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Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2023 2:35 am

Legal pleading template with hyperlinked auto-updating table of contents, bookmarks, and inline Graphviz

Postby Raellic » Mon Nov 13, 2023 2:58 am

Hi, I am a new member and I would like to introduce myself and present my work. I am a lawyer in California and until recently used Adobe InDesign for my pleadings and letters. I discovered TeX many years ago, but I only really started using it a couple weeks ago when I transitioned my desktop to Linux from Windows. Here, I used @lawlist's example from 2013 as a base, but it's been extensively modified (as you can see, I commented out and edited various sections of his template). I have a hyperlinked table of contents, proper PDF bookmarks, and inline Graphviz. This is my first effort at TeX, and I could have done better-- I also need to eliminate the hbox errors and do proper font configuration in the Graphviz code. But it's a good start, I think. Note that embedding Graphviz inline requires the -shell-escape option and compiling twice. I decided on ML Modern for the font because it has a little more weight to it than Computer Modern, which still looks great. Enjoy!

% !TeX TXS-program:compile = txs:///pdflatex/[--shell-escape]
	\newgeometry{top=.84in, bottom=.7in, left=1in, right=.5in}
	\quotingsetup{leftmargin=1in, rightmargin=1in, vskip=-1.5mm}
				\itemindent    \listparindent
				\parsep        \z@ \@plus\p@}

	%\fontfamily{cm} \selectfont
%	\fontsize{14}{0}
%	\selectfont}

	%\fontfamily{cm} \selectfont






% BEGIN left and right vertical lines, and line numbers.
	\AtPageLowerLeft	{%
	\put(\LenToUnit{\leftruleA},0){\rule{0.5pt}{\paperheight}}  % First rule on the left
	\put(\LenToUnit{\leftruleB},0){\rule{0.5pt}{\paperheight}}  % Second rule on the left
	\put(\LenToUnit{\rightrule},0){\rule{0.5pt}{\paperheight}}  % Rule on the right
	\AtPageUpperLeft {%
	\rput[tl](0,0)		{
		\tab \tab 1\\ \tab \tab 2\\ \tab \tab 3\\ \tab \tab 4\\ \tab \tab 5\\ \tab \tab 6\\ \tab \tab 7\\ \tab \tab 8\\ \tab \tab 9\\ \tab \tab 10\\ \tab \tab 11\\ \tab \tab 12\\ \tab \tab 13\\ \tab \tab 14\\ \tab \tab 15\\ \tab \tab 16\\ \tab \tab 17\\ \tab \tab 18\\ \tab \tab 19\\ \tab \tab 20\\ \tab \tab 21\\ \tab \tab 22\\ \tab \tab 23\\ \tab \tab 24\\ \tab \tab 25\\ \tab \tab 26\\ \tab \tab 27\\ \tab \tab 28
% END left and right vertical lines, and line numbers.

% BEGIN footer
\cfoot{\vspace{-5mm} {- \thepage ~-} }
% END footer

Michael D. Donaldson, Jr. \textit{pro hac vice}\\(CA \#296248)\\
20833 Lake View Dr.\\
California City, CA 93505\\
+1 (760) 977-0723\\ \newline
Andrew G. Watters (\#237990)\\
555 Twin Dolphin Dr., Ste. 135\\
Redwood City, CA 94065\\
+1 (415) 261-8527\\
\newline \newline
Attorneys for Plaintiff Rosalva Orozco




% BEGIN caption.
ROSALVA OROZCO, an individual,\newline

\tab \tab \tab Plaintiff, \newline

\tab \tab v. \newline

JOSEPH POVOD, an individual;\\
SECURED CAPITAL, LLC, a California Limited Liability Company;\\
Does 1-10,\newline

\tab \tab \tab Defendants.



Case Number: ~ 
\newline \newline
\item Fraud
\item Breach of Fiduciary Duty
\item Wire Fraud/Racketeering
\item Declaratory Relief
\item Statutory Violations of Mortgage Foreclosure Consultant Act
\item Statutory Violations of Cal. Business \& Professions Code
\item Unfair Competition
\newline \newline

% END caption.



