An interesting development out of Jean Johnson, Circuit Judge in Duval Country, Florida, where in a case filed by JPMorgan/WaMu, as Plaintiff, and law firm of Shapiro and Fishman, attempted to evict defendants Hank and Marilyn Pocopanni. As basis for the legal case, WaMu had submitted an assignment of mortgage, which however the court just found never actually belonged to WaMu, and instead was carried on the books of Fannie Mae. Once this was uncovered is where this case gets really interesting: In point 5 of the filing we read that the "plaintiff predecessor counsel made "clerical errors" when it represented to the Court that the plaintiff was the owner and holder of the note and mortgage rather than the servicer for the owner." Which means that only Fannie had the right to foreclose upon the Pocopannis, yet JPM, as servicer, decided to take that liberty itself. And here the Judge got really angry: "The court finds WAMU, with the assistance of its previous counsel, Shapiro and Fishman, submitted the assignment when [they] knew that only Fannie Mae was entitled to foreclose on the Mortgage, and that WAMU never owned or held the note and Mortgage." And, oops, "the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that WAMU, Chase and Shapiro & Fishman committed fraud on this Court" and that these "acts committed by WAMU, Chase and Shapiro amount to a "knowing deception intended to prevent the defendants from discovery essential to defending the claim" and are therefore fraud. While the Judge in this case did not also find declaratory damages against the plaintiff, and while the case of the defendants is unclear (we would expect Fannie to file a foreclosure act on its own soon enough), the question of just how pervasive this form of "fraud" in the judicial system is certainly relevant. Because if JPM takes the liberty of foreclosing on mortgages as merely servicer, when it has no legal ground for such an action, who knows how many such cases the legal system is currently clogged up with. The implications for the REO and foreclosures track for banks could be dire as a result of this ruling, as this could severely impact the ongoing attempt by banks to hide as much excess inventory in their books in the quietest way possible.
Our advice to any party caught in a foreclosure process is to immediately go to www.fnma.com and use the Lookup Tool to see if Fannie is still mortgage owner of record, if a foreclosure suit has been brought up by a plaintiff other than the GSE.
We are confident quite a few other such cases will promptly appear.