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U.S. Attorney Sally Yates (center) announces that ten local police officers have been arrested on corruption charges in a press conference at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in downtown Atlanta on Tuesday Feb. 12th, 2013.
By Steve Visser
Federal authorities announced the arrest of 10 metro law enforcement officers Tuesday on charges of arranging protection for a street gang’s drug deals.
“Obviously the breadth of the corruption is very troubling,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Yates . “It is certainly the most (officers) this office has charged in a long time.”
The case began as a street gang investigation by the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, whose undercover agents learned that gangs had officers on the payroll for protection, Yates said. The FBI took command of the public corruption aspects of the case.
At least one officer recommended that the gang use a school parking lot to exchange drugs for cash because trading backpacks there would not look suspicious, Yates said at a 2 p.m. news conference.
The law enforcement officers arrested today were: Atlanta Police Department Officer Kelvin Allen, 42, of Atlanta; DeKalb County Police Department Officers Dennis Duren, 32, of Atlanta and Dorian Williams, 25, of Stone Mountain, Georgia; Forest Park Police Department Sergeants Victor Middlebrook, 44, of Jonesboro, Georgia and Andrew Monroe, 57, of Riverdale, Georgia; MARTA Police Department Officer Marquez Holmes, 45, of Jonesboro, Georgia; Stone Mountain Police Department Officer Denoris Carter, 42, of Lithonia, Georgia, and contract Federal Protective Services Officer Sharon Peters, 43, of Lithonia, Georgia. Agents also arrested two former law enforcement officers: former DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office jail officers Monyette McLaurin, 37, of Atlanta, and Chase Valentine, 44, of Covington, Georgia.
Civilians arrested today were: Shannon Bass, 38, of Atlanta; Elizabeth Coss, 35, of Atlanta; Gregory Lee Harvey, 26, of Stone Mountain, Georgia; Alexander B. Hill, 22, of Ellenwood, Georgia; and Jerry B. Mannery, Jr., 38, of Tucker, Georgia.
Some of the officers were retired and some were active duty. The highest rank was sergeant and the payoffs ranged as high as $7,000 per transaction. Each transaction involved at least five kilograms of cocaine, which carries a 10 year minimum sentence, Yates said.
Officers were involved in multiple transactions, provided escorts to dealers and buyers and offered to provided muscle if necessary to protect their clients, Yates said.
Yates said the investigation is ongoing and declined to say whether more officers would be arrested.
ATF Special Agent in Charge Scott Sweetow would not name the street gang involved but he suggested the public corruption aspects would be more far-ranging.
“I can say this is probably not the last you will be hearing of this case,” he said.
A press release from Yates’ office detailed the following allegations:
DeKalb County Police Department
Between October 2011 and November 2011, DeKalb County Police Officer Dennis Duren, working together with Bass, provided protection for what he and Bass believed were four separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. Duren and Bass accepted cash payments totaling $8,800 for these services. During the transactions, Duren was dressed in his DeKalb County Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt, as he patrolled on foot in the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place. After the first two transactions, Duren allegedly offered to drive his patrol vehicle to future transactions for an additional $800 fee, and afterward received an additional $800 in cash for using his patrol vehicle in the final transaction in November 2011. Duren and Bass are each charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Duren also is charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Between January and February 2013, DeKalb County Police Officer Dorian Williams, working together with Mannery and Bass, provided protection for what he and Mannery believed were three separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. Williams and Mannery accepted cash payments totaling $18,000 for these services. During the transactions, Williams was dressed in his DeKalb County Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt, and he patrolled the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place in his DeKalb Police vehicle. During a meeting between the three transactions, Williams allegedly instructed Bass to remove any cocaine from the scene if Williams had to shoot someone during the upcoming sale. In another meeting, Williams suggested that future drug transactions should take place in the parking lot of a local high school during the afternoon, so that the exchange of backpacks containing drugs and money would not look suspicious. Williams and Mannery are each charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
Stone Mountain Police Department
Between April and September 2012, Stone Mountain Police Officer Denoris Carter, working together with Mannery, provided protection for what he and Mannery believed were five separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. For these services, Carter and Mannery accepted cash payments totaling $23,500. For all five transactions, Carter dressed in his Stone Mountain Police uniform. In four of the deals, he arrived in his police cruiser and either patrolled or parked in the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place and watched the transactions. During the final transaction in September 2012, Carter was on foot, displaying a firearm in a holster on his belt, and he walked through the parking lot in which the transaction took place and watched the participants. Finally, during one of the transactions, Carter agreed to escort the purchaser of the sham cocaine in his police vehicle for several miles, until the purchaser reached Highway 78. Carter is charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments, attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Atlanta Police Department
Between June and August 2012, Atlanta Police officer Kelvin D. Allen, working together with Coss, provided protection for what he and Coss believed were three separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. Allen and Coss accepted cash payments totaling $10,500 for their services. For two transactions, Allen dressed in his Atlanta Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt. Allen patrolled on foot in parking lots in which the undercover sales took place and appeared to be monitoring the transactions. During a meeting after the three transactions, a cooperator gave Allen and Coss each a $1,000 bonus payment in return for protecting the three transactions. Allen and Coss are each charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Allen also is charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
