Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nationally, not many Foreclosure Mediation programs succeeding

Approximately 25 foreclosure mediation programs now exist in 14 states, but it is believed by some that they are not be as helpful to troubled owners as originally touted, such as in Maryland.

Unlike here in Orange County, FL, Prince George’s County, MD had only 56 successful home loan modifications before this summer through that state’s mediation program in an area devastated by the foreclosure crisis. A majority Black area heavily targeted by sub prime lenders in the boom years, that county is now staggering under the weight of abandoned homes and plummeting prices. One borrower reports to NBC that the mediation process there was a "gimmick" just to go through the formalities before desiring to foreclose.

Fortunately, here in Orlando under the program administered by the Orange County Bar Association, the lenders have been more serious on the whole about negotiating work-outs with owners who have demonstrable income and seek to stay in the home. Some HAMP modifications have been seen in the mediations conducted locally with qualified loans.

On the whole, however, there are troubled areas as mentioned above in Maryland and in diverse states like Nevada and New Hampshire (where in more than 100 cases, only 14 have reached settlements: ).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Impasse on Deficit/Debt Ceiling Talks - What will be the Silver Bullet?

Given the stakes in 2012, the public perception of the outcome of these negotiations is important to both sides as campaign season arrives. This battle has been called by seasoned pundits "political theatre" and many believe that the result is inevitable - a deal will proceed before default occurs.

The question is what will it look like and who will take credit for the victory? So far the old familiar positional bargaining has taken place with well worn excuses for not giving in to compromise which will be required of both sides in the end. A looming deadline of August 2 has been placed before the parties as a motivator, though some have questioned whether that is even a drop dead date.

Will there be an element of the negotiation that provides a silver bullet-like end to the stalemate and summons the political will of those involved to make a deal? At this point, The White House has exhausted its influence without imprimatur and it appears there is no real facilitator present to help the Congress reach a decision.

See latest headlines -

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A moment on the Casey Anthony Trial

Well, this afternoon proved the old adage we mediators use in talking to the parties about the unpredictable nature of jury verdicts, is true. You can't begin to guess what happens in the deliberation room no matter what side of a case you are on, nor how many years of experience in the law you might have.

That is the genius of self-determination in the mediation process. The parties get to decide their own fate and do not rely on the whim of folks picked from a voter or driver list.

Thankfully, our civil justice system has avenues for resolution before the jury trial. Though criminal plea bargains are reached in the majority of state cases, mediation is not a recognized method of achieving them. Perhaps, one day, that will be explored to alleviate the public expense of a trial such as this.

In looking at the murder charge acquittal today, I am reminded of the law school lessons in criminal law from Maimonides, expounding on Exodus 23:7 ("the innocent and righteous slay thou not") and Blackstone, Franklin and the others ("it is better that a hundred guilty persons go free, than to put a single innocent one to death.").

At least I can use today as a lesson in the jury system and hope that those for which I serve as a neutral facilitator continue to save themselves thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees and avoid the risk of an unpredictable result or jury verdict.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Retired NFL Players Seek Inclusion In Mediation

The unusual goal of a newly filed complaint is to have Judge Nelson, under whose orders the existing lawsuit's mediated negotiations are being held, instruct the mediator, the league and the current players to allow representatives of the retired players to be active participants in the negotiations.

The latest class-action complaint is aimed against the teams, the league, the players named in the Brady v. N.F.L. lawsuit and DeMaurice Smith, the head of the N.F.L. Players Association. It asserts that the sides are violating antitrust laws by negotiating settlement terms that improperly encompassed the rights of retired players in the time since the N.F.L.P.A. renounced its union status. Namely, it alleges the are conspiring to depress the amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid.

Apparently, lawyers for the present players e-mailed to attorneys for retired players stating they would negotiate issues like the salary cap and free-agency rules, while lawyers for retired players would be allowed to suggest retired-player issues in connection with proposals before the mediator, Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan.

Certainly, these developments will impact the pending NFL suits and may even influence the NBA litigation.

See report at: