With his trusty slingshot, David won that famous confrontation with Goliath – but, generally speaking, the Goliaths of our world usually stomp on us Davids.
This is because today’s corporate Goliaths often have such supposedly-impartial public institutions as our courts bending the rules to help them run roughshod over us. Occasionally, however, the Davids draw a judge who refuses to bend to injustice.
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Arthur Schack of the New York Supreme Court is one of these happy exceptions. Powerhouse banks regularly show up in his court for approval to take the homes of people who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments. These requests are routinely rubber-stamped, but Schack does something unusal: He actually reads the paperwork. And, more often than not, he finds it riddled with errors, bordering on fraud. In one foreclosure filing, for example, the banker who signed the papers claimed to be an executive of two different banks, his signature was notarized in Texas but his office was in Kansas City, and the bank seeking to take the home didn’t even own the mortgage.
Schack regularly shocks bank executives by refusing to okay such raw deals. “I’m a little guy who doesn’t belong to their country clubs,” he says. “I wont accept their comedy of errors.” He adds that, “If you are going to take away someone’s house, everything should be legal and correct. I’m a strange guy – I don’t want to put a family on the street unless its legitimate.”
He rejects almost half of the foreclosures the banking Goliaths present to him, because they are not legitimate. As an expert in consumer credit says of Schack, “His rulings are hardly revolutionary. [He’s] unusual only because we so rarely hold large corporations to the rules.”
If President Obama wonders what kind of judges he should be appointing, Arthur Schack is the perfect model for him. America needs a lot more judges like him.
“A ‘Little Judge’ Who Rejects Foreclosures , Brooklyn Style,” The New York Times, August 31, 2009.
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