Monday, January 7, 2013

Outgoing Utah AG Creates Appearance Of Selling Out To BofA By Settling Major Foreclosure Litigation Bankster Appeared To Be Losing; Will Now Join Law Firm That Regularly Represents Notorious Lender; Actions Leave Staff Members Blind-Sided

In Salt Lake City, Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

  • Just days before leaving office, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has reversed the state’s position and personally signed on to a settlement in a foreclosure lawsuit that Bank of America appeared to be losing.

    The practical effect of Shurtleff’s move, according to an attorney who filed the lawsuit, is to weaken Utah’s ability to enforce state law. It also weakens the state’s position in other lawsuits challenging foreclosures carried out by ReconTrust Co., Bank of America’s foreclosure arm, Abraham Bates said.

    Members of the Attorney General’s Office said Shurtleff’s actions blind-sided them, but they declined to comment publicly. The office had previously successfully intervened in the case as a plaintiff and argued that ReconTrust had violated state law in foreclosing on Utah homeowners Timothy and Jennifer Bell.

    U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins, who presides over the case, issued a strong ruling in favor of the homeowners’ and the state’s position. The assistant attorneys general conducting the state’s case hoped to keep it alive for a final ruling by Jenkins before a likely appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for a definitive decision that would guide other similar lawsuits.

    Shurtleff leaves office on Monday and has announced he’ll join the international law firm of Troutman Sanders LLP. On its website, the firm says it “regularly represents Bank of America.”

    A combative Shurtleff said Wednesday there was no connection between his action in the Utah foreclosure case and the clients of his new law firm. He portrayed his decision as one that saved state resources by not pursuing a case in which the original plaintiffs had settled.

    Shurtleff acknowledged that assistant attorneys general who work on foreclosure matters disagreed with his decision. He said he made the decision and signed the document so they wouldn’t have to take an action they disagreed with.
  • To me this appears to be some type of a midnight pardon,” Bates said. “It certainly sends a confusing message to the public and to the courts and the 10th Circuit as to why the chief law enforcement agency in the state is dismissing its claims in defense of the laws of the state.”

    By signing the settlement, Shurtleff has weakened the state’s legal position on foreclosures by ReconTrust because the state was an actual plaintiff in the case where in other active cases it has merely filed “friend of the court” briefs that don’t carry the same weight, Bates said.
For more, see Lawyers question Shurtleff’s 180 in foreclosure case (Outgoing Utah A.G. says there’s no link between his support of BofA settlement and his new firm having bank as client).

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