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Friday, May 28, 2010

Professor Peter Erlinder Arrested in Rwanda

Forgive me -- I know this does not relate to property law, but I hope you'll agree it's worth the space here under the circumstances. 

William Mitchell College of Law Professor Peter Erlinder, my colleague, is passionately devoted to the protections of due process.  He has devoted his professional life to representing, pro bono, targets of government prosecution, including the least admirable criminal defendants -- the ones no one else will represent.  Without lawyers willing to do that, of course, there can be no due process.  He is currently the lead defense counsel for several Rwandan genocide suspects being tried at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

He was arrested in Rwanda today -- apparently on charges of "genocide ideology," by which is apparently meant that he has denied the Rwandan genocide.  Of course, when a zealous advocate represents defendants accused of genocide, he might be expected to deny that what occurred was genocide.  He had entered the country to help defend a current candidate for President in the country's upcoming elections, who had also been arrested for "genocide ideology."  The Rwandan government has also recently barred Human Rights Watch from the country, closed independent newspapers and arrested opposition supporters.

The New York Times and the National Lawyers' Guild, of which Peter is former president, report that he is being interrogated in Rwandan police headquarters. 

It is precisely because we so revile defendants accused of such horrific acts that the work of advocates like Peter Erlinder is so necessary.  Please consider contacting your representatives, asking them to pressure the Rwandan government to release Peter.

Mark Edwards

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May 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (29) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

White on Emotion and Strategic Default

Brent T. White (Arizona) has posted Take This House and Shove It: The Emotional Drivers of Strategic Default on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

An increasingly influential view is that strategic defaulters make a rational choice to default because they have substantial negative equity. This article, which is based upon the personal accounts of over 350 individuals, argues that this depiction of strategic defaulters as rational actors is woefully incomplete. Negative equity alone does not drive many strategic defaulters’ decisions to intentionally stop paying their mortgages. Rather, their decisions to default are driven primarily by emotion – typically anxiety and hopelessness about their financial futures and anger at their lenders’ and the government’s unwillingness to help. If the government and the mortgage industry wish to stem the tide of strategic default, they must address these emotions.

Because emotions are primary, however, principal reductions may not be necessary. Rather, many underwater homeowners simply need some reason to feel less apprehensive about the financial consequences of continuing to pay their underwater mortgages. One possible way to provide this comfort would be a “rent-based loan program,” allowing underwater homeowners to refinance their entire balances to an interest rate that would bring their mortgage payment in line with the rental cost of a comparable home. Indeed, a rent-based approach would relieve many underwater homeowners’ financial anxiety and likely be enough alone to stem the tide of strategic default.

Ben Barros

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May 23, 2010 in Mortgage Crisis, Real Estate Finance, Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)