Tiny Violins: The “Homeless Halloween Firm” is out of Business

Feel that? That’s the sweet caress of schadenfreude.

Remember the foreclosure law firm that celebrated Halloween by dressing up like the homeless and mocking those whose homes had been foreclosed?

Well, looks like the firm, Steven J. Baum P.C., has had to shut its doors, and the firm’s named partner blames New York Times reporter Joe Nocera for the firm’s downfall.

From Talking Points Memo:

Steven J. Baum P.C., a firm that specialized in foreclosures, is closing its doors a month after photos showing employees celebrating Halloween by dressing like the homeless surfaced in a New York Times column by Joe Nocera. Nocera wrote a follow up column this weekend, in which he quoted an angry email he received from Mr. Baum himself. The firm announced the shuttering via press release and was reported by the NYT:

“Disrupting the livelihoods of so many dedicated and hardworking people is extremely painful, but the loss of so much business left us no choice but to file these notices,” said Mr. Baum in a press release issued on Monday. A firm spokesman said it would have no further comment beyond the release…

On Saturday, Joe Nocera, The Times columnist who originally wrote about the firm’s Halloween party, published another column about the controversy. In it, he quoted an e-mail that Mr. Baum had sent him last week.

“Mr. Nocera — You have destroyed everything and everyone related to Steven J. Baum PC,” said the letter. “It took 40 years to build this firm and three weeks to tear down.”

“I think that’s what they call shooting the messenger,” Mr. Nocera said.

It’s also called karma pimp-slapping you in the face.

I feel badly for the employees of this firm who did not participate in the insensitive Halloween shenanigans. It’s too bad the partners and associates at the firm were such dicks.

From the 1 percent to the 99 percent. It can happen that fast.

[via TPM]

[cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit






54 replies
  1. 1
    Dr. Squid says:

    It’s all the Times fault. There were never any problems before.

    Riiiiiiiight.

  2. 2
    Daveboy says:

    Hey, a bunch of assholes got what they deserved. Solid!

  3. 3
    Maude says:

    Did their office get foreclosed? Or, were they renting and will be evicted and therefore homeless.

  4. 4
    asdfasdf says:

    The law firm’s livelihood was never harmed…only their brand. They’ll be open under a new name with all the old clients within the week.

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    Pretty bad when Nocera can take you down.

  6. 6
    Admiral_Komack says:

    Good fucking riddance.

  7. 7
    burnspbesq says:

    And yet, there will be many commenters here who will disregard a career of good reporting (including this story) and forever hate Nocera for that one op-ed.

    Perspective, y’all. Get some: it tastes good and it’s good for you.

  8. 8
    Aet says:

    The most basic behavior of a sociopath is believing themselves to be the victim after being exposed. Its an easy diagnosis, you see it all the time.

  9. 9
    ice weasel says:

    Doesn’t happen. You don’t go from “40 year old” business to “out of business” in three weeks. What’s happened is that the owners decided they couldn’t fight the factual information that Nocera reported making them untouchable.

    No big deal. There are only a million other pseudo law firms to take up the slack. Chances are, most of the partners already have other deals going.

    Sadly, it’s not much a karma slap but it is something.

  10. 10
    TooManyJens says:

    I feel badly for the employees of this firm who did not participate in the insensitive Halloween shenanigans.

    I really don’t. From Gawker:

    Of course, Nocera’s column was just the final straw. According to the Long Island Bankruptcy Blog, Baum filed “more foreclosure proceedings against New York homeowners than any other attorney in New York’s history.” How did he do it? By filing error-filled “robo-signed” documents, and using shady tactics that one Long Island judge likened to something out of the “Twilight Zone.” Last month, Baum paid a $2 million fine to settle a Federal case accusing the firm of filing misleading papers to rush along foreclosures. That burden, along with their new tainted status, was apparently too much for the firm.

  11. 11
    A.J. says:

    I’m sure the firm’s “robo-signing” and $2-million settlement with the United States attorney’s office for their firm’s fraudulent legal papers used to expedite foreclosures had noting to do with them going out of business.