MARTA Police Department
Between August and November 2012, MARTA Police Department Officer Marquez Holmes, working together with Coss, provided protection for what he and Coss believed were four separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. For these services, Holmes and Coss accepted cash payments totaling $9,000. During the transactions, Holmes was dressed in his MARTA Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt. In two of the transactions, Holmes patrolled on foot in the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place and monitored the transactions. During the other two deals, Holmes drove to the site in his MARTA police cruiser and parked next to the vehicles in which the undercover drug sale took place. Holmes is charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments, attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Forest Park Police Department
Between October to December 2012, Forest Park Police Sergeants Victor Middlebrook and Andrew Monroe, sometimes working alone and at other times together, provided protection for what they believed were six separate drug deals in the Atlanta area, all involving multiple kilograms of cocaine. For his services in the first four transactions, Middlebook accepted cash payments totaling $13,800. During these transactions, Middlebrook wore plain clothes, but displayed his badge and a firearm in a holster on his belt. He patrolled on foot in the parking lots nearby the vehicles in which the undercover sales took place and appeared to be monitoring the transactions. For the final two transactions, both Middlebrook and Monroe provided security and were given cash payments totaling $10,400. Middlebrook again monitored the transactions on foot in plain clothes while displaying his badge and gun, while Monroe watched from his vehicle in the parking lot and afterward escorted the purchaser of the sham cocaine for several miles. Middlebrook and Monroe are charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine; Middlebrook is also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office
In January 2013, former DeKalb County Sheriff Jail Officer Monyette McLaurin, working together with Harvey, provided protection for what they believed were two separate drug transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. Harvey already had provided security for two undercover drug transactions in December 2012, falsely representing that he was a DeKalb County detention officer and wearing a black shirt with the letters “SHERIFF” printed across the back during the transactions. Harvey then stated that he knew other police officers who wanted to protect drug deals, and in January 2013 he introduced McLaurin as one of these officers. During a meeting to discuss future drug transactions, McLaurin falsely represented that he was a deputy employed by the DeKalb Sheriff’s office, even though his position as a jail officer ended in 2011. McLaurin and Harvey further stated during this meeting that they may need to kill another person who knew that Harvey had protected drug deals, if this person reported the activity to others.
During the two transactions in January 2013, McLaurin was dressed in a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office uniform with a badge, and he carried a gun in a holster on his belt. He accompanied the undercover seller of the cocaine to pick up the drugs from a warehouse, counted the kilograms the seller received, and stood outside the purchaser’s vehicle during the actual transaction. He further discussed with the seller whether they should agree upon a signal for the seller to indicate that the sale had gone awry, requiring McLaurin to shoot the drug buyer. For their services, McLaurin and Harvey were paid $12,000 in cash. McLaurin and Harvey are each charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Later in January 2013, McLaurin and Harvey introduced a second former DeKalb County Sheriff’s Jail Officer, Chase Valentine, to help provide security for future drug deals. Like McLaurin, Valentine falsely represented himself to be a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Deputy, even though his position as a jail officer ended in 2010. Together with Harvey, Valentine provided security for one undercover drug transaction on January 17, 2013, during which he wore a DeKalb Sheriff’s Office uniform and a pistol in a holster on his belt. During the transaction, Valentine escorted the seller to pick up the sham cocaine, counted the number of kilograms delivered, and stood outside the purchaser’s car during the actual transaction. For these services, Valentine received $6,000 in cash. Valentine is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Federal Protective Services
In November 2012, Sharon Peters, who was a contract officer for the Federal Protective Services, worked together with Mannery to provide protection for what they believed were two separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. For these services, Peters and Mannery accepted cash payments totaling $14,000. For both transactions, Peters parked her vehicle nearby the cars where the sham drugs and money were exchanged, and watched the transactions. Before both transactions, Peters told others that she had her pistol with her in the car. Peters is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Imposter Clayton County Police Officer
Between December 2012 and January 2013, Alexander B. Hill falsely represented himself to be an officer with the Clayton County Police Department while providing security for what he believed were three separate drug transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. During an initial meeting, Hill wore a uniform that appeared to be from Clayton Police, but during the transactions he wore plain clothes and, for at least the first deal, a badge displayed on his belt. For these services, Hill received payments totaling $9,000 in cash. Hill charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
A Lesson Learned on the Anniversary of Wounded Knee
December 29, 2012, marked the 122nd anniversary of the massacre of 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. These 297 people, in their winter camp, were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began AFTER the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms. When the final round pierced the air, of the 297 dead or dying, two-thirds (or 200) were women and children!
