Legal forum crowd grows
by RICK NORTON Associate Editor
Oct 24, 2012 | 1927 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland’s hottest ticket Thursday night looks to be the Community Legal Forum whose trio of professional panelists will discuss a pair of timely, and much debated, home-equity loans — one of which is the heavily marketed reverse mortgage.

To get under way at 7 p.m., the forum will be held in the Community Room of the Cleveland Bradley Public Library in downtown Cleveland.

The meeting room can hold about 100 people and as of late Tuesday, some 66 area residents had contacted the library with confirmed plans to attend. The number is expected to grow.

Past forums co-hosted by the Bradley County Bar Association and the public library have attracted mid- to large-sized crowds; however, this one is getting an even heavier response from the community. The issue of reverse mortgages is thought to be the biggest attraction.

“We have had numerous requests to explore this topic and inform the public,” Cleveland attorney Jack Tapper told the Cleveland Daily Banner in a prior interview. “We want to assure the public that we’re not here to promote or sell such mortgages, but to open eyes to just what is involved in the transaction.”

Tapper, who will serve as panelist and moderator, added, “[We want the public] to hear not just the ‘good,’ but also ‘the bad and the ugly’ aspects.”

Tapper will be joined at the head table by fellow Cleveland attorney George McCoin. Breaking from Legal Forum tradition, the third panelist will not be a Bradley County lawyer, but instead a leading mortgage professional. She is Kim Casteel, president of USA Mortgage Inc.

The forum moderator said Casteel will provide full details about how reverse mortgages operate, as well as information about other forms of home-equity loans that involve elderly parents and their grown children.

“This forum will provide the answers and the facts for not only the seniors, but for their adult children to make a meaningful decision on not only what to do, but whether it’s worth the attempt,” Tapper explained.

Although reverse mortgages are expected to dominate the discussion, the new trend in home-equity loans will be only one of two timely subjects.

The pair of themes include:

1. “What You Need to Know About Saving Mama’s Home ... Warning: Don’t Transfer Until You Hear What We Have to Say; What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You”; and

2. “Reverse Mortgages Explained: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

In keeping with the format of past legal forums, panelists will not make personal recommendations of product or services. The purpose of the forums is to present objective discussion — mostly from a legal perspective — on topics of general household and individual interest.

Tapper thanked his fellow panelists for participating and pointed to Casteel’s value to the discussion because of her expertise in leading a Cleveland mortgage company. He said she will discuss the full gamut of consequences involving reverse mortgages and other issues — from the good to the ugly, and all points in between.

Of the legal forums, which are presented to the community at no charge, Tapper stressed, “This is the public’s chance to find out what they need to know about significant issues affecting their lives. We are looking forward to an enthusiastic turnout as part of this ongoing public service project.”

Although seating is first come, first served, those planning to attend Thursday night’s 90-minute discussion are urged to call ahead at 423-472-2163, ext. 126, to the public library to confirm attendance.

The Bar Association and the public library host the legal forums as a joint project to support “equal access to justice for all citizens.”

The ongoing partnership between the Bar Association and the public library was created by the Bradley County Commission under the auspices of the Bradley County Governmental Law Library Commission. The County Commission funds and maintains the Law Library section of the public library for the public’s access to legal research materials. Funds come from a small percentage of the courts’ filing fees from civil and criminal litigations in the county.

The Bar Association helps to oversee the functionality of the legal resource section of the library.

The Law Library Commission includes three members: Bradley County Commissioner Jeff Morelock, Cleveland Bradley Public Library Director Andrew Hunt and Tapper, who represents the Bar Association on the board.