Free House or Death Sentence?

Free House or Death Sentence?

Washington State judges often state “[n]o body gets a free house in Washington” before sentencing people to be deprived of their shelter and ordering sheriffs to evict them into the streets. Such staged remarks suggest their ignorance or bias with regard to the issue before them; which is whether equity and Washington’s Constitution allows them to impose the equivalent of a criminal punishment under the circumstances of each case.

The consequences of judicial decrees ordering persons evicted from their homes into the streets include death, reduced life expectancy, chronic illness, and loss of liberty.

Our courts do not have the authority to impose these types of punishments on people who have not committed heinous crimes, such as murder or egregious felonies. Nonetheless, Washington judges continue to hand out the equivalent of death sentences, notwithstanding Washington’s Constitution prohibits affording special privileges to the wealthy and imposing criminal penalties on debtors. Under both the U.S. and Washington Constitutions, when such deadly results can be imposed upon on a party appearing before the court, it requires careful scrutiny to see that procedures are fully conforming to both the spirit and the letter of the law. Other states’ high courts have risen up to address proven improprieties of foreclosing entities  attempting to debt-collect otherwise uncollectible loans. In the words of Hawaii’s former Governor John Waihee (1986-94), “Our courts should not be collection agencies for crooks”. (Compare with the “free house” philosophy in Washington).

Let’s get real.

For most persons being evicted from their home after years of dual tracking is not the equivalent of a “free house”. These people have been battered for years by ruthless debt collectors who purposely create conditions designed to cause borrowers’ serious physical harm and psychological injury.

web1_S-WynneSince before the Magna Carta courts have traditionally considered disputes such as these pursuant to the maxims of equity not law. Washington judges appear not to respect these judicial traditions. Why? Have the wealthy so corrupted our courts that judges don’t appreciate these decisions result in consequences that severely impact millions of this country’s inhabitants? Is this because the the 1% have instructed our policy makers that we must de-populate our planet at the expense of most of its people and other life forms?

No wonder the color of judges robes is black.

And the “free house” ruse is not the only one perpetrated by judges in Washington.





1. National Fair Housing Fair Housing Alliance, “THE CASE FOR FAIR HOUSING 2017 Fair Housing Trends Report” (2017), which can be accessed at identifies discrimination based on disability and race as key factors related to housing discrimination in the United States. The report states in pertinent part:

There were 28,181 reported complaints of housing discrimination in 2016. Of these, private fair housing organizations were responsible for addressing 70 percent, the lion’s share of all housing discrimination complaints nationwide.

55 percent of these complaints involved discrimination on the basis of disability, followed by 19.6 percent based on racial discrimination and 8.5 percent based on discrimination against families with kids. …

(Emphasis Supplied)

2. “The 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, Part I”, (Nov. 2016) which can be accessed at This report by the The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, OFFICE OF COMMUNITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT, documents among other things Washington State’s growing homelessness vis a vis other States. For example, while the report claims homelessness is decreasing nationally (perhaps because so many have been killed off), it substantiates that Washington states judicial and other policies have caused the ranks of its shelterless inhabitants to swell. Indeed, page 14 of the report states: 

The number of people experiencing homelessness increased in 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, between 2015 and 2016. The largest absolute increases were in California (2,404 people), Washington (1,408 people), the District of Columbia (1,052 people), Colorado (597 people), and Oklahoma (330 people). … (Emphasis Supplied)

The Report also documents, at page 17, that King County has the third highest metropolitan homelessness population in the entire country.

3. National Coalition for the Homeless, “Health Care and Homelessness” (July, 2009). This article can be accessed at The studies findings include:

…  Homeless people are three to six times more likely to become ill than housed people (National Health Care for the Homeless Council, 2008).  Homelessness precludes good nutrition, good personal hygiene, and basic first aid, …  Additionally, conditions which require regular, uninterrupted treatment, such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, are extremely difficult to treat or control among those without adequate housing.

Diseases that are common among the homeless population include heart disease, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, skin infections, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, and tuberculosis (O’Connell, 2005).  People who live on the streets or spend most of their time outside are at high risk for frostbite, immersion foot, and hypothermia, especially during the winter or rainy periods.  Although not many homeless deaths are specifically attributed to exposure-related causes such as frostbite, immersion foot, or hypothermia, the risk of death from other causes is increased eightfold in people who have experienced those conditions in the past (O’Connell, 2005). 

As a result of these factors, homeless people are three to four times more likely to die than the general population (O’Connell, 2005).  This increased risk is especially significant in people between the ages of 18 and 54.  Although women normally have higher life expectancies than men, even in impoverished areas, homeless men and women have similar risks of premature mortality.  In fact, young homeless women are four to 31 times as likely to die early as housed young women (O’Connell, 2005).  The average life expectancy in the homeless population is estimated between 42 and 52 years, compared to 78 years in the general population.

