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Investigating Foreclosure Fraud

Yesterday (Oct 13), all 50 state attorneys general opened a joint investigation into the ongoing foreclosure fraud scandal that has led some of the country's biggest banks to suspend foreclosures.

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Progress Report, Think Progress

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Yesterday (Oct 13), all 50 state attorneys general opened a joint investigation into the ongoing foreclosure fraud scandal that has led some of the country's biggest banks to suspend foreclosures, as they sort out whether or not they improperly threw borrowers out of their homes. Multiple banks -- including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo -- have reportedly had foreclosure documents approved by "robo-signers": employees who were signing thousands of foreclosure documents a day, without verifying basic information. In many cases, as the Associated Press reported, these employees had no experience with mortgage banking at all.

According to employee depositions, "financial institutions and their mortgage servicing departments hired hair stylists, Walmart floor workers and people who had worked on assembly lines and installed them in 'foreclosure expert' jobs with no formal training." One bank employee reportedly said, "I don't know the ins and outs of the loan, I just sign documents." But the extent of the banks' problems extends beyond robo-signed paperwork to lost and forged documents and, as Reuters' Felix Salmon reported, knowingly selling investors mortgage bonds they knew were toxic. "The financial institutions would be well served by working with us to get it cleaned up," said Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. "And they'd also be well served to think about reaching negotiated resolutions with borrowers in cases where they've created exposure for themselves by committing fraud upon the courts."

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Access To Justice In U.S. At Third-World Levels, Says Survey, Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

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  • The truth is that as a nation, we face nothing short of a justice crisis. It is a crisis both acute and chronic, affecting not only the poor but the middle class. The situation we face is unconscionable. -- Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe
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  • Corporate America's Favorite Jurists Return
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Access To Justice In U.S. At Third-World Levels, Says Survey

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  • "The truth is that as a nation, we face nothing short of a justice crisis. It is a crisis both acute and chronic, affecting not only the poor but the middle class. The situation we face is unconscionable." -- Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe
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  • Need a Lawyer? Good Luck
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  • Corporate America's Favorite Jurists Return
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Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

Why haven't more Americans successfully sued the banks that lured them into fraudulent mortgages, then foreclosed on them without the required paperwork?

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It could be because the civil justice system in this country is essentially inaccessible to many Americans -- and when it does get accessed, is tilted toward the wealthy and moneyed interests.

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That's certainly consistent with the finding of a world-wide survey unveiled Thursday morning that ranks the United States lowest among 11 developed nations when it comes to providing access to justice to its citizens -- and lower than some third-world nations in some categories.

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Need a Lawyer? Good Luck, New York Times | NY

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  • Congress must approve the extra financing to provide legal services for struggling homeowners authorized in the financial reform law. It must also approve a substantial budget increase for the federal Legal Services Corporation, which helps finance these critical programs, and ditch senseless restrictions hampering its mission.
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  • Access To Justice In U.S. At Third-World Levels
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Corporate America's Favorite Jurists Return, The Progress Report, Think Progress

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  • The squeeze on workers
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  • Signing away your rights
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A Serious Danger to Effective Self-Government

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  • "We write today because we believe that the Supreme Court's creation of corporate 'speech' rights on which the Citizens United decision rests is contrary to the First Amendment as we understand it."
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  • Corporate America's Favorite Jurists Return
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Steve Cobble, Huffington Post

As the U.S. Supreme Court opened a new session today (Oct 4), more than 50 leading lawyers--former Attorneys General, prosecutors, and constitutional scholars--issued a joint letter calling for the U.S. Congress to consider a Constitutional Amendment to roll back the Roberts Court's ill-advised ruling in the Citizens United case.


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In the very first paragraph of the letter, these leading attorneys state: "...we share one thing: we believe the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was not only wrongly decided but presents a serious danger to effective self-government of, for and by the American people, a danger which must be addressed."


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The letter from the legal scholars also contains this very clear line: "We write today because we believe that the Supreme Court's creation of corporate 'speech' rights on which the Citizens United decision rests is contrary to the First Amendment as we understand it."

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Related:

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Corporate America's Favorite Jurists Return, The Progress Report, Think Progress

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  • The squeeze on workers
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  • Signing away your rights
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Corporate America's Favorite Jurists Return

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  • The squeeze on workers
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  • Signing away your rights
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The Progress Report, Think Progress

Few cases define the Roberts Court like the recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC. With a wave of their hands, the Court's five conservatives opened the floodgates to allow billions of corporate dollars to spill into American democracy.

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As a result, outside interest groups -- most of which are aligned with conservatives -- have already spent five times as much on this midterm election cycle as they did in 2006. And Citizens United is only the tip of the Court's corporate iceberg. The justices have consistently favored employers over workers and polluters over the environment -- and it has gone out of its way to slam the doors of justice shut on ordinary Americans. With the Court's new term beginning this week, the justices have a few opportunities to correct past errors. Sadly, the Roberts majority is far more likely to find new ways to declare corporate America to be above the law.

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The squeeze on workers: In its first full term together, the Roberts majority handed down its infamous Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire decision, which cut off access to equal pay for equal work for many women. Moreover, when Congress swiftly overturned this egregious decision, the conservative justices responded -- not with the humility Chief Justice Roberts promised in his confirmation hearing -- but with an equally indefensible decision limiting the rights of older workers.

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio Accused of Illegally Misspending $80 Million While Conducting Draconian Immigration Round-ups

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Arpaio's office used a shadow system, a separate set of payroll books to get around the law barring the use of taxpayer-supported jail funds for other purposes.

Valeria Fernandez, New America Media

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Photo Credit: publik15

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has found himself at the center of yet another controversy, but this time the issue is not illegal immigration. A county budget report made public Wednesday (October 6) accused his department of misspending as much as $80 million on immigration sweeps, public-corruption probes, and a range of other unauthorized activities and expenditures over the past five years.

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The Board of Supervisors responded by placing Arpaio’s office under new budget restrictions as Maricopa County Board attorney Tom Irvine called the improper expenditures the “biggest misspending of state funds in the history of Arizona.”

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Much of the analysis, by the Office of Management and Budget, centered on the misuse of a tax-based jail-detention fund that was approved by Arizona voters in 1998 for jail expansion, guards’ salaries, and related expenses. Instead, according to the report, Arpaio’s office diverted the funds for such activities as immigration sweeps and public-corruption investigations against the sheriff’s critics.

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