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Foreclosure Defense Florida

The Secret Story Behind The Trial of Foreclosure Eviction Defendant and Veteran Mark Harris in Decatur, Georgia

From Housing Justice and Lynn Syzmoniak:


On August 6, 2014, I travelled to Decatur, GA to testify for the defense in the trial of Mark Anthony Harris, Timothy Franzen, Mariam Asad and Daniel Hanley.  Mark Harris was a disabled Gulf War veteran who was evicted from his home in 2012, after losing his home to foreclosure. Franzen, Asad and Harris were members of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta who tried to help Mark Harris stay in his home with a mortgage modification.  The defendants were charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice and faced up to two years in prison.

When the prosecution rested its case, I took the witness stand on behalf of the defendants, was sworn in and began reciting my credentials.  I did not get very far.  Right after I told the jury that I had helped the Justice Department recover $95 million for HUD from four major banks, the prosecutor jumped up flailing and yelling, “Whoa, whoa, whoa whoa.”   Judge Dax Lopez sent the jury from the courtroom, sent me to a witness room, as the lawyers argued about whether I would be allowed to testify.

I wasn’t there on the day of the eviction, but the prosecution was allowed to bring in testimony and evidence regarding the mortgage default by Mark Harris, so it seemed like I could offer some reasonable rebuttable evidence as to whether the foreclosure was questionable (or downright illegal) and  that I could corroborate the testimony of the defendants that they reasonably thought Mark Harris had a legal right to remain in his home.

Years earlier, I had written a letter to Mark Harris and Occupy Atlanta with my opinion that the loan documents used in his case where fraudulent.  The defendants had all read that letter.

I was not allowed to testify. This is what I would have told the jury.

Mr. Harris had the legal right to stay in his home the day the sheriff evicted him and threw his furniture, clothing, service medals and flag out on his front lawn.  At that time, Fannie Mae claimed to own Mark Harris’s home.  Fannie had sent Mr. Harris a letter assuring him that they wanted to keep him in his home and offering him the right to stay on as a tenant.  Mr. Harris accepted that offer and sent Fannie his first rental check for $2,600.  Fannie cashed the check.  But a few days later, Mark Harris was evicted and arrested as were defendants Franzen, Asad and Hanley who stayed on the property trying to explain that an agreement had been reached and that Mr. Harris was now renting from Fannie and had all the rights of other tenants.  I would have stated that in my opinion Mr. Harris had the right to stay in his home as he had reached an agreement with Fannie and was a tenant at will and had the due process rights of a tenant at will.


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