Tuesday, February 28, 2017

US v. Lindsey, No. 14-10004 (2-27-17)(Gould w/Graber & Friedland). In a significant mortgage fraud case, and really all fraud cases, the 9th affirms wire and theft convictions.

In this case, the district court precluded the defense from arguing that lender negligence and intentional disregard by the lender were defenses.  The defendant cannot mount a defense of an individual lender's lending practices, whether careless or even intentionally disregarding material statements.  The focus is on an objective test of materiality.

Can defendants argue about carelessness? Yes, but it has to be through lending standards generally applied in the industry.  The defendant can offer testimony about types of information considered, such as household income or assets, and what weight they are given.  An example that is used is marital status: a defendant can show that such status is routinely ignored. The district court can bar evidence of the particular lender and whether her practice is to ignore such status. 

The decision balances the tension between the Supreme Court's decision in Neder and its decision in Universal Health Services. In Neder, reliance on information is not an element; in Universal, materiality can be questioned.

Materiality measures the natural capacity to influence. An objective test is best. Evidence of individual lender practices is too subjective, and a prophylactic bar against lender practices is best.


The decision is here:

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/02/27/14-10004.pdf

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