I take some exception to what I regard as your premature endorsement of the mortgage settlement ("A good deal for Maryland," Feb. 10). First, as I understand it, a formal "terms" sheet has not yet been produced, so we don't know the details behind the broad statements to the press.

More importantly, something that will almost certainly be in the settlement has gone unmentioned. Will these banks be allowed to settle without admitting any guilt?

They'll agree to pay tens of billions because they were clearly committing fraud, perjury and misrepresentation on an industrial scale, but they will likely avoid admitting they did anything wrong. They just settled to "put the matter behind them."

Requiring an admission of wrongdoing is important. It helps all the individual borrowers who still can and should sue the banks individually. It's much harder for small plaintiffs if each one has to prove individually that the banks were breaking the law and knew it. Most of the already ruined victims of this financial crime spree won't have the resources to go forward on that basis.

Is that good enough?

William Adams, Ellicott City