The Danger of Trial by Media in ForeclosureGate Coverage Grows
The Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court has issued a Memorandum (read it here) instructing all 20 of Florida's judicial circuit chief judges to make sure there is public access to foreclosure hearings in their courtrooms. Justice Charles Canady's written directive came after main stream media and interested organizations (e.g., The American Civil Liberties Union), among others, made him aware that court personnel were turning away all but participating attorneys from state foreclosure hearings.
Which is fine - court hearings are a part of due process: it's theoretically just as advantageous for the financial institutions involved as it is for the homeowners to have all these proceedings open and available to all. However, looking northward to New Jersey, the open access may well result in an increasing media scruntiny of the Foreclosuregate permeations that, in turn, may contribute to a harmful - even devestating - domino effect.
The Risk of a Witch Hunt Persists in ForeclosureGate
In coverage of this single New Jersey foreclosure matter, the testimony of a single bank employee "if accurate" has been extrapolated in media coverage to a potential liability for Bank of America of billions of dollars. No one knows right now if the employee's testimony is verifiable. No one knows at this point what the true ramifications are for Bank of America and Countryside mortgages.
As we posted already, even the Powers that Be can't decide if Doom is around the corner. The ramifications of the robosigning, etc., depends upon which report you read. Moody's Investor Service opines all this is of minimal impact, for example.
So, are these ForeclosureGate scare stories merely making a mountain out of a molehill - in much the same manner of the Y2K coverage of a decade ago?
And, if this proves to be true, is no one recognizing that harm to Bank of America (and other major lenders here) means harming the same John Q. Public that so many are concerned has been, or may be, harmed in Foreclosuregate?
Open courts is a good thing, in theory. However, an argument can be made that the reason these 20 circuit courts were trying to keep things low-key was to prevent inaccurate rumor and to forestall false fears of the future. No one is implying we have a Judge Roy Bean in our fair state.
And why should they be worried about such matters? As we posted earlier, trial by media is already happening in Foreclosuregate. David Stern has been villified long before he's been adjudged of any wrongdoing. And Mr. Stern is being harmed thereby: just this week, Stern resigned his position in DJSP Enterprises.
Will Bank of America face trial by media now, just as David Stern is experiencing?