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Suspended attorney stripped of quiet title to foreclosed home he repaired

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A suspended Gary attorney who was awarded a quiet title to an abandoned, foreclosed property after he entered a house without authorization and began to maintain it was stripped of the title Tuesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The appellate panel ruled that Robert Holland was not entitled to the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on his quiet title action. The COA reversed and remanded to Lake Superior Judge Calvin D. Hawkins with orders that summary judgment instead be entered on behalf of the foreclosing lender. The case is Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. v. Robert Holland, 45A04-1202-PL-53.

“This is at least the third installment in a series of appellate cases stemming from Robert Holland’s attempts to appropriate vacant residential properties by entering them without invitation and allegedly making improvements,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote for the court.

Holland has entered vacant residences he considers nuisances, made or attempted repairs, and filed actions for quiet title and to foreclose on purported common-law liens. In the instant case, he argued that Countrywide failed to take possession or move the property to a sheriff’s sale after the homeowner vacated, leaving behind a derelict haven for criminals. Holland won summary judgment on his petition for quiet title and damages of $1 against Countrywide.

Both those trial court rulings were error, the COA held. “Holland has alleged facts that would, at most, support a conclusion that the property created a public nuisance,” Friedlander wrote. “…Holland has not, however, made any allegation that he suffered any special or peculiar injury apart from the injury suffered by the general public. Accordingly, he has not established a private right to relief premised on public nuisance.”

The court reminded Holland of a 2012 COA opinion regarding an earlier instance in which he sought to gain title to an abandoned property, Holland v. Steele, 961 N.E.2d at 525. The panel in that case wrote, “The crux of Holland’s contentions is that he, as a private individual, should have an unfettered citizen’s right to act to abate a nuisance that contributes to urban blight. However, it is not within our purview to opine on policy questions surrounding a legislative or governmental response to urban problems.”

In the present case, the court ordered summary judgment entered in Countrywide’s favor, even while noting that no such motion had been made. “Because Holland has not asserted any plausible claim to legal title of the property, he cannot prevail on his action to quiet title. We therefore remand with instructions to vacate summary judgment in Holland’s favor and enter summary judgment against him on his quiet title claim.”
 
The panel in a footnote wrote that “Holland’s arguments are confused and disorganized, and we have expended a great deal of time and effort in attempting to understand them.”


 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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