Monday, August 15, 2011

Law Student's Winning Argument Marks Another Big Foreclosure Win In Bay State High Court For Harvard Legal Clinics

From Harvard Law School:

  • In the latest victory for the HLS Clinical Programs’ anti-foreclosure work, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Aug. 4 against lenders in a case argued by Harvard Legal Aid Bureau student Jennifer Tarr ’11.

  • In a 6-0 ruling, the state’s high court agreed with Tarr that lenders trying to evict someone after foreclosure carry the burden of proving the foreclosure was valid. It also held that the state housing court has jurisdiction to hear a challenge to an already-completed foreclosure when the challenge is brought in an eviction case. (See stories in the Boston Globe and

  • The SJC's decision represents a huge victory for the Bureau and housing advocates throughout Massachusetts,” said David Williams ’12, president of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB), which for several years has been aggressively fighting foreclosures in Boston through its Foreclosure Task Force and Project No One Leaves.(1)Because of Jen's successful advocacy, the Foreclosure Task Force will be able to continue the fight against foreclosures in Boston Housing Court."
  • The case has implications for anyone in Massachusetts living in a home that has been foreclosed on, [HLAB deputy director Esme] Caramello said. “It clarifies that those people can have their story heard before the housing court or whatever court is hearing the eviction case, and they can’t be evicted unless the bank can prove a valid foreclosure,” she said.
  • The Bailey case builds on another major win by the HLS clinics in the SJC last January, when the high court found that Wells Fargo and US Bancorp had wrongly foreclosed on two homes because the banks could not prove that they owned the mortgages at the time of the foreclosure sales.(2) Max Weinstein, a clinical instructor in the predatory lending practice at the HLS Wilmer Hale Legal Services Center, was co-counsel in the case, representing one of the mortgagers, Antonio Ibanez. The court’s decision received national attention.
For the story, see HLAB Wins Major Victory for Homeowners in Massachusetts High Court.

(1) See ‘Project No One Leaves’ keeps people in their homes:
  • [H]arvard Law students are racking up numerous victories, including the almost-unprecedented result of getting banks to reduce the principal amount on mortgages.
  • Students have also negotiated a string of five-figure and higher settlements against banks that don’t keep properties in good condition for tenants who live there, and in 2008, two students won a $54,000 jury verdict against the Bank of New York for turning off heat and water in a tenant’s home to try to force him out.
(2) See:

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