Bad Ideas

Taj Lives! (And He’s Pissed)

tajudeen-oladiran.jpgLast week, we posted a highly unusual motion from Arizona. Attorney Tajudeen “Taj” Oladiran filed a “Motion for a [sic] Honest and Honorable Court System” in his racketeering case against Suntrust Bank before the “dishonorable” Susan Bolton.
Taj was extremely disappointed in a ruling by Judge Bolton, calling her “a brainless coward.” He ended the motion with the following:

[M]any good lawyers in town told me the bank’s executives would never be deposed, and that the case would go nowhere. I stupidly stuck to the notion that everyone is equal under the law etc. Boy was I wrong…
My thanks go out to Larry Folks and Kathleen Weber [Ed. Note: opposing counsel] who both warned me that I would lose (I should have listened to them).
I apologize to all my clients. I know, I’m sorry does not repair the mess I made but, that’s all I’ve got.
To my family, words can’t express my apologies; please remember me kindly.
Finally, to Susan Bolton, we shall meet again you know where. :-)

Some readers of last week’s post worried that was a suicidal sign-off.
We got worried too when Taj failed to respond to our emails and phone calls of the past few days. Today, we sent him a Facebook message. When our phone rang with a strange number this afternoon, and the voice on the other end had a Nigerian accent, we were relieved.
Taj lives! He sent us a lengthy missive. Here’s an excerpt:

I hope my explanation will stop the jealous haters that sent me nasty comments from holding their breaths in anticipation of news that I’ve committed suicide. Sorry, no such plans. The Whistleblower Pleading is not about a suicidal lawyer, it is about how an out-of-state bank that made bad mortgage loans in Arizona was able to obtain a horribly biased ruling in its favor. An occurrence that I thought was impossible in the federal district court. .

Full statement, after the jump.