\def\subject-matter-jurisdiction{SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION}
\def\personal-jurisdiction{{PERSONAL JURISDICTION}}
\def\general-allegations{GENERAL ALLEGATIONS}
\def\first-cause{FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION -- FRAUD}

\introduction \dotfill \pageref{introduction}\\
\parties \dotfill \pageref{parties}\\
\subject-matter-jurisdiction \dotfill \pageref{subject-matter-jurisdiction}\\
\personal-jurisdiction \dotfill \pageref{personal-jurisdiction}\\
\venue \dotfill \pageref{venue}\\
\general-allegations \dotfill \pageref{general-allegations}\\
\first-cause \dotfill \pageref{first-cause}\\
\second-cause \dotfill \pageref{second-cause}\\
\third-cause \dotfill \pageref{third-cause}\\
\fourth-cause \dotfill \pageref{fourth-cause}\\
\fifth-cause \dotfill \pageref{fifth-cause}\\
\sixth-cause \dotfill \pageref{sixth-cause}\\
\seventh-cause \dotfill \pageref{seventh-cause}\\
\prayer \dotfill \pageref{prayer}\\
\verification \dotfill \pageref{verification}\\


\item The purpose of this action is to rectify the bilking of victims of an organized criminal enterprise that has defrauded numerous homeowners out of millions of dollars, and also has engaged in unauthorized practice of law plus various other violations of law.
\item In summary, the victim homeowner was attempted to be cheated out of her surplus foreclosure proceeds of approximately \$500,000.00 by a group that was nominally doing business as ``mortgage foreclosure consultants," complete with a sham, illegal ``services agreement" with a Limited Liability Company that masqueraded as an attorney-owned enterprise.  When the victim attempted to assert her rights, the principals of the LLC began (and continue) to threaten and harass her selected attorney representatives, while also refunding her money so as to avoid this action.  There are victims whose funds were not returned, and this action seeks to remedy this illegal conduct for the benefit of Plaintiff and others.  The law firm that the LLC was using also improperly offered its IOLTA account to hold the victim's foreclosure proceeds, ultimately distributing the proceeds to Plaintiff solely due to the intervention of her counsel.  The fees that would have been charged to the homeowner shock the conscience and reflect a clearly illegal and fraudulent swindle that implicates a variety of different statutes.  As the operation is interstate (California to New Mexico and beyond), only the District Court is in a position to right these wrongs with a California-specific injunction and/or a nationwide injunction under the RICO statute and various state statutes.
\item This complaint seeks treble damages, equitable relief, restitution, and a permanent injunction against Defendants, as well as attorney fees.


\item Plaintiff Rosalva Orozco (``Plaintiff'' or ``Ms. Orozco'') is a former homeowner residing in this state.  Until recently, she owned the real property at 2915 Sargent Ave., San Pablo, CA 94806 in Contra Costa County, California, which is within this District.  The subject property was a single family residence that was lost to foreclosure in September 2023, Trustee Sale no. 23-20032-SP-CA.
\item Defendant Joseph Povod (``Defendant'' or ``Mr. Povod'') is nominally an entrepreneur who owns Defendant Secured Capital, LLC.  Defendant Povod resides in this state.  He is not a licensed attorney and has never been authorized to practice law.
\item Defendant Secured Capital, LLC ((``Secured Capital'') is a California Limited Liability Company that is registered to do business in this state.  However, its Manager is a Limited Liability Company in New Mexico whose principals are unknown.


\item This Court has subject matter jurisdiction predicated on a Federal Question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. sec. 1331.  The statute conferring original jurisdiction of this Federal Question on the District Court is 18 U.S.C. sec. 1962(c), which is a component of the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statutes.  In addition, this Court has Supplemental Jurisdiction over the transactionally related state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. sec. 1367(a).  As this is not an action predicated on Diversity of Citizenship, this Court ``shall" have Supplemental Jurisdiction.


