In a previous post, I offered tips on how to avoid foreclosure.  Most of those suggestions centered on how a mortgage borrower should talk to the mortgage lender at the onset of financial difficulties.  But what alternatives do borrowers have if they are already in active foreclosure litigation and they don’t qualify for loan modification programs such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (known as HAMP)?  In that case, a borrower’s options narrow considerably, but a few options might remain open.Continue Reading Settling Foreclosure

There is an old saying that you can’t fight city hall, but any administrative law attorney will tell you that this is not true.  If a local government agency makes a decision that affects your personal interests, you most certainly can appeal that decision.  But in doing so, appellants must take care that they lodge their appeals with the correct adjudicative body.  Aggrieved parties cannot simply run to court to appeal an administrative decision that did not go their way.  Instead, they must take full advantage of any administrative appeals process that the local government has put into place.  This rule, known as the “administrative exhaustion” doctrine, is a bedrock principle in governing the interaction between government agencies and the court system.Continue Reading The District Court of the Virgin Islands Vindicates the Administrative Exhaustion Doctrine in Challenges to DPNR Land Use Permits

Money troubles can be embarrassing.  Some people take it as a sign of weakness, and many people don’t like to admit that they need help.  This is the main reason that people avoid contacting their mortgage lenders when they have cash flow problems that affect their ability to remain current on their mortgage payments.  This reasoning, however, can have devastating legal consequences.  As counterintuitive as it may sound, the onset of a financial hardship is precisely the time that you need to reach out and talk to your lender.Continue Reading Avoiding Foreclosure: First Talk to Your Lender

Although discovery is part and parcel of litigation, it is universally regarded as expensive and burdensome, and (sometimes) ripe for sharp practices.  One area where the legitimate fact-finding purpose of discovery runs up against the hardship of discovery is where a court orders discovery to proceed while a motion to dismiss that would, if granted, resolve the matter, remains pending.Continue Reading Staying Discovery Pending a Dispositive Motion to Dismiss

Lawyer deregulation appears to be the current zeitgeist in the legal reform movement. Great Britain is experimenting with lawyer deregulation, which would make some basic legal services available at supermarkets. The Brookings Institution–somewhat surprisingly, to me–recently published a study recommending the deregulation of the legal industry in the United States as well. (Hat tip Futurelawyer.)Continue Reading “Brave New Lawyerless World”

It appears that Google is bringing its fearsome powers of information organization to the legal world:

Traditional lawyers may not like it, but venture capitalists are pouring money into one of the last industries to resist commoditization on the Web. Google Ventures today announced it is part of a group that infused $18.5 million into Rocket Lawyer, which bills itself as the “fastest growing online legal service.”

. . . . Rocket Lawyer provides online legal forms, from wills to Delaware certificates of incorporation, that non-lawyers can fill out and store and share on the Web. For $19.95 a month, consumers can also have their documents reviewed by a real lawyer and even get legal advice at no additional cost.
 Continue Reading I, For One, Welcome Our New Google Overlords.

The St. Croix Division of the District Court of the Virgin Islands recently clarified whether a foreclosed property’s fair market value (as opposed to the price that is brings at a foreclosure sale) can serve as the basis from which a deficiency judgment is calculated. This is an important question, as it addresses an apparent conflict between the local judgment statutes and the American Law Institute’s Third Restatement of Property on Mortgages, which has the force of law in the Virgin Islands. Most important, it emphasizes that, under current law, foreclosed defendants cannot invoke the fair market value of their property to avoid or lessen their post-judgment obligations.Continue Reading “‘Fair Market Value’ of No Value When It Comes To Foreclosure Deficiency Judgments”

A recent opinion by the Appellate Division of the District Court of the Virgin Islands addresses the constitutionality of the Virgin Islands aggravated assault statute. But far from wading into a scrum of technical constitutional analysis, the Appellate Court takes the Virgin Islands government to task for failing to muster any evidence on the statute’s behalf.Continue Reading Virgin Islands Aggravated Assault Statute Unconstitutional? Or Just Inadequately Defended

Recent news out of New Jersey announces that the state’s appellate court overturned a lower court’s entry of a foreclosure judgment in favor of Deutsche Bank. Apparently, Deustche Bank attempted to foreclose on a borrower without being able to prove that it had possession of the original promissory note at the time that it brought its foreclosure action. As a result of the bank’s oversight, the appellate court ruled that the bank will have to restart the entire foreclosure process from scratch:Continue Reading Borrower Wins Skirmish, But May Lose the Foreclosure War