Here is his statement, which partially explains “the law of what goes around comes around.” It also directs you to his LinkedIn profile in several places and narrates his resume. We suspect he may be looking for a new job.
When he originally filed this motion [PDF], he was an of counsel at Aguilera International Counsel. Now he’s not.
His name and bio have been removed from the site, though his bio is still up there pdf style and cached.
And here, for your reading pleasure (or displeasure), is Taj’s statement.
Most of you have read or heard about a pleading titled: “Plaintiffs’ Counsel’s Motion for a Honest and Honorable Court System,” that I filed in the Federal District Court, Arizona, on October 1, 2009 (Docket No. 48) (the “Whistleblower Pleading”). A copy of the Whistleblower Pleading is attached hereto. Apparently, in a cowardly attempt to discredit me in my ongoing lawsuit against Suntrust Bank, “someone” saw fit to publish the pleading to the entire Bar without an explanation. Funny thing, the wide spread review has resulted in many good things for me. I was contacted by: the press anxious to get the facts,[1] and several attorneys offering their help with the litigation in any way possible; many attorney friends[2] stating their concerns that the Whistleblower E-mail was a suicide note, and reminding me of my unique position as a one of the few minority attorneys trained by the big-firms. And, my obvious desire to serve the public by dedicating my practice to the advancement of the cause of the oppressed and down trodden, and to eradication of poverty.[3]
Of course, not all the comments were good. I received some calls and e-mails from foes, people who claim that I have risen too high too fast, informing me that I was finally going to taste some reality. To the unhappy people who try to make others unhappy, don’t bother trying to bring me down, it’s too late. Check out my page on LinkedIn. I graduated from ASU Law with honors and, after practicing for just over seven years, few resumes are as impressive as mine:
Currently, my practice is focused almost exclusively on Consumer Protection through commercial litigation. To me, consumer protection means fighting for the consumer in any arena, any area of law, at any stage of the dispute, and against any odds (including mega law firms).
For instance, I represent the plaintiff in an employee discrimination lawsuit in which the Defendant School District is represented by a law firm considered to be the best in the country in employment law. Similarly, I am currently representing my family against Suntrust Bank, which is represented by attorneys with all the right resume buzz words and total commercial litigation experience way past 50 years. The best legal talent money can buy.
My prior practice experience includes working as an attorney with Quarles & Brady Streich Lang, LLP (9/2001-3/2003), Office of the Arizona Attorney General (1/2006-10/2006), and Greenberg Traurig, LLP (5/2004-1/2006 & 10/2006-10/2007).
In addition to my law practice, I am a trailblazer in community service. In the over 76 year history of the Arizona Bar, in 2008 I became the second African-American attorney voted in to Membership on the Ruling Board of Governors of the Arizona State Bar (BOG), which represents all Arizona attorneys (in 2009, I voluntarily left the BOG position; too much politics).
I am also one of a select few attorneys appointed as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County, with the minimum 5 years practice experience at the time of the appointment.
I am a born-again Christian and my goal in life is to make life better for as many people as I can, using all my God given abilities. For more information, see my profile on LinkedIn:; or Face Book.
I hope this e-mail will clarify the misunderstanding caused by the Whistleblower Pleading, and put my friends’ minds at rest. In addition, I hope my explanation will stop the jealous haters that sent me nasty comments from holding their breaths in anticipation of news that I’ve committed suicide. Sorry, no such plans. The Whistleblower Pleading is not about a suicidal lawyer, it is about how an out-of-state bank that made bad mortgage loans in Arizona was able to obtain a horribly biased ruling in its favor. An occurrence that I thought was impossible in the federal district court.
Generally, borrowers who allow real estate professionals to convince them to borrow more than they can afford can be called irresponsible, weak, etc; however, their actions are not illegal, just irresponsible. Conversely, banks that knowingly or recklessly lend home buyers more money than they can afford are violating various state and federal lending standards and, in most cases, violating their own internal lending standards. Why do banks make loans that they know will default? To make more loans, gain more market share, artificially influence their stock price and, last but not least, improve the bank’s profits and the salaries and bonuses paid to the multi-millionaire bank’s executives. Such acts by a bank are illegal; collectively they are called PREDATORY LENDING.
My case is about a loan made by a Virginia Bank, Suntrust Bank, to me and my spouse (the “Oladirans” or “Borrowers”) to purchase a second home in Chandler, Arizona (the “Suntrust Loan”). At the time we met Suntrust Bank and its pimps, we had two prior mortgages on our then current residence in Mesa, Arizona, with mortgage loans totaling over $400,000. Despite the pending mortgages, Suntrust lent me and my spouse approximately $760,000, with no money down (except for a $75 administrative fee), to purchase a second house in Chandler.
After the Suntrust Loan, our monthly mortgage payment increased from just over $2K to over $9K/month. Consequently, the subsequent real estate crash and economic depression pushed my family’s finances into the ubiquitous credit card spiral to default. We ended up losing our Mesa house to foreclosure; our credit rating dropped from the mid 700s to just over 400; we borrowed from various credit cards for livings expenses; borrowed from Peter to pay Paul; and, to top it all off, when we thought we were at rock bottom, Suntrust moved to foreclose its Deed of Trust and kick us out of our Chandler house.
At first, I blamed myself for borrowing more money than we could afford. However, after the pity parties, I remembered lender liability cases I had worked on in the past. So, I began researching the law governing the facts of my case. Surprisingly, what I discovered is that while my actions were financially dumb, the Bank’s actions are illegal. Consequently, my spouse and I filed a lawsuit against Suntrust Bank to cancel the Deed of Trust on our house because it was obtained without anything close to full disclosure. A copy of the Complaint is attached hereto (the “Complaint”).
Initially, on July 10, 2009, the Oladirans filed their Complaint against Suntrust Bank and two of its main executives in the Maricopa County Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges that the Suntrust Loan violates, among other things, A.R.S. § 13-2314.04 and other Arizona laws prohibiting racketeering activity, etc.[4] Further, the Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs incurred extensive damages as a direct result of Suntrust Bank’s predatory lending practices.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the Bank and its executives increased the Bank’s profits and its market share in Arizona by loaning money to borrowers, regardless of the borrowers’ ability to repay the loan funds. The Bank achieved its goal by spreading the word that it was willing and able to make risky loans that would normally have been denied. Because Suntrust Bank provided loan professionals (real estate agents, mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, etc.) the ability to make more loans and more money, the loan professionals had a financial incentive to convince borrowers to buy additional homes or more expensive homes with money from Suntrust Bank. Consequently, as alleged in the Complaint, the Suntrust Bank system resulted in mortgage loan contracts that were destined to default.
The Oladirans’ mortgage loan story is not unique. As explained by Dr. Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States (1987 to 2006), in sworn testimony to Congress Committee of Government Oversight and Reform on October 23, 2008:

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for this opportunity to testify before you this morning.
We are in the midst of a once-in-a century credit tsunami. Central banks and governments are being required to take unprecedented measures. You, importantly, represent those on whose behalf economic policy is made, those who are feeling the brunt of the crisis in their workplaces and homes. I hope to address their concerns today.
This morning, I would like to provide my views on the sources of the crisis, what policies can best address the financial crisis going forward, and how I expect the economy to perform in the near and longer term. I also want discuss how my thinking has evolved and what I have learned in this past year.
In 2005, I raised concerns that the protracted period of under-pricing of risk, if history was any guide, would have dire consequences. This crisis, however, has turned out to be much broader than anything I could have imagined. It has morphed from one gripped by liquidity restraints to one in which fears of insolvency are now paramount. . . .
As I wrote last March: those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder’s equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief. Such counterparty surveillance is a central pillar of our financial markets’ state of balance. If it fails, as occurred this year, market stability is undermined.
What went wrong with global economic policies that had worked so effectively for nearly four decades? The breakdown has been most apparent in the securitization of home mortgages. The evidence strongly suggests that without the excess demand from securitizers, subprime mortgage originations (undeniably the original source of crisis) would have been far smaller and defaults accordingly far fewer. But subprime mortgages pooled and sold as securities became subject to explosive demand from investors around the world.
These mortgage backed securities being “subprime” were originally offered at what appeared to be exceptionally high risk-adjusted market interest rates. But with U.S. home prices still rising, delinquency and foreclosure rates were deceptively modest. Losses were minimal. To the most sophisticated investors in the world, they were wrongly viewed as a “steal.” . . .