\item This Court has personal jurisdiction over all Defendants, who are residents of this state, have consented to jurisdiction, are present, and/or who have sufficient minimum contacts with the state.  As to Defendant Povod, he is a natural person residing in this state who has consented to personal jurisdiction as the agent for service of process for his company, Defendant Secured Capital, LLC.


\item Venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. sec. 1391(b)(1)-(2) as well as Cal. Code of Civil Procedure sec. 392(a)(1), in that the underlying real property is located in this District; a substantial portion of the acts and omissions arose here; and venue is also proper in this District because the subject contract was entered into in this District by Plaintiff and broken here by Defendants.  The contract purports to require arbitration in Los Angeles, however, Defendants \textit{never signed the contract} and the contract is also \textit{void} because it is illegal.  Additionally, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. sec. 1391(b)(3), Defendants are all subject to personal jurisdiction in this state and there is no more appropriate District in which to bring the action considering that Plaintiff and her property are located here and are the victims of a sophisticated swindle that is part of a larger interstate criminal enterprise.  Intradistrict assignment is requested in the San Francisco division for the convenience of Plaintiff and her counsel, although the Oakland Division would ordinarily bear geographic responsibility for this action.


\item This action deals with the murky world of ``mortgage foreclosure consultants.'' Essentially, a mortgage foreclosure consultant is someone who is \textit{supposed to} help save homes from foreclosure by handling unpleasant financial negotiations with banks and facilitating the restructuring of home loans.  In California, this is a regulated occupation under the Mortgage Foreclosure Consultants Act, Civil Code sec. 2945, \textit{et seq.}
\item This action is not intended to diminish the beneficial role that some mortgage foreclosure consultants play in sometimes preventing foreclosures through restructuring loans, arranging payment plans, and other financial arrangements that actually benefit the homeowner.
\item Unfortunately, as happened here, many mortgage foreclosure consultants have succumbed to unlawful greed and have (1) misrepresented their roles and ability to recover property, (2) fraudulently signed documents under powers of attorney, (3) charged unlawful fees, and (4) outright stolen surplus proceeds.  These scams are enabled by unscrupulous, unethical attorneys who lend their law licenses to the main wrongdoers and turn a blind eye to the illegal and morally wrong conduct of their clients.
\item In the reality demonstrated by this case, mortgage foreclosure consultants who are supposed to help and who claim to actually help have essentially the following process of doing business:
		fontname="Computer Modern"
		label="Typical Mortgage Foreclosure Consultant Workflow\noexpand\n"
      	node [fontname="Computer Modern" fontsize="12pt" shape=box margin="0.1" width="4.75"]
      	a [xlabel="1 " label="Identify Foreclosed Property Having Surplus Proceeds"]
      	b [xlabel="2 " label="Contact Homeowner Offering Consulting Services"]
      	c [xlabel="3 " label="Represent That Recovery of Property is Possible"]
      	d [xlabel="4 " label="Sign Assignment and Power of Attorney with Homeowner"]
      	e [xlabel="5 " label="Act as Homeowner's Attorney-in-Fact Signing Instruments"]
      	f [xlabel="6 " label="Arrange Deposit of Surplus Proceeds to Own Account"]
      	g [xlabel="7 " label="Misappropriate Fees and/or Surplus Proceeds"]
      	a -> b -> c -> d -> e -> f -> g;
\item None of these steps is actually \textit{necessary or helpful} in a situation where the \textit{home is already lost to foreclosure}, because the buyer is normally a bona fide purchaser against whom the former owner has no rights.  Thus, there is no ``negotiation" with anyone, and the sole purpose of this type of transaction is to enrich the foreclosure consultant and their attorney enablers \textit{against the interests of their client}.  In other words, outright theft and embezzlement.
\item In this case, Plaintiff lost her home to foreclosure on September 7, 2023.  On October 20, 2023, a month and a half \textit{after} the foreclosure sale, she signed a contract attached as \textbf{Exhibit 1} that was provided by Defendants, who were purporting to provide services in the area of mortgage foreclosure consulting.  Defendants did not even sign their own contract.  In the contract and in email messages and calls shortly before the contract was signed (i.e., mid-October 2023), Defendant Povod affirmatively represented that he and his company, Defendant Secured Capital, could and would help Plaintiff recover her property and/or its surplus proceeds.  Plaintiff believed these representations and had no way to discover their falsity in the exercise of reasonable diligence.
\item The contract was illegal because it was a legal services agreement offering legal services for which an attorney license is required by the Business and Professions Code, but which was not offered by an attorney.  As such, the agreement violated Business and Professions Code sec. 6125-6126.  In addition, the agreement violated the law prohibiting a non-attorney from charging a contingent fee in a legal matter.  Finally, the agreement purported to require Plaintiff to agree to use a non-party law firm's IOLTA account, in violation of the law requiring only the responsible attorney's IOLTA account to be used to hold client funds, which also violated the Rules of Professional Conduct against commingling.  Additionally, the agreement purported to assign Defendants the right to recover Plaintiff's money, which violated the law against self-dealing by legal representatives.  Of course Defendants also broke the law requiring independent legal advice for a contract in which a client is giving up rights to their legal representative.
\item In any case, soon after the contract was signed by Plaintiff, Defendants also procured a notarized general power of attorney from Plaintiff, which they falsely represented was necessary to ``negotiate" with the bank, even though the bank had long since exited the relationship with Plaintiff and had no interest in negotiating.
\item Instead of negotiating with the bank, the true purpose of the power of attorney was for Defendants to arrange for the disposition of Plaintiff's surplus foreclosure proceeds to accounts under Defendants' control.  Defendants executed various instruments that are presently unknown, but which they have in their possession, arranging for the disposition of Plaintiff's proceeds to Defendants' selected attorney's IOLTA account and others.
\item Defendants embezzled the surplus proceeds.
\item After embezzling the proceeds, Defendants essentially jettisoned Plaintiff's case and said nothing further, leading Plaintiff to a state of despair.  Plaintiff turned to counsel (Mr. Donaldson) for help.  Mr. Donaldson sent a letter to Defendants terminating the arrangement, which prompted Defendants to send him and his staff a barrage of threatening, harassing text messages and emails, samples of which are attached as \textbf{Exhibit 2}.  Defendants also sought to avoid this action by refunding Plaintiff's money.  As Mr. Donaldson is not admitted in this District, he seeks \textit{pro hac vice} admission while his application for admission is pending, and he has associated in Mr. Watters (admitted in this District) as counsel for Plaintiff.  This action followed.

