ISSUE 1: OCTOBER 15, 2012

Common Law
Legal Clinic
NESRI Offices
90 John Street
Room !08
Manhattan, NY
Tuesdays from õ:!0-8:!0
Who may attend?
Homeowners in foreclosure
in the five boroughs of
New York City.
Call to make an appointment
at: 212-21!-!920
At the legal clinic, you will:
勱Learn about your rights and
options as a homeowner
勱Learn about the
foreclosure process
勱Learn about your
legal defenses
勱Receive help drafting
important court documents

勱Meet with attorneys for
individualized assistance
勱Join a community of
homeowners and attorneys
fighting back against
Homeowners Representing
Themselves Achieve
Critical Victories
Mr. Bowen, 2nd from left, is surrounded by Court Support outside of Kings County
Supreme Court after his court appearance.
Common Law’s weekly Foreclosure Prevention Legal Clinic
provides holistic support to homeowners facing the daunting task of
representing themselves in court. In particular, Common Law’s clinic
supports homeowners who could not reach a settlement during
mandatory Pre-Foreclosure Settlement Conferences. In the past
month, four homeowners attending Common Law’s Legal Clinic have
achieved and celebrated significant victories. Here are their stories:
Ms. Minott
Ms. Minott came to the Legal Clinic long after she defaulted in
the foreclosure process. She did not intentionally default, of course,
but did not know when and how to appear in a legal action. At the
Common Law Legal Clinic, however, she became familiar with the
foreclosure process and she learned that it was not too late for her to
fight back. Common Law helped her draft and submit a Motion to
Vacate the Default and Submit a Late Answer. As is the custom at the
Legal Clinic, Common Law attorneys and homeowners prepared Ms.
Minott for her court appearance through role-playing. Both attorneys
and homeowners took turns acting as judge and opposing counsel for
the bank—mustering our best intimidating and adversarial personas!
ISSUE 1: OCTOBER 15, 2012

Ms. Minott came away from the clinic with five
points, which she rehearsed tirelessly. During her
court appearance, she was ready when the judge
asked her, “Why are you here?” She dove into her
statement, clearly and loudly proclaiming that:
1) she had a reasonable excuse for her delayed
appearance; 2) she tried to avoid foreclosure by
pursuing a short sal e; ! ) she bel ieved the
foreclosure process was on hold while she pursued
a short sale; 4) she had defenses to raise as a victim
of a known one-stop-shop and 5) the bank did not
have standing to sue her in the first place. When
she finished, the judge turned to the bank’s
attorney and asked if he had anything to say in
response: “No, your honor.” Lawyers in the
courtroom, impressed with her performance,
walked up to Ms. Minott and congratulated her.
Other homeowners, present as “Court Support”
celebrated with Ms. Minott in the courthouse
hallway. A week later, Ms. Minott received the
judge’s decision in the mail granting her motion.
“Now I can sleep,” she confesses.
Mr. Newkirk
Prior to attending Common Law’s Legal Clinic,
Mr. Newkirk timely submitted an answer to the
bank’s Summons and Complaint and attended
multiple Settlement Conferences. Although Mr.
Newkirk understood the foreclosure process, he
needed assistance identifying and articulating his
legal defenses. At the clinic, Common Law
provided him with legal education and training,
informing him of the most recent homeowner
protections and new judicial decisions that
strengthened his case. Common Law attorneys
then worked with Mr. Newkirk to draft a Motion to
Amend his Answer. Mr. Newkirk describes his
experience at the Legal Clinic as “someone
f l i ppi ng on a l i ght swi tch. ” At hi s cour t
appearance, the bank’s attorney agreed to allow
him to amend his answer to include the new
defenses. Now Mr. Newkirk is better armed in his
fight against foreclosure.
Ms. Lewin
Ms. Lewin came to the Common Law Legal
Clinic after she endured 2! months of Settlement
Conferences. Prior to the conferences, in 2009, Ms.
Lewin submitted a Motion to Compel the bank to
accept her late answer. Throughout the Settlement
Conferences, Ms. Lewin sincerely believed the
bank would offer her a loan modification and that
the foreclosure action would—at any moment—
come to an end. The conferences eventually
concluded, however, without a modification offer.
Ms. Lewin then found herself, in 2012, having to
defend her motion from 2009. Through the
support of the Legal Clinic, Ms. Lewin re-learned
the legal arguments in her motion and practiced
her position through role-playing. When it was
time to appear in court, Ms. Lewin presented
herself clearly and strongly, with the “calvary” of
Court Support standing nearby for moral support.
The bank never appeared that day and the court
had no choice but to grant Ms. Lewin her motion.
Now she, too, will submit an answer, raising strong
legal defenses.
Mr. Bowen
Mr. Bowen faced a different challenge. He had
already submitted an answer with strong defenses.
It was the bank’s attorney who failed to timely file
necessary documents to continue the foreclosure
action. The judge, recognizing the error, demanded
that the bank’s attorney submit the documents
within õ0 days. When the attorney failed to file the
required documents, the judge dismissed the
foreclosure action against Mr. Bowen! The bank
then challenged the judge’s decision. Mr. Bowen,
along with Common Law attorneys and many
homeowners at the Legal Clinic, prepared for the
court appearance. After legal education and role-
playing, Mr. Bowen was ready to defend the judge’s
decision to dismiss the foreclosure. In court, the
attorney’s only excuse for not filing the documents
was that he never saw the judge’s order demanding
that he file the paperwork within õ0 days. As Mr.
Bowen puts it, no one was surprised by the
incompetence of the bank attorney: “It’s always
the same ‘dog ate my homework’ excuses coming
from the bank’s lawyer.” When the judge asked Mr.
Bowen if he saw the order, Mr. Bowen simply
responded, “Yes, your honor.” Although Mr.
Bowen was prepared to argue further, the judge
had heard enough; the foreclosure action remains
All four homeowners feel more confident and
energized than they have felt in the years since
they fell into foreclosure. They attribute their
increased moral and strengthened positions to the
Legal Clinic. Mr. Bowen remarked, “Now that we
know our rights, we can pursue them.” This sense
of independence is deeply intertwined with the
sense of community the homeowners feel at the
clinic. As Ms. Minott notes, it’s a simple formula,
“I want to hear other people’s stories and for
others to hear my story. We work as a group. We
help each other. The more people that come, the
stronger the bond.”
JOIN COURT SUPPORT! Court Support is an opportunity for you to give support to others
during (often stressful) court appearances. It is also an opportunity for you to learn how to
interact with a judge and opposing counsel. Call Common Law at 212-213-3920 for upcoming
opportunities to participate.