As home foreclosure and debt collection cases make their way through Maryland courtrooms, a School of Law professor and his students are making news for their involvement in the cases.
Peter Holland, a visiting faculty member with a private practice in Annapolis, is teaching a course in consumer protection law and is running the School’s Consumer Protection Clinic. His students are getting a real-time lesson on the foreclosure crisis and other consumer debt collection cases. They have recently asked courts in Baltimore city and Montgomery County to dismiss several pending foreclosures, alleging that in hundreds of foreclosures, affidavits were submitted from people who signed hundreds of affidavits per day, even though they did not have personal knowledge of the facts stated in the affidavits. Critics have taken to calling the practice "robo-signing."
Holland's activity – and expertise – is being reflected in the local media. He is quoted in The Baltimore Sun and The Daily Record as saying the alleged robo-signing is a threat to "the integrity of the courts." He told The Sun: "These affidavits are integral to the honest operating of the foreclosure process."
The Daily Record story also described how Holland is preparing his clinic students to defend Maryland residents sued by "Debt Buyers" – businesses whose sole purpose is to purchase credit accounts which have already been “charged off” by the original creditor. Although these accounts are purchased for as little as 2 cents on the dollar and often lack documentary proof of ownership, Debt Buyers obtain judgments against unrepresented consumers in more than 90 percent of the cases. "This is students getting involved to help solve a real crisis," he told the paper. "This is the intersection of legal ethics, civil procedure, rules of the court, candor to the court and doing the right thing."
Holland is a graduate of the School of Law, and earlier this year was named by his peers a “Maryland Super Lawyer” in the area of Consumer Law for the third straight time.
Media Relations Specialist
UMB News Bureau