    Nope. Sure of it.

  12. 12
    Nom de Plume says:

    And what do you want to bet that these assholes are really big on lecturing people about responsibility and the consequences of one’s actions? Well, now they’ve got the perfect anecdote with which to illustrate their point.

    Enjoy it, dickheads. You’ve earned it.

  13. 13
    gelfling545 says:

    Glad to see this as this particular species of slime was a local firm.

  14. 14
    PIGL says:

    @burnspbesq: What has irked you to, to borrow spleen in this way. We are mocking the defunct law firm, not the journalist, as far as I can tell.

  15. 15
    xian says:

    it’s never too soon to start a purity war

  16. 16
    Steve says:

    This is the best news of the day.

  17. 17
    Jon Marcus says:

    Mmm-mmm, some tasty Schadenfreude Pie, just in time for Thanksgiving.

  18. 18
    Satanicpanic says:

    Already working on my homeless Stephen Baum worker costume

  19. 19
    Jenny says:

    Tweety and the Village are running around in a tizzy because the supercommittee deadlocked.

    Yet, they never complained about the deficit when Bush was president.

    What makes this worse is Tweety has a masters degree in economics and yet he wants to cut spending during a weak recovery.

  20. 20
    ABL says:

    @TooManyJens: well, there are secretaries and staff that are going to be the most screwed by this… that’s what i meant.

    but yeah. on the whole? fuck ’em. :)

  21. 21
    cathyx says:

    Anyone who is a job away from being a 99%er was never a 1%er in the first place.

  22. 22
    cathyx says:

    @Jenny: That’s because that’s what his bosses want him to say. If he says the truth he won’t have a job.

  23. 23
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @ABL: Call me cold, but the admin staff knew what kind of creeps employed them, so in my view they made a choice. Easy for me to say I know, having only done (not lucrative) foreclosure defense.

  24. 24
    The Populist says:

    Seeing this post begs a question for any of you:

    Is America really this racist and hateful like this Law Firm portrays in the photos? I hope not but I see blogs that post hateful shit about poor people and folks of color and it bums me out.

  25. 25
    Steve says:

    My law firm wears the black hat a decent percentage of the time. I like to think we’re all pretty aware of the moral dimension. We’re people doing a job (yes, yes, just like Hitler’s guards).

    I have never seen anything remotely like this behavior at our firm. If the person on the other side of the case is a widow who lost her life savings, we would feel bad for her, just like any normal human would. If I ever showed up to a firm party to find people engaged in this sort of mockery, they would be shut down in about 2 seconds flat. But that wouldn’t happen because no one would find it funny in the first place. This firm must have been a really sick place.

  26. 26
    JWL says:

    Mark my words, Steve J. Baum & company will be celebrated as a martyr among the intelligence challenged community.

  27. 27
    Woodrow/asim Jarvis Hill says:

    @The Populist: Every day, yeah, it’s like this. And there’s obviously a lot of the American psyche that resonates with this. People forgot that US voting was restricted until the 20th Century, in many areas, to white people with various levels of property/money in addition to restrictions on us African-Americans.

    But it’s also why there are blogs like this. And it’s a choice — to let the crap force you out of the game, out of helping, or to assert that you want to help change things for the better.

  28. 28
    Emma says:

    @ice weasel: That was my feeling exactly. There is more to that bankruptcy than one article in the press. EDIT: and reading down in the comments I find out I was right.

  29. 29
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Does anyone know where I can send a donation to help these poor folks?

    Anyone? No? Gee, that’s too bad…

  30. 30
    burnspbesq says:

    @Steve:

    My law firm wears represents clients who wear the black hat a decent percentage of the time.

    FTFY. There is no “moral dimension” as long as you stay within the applicable law and the rules of professional conduct. Even axe murderers and Goldman Sachs partners are entitled to get legal advice.

  31. 31
    sistermoon says:

    Living proof that, as my grandmother used to say, “God don’t like ugly”.

