Attorney Michael Pines fights foreclosures for his evicted clients in a very unconventional way. He advises his evicted clients to hire a locksmith and enter the vacant house illegally. The clients then squat in their homes while he defends their legal right to possession.
The lawyer admits to breaking into homes at least a half-dozen times on behalf of clients. And he’s gotten into plenty of trouble for his advice: Pines has been fined by a San Diego judge, arrested in Newport Beach, Calif., and threatened with contempt of court -- and jail -- in Ventura County, Calif.
But Pines says violating the law is necessary to force courts to examine how banks are doing business with distressed home owners.
Pines recently voiced his approach at entering the foreclosed home in open court at a hearing for his clients Jim and Danielle Earl, who had been evicted from their six-bedroom home.
I'm going back there, Pines declared in court. And I hope I get arrested.
George Lefcoe, a USC real estate law professor, says Pines violates professional ethics in advising clients to break the law. What (his clients) are doing on his advice is not only going to prove costly to them and completely futile, it could lead to dangerous altercations with the true owners and law enforcement officers, Lefcoe told the Chicago Tribune in an article about Pines.
Pines has been a lawyer for more than 30 years and has had his own foreclosure troubles. At least six of his properties are in foreclosure, and he owes banks more than $2 million. He filed for bankruptcy protection.
I filed bankruptcy myself because I stopped paying, Pines said. I followed my own advice. I said I'm not going to let the banks steal from me.
Source: “Foreclosure Hero or Villain? Attorney Who Was Baseball Star’s Lawyer Will Break Into Homes for Desperate Clients,” The Chicago Tribune (Jan. 31, 2011) [Online story not available.]