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Court Finds No Pro-Bank Bias From Judge in Foreclosure Case

In March, a homeowner sued Bank of America [1] and several other mortgage companies for allegedly attempting to illegally foreclose on his property, and went on to claim that the assigned California federal judge has shown a pro-bank bias, citing that the jurist has tossed 56 out of 57 foreclosure-related cases to come before him since 2008, Law360 [2]reports.

However, in a recent ruling, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter stated that the defendant, Gary Kooba, failed to show that any of Judge Philip S. Gutierrez rulings were flawed.

“There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Judge Gutierrez does not give careful consideration to each case before him and that he makes decisions based on the facts and law applicable to each case,” Judge Walter said in his ruling.

Judge Walter stated that Kooba did not supply the necessary evidence to back up his claim of bias. For example, Kooba acclaimed that Westlaw maintained a complete record of Judge Gutierrez’s rulings, but there was no evidence of Westlaw maintaining such records, according to Judge Walter. This meant that the disqualification bid was based on potentially faulty figures. The ruling, “completely misses the point that such a track record creates the ‘appearance’ of bias,” said Andrew R. Stilwell to Law360, one of the attorney’s representing Kooba.

Stilwell said that in the majority of the 56 rulings, Judge Gutierrez found that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not apply to a foreclosure claim, and on March 31, several days after the disqualification bid was filed, a Ninth Circuit decision refuted every dismissal order by Judge Gutierrez from those instances.

In addition, Stillwell stated that the court failed to show any published opinion by Judge Gutierrez that was not available through Westlaw, as the system is relied upon by the “majority of the industry.” “To claim that Westlaw is incomplete, means that the entire legal system is working with incomplete information,” Stilwell said.