Around 40 members of the 7th Cavalry were killed. Over half of the dead were by friendly fire from the Hotchkiss guns, which were in the hands of their overzealous comrades-in-arms. Twenty members of the 7th Cavalry were deemed “National Heroes” and awarded the Medal of Honor for their acts of cowardice.
We do not hear of Wounded Knee today. Historians do not mention it in our history classes or books. What little does exist about Wounded Knee is normally the sanitized “Official Government Explanation” or the historically and factually inaccurate depictions of the events leading up to the massacre on the movie screen. Wounded Knee was among the first federally backed gun confiscation attempts in United States history. It ended in the senseless murder of 297 people.
Before you jump on the emotionally charged bandwagon for gun-control, take a moment to reflect on the real purpose of the Second Amendment–The right of the people to take up arms in defense of themselves, their families, and property in the face of invading armies or an oppressive government. The argument that the Second Amendment only applies to hunting and target shooting is asinine. When the United States drafted the Constitution, “hunting” was an everyday chore carried out by men and women to put meat on the table each night. “Target shooting” was an unheard of concept. Musket balls were a precious commodity in the wilds of early America and were certainly not wasted “target shooting.” People who fled oppressive and tyrannical regimes in Europe wrote the Second Amendment, which refers to the right to arm American citizens for defense purposes should such tyranny rise in the United States.
As time goes on, the average citizen in the United States continues to lose personal freedom or “liberty.” Far too many times, unjust bills are passed and signed into law under the guise of “for your safety” or “for protection.” The Patriot Act signed into law by G.W. Bush, which was expanded and continued by Barack Obama, is just one of many examples of American citizens being stripped of their rights and privacy for “safety.” Now, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is on the table and will most likely be abolished for “our safety.”
Before any American citizen blindly accepts whatever new firearms legislation that is about to be voted upon, they should stop and think about something for just one minute—Evil does exist in our world. It always has and always will. Throughout history evil people have committed evil acts. In the Bible, one of the first stories is that of Cain killing Abel. We cannot legislate away “evil.” Good people will abide by the law; defective people will always find a way around it.
Furthermore, evil exists all around us. However, looking back at the historical record of the past 200 years across the globe, where is “evil” and “malevolence” most often found? They are found in the hands of those with power—tyrants in governments. We can attribute the worst human tragedies on record and the largest loss of innocent human life to governments. Who do governments target? They target “scapegoats” and “enemies” within their own borders…but only after they have been disarmed to the point where they are no longer a threat. Ask any Native American, and they will tell you it was inferior technology and lack of arms that contributed to their demise. Ask any Armenian why it was so easy for the Turks to exterminate millions of them, and they will answer, “We were disarmed before it happened.” Ask any Jew what Hitler’s first step prior to the mass murders of the Holocaust was—confiscation of firearms from the people.
Wounded Knee is the prime example of why the Second Amendment exists, and why we should not be in such a hurry to surrender our Right to Bear Arms. Without the Second Amendment, we have no right to defend ourselves and our families. “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” ~ John Adams, 1826
3am Home Eviction in DeKalb Sparks Outrage
Written By: APN STAFF
By Scott Brown, Special to the Atlanta Progressive News
(APN) DEKALB COUNTY — In the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 02, 2012, over twenty deputies from the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department, under orders from Sheriff Thomas Brown, drilled the locks and kicked in the doors of the Christine Frazer’s home with guns drawn in order to evict four generations of family members.