\phantomsection{\first-cause}\\(Against all Defendants)\\

\item Through the foregoing course of conduct, Defendants committed fraud by (1) making false statements of material fact relating to the possibility and likelihood of recovery of Plaintiff's property that they knew to be false; (2) making false, illegal promises in their sham contract that they had no intention of performing; (3) on which Plaintiff relied to her detriment and with no knowledge of the falsity; (4) resulting in damage to Plaintiff, i.e., the loss of her surplus proceeds and the fees paid to Defendants.
\item Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for special damages and punitive damages.

\phantomsection{\second-cause}\\(Against all Defendants)\\

\item Through the foregoing course of conduct, Defendants undertook fiduciary duties to Plaintiff as her attorney, attorney-in-fact, and/or trustee.
\item Defendants violated those duties by (1) signing documents as attorneys-in-fact that were against their principal's interests without informed consent; (2) abusing the power of attorney to enrich themselves; and (3) embezzling portions of the surplus proceeds.
\item Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for special damages and punitive damages.

\phantomsection{\third-cause}\\(Against all Defendants)\\

\textbf{The Unlawful Enterprise}
\item 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c) makes it ``unlawful for any person
employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the
activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to
conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct
of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering
\item Defendants’ foregoing course of conduct constitutes a “pattern”
of racketeering activity," 18 U.S.C. § 1961(5), in that Defendants have frequently transmitted via interstate wire (California-New Mexico-California and New Mexico-California-New Mexico) fraudulent documents and email messages in which they (1) commit wire fraud as indicated, and (2) control their criminal enterprise as indicated.

