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Facially Invalid Recorded Documents

by Neil Garfield | January 30, 2019

The view proffered by the banks would require them to accept declarations of fact from potential borrowers without any indicia of truth or reliability. It is opposite to the manner in which they do business. Currently they have it both ways, to wit: for purposes of borrowing you must submit documents that are facially valid without reference to external evidence and which can be easily confirmed but for purposes of foreclosure, none of those conditions apply.

As part of the the scheme of “securitization fail” (see Adam Levitin) banks, servicers and third party vendors have been creating, fabricating and executing documents that are not facially valid nor do they comply with industry standards or even common sense. But once recorded judges take them “at face value” by assuming that somehow the document makes sense, when it clearly does not comport with law or logic. Defenders of foreclosure act at their peril when they fail to attack the facial validity of the documents upon which the foreclosure claims rely.

In a recent article written by Dale Whitman for the ABA he states the following “Conclusion. The recording system is archaic and fraught with the potential for yielding wrong conclusions. Conversion by many recording jurisdictions to computer-based electronic indexes has been helpful, but most of the legally problematic flaws continue to exist. Title insurance has been invaluable in making the weight of the recording system bearable, but it adds a further layer of complexity as buyers try to understand the limitations of their title policies. It seems unlikely that major changes will occur, so it is essential that real estate lawyers understand the peculiarities and limitations of our present system.” (e.s.)

As he points out recording is not required to make a document valid, but once it is recorded the document takes on a life of its own. It also presents numerous trapdoors and pitfalls that should be analyzed before answering the initiation of a foreclosure proceeding with any action on behalf of the homeowner including the motion to dismiss in judicial states, the answer, affirmative defenses and the Petition for TRO or lawsuit for wrongful foreclosure.

see what you didn_t know about recording acts_whitman (2).authcheckdam

Common sense tells you that for a document to mean anything it must say enough that a reasonable person would be able to confidently draw meaning from it. Analyzing the facial validity of documents used in foreclosure reveals a pattern of misrepresenting the facial validity and misdirecting judges into NOT looking closely at the documents from which they are making assumptions and thence to legal conclusions that bind homeowners into proving matters beyond their control.

I proffer here an analysis that I just completed (our TERA report) as an example.

  1. We have already seen documentary proof that BONY Mellon does not receive the proceeds of the sale of property subject to the power of sale in a nonjudicial state or the forced sale in a judicial state. There are many reasons for this.

  2. Analysis of the facial validity of the use of various names and descriptions reveals the absence of an actual party, unless extrinsic “parole) evidence is added. Hence the documents upon which the above language relies does not support facial validity.

  3. BONY Mellon is said to be the “successor to JP Morgan Chase.” It is not and never has been a successor to JPMorgan Chase. There is nothing in the public domain to support that assertion. There is no instrument attached and no description of any transaction in which, as to this subject property and loan, we can ascertain how BONY Mellon became the successor to JPM Morgan Chase. Hence the documents in which BONY Mellon appears are not facially valid and are defective in terms of proof of title. This could be corrected by affidavit or any process that is allowed in the state where the property is located but it hasn't been done on record, and there is no evidence to suggest that it has been done but is not recorded. The usual and acceptable manner of phrasing such a succession, if it were true, would be “as successor to JP Morgan Chase pursuant to that certain agreement of transfer by and between JPMorgan Chase (and /or other parties) and BONY Mellon dated July 6, 200X.” The absence of such description leaves the reader to pursue extrinsic or parole evidence to determine if the succession is documented and if so whether that documentation is facially valid. This is all absent.

  4. The succession suggests that it is in the role of trustee. There is no instrument attached and no description of any transaction in which, as to this subject property and loan, we can ascertain how BONY Mellon became the successor Trustee to JPM Morgan Chase. Hence the documents in which BONY Mellon appears as trustee are not facially valid and are defective in terms of proof of title. This could be corrected by affidavit or any process that is allowed in the state where the property is located but it hasn't been done on record, and there is no evidence to suggest that it has been done but is not recorded. The usual and acceptable manner of phrasing such a succession, if it were true, would be “as successor to JP Morgan Chase, trustee pursuant to that certain agreement of transfer by and between JPMorgan Chase (and /or other parties) and BONY Mellon dated July 6, 200X.” The absence of such description leaves the reader to pursue extrinsic or parole evidence to determine if the succession is documented and if so whether the documentation is facially valid. This is all absent. The absence of a description of a specific trust and trust instrument is yet another factor that renders the instrument facially invalid, but theoretically correctible.

  5. This leads to a further question of extrinsic evidence being required. Other than by the use of parole evidence (outside the information contained on the document itself) the reader cannot ascertain the existence or description of a specific trust organized and existing under the laws of any jurisdiction. In addition, the issue of a transfer or change of trustees of a trust, if one can be found, is not supported by language such as “pursuant to the provisions of the trust agreement dated the 3rd day of May, 200Y in which the trust named ‘Structured Asset Mortgage Investment II, Inc. Bear Stearns ALT-A Trust’ was created under the laws of the State of New York.” Without such reference the facial validity of the instruments remains invalid although theoretically correctible. Without the knowledge of the legal existence of the trust being confirmable by public record, there is no support for the implied trust. Without support for the implied trust and the trust agreement creating it, there is no obvious support for how trustees could exist or be changed. Without support on the face of the instruments for how trustees of a trust could be changed, the description of the change of trustees is merely a declaration that is not supported by anything on the face of the document.