Frazer, the homeowner, had fallen behind on her mortgage payments and was foreclosed upon in October 2011.
According to Frazer, her family members, including her 85-year-old mother and 3-year-old grandson, were told by officers to "act like it was a fire drill" and grab what they could and get out.
Frazer said they were not even allowed a shower before being escorted from her home of eighteen years at three in the morning.
She described the event as "literally a nightmare."
Her three dogs were taken to the pound and all of her belongings were put out on the street, which police had completely closed off.
At a press conference in front of her belongings hours after the eviction, Frazer lamented, "I’ve been in this home eighteen years. My daughter was raised here. My husband died here. My grandson came home here. This is my home."
"They came in as if they were executing a warrant to find drugs. It makes no sense,” Frazer’s lawyer, Joshua Davis, said of the eviction.
Sheriff Thomas Brown told Fox 5 television news that he attributed the unusual timing and the large number of officers used in the eviction to the presence of Occupy Atlanta protesters who had been camping in the yard for the past four months in an attempt to prevent what they described as an illegal eviction based on an illegal foreclosure.
Frazer has filed a lawsuit, which is currently pending in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, against the company that foreclosed on her home last October, Investors One Corporation.
Ownership of the mortgage has changed three times in the past six months and, according to Frazer’s lawyer, the chain of title was broken when the previous owner of the mortgage, a bank based in Indiana, failed to uphold their legal obligation to transfer the title, rendering the foreclosure by Investors One Corporation fraudulent.
"There are judges that are in place that could have done a little research, if they’d done a little title search they’d have seen that something in the milk wasn’t clean,” Frazer said.
Frazer, 63, began to fall behind on her mortgage payments after losing her husband and her job in 2009. She has been unable to find a job ever since and is currently on early retirement social security.
Sheriff Brown told Fox 5 he gave the homeowner ample time to reach a settlement with the mortgage holder before serving the eviction notice.
Frazer said she tried to restructure the mortgage, but Investors One Corporation was uncooperative and intent on foreclosure, only offering to reinstate the loan if she was able to pay 20,000 dollars in cash. Currently she has paid over 240,000 dollars on the mortgage on a house currently appraised at only 40,000 dollars.
On Monday, May 07, 2012, in response to the early morning eviction ordered by Sheriff Thomas Brown, Occupy Atlanta held a protest in front of the Dekalb County Sheriff’s office.
At one point, more protesters pulled up in a van full of Frazer’s belongings, and Occupy Atlanta unloaded mattresses, furniture, and bags of other items that deputies had left on the curb nearly one week prior and piled them in front of the doors to the Sheriff’s Office, along with signs reading “Fraudclosure” and “Wall St. criminals are not convicted. The people are evicted.”
Standing before a pile of her belongings in front of the Sheriff’s Office during a press conference, Frazer said, "This is not just about me and my family, this is about families across America."
Frazer is certainly not alone in her struggle to keep her home. According to Corelogic, Inc., a company specializing in financial analysis, over 1.4 million homes in the US are currently in the foreclosure process, and states like Georgia have been ground zero in the housing crisis.
A recent Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report shows Metro Atlanta home prices fell 17.3 percent between February 2011 and February 2012, a fact that is fueling the continuing foreclosure crisis in the state.
Occupy Atlanta has taken up home defense as a tactic for combating what protesters view as unfair and illegal practices by banks and the financial industry as a whole.
Leila Abadir, one of the Occupy Atlanta protesters who had been camping on the lawn at the Frazer household, says the fight is not over. Occupy Atlanta will continue to assist the Frazer family in finding proper housing, she said.
They will also keep working to shed light on what she believes to be unethical and potentially criminal activity on the part of Investors One Corporation.
According to Fox 5, after most of the protesters left the sheriff’s office, police surrounded a remaining protester’s vehicle, which they impounded for possible evidence. They issued two citations to two people for littering and arrested one of them because he did not have identification on him.
It is truly amazing, the number of wrongful foreclosure complaints that are on the internet. People search around for a complaint to copy and file in the Court, and wallah! That one looks like a winner!
