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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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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