In order to understand CAI’s adversarial position to homeowner reforms and its activities to promote litigation challenges, we need to look into its activities and not its lofty pronouncements. As you know, Rule 11(a) requires that the attorney perform a reasonable inquiry into the genuine issues of law or fact of the HOA allegations before undertaking any law suit. (See HOA attorney failure to inquire into merits of a complaint — R Civ P. 11(a)). We can get a good idea of CAI’s motivations for pursuing litigation from its activities with respect to HOA reform laws.
In spite of strenuous opposition by advocates, the sponsor, Arizona Rep. Montenegro, pursued this bill, HB 2441, to the very last floor vote before it was soundly defeated. (See CAI soundly thrashed by Arizona Senate). His support for this disgraceful bill can only stem from 1) that he is true believer in the New America of HOA-Lands, or 2) that he succumbed to the heavy influence of the national trade organization, CAI.
Advocates had attempted to inform Montenegro and the legislators of CAI’s real intent, which was not the betterment of the community or the state of Arizona, but its own self-interests – control of the HOA landscape. As further evidence of this opposition to the intent of the law, the former CAI chapter president and lobbyist, Scott Carpenter of Carpenter Hazlewood, released examples of what could be seen as “how HOAs can get around the law.”
In my comment to New Arizona laws for 2011 session — thanks to the legislators, I critique Carpenter’s “reasonable rules” that HOAs may impose on the recording of HOA meetings, the new HB 2445 law. One is a 24-hour prior written notice to the board, which can easily “disappear” at its convenience. Also, among is “reasonableness” are that all recordings must be on tripods and must use batteries – seems contradictory with respect to its stated concerns about safety issues. And that the HOA has a right to obtain a copy of the recording – at a reasonable cost. H’mmm, maybe the feel paranoid and that its own recordings won’t capture everything? Or is he just putting up obstacles “to make life difficult?”
Again, a CAI attorney, Carolyn Goldschmidt, takes up another controversial issue with respect to applicability of Title 10 statutes for nonprofit corporations and Title 33 statutes on HOAs and condos. (By the way, the resurrected statutes for ALJ adjudication of HOA disputes, SB 1148, does not permit the ALJ to decide issues outside of Title 33). Basically, does ARS 10-3708 or ARS 33-1812 control the holding of HOA elections and meetings? In an attempt to avoid the HOA statutes with respect to meetings and elections, Goldschmidt narrowly argues that an election without a meeting is valid under Title 10. Yet Title 33 contains strict requirements for meetings and elections – notice, ballot, agenda and quorums.
The HOA held an election that was not part of the meeting, as it claims, and the subsequent meeting just counted the votes but took no action. Say what? Isn’t a “certification” or a counting of election results at an annual meeting an “action”? And, as Goldschmidt well knows as she had participated in several OAH complaints, this dispute would not fall under the Office of Administrative Hearings jurisdiction by an ALJ. (And neither would the other very important common laws found in Chapters 6 and 3 of the Restatement (Third) of Property: Servitudes).
It is these actions in the real world and not the pontifications by CAI and it seminars, conferences, articles, columns or interviews that reflect what CAI is all about. That reflect CAI attorney pursuits of litigation, advertising and advising loopholes in the laws using narrow interpretations of the law, which can be highly questionable under Rule 11(a). And it is not about principles of democratic government within the New America of HOA-Lands or making for a better America or community, its about power over the HOA second form of political government. And attorney fees.
If charged with violating Rule 11(a), and so judged, can the HOA file against the attorney for its attorney fees?