Ever do a google search on "wrongful foreclosure"? Amazingly… there are millions of returns on that phrase.
The other thing that no one considers, is who really puts all those sample complaints on the web? Is every site on the up and up, or do the banks contribute their share with mis-information. It would have to be that way.
I have noticed some of the complaints that have ended up in the Courts, filed by pro se litigants. Obviously, someone put that complaint out there, just so that these people would file it and fail. Like… Well, there is another we won’t have to worry about fighting us in the courts. So who? Who would do such a thing?
Clearly another pro se litigant would not take an unproven complaint and suggest to others that it is a winner.
And God knows, the plethora of bad case law already created from the rulings of federal courts, ESPECIALLY rulings from US District Court or the Northern District of Georgia, with the exception of course of Amy Totenberg’s rulings. Those are actually the only ones worth readings.
If you have a case in front of any other judge in NDGa., why even wait till its over to read the ruling, you know what it will say.
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. —
A metro Atlanta consumer attorney said he has already been able to halt a dozen foreclosures using a new ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals.
The latest case involves a Forsyth County home and lending giant Wells Fargo.
"Having to move out of the dream home that my son and I built is the worst thing I could think of," said homeowner David Stripland.
The recession hit his car
dealership around the same time the housing crisis, cutting his home’s value more than 60 percent.
"You can’t sell it, you can’t re-fi, you have to get a modification," said his
The Striplands said the process went on for more than a year. They then received a string of foreclosure notices from Wells Fargo.
"Foreclosure. It’s a shame," said
Paulette through a stream of tears.
The foreclosure has now been halted, after a recent ruling by the state appellate court.
Wells Fargo does not hold the note. It only services the loan. The note holder is not clearly stated.
The Striplands paid forensic auditors who found the loan has been divided up into dozens of securities sold to investors.
"Once these notes are chopped up and turned into bonds, securities, whatever; who really owns
it?" asked their attorney, Bob Thompson.
But the Georgia Court of Appeals ruling in a case involving a Cobb County family and servicers Provident Funding, LLC, ruled homeowners have "a right to know" to whom they actually owe the money, lest they be "misled or confused."
"Even a dog in Georgia has the right to know who’s kicking him," Emory law professor Frank Alexander told Channel 2’s reporting partners at the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
"These big banks and Wall Street have to follow the law of the land, just like I do," said
Channel 2’s Jim Strickland learned just before 5 p.m. Thursday, Wells Fargo had halted the foreclosure.
Thompson said most homeowners in peril should take action on their own.
Call and get it stopped and get yourself some time, because with time most people can work things out," he said.
It is likely Provident will appeal to the state supreme court.
U.S. Audit Cites OCC Lapses in Oversight of Foreclosure Process
By Carter Dougherty – Jun 1, 2012 1:50 PM ET
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency underestimated the risks in bank foreclosure practices from 2008 to 2010 and gave examiners a 13-year-old handbook that didn’t address how securitization affects loan documentation, a Treasury Department audit found.
Treasury’s inspector general’s office reviewed the OCC’s work in the years following the onset of the credit crisis. The period was later found to be rife with abusive foreclosure practices including use of fraudulent documentation by servicers. Five major banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM),Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), settled claims from 49 states and the federal government for $25 billion on Feb. 9.
“During this time OCC did not consider foreclosure documentation and processing to be an area of significant risk and, as a result, did not focus examination resources on this function,” Jeffrey Dye, the inspector general’s director of banking audits, wrote in the May 31 report.
In missing what “turned out to be serious foreclosure issues,” the OCC relied too heavily on the banks’ own internal quality-control procedures, he said. The bank programs, in turn, focused on loss mitigation and compliance with investor guidelines, not foreclosure documentation, the report found.
The inspector general also faulted the OCC, the primary federal supervisor for national banks, for failing to update its handbook on mortgage banking examinations for 13 years. The guide didn’t address the effects of securitization or new mortgage products that were at the heart of the housing bust, the report concludes.
Comptroller Thomas Curry told the inspector general in a May 15 letter that the OCC manual will be updated, but stressed that the agency issued supplemental guidance to examiners in 2006 and 2007.
OCC spokesman Robert Garsson declined to comment on the Treasury report.
