Foreclosure Court taints the legacy of Florida’s Senior Judges

by Chip Parker, Esq.

October 15, 2010

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.
Now, just imagine how I feel about an entire band of retired Florida judges who have sold their integrity and legacy to the American Bankers Association.  These rocket docket judges follow a pre-stated agenda, not the law, in ramming foreclosure cases through the newly created “Foreclosure Division.”
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?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware of the avalanche of news about widespread servicer fraud committed in most every foreclosure case across the country.  Though the media is focused on fraudulent affidavits, just as bad are the fake endorsements and assignments of mortgage.
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.
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Chip Parker is the managing partner of Parker & DuFresne, P.A., where he represents Northeast Florida businesses and consumers facing bankruptcy, and homeowners facing foreclosure. His firm files more homeowners in the Mortgage Modification Mediation Program than any other law firm in Northeast Florida. Parker is the recipient of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid's prestigious Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service. Mr. Parker is an active member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.

Last modified: December 20, 2012