    Let’s see how these elitist, empathy-deprived clowns handle their unemployment and potential forclosures.

  32. 32
    Califlander says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I think you’ve identified the differnece between doing a job that often entails making others uncomfortable, and getting off on their discomfort.

  33. 33
    Steve says:

    @burnspbesq: I try not to kid myself. Save the editing for your own posts.

  34. 34
    RareSanity says:

    @The Populist:

    Seeing this post begs a question for any of you:
    __
    Is America really this racist and hateful like this Law Firm portrays in the photos? I hope not but I see blogs that post hateful shit about poor people and folks of color and it bums me out.

    In large swaths of the country the answer is, unfortunately, yes. However, that is not to say that it is all conscious.

    It can happen, almost without people knowing, in places were people are able to exist in a completely homogeneous culture. When you have grown up and lived most of your adult life, in one of these cultural “echo chambers”, behavior like this can just spin out of control, because it exists, unchecked, by the people it offends.

    Somebody tells a racially offensive joke in the office, but everyone laughs, because there is literally no one there to be offended by it. There is no uncomfortable silence, no negative feedback at all. Before you know it, people are sending offensive emails to the “everybody” list. It becomes acceptable, because there is no conflicting opinion. Even if there are a few that find it offensive, they aren’t likely to speak up. Not because they are bad people, but the possible negative consequences, far out weigh any possible positive affects. They go along to get along, and not make any waves.

    Any system, without some type of negative feedback loop, is doomed to be crushed under the weight , of its unchecked growth. It’s only a matter of how long it takes, and what the fallout will be.

  35. 35
    Karen says:

    I know I shouldn’t do this but…

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Karma’s a bitch ain’t it?

  36. 36
    burnspbesq says:

    @Steve:

    I try not to kid myself.

    If you choose to beat yourself up for no reason, that’s your affair.

  37. 37
    300baud says:

    @burnspbesq:

    FTFY. There is no “moral dimension” as long as you stay within the applicable law and the rules of professional conduct.

    Untrue. Lawyers should know better than anybody that laws and rules are only a rough attempt to capture what’s moral.

    For example, consider the movie The Sting. In that era, wire fraud became illegal. Before those laws were created, it was legal but morally wrong. If a lawyer advised a con artist on how to get away with some scam, it would be a moral failing but not a legal one.

    Of course, your belief is common. It’s very convenient for anybody working for others to believe that the morality is all somebody else’e problem.

  38. 38
    NobodySpecial says:

    @burnspbesq:

    FTFY. There is no “moral dimension” as long as you stay within the applicable law and the rules of professional conduct.

    I’m John Yoo, and I approve this message.

  39. 39
    ABL says:

    There is no “moral dimension” as long as you stay within the applicable law and the rules of professional conduct.

    oh that’s simply not true and we both know it.

  40. 40
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @RareSanity:

    Somebody tells a racially offensive joke in the office, but everyone laughs, because there is literally no one there to be offended by it. There is no uncomfortable silence, no negative feedback at all. Before you know it, people are sending offensive emails to the “everybody” list. It becomes acceptable, because there is no conflicting opinion. Even if there are a few that find it offensive, they aren’t likely to speak up. Not because they are bad people, but the possible negative consequences, far out weigh any possible positive affects. They go along to get along, and not make any waves.

    Making waves can be uncomfortable. Many years ago, at am event that included teens and adults – who all knew one another – a teen girl (~16) told a racist joke. None of the adults laughed, but no one said anything. Until I said “that’s actually quite a racist joke and I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t say such things in my presence as I find it offensive.” Another adult backed me up, mildly, by stating that the same racist joke had a different punchline when we’d been her age – but at least he called it racist. The teen then announced “my father told me that joke, so I guess he’s racist.” “Indeed he is, if that’s the case,” I told her.

    I told him the same thing when he asked me. It was before I know how to say “that thing you said was racist” so that you don’t end up in a rhetorical Bermuda Triangle where everything drowns in a sea of empty posturing until somebody just blames it all on hip hop and we forget the whole thing ever happened.* That was a fun conversation.