To contact the reporter on this story: Carter Dougherty in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at email@example.com
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
A for sale sign is posted in front of house in Glendale. California saw foreclosure starts pick up in June, suggesting that a new wave of defaults is underway.
For the first six months of 2012, foreclosures in California declined from the same period a year earlier. But RealtyTrac, an Irvine-based company that specializes in tracking foreclosures, reports that the state still has the fourth highest foreclosure rate in the nation. In fact, in June, default notices sent to homeowners increased from May. And year-over-year, California’s rate of foreclosure starts increased 18 percent, making it the top state for the month, the first time that California has held that slot since 2005.
I talked to RealtyTrac vice-president Daren Blomquist. He said that states with the worst foreclosure rates have remained consistent during the housing crisis. The top five haven’t moved around a lot: it’s Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, California, and Florida. He noted that the only surprise was that Georgia has moved into the top four and that Florida has slipped.
Foreclosure filings in California fell by about 11 percent in the second quarter of 2012. But in June foreclosure moved up a bit more than 12 percent over May.
Blomquist said we’ve seen this pattern before in California. He calls it a “foreclosure wave” and expects the pattern to continue, as banks cope with the national mortgage settlement that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday and avoid flooding the market with foreclosures. Blomquist’s interpretation is that banks will work through their foreclosures gradually, so we’ll see activity ebb and flow.
"Lenders are looking at their loan portfolios and figuring out how many mortgages to set aside for modification," he said. The banks are determining which ones likely won’t qualify and sending out notices of default, the first stage of the foreclosure process, to homeowners.
Regardless of how these waves are paced, the foreclosure crisis isn’t going away any time soon. At the current rate, Blomquist expects it to take until late 2013 or early 2014 before the country’s million-and-half foreclosures are in the rearview mirror.
Archive for the ‘Court of Appeals’ Category
Anybody else want to be an appeals court judge?
3:48 pm, June 26th, 2012
Gov. Nathan Deal’s Judicial Nominating Commission has officially jump-started the process of filling the vacancy on the state Court of Appeals, created by yesterday’s promotion of Judge Keith Blackwell to the state Supreme Court.
The JNC’s notice says, beginning today through Friday, July 6, it will accept applications for the Court of Appeals opening from “any qualified applicant” who did not apply for the Supreme Court vacancy. The six remaining members of the short list for the Supreme Court opening automatically will be on the short list for the Court of Appeals, unless the applicant notifies the JNC he or she doesn’t wish to be considered, the notice says.
Deal spokeswoman Stephanie Mayfield told the Daily Report yesterday that those who applied for the Supreme Court but didn’t make the short list will not be considered for the Court of Appeals opening.
The notice contains the details on what those interested need to do to apply. It says the JNC will schedule interviews of new applicants “to the extent necessary.”
The members of the shortlist passed over in favor of Blackwell are DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia “C.J.” Becker; Elizabeth “Lisa” Branch, a litigator at Smith, Gambrell & Russell; Michael Brown, co-leader of Alston & Bird’s Government and Internal Investigations Group; Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge William “Billy” Ray Jr.; Macon Superior Court Judge Tilman “Tripp” Self III; and Henry County State Court Chief Judge Ben Studdard III.
Writing last night about the Blackwell appointment and Deal’s new opportunity, conservative lawyer and commentator Carrie Severino wrote for the National Review Online that she hears “great things” about Branch, noting Branch previously worked in the administration of George W. Bush.
Learn more about the Supreme Court finalists here.
Hell, all we have to say about the matter, other than the obvious, is thank God Becker didn’t make it. There is no bigger crook at DeKalb County Superior Court, than Judge Cynthia J. Becker. See McDonald and Stegeman v. Georgia Power in DeKalb County Superior Court and see McDonald/Stegeman v. Superior Court, GA Power, et., al., in US District Court.
Encounters with pro se litigants
by Daniel DeWoskin
June 1st, 2011
We have all heard that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. Many of us have had occasion to walk into a courtroom, be it in magistrate, state, or even superior court, only to find that the courtroom is packed with pro se parties waiting to have their matters adjudicated. Watching inexperienced people handle their legal matters can at times be entertaining and at other times extremely frustrating. We observe these parties fumbling with rules regarding cross-examination or the admission of evidence. It is almost always apparent that these people are uncomfortable, intimidated, and unaware of how much they do not know about prosecuting or defending a legal action. Out of necessity, desperation, or perhaps stubbornness, many people still choose to represent themselves in court.
