This is my first post in a series titled, “Foreclosure Fighters”. I feel it’s necessary to recognize the people that are fighting for homeowners and dedicating their lives to consumer activism. These are the “real” heroes that are fighting on American soil for justice, equality and the rights of everyone.

April Charney is one of those rare fighters. A woman that does her work with passion and the fire to fuel the need to help the less fortunate. Her endeavors are not driven by greed but by her heart and compassion to help people who need proper legal representation but cannot afford it.

The facts are that there not many practicing attorneys who do what’s “right” and pursue an area of law where there is a “need”. There are many more that just do what is “profitable” and neglect what is needed in our society.

April lives her life by doing what is “right” and she adamantly despises the sharks that troll this business out of greed and profit!

I have spoken to her on a couple of occasions and was amazed at how passionate she was about what she was doing. Her fire is contagious and her will unbreakable.

She is definitely a woman who walks the talk and carries a big stick that will crush those who defy consumer laws. I certainly would not EVER want to be on the opposing side of Aprils in the court room.

Ms. Charney is an inspiration for me and I hope others.

She is a proud member of NACA – National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) is a nationwide organization of more than 1000 attorneys who represent and have represented hundreds of thousands of consumers victimized by fraudulent, abusive and predatory business practices a non-profit association of attorneys and consumer advocates committed to representing customers’ interests. Our members are private and public sector attorneys, legal services attorneys, law professors and law students whose primary focus is the protection and representation of consumers. NACA also has a charitable and educational fund incorporated under §501 (c) (3). 

Ms. Charney is also a member of NACBA – Ensure that the voices of consumer debtors and their attorneys are heard in the halls of Congress, the Judiciary and other arenas affecting consumer debtors; and to help consumer bankruptcy attorneys represent their clients more effectively. Before NACBA, consumer debtors and their attorneys had no choice but to act alone when dealing with creditors, judges and lawmakers.

Bio from the NACBA (The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys) website:

April Charney is a consumer lawyer with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid since 2004. Being one of more than 30 attorneys with JALA gives April the opportunity to pursue consumer law in many directions. She advocates against all manner of predatory consumer practices. During 2005-2006 the Consumer Unit of JALA defended over $10 million dollars worth of homes from foreclosure in Northeast Florida. April’s work includes legislative and community outreach, and advocacy, financial literacy education, trial practice and litigation, class actions and appeals in state and federal court…and bankruptcy.

Throughout her career defending the poor in thousand of cases, April served more than her fair share of colorful clients. In Arkansas, while in private practice many clients paid her fees with money carried in their boots, after digging up the buried funds from their land. April says her best success with jury trials was during pregnancy. And once, she tried a case for an unrepresented litigant at the court’s request, while her two year old son sat on the judge’s lap. A fair trade.

Ms. Charney was recently featured in Forbes Magazine called Paper Chase, here are some excerpts:

In 2006 Michelle Tucker, a 35-year-old UPS package processor and mother of two, was hit by a one-two punch. Her husband had surgery on his shoulder and was forced to stop taking construction jobs around town that helped pay the bills. Worse, the adjustable mortgage with the low teaser rate she took out on her three-bedroom home in Jacksonville, Fla. adjusted, now to 10%, nearly double her old rate. She defaulted. Soon after, the lender filed suit to foreclose.

Then a stroke of luck: A Legal Aid lawyer, April Charney, got the foreclosure withdrawn after discovering that the company that filed to foreclose didn’t own the Tuckers’ loan. The owner was actually a securitized pool of loans overseen by Deutsche Bank (nyse: DBnews people ). And Charney has documents showing the pool bought the loan after the Tuckers defaulted–an illegal purchase for most pools, including this one. That means a court might refuse to recognize it owns the loan. Charney is arguing it should do just that.

“I buy time, then get lenders to cut interest rates and fees,” says Charney, who claims she’s stopped dozens of foreclosures over ownership issues. Other lawyers are making similar moves in Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Kansas and Washington State–often forcing sloppy lenders to offer generous terms to avoid litigation.

Charney, the Tuckers’ lawyer in Jacksonville, stumbled upon the industry’s paperwork problem two years ago after noticing that nearly all lenders seeking to foreclose against clients were filing “affidavits of lost notes”–essentially requests that a judge assume they own the loan since no proof is at hand. She eventually took on a prominent foreclosure filer–Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, a Vienna, Va. company whose name is on 30% of the mortgages in county clerk offices around the country. Earlier this year mers, which represented banks and pools in at least 20,000 foreclosure filings in Florida since 2001, suspended lenders from filing in its name.

From the JAX Legal Aid Website:
Ms. Charney graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1980 and is admitted to practice law in Florida and in Arkansas. Ms. Charney worked with other legal service programs in Florida and Arkansas, and also maintained a private practice prior to joining JALA’s staff. Ms. Charney is a Senior Attorney in JALA’s Consumer Unit the Predator Free Zone,and is located in JALA’s main office in downtown Jacksonville.

If you live in the Jacksonville area, you may be in the best luck of your homeowner life because you may have access to the best predatory lending and foreclosure defense attorneys in America.

Keep up the great work April!