\textbf{The Interstate Nature of the Enterprise}
\item Defendant Security Capital, LLC is registered in California as a Limited Liability Company, but its Manager is a New Mexico LLC.  The activities of the enterprise are clearly interstate and only the Federal courts have sufficient power to mitigate the unlawful acts.

\textbf{The Wire Fraud}
\item Through the foregoing course of conduct, Defendants (1) committed wire fraud by generating a swindle through the use of interstate wires, in violation of 18 U.S.C. sec. 1343; and (2) sought to collect unlawful debt, namely, the consulting fees that were never owed by Plaintiff.  When confronted, Defendants folded only because they knew that a consumer who ``lawyers up" is more dangerous than a normal consumer, and more likely to assert their rights.  By paying back the funds, Defendants sought to lose the battle and win the war, so to speak, by pacifying the victim who was most likely to fight back.
\item Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for treble damages, attorney fees, and a permanent injunction.

\phantomsection{\fourth-cause}\\(Against all Defendants)\\

\item Through the foregoing course of conduct, Defendants caused there to be a controversy under state law over the rights and duties of the parties.
\item Wherefore, Plaintiff seeks a judicial decree stating that the Defendants are not entitled to any portion of the proceeds, that the contract is rescinded, and that Plaintiff owes them nothing; plus incidental damages.

\phantomsection{\fifth-cause}\\(Against all Defendants)\\

\item Through the foregoing course of conduct, Defendants breached various provisions of the Mortgage Foreclosure Consultants Act.
\item It is illegal to operate as a mortgage foreclosure consultant--that is, to perform any foreclosure-consultant service--in California unless the foreclosure consultant has obtained a Certificate of Registration as a Mortgage Foreclosure Consultant from the Department of Justice. In order to obtain the required Certificate of Registration, a foreclosure consultant must complete the application and provide all required documents to the Department of Justice, and also file a bond of \$100,000.00.  Defendants did not meet any of these requirements.
\item The course of conduct violated Civil Code sec. 2945 \textit{et seq.}, which prohibit the types of activities and promises engaged in and made here.
\item Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for a permanent injunction in the form attached as \textbf{Exhibit 3.}

\phantomsection{\sixth-cause}\\(Against all Defendants)\\

\item Through the foregoing course of conduct, Defendants held themselves out as attorneys when they are not licensed to practice law and are, in the case of the LLC, prohibited from practicing law.
\item The course of conduct violated Business and Professions Code sec. 6125 and 6126, which prohibit unauthorized practice of law.
\item Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for a permanent injunction in the form attached as Exhibit 3.

\phantomsection{\seventh-cause}\\(Against all Defendants)\\

\item Through the foregoing course of conduct, Defendants violated the indicated provisions of the Mortgage Foreclosure Consultants Act as well as the State Bar Act, both of which are predicate violations of Business and Professions Code sec. 17200 prohibiting unfair competition.
\item Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for restitution and a permanent injunction enjoining the unlawful business practices in the form attached as Exhibit 3.


\item Special damages of not less than one dollar (\$1.00), plus treble damages.
\item Punitive damages according to proof.
\item Attorney fees and costs.
\item A decree stating the services agreement is rescinded based on fraud, and awarding incidental damages to Plaintiff.
\item Permanent injunctive relief in the form attached as Exhibit 3.


Date: ~ \today \hspace*{30mm} By: ~ \makebox[3in]{\hrulefill}
\hspace*{92mm}Andrew G. Watters, Esq.\newline
\hspace*{92mm}Attorney for Plaintiff Rosalva Orozco

I, Rosalva Orozco, certify:

\tab I am over the age of eighteen years and a party to the within action.

\tab I have read the foregoing Verified Complaint and the foregoing facts are true of my own personal knowledge, except as to those items stated on information and belief, in which case I believe them to be true.

\tab I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California \\that the foregoing is true and correct.
\newline \newline

Date: ~ \today \hspace*{30mm} By: ~ \makebox[3in]{\hrulefill}
\hspace*{92mm}Rosalva Orozco\newline


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