Every year just before Thanksgiving, as many as you know, I like to share some personal thoughts about the Thanksgiving holiday. It is, after all, a holiday I am most fond of for many reasons; but the reason that stands out year after year is that regardless of your ethnic background, your race, your economic position in life or your country of origin it is the one time we all come together AS ONE…ONE NATION…ONE PEOPLE… to give thanks for all the good in our respective lives. It is also a time that we see such good in humanity and people giving thanks by giving to those less fortunate. Wherever I turn, there is another food drive to make sure that at least for one day no one goes hungry in our great nation.
This year, in particular, I give thanks to all of our friends and clients that have supported our firm’s efforts during the past 25 years. It is hard to believe that we have had the privilege of serving the South Florida community for the past quarter century.
On that note Bruce Rogow a good friend and one of the most esteemed lawyers in the state, if not the country, recently found an old crumpled newspaper article that he had kept. The Miami Herald clipping was from 1992, telling the story about how Ellen and I left large law firm life and went from Wall Street to Main Street to pursue the dream of striking out on our own. Bruce found the article behind a drawer of an old desk he was having recently redone. A fascinating part about the article that I share with you here is that after all these years I remain truly thankful for having had the opportunity to pursue what for me was the American Dream. A dream consisting of simultaneously trying to be a sustaining force in the community while attempting to maintain a good sense of humor and have some fun along the way, and at all times maintaining for ourselves and our colleagues a healthy, work-life balance.
We are thankful for being able to remain passionate about what is so important in our lives, a drive that has not waned in a quarter century.
As I think back 25 years there was no email, no Internet just our non-networkable 286 MS.dos computers (actually we started with a TRS 80 made by Tandy). We had one fax machine that my parents purchased for us for $850 as a gift for starting our firm. And so it began…but it was our friends, relatives, colleagues and clients that pushed us along the way and to them we are eternally grateful and thankful this Thanksgiving.
We only ask that we may continue to serve the community for, in the end, such service is how we pay it forward for those who have supported us these past 25 years.
From my family and the firm to all of you, we wish you and your families all the very best this Thanksgiving.
From the trenches,
by Ellen Pilelsky – From the Heart
Simply: While most of us have some opinion as to the foreclosure mess, many don’t seem to care about the incredible amount of fraud that has occurred and continues to take place each day.
Some argue that people who fail to pay their mortgages, regardless of their reasons, are “deadbeats.” But, what about the fact some of the largest and wealthiest banks are missing documents used to remove people from their homes? And, in our “rocket docket” State of Florida, there are retired judges who are merely rubber stamping the foreclosure papers filed by the lenders’ firms without actually reviewing the merits of each case?
In Matt Taibbi’s rather eye opening and disturbing article Courts Helping Banks Screw Over Homeowners appearing in Rolling Stone Magazine November 10 issue, he recounts a day of going to a Jacksonville court and experiencing first hand the outrageous and flagrant rubber stamping of cases without judicial review.
Shouldn’t it matter that many of these cases result in people being forced to leave their homes when the very banks in question can’t even produce the documents needed to prove their case? Isn’t it a bit odd that these wealthy banks are not being subject to the same level of scrutiny?
Or is this politics as usual? After all, many of these banks sold the mortgages of people to “investors” –other banks or trusts. And, many of those trusts do not have the documentation to prove they have the original documents. Wall Street, in fact, was part of this process and made huge sums of money.
From the Heart by Ellen Pilelsky
Picture this. In Florida: Retired judges being pulled out of retirement and paid to sit on foreclosure courts. Purpose: To decrease the amount of Florida’s foreclosure backlog.
Reality? The outcome of many cases is questionable, at best. Seems many of these judges, who may be well intentioned, are actually ruling in favor of the banks despite legitimate issues, such as the financial institution’s ownership of the note and mortgage.
Conflict of Interest? Retired judges are actually being compensated in order to decrease the foreclosure docket. Some argue that since these select judges have a financial interest in decreasing these cases, a homeowner’s constitutional rights may in fact be at jeopardy.
In fact, this past weekend, the New York Times reported injustices done to homeowners facing foreclosure through Florida’s recently created “foreclosure courts.” Simply put, questions are being raised as to whether the retired judges are ignoring problematic or contradictory evidence, especially since some banks have not yet even proven that they own the properties in question.
What next? The Attorney General’s office is investigating foreclosure firms that have submitted questionable ownership documents.
The true question is how did we get to this point? How could foreclosure decisions be rendered by courts where the ownership of the very documents upon which the suits are fashioned are suspect? Where is the consideration of the homeowner’s rights?
Perhaps an appeal of those cases incorrectly decided should be under way. More importantly, perhaps justice should actually be served.