    *thanks to Jay Smooth for that lovely image

  41. 41
    Rihilism says:

    Even axe murderers and Goldman Sachs partners are entitled to get legal advice.

    Yes, but what of axe murdering Goldman Sachs partners? Or, alternatively, axe murdering Goldman Sachs partners?….

  42. 42
    Jebediah says:

    @burnspbesq:
    True. IANAL but it always kind of chaps me when folks equate an attorney with his or her client or the clients’ behavior. We’ve got an adversarial system for a reason, and I sure as hell do not want a world where someone determines who is allowed to have counsel. (I know – money usually equals better representation. It isn’t a perfect system.)

  43. 43
    Barry says:

    I wouldn’t take burnspbesq’s advice on morality.

  44. 44
    cminus says:

    There is no “moral dimension” as long as you stay within the applicable law and the rules of professional conduct.

    I think it’s important to draw a line between “defending” conduct and “enabling” conduct. There is no moral dimension to a lawyer defending someone accused of horrible behavior, except insofar as granting everyone the right to representation is a moral issue. A lawyer enabling horrible behavior by dredging up loopholes their client can abuse and flout the spirit of the laws, on the other hand, is actively participating in an immoral act, even if they remain scrupulously legal. (Worse still are the lawyers who offer “hypothetical” discussions of which ways to flat-out break the law are least likely to attract official action. Some years ago I worked for a law firm that specialized in those sort of shenanigans, until I quit after seven months — an event I refer to as “rejecting Satan and all his works”.)

  45. 45
    Calouste says:

    @ABL:

    It’s is true in burns’ psychopathic little lawyerly world, where concepts like morality and justice are totally irrelevant to the LAW.

  46. 46
    dday says:

    So, the reason Stephen L. Baum went out of business is because Fannie and Freddie finally said they would no longer do business with them because they were flagrantly falsifying documents. It had approximately nothing to do with the pictures. The lesson is that Fannie and Freddie have a lot of power to stop ongoing foreclosure fraud since they own such a substantial piece of the market.

  47. 47
    rikyrah says:

    Karma…undefeated..

  48. 48
    Auguste says:

    What dday said. Baum lost a huge number of clients after the Fannie/Freddie mess. It’s a pathetic dodge to try to hang it on Nocera, especially since as noted, even if that WERE the reason – so what?

  49. 49
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @PIGL:

    The last thing we need is to listen to Lawyer Burnsy, The Defender of the Indefensible, telling us to get some perspective.

    Maybe it was a joke?

    Naah.

    @Barry:

    No shit.

  50. 50
    salacious crumb says:

    to be fair to the participants in this party, at least they didnt paint their faces black.

  51. 51
    Xenos says:

    Late entry to a dead thread, but keep in mind that for what is considered the most offensive costume, the actual text on the cardboard sign was “3rd party Squatter – I lost my home and I was NEVER Served!”

    That is a joke, because 3rd party squatters are not entitled to service in a foreclosure. Even legitimate tenants are usually not entitled to notice. So any firms conducting foreclosures are going to deal with BS complaints like that a fair bit.

    Of course, in the real world, a smart (much less ethical or even moral) lawyer will try to give everybody connected with a property proper notice because you want to foreclose on the loan just once and to bar any attempts to disturb the foreclosure once it is done.

    So as a lawyer who has done foreclosures I would readily excuse the joke, but consider the underlying business to be really quite obscene.

  52. 52
    Caravelle says:

    “Disrupting the livelihoods of so many dedicated and hardworking people is extremely painful”

    Is that so ?

  53. 53
    Barry says:

    I guess that it’s too much to hope for that burnspbesq was an employee of this firm.

  54. 54
    Ken says:

    @The Populist: It’s not ‘blackface’. It’s ‘dirtface’ from being homeless and unwashed. As soonas they can find a place to shower, they can go out and get jobs like Newt suggested.

Comments are closed.