The robosigning settlement is an important achievement for President Obama and our country, but for foreclosure defense attorney Roy Oppenheim and the people he represents, it is also vindication.
Oppenheim has been defending homeowners for years, and has been calling for widespread change on the South Florida Law Blog, long before it was fashionable to do so.
Before robosigning was a word most people knew, Oppenheim rallied for homeowners to confront the banks in court.
“Initially I did not believe that our nation’s biggest banks would be so arrogant as to create false documentation in order to push foreclosures through,” Oppenheim says.
But with every new client that walked through his doors demanding help, he saw more and more cases where the banks were willing to commit perjury and forgery in order to go through with foreclosures.
"They were cutting corners left and right, all in the name of expediency,” Oppenheim adds, “but the corners they were cutting were on the US Constitution.”
During their casework he and the attorneys at Oppenheim Law discovered that banks were committing systemic fraud at the highest level, so they could foreclose on homes when they did not legally have the right to do so.
What’s worse, Oppenheim claims, is that the courts were often complicit with the banks and did not allow homeowners the opportunity to defend themselves.
“The rules of civil procedure were being thrown out the door, and good people were being denied their day in court,” Oppenheim says.
With last week’s 25 billion dollar settlement now officially unveiled, Americans can now see what Oppenheim has long been saying, that the banks were not looking out for their borrowers.
“The truth is no amount of money would have been enough,” adds Oppenheim,” And since we can’t put the banks in jail, they got what was in essence a very public shaming.”
While Oppenheim feels the settlement is a slap on the wrist to the banks, he believes it was a crucial and necessary step in order to begin fixing the housing crisis.
“It was a down payment on the next settlement,which is coming, and will make what the banks paid out last week look like peanuts.”
With President Obama, who Oppenheim now calls a reengaged president, appointing New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to lead the Residential Mortgage Backed Security Working Group, he finally sees a government finally working for the American homeowner.
Oppenheim praises Schneiderman and several other AGs, for their efforts in fighting to preserve their right to go after the banks for their larger misdeeds, which were centered on the bundling of the mortgages into securitized trusts, known as REMICs.
Despite the banks continued efforts throughout the settlement negotiations, they did not get blanket immunity for the security and tax misconduct Oppenheim says they committed, as well as other egregious acts which led to the housing collapse in the first place.
Oppenheim and his associate Jacquelyn Trask have details these issues in their law review article, “Deconstructing the Black Magic of Securitized Trusts” which will be published in the Spring 2012 edition of the Stetson Law Review.
Posted on Oppenheim Law’s website last October, it has resonated with the legal community and has already gone viral.
Robosigning, Oppenheim explains, was just the effect, but the banks decisions’ to sell off as many mortgages as they could to maximize their bottom line was the root cause of the housing market collapse.
“The strange thing is, by engaging in robosigning, the banks gave Schneiderman and his investigators the proof to begin to look into REMICs” says Oppenheim.
“It was just a tiny key, but it opened the door to to an entire illegal kingdom.”
Oppenheim Law's practice areas includes defending homeowners and investors from foreclosure, arranging short-sales, loan modifications and "short-refi's", consumer related class actions, personal injury, commercial litigation, real estate and business related matters. The Firm is regularly defending homeowners from foreclosure, we are general counsel to a myriad of residential and commercial developers, coordinating all legal related matters.