Monday, March 28, 2005

Judges & Creditors Ignoring Laws for Active-Duty Soldiers

The New York Times > National > Some Creditors Make Illegal Demands on Active-Duty Soldiers

You tell me with a straight face that there is no problem with Judges ignoring the laws (read: activist judges)! Whether talking about judges, mortgage companies or lending institutions, this problem should be dealt with swifty (well, that's kinda a laugh since it's been 3 years already) and decisively. Judges who ignore the law should be fined and put on suspension for the first offense and unseated for any further offenses. Other institutions should be fined to equal to double the amount owed to the institution. That is the only way to insure compliance. Punitive measures will definitely help these institutions to learn the law. When money is involved they usually learn real fast.

The law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, protects all active-duty military families from foreclosures, evictions and other financial consequences of military service. The Supreme Court has ruled that its provisions must "be liberally construed to protect those who have been obliged to drop their own affairs to take up the burdens of the nation."

The relief act provides a broad spectrum of protections to service members, their spouses and their dependents. The interest rate on debts incurred before enlistment, for example, must be capped at 6 percent if military duty has reduced a service member's family income.

The law also protects service members from repossession or foreclosure without a court order. It allows them to terminate any real estate lease when their military orders require them to do so. And it forbids judges from holding service members in default on any legal matter unless the court has first appointed a lawyer to protect their interests.

At Fort Hood, Tex., a soldier's wife was sued by a creditor trying to collect a debt owed by her and her husband, who was serving in Baghdad at the time. A local judge ruled against her, saying she had defaulted, even though specialists say the relief act forbids default judgments against soldiers serving overseas and protects their spouses as well.

At Camp Pendleton, Calif., more than a dozen marines returned from Iraq to find that their cars and other possessions had been improperly sold to cover unpaid storage and towing fees. The law forbids such seizures without a court order.

In northern Ohio, Wells Fargo served a young Army couple with foreclosure papers despite the wife's repeated efforts to negotiate new repayment terms with the bank. Wells Fargo said later that it had been unaware of the couple's military status. The foreclosure was dropped after a military lawyer intervened.

There are more examples, go read the story and be sure to educate anyone you know who is deployed or about to be deployed about their rights!

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