An Interview with Foreclosure Fighter Michael T. Pines

by on June 23, 2012 · 10 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Media, Organizing, San Diego

By Carolyn Zellander / Special to San Diego Free Press

Following is an interview Michael T. Pines, a Carlsbad attorney who made national headlines for advising clients to “occupy” foreclosed homes. Back in 2011 he was charged with 18 counts of misconduct stemming from his representation of the former owners of three foreclosed homes — in Carlsbad, Newport Beach and Simi Valley. He was released from jail three months ago and will probably be booted out of the legal profession according to a decision by a State Bar Court judge public Thursday. Although he has been scorned by the legal profession, he is a hero to many activists fighting to save homeowners from the perils of the foreclosure crisis.

Gloria Steinem said “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off”. Michael T. Pines was one of the first few attorneys with in-depth knowledge of the truth surrounding the near collapse of our economy caused by Wall Street. Michael has been painted (in some circles) as that crazy, foreclosure lawyer who needs to be in a mental institution, or worse, jail, especially by those in powerful positions. I personally believe Michael T. Pines is a true humanitarian who is now coming into his own. As a student of activism, I am learning that anger is potent, but yes, we have to use it wisely.

If we have (and keep) the moral high ground, it is compelling and people will join, and if we don’t we will look like a cranky wing nut. What follows is a quote by Malcolm X and is fitting to describe the space of Michael T. Pines: “Integrity gives deep meaning and moral force to anger. We should never come off as mad-for-the-sake-of- being-mad, but rather reluctantly, genuinely angry in the face of outrageous circumstances”. Of course less informed persons would view this as “crazy“.

As a member of the San Diego Foreclosure Strategists Group (SDFSG), I first met Michael at a planning meeting on March 1st, 2012. The primary objectives of SDFSG include educating stressed homeowners and finding solutions and/or alternatives to foreclosure. Michael was an invited guest of a planning session for an action directed toward District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Several homeowners with documented incidences of fraud, which when presented to the District Attorney‘s office, had fallen on deaf ears. We did carry out that action at a public function. The action was effective, but Michael paid a price, two days later, he was in jail again. Violation of bail, I believe was the reason given.

I researched and read the colorful, conflicting articles, blogs and other stories on the Internet. I believe he has been googled as much as President Obama and is just as controversial (at least initially). As I read …I got it! Michael T. Pines is unique in that he has an intelligent grasp on the broken laws, Fraud and the Wall Street players involved in the Financial Rape of our Country. He is equally passionate about getting justice for the countless victims of this financial terrorism.

Micael Pines being arrested

After three months of incarceration, Michael was recently released from jail. We had posted petitions, wrote letters and called the District Attorney’s office pleading for Michael’s release. Some were reluctant to sign the petition in light of the negative propaganda; admittedly, no one is perfect or without faults, however there is a preponderance of evidence pointing to the overall good intentions of the man we know as Michael T. Pines.

I asked Michael if he would sit down for a no holds barred interview with me…I wanted to understand what drives this man, who could be enjoying a totally different lifestyle. Also, I wanted him to share what he wants people to know about him and his work. This what happened:

Carolyn: Michael, you have been accused of breaking the law by directing foreclosed owners to re-enter their homes. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, said “An individual who breaks a law that his conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” What are your feelings about this?

Michael: I have never broken the law, it’s the law that’s broken. Analogy: A client comes to me as an attorney and tells me her car has been stolen and forged documents are going to be used to resell it. As an attorney my advice to her must be to call the police, get a locksmith, and go get the car. It is no different with a house except that the police arrest the true owner because they have been brainwashed by the banks into believing the homeowners are the criminals for not paying their mortgages. If the client does not try to retake the home while the legal case is pending it will be sold to another innocent victim. When the homeowner eventually wins in court, they will have to evict the new owner and the cycle of fraud continues. There have already been many cases of homeowners winning in court after years of litigation and then having to go back and evict an innocent new homeowner to get their house back. I recall several in the news because it was a military family that bought the house.

Carolyn: I read your law license has been suspended. How do you plan to sustain yourself in the immediate future?

Michael: Three things: 1) Give seminars. I can do this because it is general legal information and not case specific so it is not practicing law. 2) Consult with attorneys on cases as an expert. 3) Work with real estate brokers who want to perform transactions legally. 4) Do as much charitable work in the area of foreclosure fraud as I can.

Carolyn: Michael, you know I am a big fan and want to see you continue this fight for justice, but honestly, after all the arrests, jail time and bad press, what motivates you to continue?

Michael: It is a wonderful thing when you like your work and are doing good. I of course need to make a living and enjoy fighting for justice.

Carolyn: What happened initially? How did you get so emotionally involved as to risk your financial welfare and safety, for others?

