In a perfect world, homeowners would request loan modifications from their lenders, and the qualified individuals would get their fair share of the bailout money that the feds lavished on the banks.
In this real world example, a decorated public servant with a legitimate hardship gets pummeled by his lender until the disgrace catches the eye of a decent judge just before the man is unlawfully forced from his home.
The Bank of America lawyer laid down a patented rhetorical move heard in courts across America. Your Honor, this Orange County, N.Y., homeowner — a New York City police officer — didn’t make enough money to qualify for a mortgage modification. He didn’t send us the right documents.
He didn’t, he didn’t, he didn’t, and so we should be allowed to foreclose.
Justice Catherine M. Bartlett of New York State Supreme Court cut off the lawyer. You, she said, are telling me lies.
“Bank of America got a bailout, and this is an outrage, how this man has been treated,” she said. “Hard-working, middle-class Americans are trying to make it, trying to modify with your bank.”
Either bank officials show up in person, the justice said, or I’m going to order them “here in handcuffs.”
Wouldn’t the nation benefit from knowing the truth about the behavior of banks and bankers?
The cultural dial seems to be turning now.
Back in Orange County, the Legal Services lawyer Gina DeCrescenzo had fought for years to protect that New York police officer, William Castillo, filing motion after motion. No judge seemed to share her frustration until October, when Justice Bartlett threw out the foreclosure.
“You want to appeal me, you go right ahead,” the judge told the bank lawyer. “Because what happened here is disgusting.”