  6. JPMorgan is implied to have been the trustee of the potentially nonexistent trust. Once again the implied assertion leaves the reader to determine if the trust was created pursuant to the laws of any jurisdiction, and if JPMorgan was named as trustee for the trust.

  7. In either event both BONY Mellon and JPMorgan are described to be acting in a representative capacity on behalf of “holders… of pass through certificates” and not as “trustees” of any “trust.” The certificates are identified as Mortgage Pass Through Certificates Series 2004-12. The reference to being a “trustee” and the implied representation of the holders of certificates would be acceptable if the “holders” were described as beneficiaries. The extrinsic evidence often shows that such holders are not beneficiaries. This leads to the question of how and why there is representation of the holders, apart from the alleged trust, Is the representation implied from the trust agreement that is not described? Is the representation the result of some other trust or agency agreement? It is not possible to ascertain the answers to these vital questions without resort to extrinsic evidence, thus making the instruments relying upon such language, facially invalid.

Every state has statutory requirements for an instrument to be facially valid. A deed between Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse as Grantor and Grantee respectively would not be facially valid because both the grantor nor the grantee are fictitious names of cartoon characters and unless used as a egla fictitious name for an actual entity doing business under that name the document could not be corrected to become a valid document suitable for recording.

Yet county recorders are allowing the recordation of millions of documents across the country with exactly that defect. By allowing such documents to be recorded they are lending support to the legal presumption that Donald and Mickey are real people with rights to transfer interests in real property and even foreclose on real property. At the end of the chain of written documents someone holds paper that is recorded but based upon a chain of title with two large gaps in it — Donald and Mickey, and by the time the foreclosure occurs probably Minnie Mouse as well (or maybe Fannie or Freddie whose names are being used, just like the “REMIC trustees”, but who have no part in any transaction involving the subject loan).

Back to Real Property 101.

  1. Who is the grantor? If that cannot be readily determined from the face of the instrument the instrument is facially invalid.
  2. Who is the grantee? If that cannot be readily determined from the face of the instrument the instrument is facially invalid.
  3. What is the effective date of transfer? If that cannot be readily determined from the face of the instrument the instrument is facially invalid.
  4. What is being transferred? If that cannot be readily determined from the face of the instrument the instrument is facially invalid — or, in the case of a mortgage or beneficial interest in a deed of trust if the instrument declares a transfer but without the underlying debt, the instrument is facially invalid and unenforceable both because of state statutes regarding facial validity and the UCC Article 9 requiring value to be paid (see above linked article).
  5. What is the legal description of the property affected? If that cannot be readily determined from the face of the instrument the instrument is facially invalid.

An instrument that is not facially valid should be returned by the recording office with notes specifying what needs to be corrected. This vital step is being overlooked on all documents relating to foreclosures. If rules, laws and procedures were followed with regard to such documents there would not be any foreclosure or, if the corrections could actually be made, there would be no defense. It is in the valley between those two notions that all foreclosures based on “successors” are based.

By overlooking the obvious lack of clarity on the face of the documents county recorders keep creating a vacuum that the banks are only too happy to fill with MERS — an IT platform that is the opposite of tamper-proof allowing virtually anyone with a login and password to create the illusion of authority where none existed before. Hence the use of MERS and other systems to give depth to the illusion of facial validity.

The conclusion is that documents containing the language described above should not have been recorded. The county recorder should have rejected such documents as being facially invalid, requiring additional documents to be attached, if they existed.

Such language is a substantial deviation from custom and practice as well as common sense and logic. Custom and practice of the same banks that are listed in the language described above requires that they not accept such language without the additional documentation and confirmation of facts that are declared on the face of the instrument. Common sense dictates that the reason why such custom and practice exists is that most fraudulent schemes involve written instruments in which various declarations are made that are untrue or lack support. For purposes of recording, any declaration on the face of the instrument that requires the attachment or description of documents that are readily available in the public domain would be unacceptable, much as, for example, a deed without a signature. The property must be described with precision (or later corrected by affidavit), the grantor must be described with precision (or later corrected) and the grantee must be described with precision (or later corrected). Without the required corrections, the documents are facially invalid.

For purposes of case analysis, the absence of facially valid documents, even though they were improperly recorded, negates the potential use of legal presumptions arising from the facial validity of documents. Therefore such documents should be rejected without proper foundation in connection with the use of such documents for any purpose, and the attempt to introduce such documents into evidence in any court or administrative proceeding.

In the case currently under analysis, this means that the proceedings in which the property was allegedly foreclosed, were themselves all improper and based upon invalid terms. Whether this renders the proceedings void or voidable depends upon case law and interpretations of constitutional due process.

However it is safe to say that based upon the above analysis, it is obvious that all such documents including the deed upon foreclosure are defective in several material respects. Therefore, our conclusion is that the current title chain in the county records regarding this property is at best clouded. The procedures for correcting clouded title vary from state to state and are subject to both federal and state laws. Individual research on each case in each state is required before taking any action.

The view proffered by the banks would require them to accept declarations of fact from potential borrowers without any indicia of truth or reliability. It is opposite to the manner in which they do business. Currently they have it both ways, to wit: for purposes of borrowing you must submit documents that are facially valid without reference to external evidence and which can be easily confirmed but for purposes of foreclosure, none of those conditions apply.

 

 

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