Michael: I got so angry and upset at the injustice that I lost some self control. Although what I did was legal, attorneys should stay in their office and in court. Over 7000 “Occupiers” have been arrested to date. There are thousands of little guys who were in the real estate industry that are being wrongfully prosecuted because of what the “Banksters” did, and are still doing, with the full support of our government.

Carolyn: Michael, I sent you an email in jail stating that I believe you will be vindicated and recognized as the true humanitarian you are. What do you want the history books to reflect about you?

Michael: I am flattered and a little embarrassed as the suggestion that I am important enough for someone to even suggest I might be in the history books. I would like them to say I did what was morally right and legal, but it took a long time for people to realize this and I paid an enormous personal price.

Carolyn: What is the one thing you most want people to understand about you?

Michael: That I would never do anything illegal, unethical, or unjust, and never have.

Carolyn: I understand you cannot and do not provide legal advice in your role as Mortgage/Real Estate Consultant. However, for those wanting to contact you for a consult, I would like to provide an email address for you. Will you provide that?

Michael: Yes. However, I only work directly with attorneys. If people don’t have an attorney I can refer them to several I work with.

Carolyn Zellander is a Council Organizer for MoveOn.Org, Member of San Diego Foreclosure Strategists Group and Retired IT Professional.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Carl Collicott June 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm

There is only one form of Foreclosure that does not concern state property, and it has to be in a Court of Law. see Code of Civil Procedure Sect. 726. listed below. The notion that a mortgage contract could eliminate an entire branch of our form of government (judical) is insane.
No such beast ever walked the Earth


§ 2953. Waiver by borrower of statutory rights; validity; exceptions
Any express agreement made or entered into by a borrower at the time of or in connection with the making of or renewing of any loan secured by a deed of trust, mortgage or other instrument creating a lien on real property, whereby the borrower agrees to waive the rights, or privileges conferred upon him by Sections 2924, 2924b, 2924c of the Civil Code or by Sections 580a or 726 of the Code of Civil Procedure, shall be void and of no effect. The provisions of this section shall’ not apply to any deed of trust, mortgage or other liens given to secure the payment of bonds or other evidences of indebtedness authorized or permitted to be issued by the Commissioner of Corporations, or is made by a public utility subject to the provisions of the Public Utilities Act. (Added by Stats.1937, c. 564, p. 1605, § 1. Amended by Stats.1939, c. 585, p. 1991, § 1; Stats.1941, c. 599, p. 1983, § 1.)

§ 726. Form of action; procedure
Form of action; judgment.
There can be but one form of action for the recovery of any debt, or the enforcement of any right secured by mortgage upon real property, which action must be in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. In such action the court may, by its judgment, direct the sale of the encumbered property (or so much thereof as may be necessary), and the application of the proceeds of the sale to the pay-ment of the costs of court, ……
The court may, by its judgment, or at any time after judgment, appoint a commissioner to sell the encumbered property. It must re¬quire of him an undertaking in an amount fixed by the court, with sufficient sureties,- to be approved by the judge, to the effect that the commissioner will faithfully perform the duties of his office accord¬ing to law. Before entering upon the discharge of his duties he must file such undertaking, so approved, together with his oath that he will faithfully perform the duties of his office.
Decree; deficiencies; referees.
The decree for the foreclosure of a mortgage or deed of trust se¬cured by real property or any interest therein shall declare the amount of the indebtedness or right so secured and, unless judgment for any deficiency there may be between the sale price and the amount due with costs is waived by the judgment creditor or a defi¬ciency judgment is prohibited by Section 580b, shall determine the personal liability of any defendant for the payment of the debt se¬cured by such mortgage or deed of trust and shall name such defend¬ants against whom a deficiency judgment may be ordered following the proceedings hereinafter prescribed. In the event of such waiver, or if the prohibition of Section 580b is applicable the decree shall so declare and there shall be no judgment for a deficiency. In the event that a deficiency is not waived or prohibited and it is decreed that any defendant is personally liable for such debt, then upon application of the plaintiff filed at any time within three months of the date of the foreclosure sale and after a hearing thereon at which the court shall take evidence and at which hearing either party may present owners or their trus¬tees.


Senka June 25, 2012 at 6:51 am

Thank you for this wonderful and inspiring story! If we have more attorneys like Mr. Pines the current fraudclosure situation will change dramatically. It takes time for people to wake up, but once they hit the wall, the floodgates will open and nobody will be able to hide truth any longer. The banksters together with our government brought this country on its knees and we, the people are left to fight on our own…never stop fighting, never stop demanding the standing from a bank – they don’t own our mortgages!
Here is another hero – I call him People’s Hero – MA Essex County Register of Deeds – John O’Brien:


Senka June 25, 2012 at 7:46 am

Also, does she need to be arrested too?!


