Senior Judges need a nap
Judges are put in a position to shape their communities for decades, and Florida’s Circuit Civil Judges are no different. They decide extremely critical issues facing Floridians ranging from real estate development to the death penalty. They create new families through adoption and end broken families through divorce. At some point in a judge’s career, he (or she) begins to think about the legacy he leaves behind, and when a judge retires, he reflects upon his body of work and hopes that his unbiased rulings helped shape his community for the best.
Don’t count on it.
Yes, there are those judges who truly believe that they must uphold the rule of law, and they are easy to spot. They are deliberate and struggle with each issue. They scrutinize sworn witnesses in an attempt to ascertain the truthfulness of their testimony, and they patiently listen to and absorb the finely tuned arguments of lawyers. They are human, but they sincerely try to put aside their preconceived opinions in an honest attempt to rule on the merits of the case.
I have had the distinct pleasure of being beaten by better lawyers before judges who just flat disagreed with my legal arguments. I walk away from those cases dejected but satisfied that society is better off for having resolved a question of law, even if I lost. However, nothing rips the idealistic heart out of a lawyer like a judge who KNOWS he is ignoring the law, and nothing angers an idealistic lawyer more than a rigged system of justice, especially when the result is destroying faith in democratic justice and the community at large.
Foreclosure Division is the brainchild of an unholy alliance between the ABA, the Florida Legislature and Florida’s Court system. As I previously explained, this trifecta of power has earmarked more than $9M to rush 62% of the current statewide foreclosure docket to judgment, but what is the real cost?
Since retired judges are paid to ignore the obvious fraud being passed right before their eyes, the result will be an explosion of homeowner lawsuits against servicers, banks and trusts for wrongful foreclosure and fraud on the court. However these suits will be heard by circuit civil judges who are much more vulnerable to public scrutiny and, in many cases, may even feel compelled to right the wrong committed by Foreclosure Court. Title companies and Wall Street analysts know the potential for this next wave of litigation (because they call us frequently to discuss it), and they are already beginning to insulate themselves from the fallout.
Imagine that you purchased a bank-owned home a year ago, and today you are defending a lawsuit filed by the displaced homeowner who is alleging fraud by the plaintiff in the previous foreclosure. Imagine still that the Final Judgment of Foreclosure, which gave the bank the right to sell you your home, is reversed by a judge because a critical document was forged in the foreclosure case. As you are thumbing through the Yellow Pages looking for your lawyer, remember that THIS is the shameful legacy of the retired senior judges who run Foreclosure Court.