 (Emphasis Supplied)


4.Scott E. Stafne Contemporary Thought Leadership & Law blog, “Courts Ignore the Equities to Benefit the Creditor” (June 16, 2015) discussed American court’s abandonment of equity and justice with regards to foreclosures. This article can be accessed at

5. Scott E. Stafne Contemporary Thought Leadership & Law blog, “Courts Ignore the Equities to Benefit the Creditor” (June 8, 2015) discussed American court’s abandonment of equity and justice with regards to foreclosures. This article can be accessed at 

6. Finkelman, Paul (1999) “Affirmative Action for the Master Class: The Creation of the Proslavery Constitution,” Akron Law Review: Vol. 32 : Iss. 3 at Article 1, which can be accessed at

This article, which was republished in 2015 documents the United States Constitution was originally a pro-slavery document designed to protect the wealthy. This favoritism was repealed by the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, as well as several later ones, which were intended to insure all United States citizens were treated fairly and pursuant to due process of law. Both federal and Washington courts appear reluctant to follow Congress’s determination that the disabled should not be discriminated against with regard to housing issues. See note 1 referencing National Fair Housing Fair Housing Alliance, “THE CASE FOR FAIR HOUSING 2017 Fair Housing Trends Report” (2017).

7.Scott E. Stafne Contemporary Thought Leadership and Law blog, “Would the Middle Class have been Destroyed if Court had allowed borrowers their Constitutional Right to a Jury Trial” (September 1, 2014) which can be accessed at

8.Scott E. Stafne Contemporary Thought Leadership and Law blog, “Judicial Review – A Slippery Slope” (August 21, 2014), which can be accessed at .

9.Scott E. Stafne Contemporary Thought Leadership and Law blog, “How the Republic of the United States Has been corrupted – Part Two (Jury Trials), (May 22, 2014), which can be accessed at


10 Release from Prison — A High Risk of Death for Former Inmates, N Engl J Medicine, 2007 Jan 11; 356(2): 157-16. (Originally published by the National Institutes of Health as a “retrospective study of all inmates released from the Washington State Department of Corrections from July 1999 through December 2003) The New England Journal of Medicine article can be accessed at The government study can be accessed at


  1. H. Con. Res.85 – 112th Congress (2011-2012), Resolution “[e]xpressing the sense of of the House of Representatives regarding the proposed settlement between the Department of Justice, the State attorneys general, and mortgage servicers regarding mortgage fraud and the economic crisis,” which can be accessed at This resolution, acknowledges that after an investigation a significant number of representative concluded that forged notes and recorded document fraud had been perpetrated upon citizens of the United States and the States in which they resided. In this regard, the Resolution (which was not passed by the House of Representatives) found that significant factuals issues relating recorded instrument fraud existed. These findings are legally significant because they establish a reasonable juror could find these documents fraudulent and thus courts should have afforded borrowers jury trials before sentencing them to egregious harm.The Resolution introduced in the House of Representatives states in 2011 states in pertinent part:

Whereas the United States has experienced a mortgage crisis since 2004;
* * *

Whereas, since 2006, more than 3,000,000 houses in the United States have been recaptured through foreclosure;
Whereas the rate of foreclosures has increased an additional 23 percent since 2008, with approximately 2,900,000 home mortgages in the United States in foreclosure in 2010;
Whereas homeowners across the Nation have been hit hard by the mortgage crisis with one in four homeowners “underwater” on their mortgages, meaning that their home is worth less than the outstanding balance due on the mortgage on the property;
* * *

Whereas the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has stated that “mortgage fraud is a growing crime threat that is hurting homeowners, businesses, and the national economy”;
Whereas the FBI has increased its investigative resources to address the mortgage fraud crisis;
Whereas the FBI experienced an increase in suspicious activity reports filed by federally insured financial institutions from 6,936 reports in 2003 to 67,190 in 2009;
Whereas investigations by the FBI and other law enforcement entities, including State attorneys general, have focused on fraud related to loan origination, mortgage loan securitization, and mortgage servicing;
Whereas, in the fall of 2010, reports nationwide exposed fraudulent foreclosure filings, including the practice of signing mortgage documents without verifying the content of the document, often referred to as ‘robo-signing”;
Whereas the attorneys general of the 50 States initiated an official investigation into the robo-signing scandal in October 2010;
Whereas the State attorneys general and the Federal Government have pursued a settlement with mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Ally Financial, and Wells Fargo, that exceeds the original goal         of addressing the robo-signing scandal;
Whereas financial institutions have faced lawsuits regarding their role in the subprime mortgage boom and accompanying financial crisis;
Whereas Bank of America has reached an agreement to pay $8.5 billion to settle claims over purchases of mortgage-backed securities by Countrywide Financial, which is owned by Bank of America;