Is it hubris that causes these people, these “fools,” to represent themselves? The fact is that many parties are representing themselves because they could neither find, nor afford, counsel in a particular matter. These situations can be simply tragic. Many times, these persons are out-maneuvered by an attorney because they fail to acknowledge procedure or to understand the application of law to a particular issue. These people may lose their cases solely because their temperament or demeanor has overshadowed the presentation of evidence in their cases. There is not much of a fix to this problem, as the courts cannot take it upon themselves to advise pro se parties lest they cease to be impartial to some extent.
As attorneys, it can be like watching a train wreck. And yet, even watching the least capable pro se parties, I have to give them credit for having the nerve to walk into court, to stand before a group of strangers, and to engage in public speaking for which the outcome may have dire consequences. It is refreshing and impressive when some of these individuals have taken the time to conduct research into their legal issues and patiently wait for certain cues from the court as they advocate for their position. We have all seen these cues ignored at times by the most experienced and knowledgeable attorneys.
I myself have dealt with pro se parties and can say that I have always found it to be troublesome. When dealing with a pro se party, I am always cautious to avoid ever giving legal advice to the other party. I have a duty to my client and my responsibility to zealously represent his or her interests cannot be compromised. I also have a duty to deal fairly and honestly with my opponent. In these situations, it can be challenging to set the right tone so that I do not inadvertently escalate any hostility that may already be present in the litigation. Even by making very deliberate choices as to how I speak with my opponent can backfire, causing more work and headache for everyone involved, including the court.
Any lawyer who has dealt with pro se parties is likely to say that there is some measure of comfort when dealing with represented parties. Pro se parties are always personally involved in the matter at hand and can often have difficulty taking a step back so that they might see their opponents’ arguments for what they are. If these people were not personally involved, they would not deem the matter worth their time or attention in the first place. When both parties are represented by experienced and professional counsel, knowledge of law and courtesy generally help govern the course of litigation. This is quite the contrast between the emotion and intimidation that can be in play in pro se litigation.
There are also times where we as attorneys sit down in a crowded court and have the person seated beside us turn and ask, “Are you an attorney?” This usually means that we are about to be asked if we can answer a quick question that is never quick and never isolated. When I find myself in this position, I usually resort to recommending that the person ask for a continuance and seek counsel, but I am always professional and polite so that I do not seem to be turning my back on them. As opposed to explaining that I need to be paid for my services, which is true, I have found that people respond better when I explain that without a thorough review of the particular facts of both parties and their assertions, I am not able to provide them with a reliable answer.
It is extremely important in our justice system for people to have access to the courts, even when they cannot afford counsel. Our judges do a good job demonstrating patience and appreciation for the rights of pro se parties, and yet I am continually perplexed by how many people will try to handle a complex litigation matter without doing any homework. While I doubt these same people would handle their own dental work, sometimes I just have to wonder.
I am disappointed when I see pro se parties get intimidated by attorneys in court. There are those rare moments when one of these parties, outgunned and out of their element, has done the legwork and prevails in court. If you have never seen this in action, it is something to behold. Recently, I spoke to a young woman who succeeded in defending herself in a civil action. It was rather remarkable. I was impressed by the quality of her research and preparation, and she was impressed by how ignorant and unprepared her attorney counterpart was.
I suppose the takeaway from this encounter was that we should never take our opponents for granted. So, while a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, there is no substitute for preparation, knowledge of the law and facts, and humility in a court of law. As lawyers, we should try to find the balance between stressing the value of qualified counsel and understanding why people may still choose to represent themselves. Instead of dismissing all these people as foolhardy, perhaps we should first caution them, then suggest where they might find the resources to empower them in their decision. In the end, if they do follow through with the research, it should demonstrate that what we do is unique, precise, and specialized.
As lawyers, we are aware of the dangers of pro se litigation. We know the troubles that lurk in handling matters without knowing the facts, the law, and the applicable procedure. For those who do not know these dangers, we must act as stewards. We may benefit these people and the system in general without giving out free legal advice, but also without treating what we do as beyond the reach of a dedicated individual with something to prove. Once again, many of these individuals do not have a choice, and nobody in our community benefits from a system that breeds intimidation and contempt.
Article appears in the DeKalb Bar Association Newsletter
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