Terry Graham June 25, 2012 at 9:28 am

Gee, I sure wish Michael T. Pines would pay a judgment the court entered against him on February 10, 2012, after I had to sue him (Case # 1110932) in Marin County Superior Court for failing to pay for services I provided to him last July at his written request. Terry Graham


anon July 2, 2012 at 8:24 pm

And I wish he would pay me the $30+k he owes me for work I did for him in 2009 (I also have a judgment against him via the State Labor Commissioner). “I have never done anything unethical…” uh huh. This guy is no hero. He is a self-serving, low-life man who took advantage of clients and employees.


RobairVictor August 9, 2012 at 10:32 am

~it is sad to see such a fine usConstutional abiding Lawyer like Michael T.Pines being subjected to such a nasty corrupt Judicial-system as exists in ‘Amerika’ today. The Bank’sters are ruling ruthlessly over the naive homeowners now just as they did in 1930’s, –it’s the same old Rothschild owned arch-criminal Fed.Reserve & IRS-henchmen running their fractional-banking scheme wherein they float you a loan based upon your good-credit and signature, –printing-out phony-money by fraudulently endorsing the backside of your deed-Note, –whereby the homebuyer essentially funds their own loan, without the Bank’sters ever having vested a dime, –yet criminally allege you owe them payments on a Mortgage. This Rothschild-scheme has made the greed-driven Bank’sters wealthy beyond avarice, -while having destroyed the dreams of some 100+Million families. Only a few stalwart patriots such as dr.RonPaul and this Atty.-Mike Pines are brave enough to dare combat the criminal establishment and Robber-barons that we shamefully allow to terrorize our nation and the world via their economic-tyranny.. ~R.Victor


rene October 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm

thank you for this information. We are fighting hard to get the help and here in Orange County the first case by jury trial against a fraudulent foreclosure is winding down. Don Distephano is represented by Steven Young of Costa Mesa California and it has been wonderful to watch. The fraudsters are being held accountable and the truth is prevailing! The chill buyer is being held accountable, the illegal foreclosure is being held to financial accountability and Californians NEED TO LISTEN TO THE CASE AND TAKE HEED, we homeowners will prevail! Judges are beginning to understand that FRAUD is FRAUD and they HAVE to hold the crooks accountable! Almost all the REO’s were chill buyer situations, THAT IN ITSELF is illegal! AND up to 3x’s the financial fees associated with settlement than many other charges. THANK YOU RobairVictor! your information is great!


Maltese1 August 10, 2012 at 11:38 am

OB Rag: It’s disturbing on so many levels to see you only let the misinformed supporters of Pines make comments and screen out all other ACCURATE, TRUE comments. So the question is: Why?
Choosing to be grossly one-sided and not open for dispute or not open to report the accurate facts is highly concerning. You are helping Michael T. Pines and his supporters snow the public and continue to steal from the public by only publishing false, inaccurate, articles and comments. So again, the question is: Why?

Perhaps your staff should do a little research on the subject of your stories, not only to check them for FACTS and ACCURACY, but before you screen out the comments from the informed normal people who know the the true facts, not the kool-aid guzzlers of Pines’ BS.


rene October 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I tried to post information about the lawsuit Mr. Pines did not follow through with, he actually let down the plantiffs by not responding to the defendents answers to the complaints and therefore it was dismissed. The lawsuit was a good one and we are wondering why he dropped the ball and no one in this article is talking about it? the lawsuit is EXACTLY what should be filed, and now 15 USC 7003 needs including as well as the information regarding those with Chill Buyers.


Maltese1 January 28, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Michael T. Pines is DISBARRED.

State Bar of California Disbarment Information:

November 16, 2012

MICHAEL T. PINES [#77771], 60, of Carlsbad was disbarred Nov. 16, 2012, and was ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court.

Pines failed to respond to charges of 18 counts of misconduct and his default was entered in August 2011. Under rule 5.85 of the bar’s Rules of Procedure, any attorney who does not respond to disciplinary charges and makes no move to set aside his default within 180 days is subject to disbarment.

The charges were deemed admitted when Pines’ default was entered. They involved his representation of three clients who lost their homes to foreclosure and advising them to retake their former homes by forcibly breaking into them after new owners had taken title.

In the first matter, Pines was charged with committing an act of moral turpitude by threatening the new property owner of his client’s former property, refusing to leave the property when instructed and violating the terms of temporary restraining orders. He failed to perform legal services competently by advising his clients they had a legal right to possess certain property when they did not. He also said the clients had the right to enter their former homes. Pines also made criminal threats and failed to provide respect to the courts.

In the second matter, he was charged with moral turpitude for advising his client to break into his former residence, trespass and aid and abet vandalism.

He helped other clients move back into their former homes, exposing them to civil and criminal liabilities by encouraging them to trespass, ignore police warnings and vandalize property. Pines also was charged with trespass and contempt of court.

Pines was placed on interim suspension last year following a conviction for misdemeanor attempted burglary.


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