Bank of America Lawyer Alleged to Assault Others During Deposition Proceedings

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According to Americans United Against Fraud, an advocacy group for home owners, in court papers filed with the California Superior Court by Plaintiffs David and Salma Merritt; Bank of America attorneys from Bryan Cave, is alleged to have assaulted Plaintiffs sister and 84 year old father before being physically "restrained and pinned to the conference table," until the lawyer calmed down.

One of the Nation’s largest Predatory Lending Cases by husband and wife team representing themselves without the assistance of lawyers.

Americans United Against Fraud (AUAF) Executive Director Christopher Espanola, reports that papers filed on August 29, 2012, in the California Court of Appeal's case Merritt v. Bank of America et al., H038420 (6th District), reference pleadings and evidence filed in Santa Clara Superior Court case Merritt v. Mozilo et al., 109-CV-159993, alleging that Bank of America has been receiving judicial favors from judge James Stoelker.

Court records show that on August 17, and July 17, 2012, the Merritts filed a Motion for Protective Order along with declarations of witnesses, reporter transcript and DVD footage, asking the Court for protection from further alleged abuses by Bank of America and Countrywide Home Loans.

The Merritts allege in their court filings that on July 16, 2012, they arrived at a scheduled Bank of America deposition in San Jose with their video camera, 18-month old daughter, sister, father Ronald Merritt and Home Owner Advocate Porter E. Johnson. Upon their entering the room, Bank of America’s lawyer James Goldberg of Bryan Cave, launched into cursing and verbally attacking them with profanities and "Who the hell are these people?" And as Mr. Merritt introduced them, Goldberg is alleged to have yelled, "Oh no! Every one of you have to get out!--and what's that? [Pointing to Mr. Merritt's camera] you're not doing any damn videotaping here, not on your life!"

The court records further alleges that Mr. Goldberg pushed Mr. Merritt, then his sister, and began assaulting their father before "David" grabbed then pinned Goldberg to the table saying, "Look Jim! Calm down..." over and over.

The deposition DVDs themselves shows Mrs. Merritt holding her daughter while answering questions from the Bank of America lawyer. She testifies that she and her husband were allegedly “forced to sign one set of documents and were left a second set of mostly blank loan documents that left out the percentage rates and other information.” Also, Mr. Colyer, BofA's office loan manager, “concealed the terms of the loans.” The Merritts Motion with supporting documentary evidence alleges that Mr. Goldberg grows in “agitation and hostilities” as he asks questions like: "What religion are you? Are you Muslim?" “Do you have diamonds or what in your safe-deposit box?” “What is your disability?” and at one point states "You're feeding me bull..!" This drew immediate objections from both Mr. and Mrs. Merritt each time.

According to Christopher Espanola, of Americans United Against Fraud (AUAF), the deposition video shows that Mr. Goldberg's interrogation was "disrespectful to David and Salma Merritt." In fact the tension was so strong, Mr. Espanola says, "that ultimately Mrs. Merritt collapsed into unconsciousness and when Mr. Merritt asked the transcriber to assist him with his wife, who now lay supine on the floor, Mr. Goldberg "jumps" to his feet "yelling with hand gestures. ‘No! You stay here!" Pointing to reporter. "…I paid for her and she will not help that bit.. at all!"

According to court documents, after the Merritts presented their evidence, judge Stoelker, on August 16, 2012, issued a "tentative ruling" which holds "The alleged misconduct of Defendant’s counsel does rise to the level justifying termination of the depositions….” However, the Tentative Order denies the Merritts request for protective order to prevent further alleged abuses and the Order also excludes all Citizens from attending their depositions proceedings and authorizes Bank of America lawyers to interrogate Mrs. Merritt for as long as they wished "day-to-day."

Currently, the Tentative Order is stayed with all discovery in the case, pending review of the Merritts request to disqualify judge Stoelker for cause. According to the U.S. Department of Justice surveys of state courts, only 3% make it to trial. California Administrative Office of the Courts, some 99% of request for disqualification of judges "for cause" are denied.

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Christopher Espanola
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