Monday, August 31, 2009


Er, President Obama? Hello?

... Nahhh, you'd never have the cojones to pick someone like this (and chances are you'd never be able to get him confirmed):

...Every week, the nation's mightiest banks come to his court seeking to take the homes of New Yorkers who cannot pay their mortgages. And nearly as often, the judge says, they file foreclosure papers speckled with errors.

He plucks out one motion and leafs through: a Deutsche Bank representative signed an affidavit claiming to be the vice president of two different banks. His office was in Kansas City, Mo., but the signature was notarized in Texas. And the bank did not even own the mortgage when it began to foreclose on the homeowner.

The judge's lips pucker as if he had inhaled a pickle; he rejected this one.

"I'm a little guy in Brooklyn who doesn't belong to their country clubs, what can I tell you?" he says, adding a shrug for punctuation. "I won’t accept their comedy of errors."

The judge, Arthur M. Schack, 64, ... has tossed out 46 of the 102 foreclosure motions that have come before him in the last two years. And his often scathing decisions, peppered with allusions to the Croesus-like wealth of bank presidents, have attracted the respectful attention of judges and lawyers from Florida to Ohio to California. At recent judicial conferences in Chicago and Arizona, several panelists praised his rulings as a possible national model....

You know what this guy sounds like? He sounds like a "strict constructionist":

Justice Schack's take is straightforward, and sends a tremor through some bank suites: If a bank cannot prove ownership, it cannot foreclose.

"If you are going to take away someone's house, everything should be legal and correct," he said. "I'm a strange guy -- I don't want to put a family on the street unless it's legitimate." ...

Confronted with a case in which Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs passed a defaulted mortgage back and forth and lost track of the documents, the judge made reference to the film classic "It's a Wonderful Life" and the evil banker played by Lionel Barrymore.

"Lenders should not lose sight," Justice Schack wrote in that 2007 case, "that they are dealing with humanity, not with Mr. Potter's 'rabble' and 'cattle.' Multibillion-dollar corporations must follow the same rules in the foreclosure actions as the local banks, savings and loan associations or credit unions, or else they have become the Mr. Potters of the 21st century." ...

"To the extent that judges examine these papers, they find exactly the same errors that Judge Schack does," said Katherine M. Porter, a visiting professor at the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a national expert in consumer credit law. "His rulings are hardly revolutionary; it's unusual only because we so rarely hold large corporations to the rules."

Exactly -- holding people accountable to the plain text of the law. What could be more strict-constructionist than that?

And he's not an Ivy League elitist -- he attended NYU Law School. This was after he taught high school social studies for fourteen years.

Ah, but as a teacher he was (gasp!) a union representative. He was once the lawyer for another union, the Major League Baseball Players Association (though he came to see that situation as "the millionaires versus the billionaires"). And his wife is a Democratic district leader (though William Rehnquist was, of course, a Republican ward heeler in his youth, and a racist one at that). So I'm sure all the Republicans and Blue Dogs would gang up to filibuster him. Can't have a guy like that offsetting all the right-wing judicial activists on the current Court, now can we?

Still, he's a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. He quotes Bruce Willis movies in his decisions. Where I live, someone like this is considered a really, really regular guy. A regular American.

Schack on the Supreme Court. Wouldn't it be nice....

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