Mr. Mnuchin’s Mortgage Marauders

By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor

“Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.”

-Ambrose Bierce, “The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary”

I have frequently criticized media coverage of legal issues. For example, news reports often attribute significance to orders on routine procedural motions that is wholly unwarranted. And even reporters with legal backgrounds are not clear and understandable in their explanation of court rulings to laypersons. So when I came across reports that Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin’s bank had filed a mortgage foreclosure action against a 90 year old Florida widow over 27 cents, I was skeptical.

But the story interested me because the subject of the suit resides in Polk County, only an hour’s drive from where I live. In addition, with the advent of electronic filing in court proceedings, I knew that I could access the court files online and review the actual record in the case. I have now done so and have concluded that the stories have been misleading, but not for the reasons one might expect. What has happened to Ms. Ossie Lofton of Lakeland, Florida is worse than what has been reported.

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Sixth Circuit Rules That Police Were Justified In Shooting Barking Dog During Raid

us-courtofappeals-6thcircuit-sealThe United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has handed down a major ruling that will likely shock many dog owners.  Judge Eric Clay wrote the opinion that police can legally shoot and kill any dog that is barking at them during a raid.  Since this is a common response to intruders, it would mean that police have virtually complete discretion to kill dogs during raids.  The case is Brown v. Battle Creek Police Dep’t2016 FED App. 0293P (6th Cir.).

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William Tecumseh Obama: NSEERS Regulations Burned On The Approach Of The Trump Administration

300px-william-tecumseh-shermanPresObama It is not uncommon for presidents to rush through regulations and changes in their final months or even days in office. Thus, the move of President Obama to protect pristine areas from drilling is not unprecedented, particularly as the continuation of his long-standing policies on the environment. However, as I discussed yesterday on NPR, the President made a move that runs against the grain of tradition this week. Obama negated the regulations underlying the dormant National Security Entry-Exit Registration System or NSEERS program. That was not action to advance a positive policy but a purely obstructionist move targeting your successor. There was no reason to destroy the structure except to delay any effort of President-Elect Donald Trump to carry out his campaign pledges to tighten entry rules and impose greater scrutiny of people coming from Muslim countries. NSEERS would have given Trump a readily available structure and pro-immigration groups lobbied Obama to destroy the program. It was a move that was reminiscent of General William Tecumseh Sherman. General Sherman famously left a scorched earth behind his March to the Sea and Obama appears intent to leave the same charred path for his successor.

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The Scalia Vacancy and the Supreme Court

Supreme CourtToday I have the honor to serving as the keynote speaker for the Federal Bar Association Orlando Chapter’s conference. I will be speaking at noon at the U.S Courthouse on the Supreme Court’s history and current controversies. This will obviously include the long standing vacancy of the seat once held by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

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Pardon Me? Obama Wrongly States That He Cannot Pardon Edward Snowdon

PresObama220px-edward_snowden-2There was an interesting recent interview of President Barack Obama by the German media giant Der Spiegel. In the interview, President Obama insisted that he could not pardon Edward Snowden as a matter of constitutional law. He is manifestly wrong. While the President may not want to pardon someone who deeply embarrassed him and his Administration, he is entirely capable of pardoning Snowden who is widely viewed as a whistleblower.

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Publish and Perish: Court-Appointed Lawyer For Arias Suspended For Tell-All Book

nurmi-e1479481969856Kirk Nurmi, the attorney for Arizona murderer Jodi Arias, has avoided disbarment by voluntarily accepting a suspension for four years after writing a tell-all book about his infamous client. Nurmi allegedly sought to cash in on his representation by revealing confidential information in his self-published book, “Trapped with Ms. Arias.” It wasn’t Arias but ethics that trapped Nurmi.

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Posner: Supreme Court Is “Awful” and Only A Couple Of Justices Are “Qualified”

Richard_Posner_at_Harvard_UniversitySeventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner is triggering a minor dust up over comments made at a bookstore appearance highlighting a new Posner biography written by William Domnarski. Posner blasted the current members of the Court as unqualified and the Court itself as “awful” in terms of the low quality of its work.
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