Testimony of Dr. Alan Greenspan before the Committee of Government Oversight and Reform, October 23, 2008, courtesy of C-SPAN (emphasis added). Plaintiffs filed the entire Greenspan testimony as an exhibit to one of the Plaintiffs’ pleadings in their lawsuit against Suntrust Bank.
Back to the Oladirans v. Suntrust Bank case, once Defendants removed the case to the federal court, Defendants immediately moved to foreclose the Deeds of Trust on the Oladirans’ Property. In response, the Oladirans filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the sale. The Court held a hearing on the Oladirans’ motion for preliminary injunction. At the hearing, in open court, Judge Bolton set a preliminary injunction evidentiary hearing for November 2009. Further, Judge Bolton ordered the Oladirans to depose Defendants, James M. Wells III and Sterling Edmunds, Jr., and ordered Defendants to depose the Oladirans. See Transcript of Proceedings re: Scheduling Conference held on 08/31/09 before Judge Susan R. Bolton, Docket Nos. 44, 45.
Defendants ignored the Court’s orders and never attempted to depose the Oladirans; instead, Defendants cancelled their foreclosure plans for the Oladirans’ house and filed a non-emergency motion with the Court, seeking a protective order to stop Plaintiffs’ depositions of the two bank executives. As of the date of the first bank executive deposition, the Court had not ruled on the Defendants’ motion for a protective order; consequently, I purchase expensive last minute airline tickets and travelled to Atlanta for the properly noticed deposition of Defendant Wells III. Defendant Wells did not appear for his deposition. See Deposition no-show certificate.
After the court reporter and the videographer set up for the deposition, I called the Court from the transcriptionist’s office regarding Defendant Wells III’s failure to show up for his deposition. Judge Bolton’s JA spoke with the judge and returned with the following response, [I paraphrase]: “the judge said there is nothing she can do if they don’t show up, but you’ll know what to do.” I took this to mean that when I returned to Phoenix, I should file a motion to compel Mr. Wells’ deposition
However, upon my return to Phoenix, very weary and sleep deprived (I missed my flights twice) from the wasted trip to Atlanta, I was SHOCKED to find an e-mail waiting for me from Defendants’ counsel. Apparently, inexplicably, judge Bolton had granted the Defendants’ motion for protective order, after Defendant Wells III’s failed to show up at his deposition!!! Further, the judge cancelled the preliminary injunction evidentiary hearing and, suddenly, Suntrust was no longer interested in clearing the names of its executives from so called unfounded claims. I lost it.
In anger, I wrote the Whistleblower Pleading, calling for judge Bolton to return to her earlier neutral and honorable position. When my anger passed, I wished I had expressed my views in a less insulting manner. Consequently, I apologize from the bottom of my heart to judge Bolton, the Bar and the Bench, for my foul language. My language was caused by lack of sleep, extreme fatigue, and the utter injustice of the Bolton ruling.
However, if you read the Whistleblower Pleading and mistook it for a suicide note, you missed the train. In the Complaint and the Whistleblower Pleading:

I accused Suntrust Bank of racketeering, etc., and many good lawyers in town told me the bank’s executives would never be deposed, and that the case would go nowhere. I stupidly stuck to the notion that everyone is equal under the law, etc. Boy was I wrong. The bank cancelled depositions set by the court, cancelled a hearing set by the court, and walked away without as much as a scratch.

“Plaintiffs’ Counsel’s Motion for a Honest and Honorable Court System,” at p. 2 (Docket No. 48). No suicide letter, just a motion reminding the judge that it is within her power to be honest and honorable, which she was, just a few weeks earlier when she set the preliminary injunction hearing and ordered the parties to conduct two depositions per side. Back then, I still called the federal judiciary the Untouchables. Not anymore.
After I filed the Whistleblower Pleading to express my frustration, Judge Bolton voluntarily recused herself from the case, making it impossible for Plaintiffs to ask her why she ruled in favor of a bank that could have been exposed by the cancelled depositions and evidentiary hearing.
Currently, the Bank is trying to turn the case into a case of financial attrition. If the Bank is not stopped, and this action takes years to complete, justice is the victim because all the people that would have been helped by Plaintiffs’ counsel will most probably lose their homes without any recourse.
I’m thankful to everyone for giving me the opportunity to have my say, especially, the opportunity to explain the feelings that led to the Whistleblower Pleading. Again, I apologize to Judge Bolton, and and I look forward to moving forward with this case in front of Judge Snow.

[1] So far, I have not given an interview to reputable legal journals calling daily. However, although I offered the Arizona Attorney (through Tim Eigo) an exclusive interview, the State Bar magazine shows very little interest. ???
[2] Just a year ago, I received almost 4,000 votes from the Bar when I ran for a seat on the State Bar Board of Governors.
[3] I now represent people that, before I saw the light, I used the law to grind into dust, without remorse, at the behest of my former employers and their Fortune 500 clients.
[4] Defendants later removed the lawsuit to the Arizona District Court.

Finally. To ATL readers, we shall meet again you know where.
Earlier: Motion of the Day: “We shall meet again you know where.”

(hidden for your protection)

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