies.  I chuckled, at first, imagining a bedazzled 70 year old man chanting in a living room, shouting "out, out, damn spot!" while surrounded by the doe eyed new homeowner's, anxiously wringing their hands.  But its mention of my Catholic faith's own tradition of home blessing required a quick bit of research to see how deep the supersition runs.

The Catholic tradition is summarized in this muli-part prayer, published by a Catholic church in Virginia.  The magic works if you shuffle the group room-by-room and repeat the appropriate incantation that reflects the rooms intended use. The ceremony ends with the crucifix or other suitable icon being affixed in a prominent location.

I would love to know how many foreclosures that happy little ceremony has prevented.

Elsewhere, I've read that the Buddhist ceremony requires a whole fish, rock salt, and a bottle of sake. Sounds like lunch!

Of course, if you are a believer, there is another way to look at all this that is just as simplistic.  Assume the purpose of the blessing and certain prayers is to prevent something aweful from happening-- and who can doubt that financial crisis that causes the loss of a home to foreclosure falls in that category. Then maybe the entire foreclosure process is not held in particular favor by God?  Let's extend this to its absurd conclusion, and suggest further that the problems experienced by the foreclosure bar (robo-signing, bad affidavits, class actions) are the real estate world's versions of the locusts and the flood?

Or perhaps we shouldn't take any of it too seriously, but just deal with each other decently.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Blah, blah, blah, Law Firm Name.....blah, blah."

General Counsel for Wolverine tells Amlaw Daily what I have always felt about generic law firm marketing, most firms are "throwing content into the wind."  No law firm does everything, but all law firms are afraid to tell you what they don't do.  As a result, potential clients get the Pretty Woman response , cited in the article, when Richard Gere asks Julia Roberts, "what is your name?" and she replies, "what would you like it to be."

And this General Counsel's use of a hooker metaphor to describe the big law firms is not lost on me, either.

So, to be clear, I don't do domestic, family law, or criminal work.  When a  promise must be enforced in court, or you are accused of breaking a  promise in court- call me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lawyers sued by former paralegal/notary forced to notarize wrongly signed documents

In another twist, the Baltimore Sun reports that Shapiro & Burson has been sued by a former employee who alleges that he was told to notarize stacks of instruments signed by one non-firm attorney who had signed for absent firm attornies.  I have not yet read the complaint, so I can't describe more than what is in the news article.

As a title lawyer, I have only received one claim involving allegations of wrongfully notarized lawyer signatures. I expect that the plaintiff's bar recognizes that most of these signatures are easily fixed, and that even if a foreclosure is vacated and re-advertised, the borrower either can or cannot afford his mortgage.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MERS is engrossing fiction, according to the NY Times.

Well worth reading.  If you haven't been chasing the recent decisions around the Country, here's a good primer on the MERS mess.  With phrases like "engrossing fiction," "cut corners," and "colossal mistakes," you can see where this article is heading.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Welcome to the family...mind if I steal from you?

This plot was on Lifetime or the O network, wasn't it?  The Billings Gazette reports the following family yarn:  Young woman lives with her fiance's family for several years, with her infant son.  She steals future father-in-law's credit card to make $6,000 in purchases, spread over 55 transactions.....including wedding items.

She defended her actions, saying they were in retaliation for not being reimbursed for gas she purchased for the "family" vehicles.

I can see the news article to come: "The bride looked lovely in lace and taffeta, as she did the twelve inch shuffle down the aisle, the shackles gently rustling in sync with the cascading organ music.  The bride was flanked by her lawyer, and a probation officer, who presented her to the groom with a key for the ankle lock and a list of pre-release conditions on honey moon travel..." 

Friday, March 4, 2011

I saw the Defendant do it, says juror #8

Here is one for the ages- after 20 years of hearing judges ask jury pools, "do any of you know anything about the events in this case" comes the story of Juror #8, as reported in Albany Times Union.  She made it through voir dire, but while a prosecution witness was testifying, she recognized the defendant.  She not only recognized him, but recalled watching him drag the victim across a bridge as the crime was in progress.

The fact that there was any discussion among the lawyers and the court about NOT declaring a mistrial is amazing, by itself. 

So,  Juror #8 will soon be "prosecution witness #1."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Supremes tell corporations, "don't take it personally."

The Supremes announced that corporations don't have "personal privacy rights" under the Freedom of Information Act.  AT&T argued that use of the word "personal" in a statutory exemption must be read with the definition of "person" in another part of the statute, to give corporations the protection from certain FOIA requests.

At page 7 of the slip opinion, the Court shares a nice discussion of words that change meaning when used as nouns or adjectives.  For instance, words like "corny," "crabbed" and "cranky" have nothing to do with corn, crustaceans or handles that are used to operate machines.  And so, AT&T's argument was dismissed for lack of a real world connection between "personal" and "person." It is a fun english lesson, and at 15 pages, it is mercifully short.

I enjoy the last sentence: "We trust that AT&T will not take it personally."  Priceless.