The Maine Supreme Court will also consider a statutory defense to foreclosure | Media Pyro


The Maine Supreme Court will begin weighing two cases Tuesday that could rewrite the laws governing home foreclosures in the state.

Cases before the Supreme Court focus on whether a mortgage lender can try to foreclose on a home a second time, after losing a foreclosure case because the company didn’t show up. proper evidence of ownership and amount owed on the loan.

Under the 1997 law that came into force in 2017, the mortgage company cannot repossess. In some cases where the evidence is lacking, the courts can request that the property be foreclosed – that is, the balance of the mortgage loan is forgiven and the borrower’s home is free, e.g. according to Thomas A Cox of Yarmouth.

In the current case, JP Morgan v. Moulton, the court is being asked to review a Paris Southern District Court decision last year that said the mortgage lender, Morgan, did not provide in the notice of default and information for the plaintiff to pay the fee. loan.

Cox, who has provided free legal advice to hundreds of borrowers in foreclosure cases, is the attorney who discovered the “robo-signer” problem during the national crisis that began in 2008. Mortgage company officials signed hundreds or thousands of foreclosure documents. daily and otherwise, as required by law, and certifying that the information in said papers is correct.

Sometimes, mortgage companies have a hard time proving that they actually own the mortgages, which often passed through many hands in the years before the housing market crashed in the crash of money in the late 2000s.

In response, Maine courts and the Legislature restricted lending practices to ensure that mortgage servicing companies followed proper foreclosures.

Cox said that ended in a ruling five years ago by the courts limiting the ability of mortgage companies to file new foreclosure cases if they failed to present sufficient evidence the first time.

He said the reason the system was necessary was because mortgage companies had other options where they could sue their attorney or the mortgage broker’s attorney if the lien was placed on the borrowers. especially after a first court case was dismissed.

“If a bank loses a foreclosure case, it’s because of the negligence of the trustee or the negligence of the trustee’s attorney,” Cox said. He said there have only been about 20 cases in the state where a lien has been lifted after a lender or mortgage lender lost a case, so the decision didn’t cause a big wave of landlords. the home has had their housing obligations removed.


Cox said he believes the Supreme Court’s decision to hear both cases on their Tuesday calendar is due to a major change in the nature of the court – appointed by Gov. Janet Mills four of the seven judges since he became governor in 2019.

“Just because there is a new judge on the court, that is not a reason to change the established rules,” he said. “The action of this Court of Justice is that I am aware that I have not acted in a fair or just manner.”

Cox also said he thinks one of the jurors in the case should have recused himself from participating in the verdict because he represented a mortgage company in one of the 2017 cases and wrote a statement “friend of the court” for the Maine Bankers Association in another.

So far Judge Catherine Connors has refused to recuse herself from the case. A court spokeswoman did not return a phone call Monday to confirm whether she still refuses to recuse herself.

Decisions about whether to recuse a judge himself are left up to the judge, said Dmitry Bam, associate dean of the University of Maine School of Law.

“It’s up to each judge or jury to make their own decision,” he said, adding that there have been only a few cases where lawyers have appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and the court has told a judge that the decision is needed. cancel.

Certain “red lines” require exclusion, Bam said, such as having assets in a company that is in court, having a relative involved in a case, or having previous location to the case.

But even then, it’s mostly up to the judges to decide if they don’t have an opinion.

“A judge is supposed to decide his own case,” said Bam, adding that it is not customary for other judges to call on a colleague to recuse themselves.

He said the system is set up the way it is because judges don’t get involved in cases like they used to.

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