Whereas the $8.5 billion settlement with Bank of America represents only 2 percent of the $424 billion in mortgages that Countrywide issued and only 4 percent of the outstanding principal on the loans;

* * *

Whereas State pension funds were cheated out of critical investments due to fraudulent sales of mortgage-backed securities;
Whereas the fraudulent sales of mortgage-backed securities has resulted in Financial losses for State’s worker retirement funds, whose investors and b beneficiaries include teachers, firefighters, and police;
Whereas securities fraud lawsuits have been filed on behalf of beneficiaries of         State pension funds, including a class action lawsuit against Merrill Lynch, now owned by Bank of America, for providing misleading documents for $16.5 billion in certificates;
Whereas banks are required to register and pay fees with county offices in each State for each sale or resale of a mortgage;
Whereas many banks utilized the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) electronic mortgage registry, which permitted these financial institutions to repeatedly avoid paying local taxes;
Whereas local communities lost local tax revenue through the banks’ fraudulent behavior and local counties are now suing to reclaim the significant         amount of lost revenue;
Whereas the proposed settlement between the State attorneys general, the Federal Government, and mortgage servicers is reported to be for $20 billion;
Whereas the financial repercussions for the victims of the mortgage servicers’         fraudulent behavior, including homeowners, State pension beneficiaries, and local communities, far exceeds $20 billion;
Whereas reports of the proposed settlement describe that the settlement may halt State investigations and prosecutions into the mortgage servicers’         fraudulent behavior;
Whereas the prevention of future fraudulent behavior would be aided by examining the findings of investigations into past such behavior;
* * *

Now, therefore be it
  Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that any action taken by the Department of Justice should be consistent with the following goals:
           (1) The mortgage servicers who engaged in fraudulent behavior should not be granted criminal or civil immunity for potential wrongdoing related to illegal mortgage and foreclosure practices.
           (2) The Federal Government and State attorneys general should proceed with full investigations into claims of fraudulent behavior by mortgage servicers.
           (3) Any financial settlement reached with mortgage servicers should appropriately compensate for, and accurately reflect, the extent of harm to all victims, including homeowners and State pension beneficiaries, caused by the mortgage servicers’ fraudulent behavior.

12. CBS News,  “Mortgage Paperwork Mess: Next Housing Shock?” (April 23, 2011), which can be accessed at  In this Report CBS News (which asserts “mainstream media status”) reports:

“It bizarre but, it turns out, Wall Street cut corners when it created those mortgage-backed investments that triggered the financial collapse. Now that banks want to evict people, they are unwinding these exotic investments to find, that often, the legal documents behind the mortgages aren’t there. Caught in a jam of their own making, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork to throw people – down on their luck – out of their homes.” (Emphasis supplied)

13. CBS News, “Robo-signing of mortgages still a problem” (July 18, 2011), which can be accessed at This “news” article reports:

Mortgage industry employees are still signing documents they haven’t read and using fake signatures more than eight months after big banks and mortgage companies promised to stop the illegal practices that led to a nationwide halt of home foreclosures.

County officials in at least three states say they have received thousands of mortgage documents with questionable signatures since last fall, suggesting that the practices, known collectively as “robo-signing,” remain widespread in the industry.” (Emphasis Supplied)



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About Scott . Stafne

Mr. Stafne is very experienced in property rights, including banking wrongs and foreclosure prevention; Constitutional Law (under the United States and Washington State Constitution); Appellate law; land use law; personal injury law. Scott has recently become a media focal point as his win record of foreclosure defense cases against the largest financial institutions, servicers, trustees as well as MERS have blazed the trail toward ending the foreclosure crisis and representing the rights of the homeowner above the profits and secret dealings of corporations.   Scott sees law as a foundation for establishing a system of twenty first century liberties for the people; and for removing that corruption of power within our government which makes the achievement of real purpose beholden to only money.   Scott Stafne has been an attorney since graduating from the University of Iowa in 1974. He worked for a large law firm in Indianapolis (Baker & Daniels) for two years. Thereafter, he moved to Seattle Washington in order to obtain a Masters of Law degree from the University of Washington, which he obtained in 1977. Scott practiced law while going to graduate school and has practiced ever since.   This is a personal blog, and does not constitute legal advice in any form, and is not necessarily reflective of the policies or opinions of Stafne Law Firm. Visit the Law Firm: Visit the Google+ Page: Visit the Facebook Page:   *Web Developer: David J. Posel
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