Is Justice Dead? Attorney Mark Stopa – Final Judgment of Foreclosure – Without a Hearing!

This comes in from Mark Stopa, you can check out his site here…

Final Judgment of Foreclosure – Without a Hearing!

I’ve had a lot of wild experiences in foreclosure cases, but this one might take the cake. …

On September 2, 2010, I attended a hearing before Judge David Demers in Pinellas County Case No. 2010-CA-2846.  The hearing was on a Motion to Strike or Continue a summary judgment hearing that Plaintiff’s counsel had set for September 8, 2010.  Judge Demers granted my motion, in open court, and ruled that the September 8, 2010 hearing was stricken from the calendar.  Shortly thereafter, acknowledging Judge Demers’ ruling, opposing counsel filed a Notice of Cancellation of the hearing, which appeared on the docket on September 7, 2010.  As far as all parties and the presiding judge were concerned, the September 8, 2010 hearing was not going to occur.  I did not attend, nor did opposing counsel.  It was a victory for my client – the summary judgment hearing was off.

Incredibly, despite this sequence of events, I received a conformed copy of a Final Judgment of Foreclosure in the mail on September 22, 2010.  It was signed by Judge Lorraine Kelly on September 8, 2010, and it directed a foreclosure sale of my client’s homestead on October 13, 2010.  Suffice it to say I was astonished.

The summary judgment hearing had been canceled, and nobody attended, yet the Court entered a Final Judgment of Foreclosure.

I’ve already filed a Motion to Vacate the Final Judgment, and, to his credit, opposing counsel stipulated to an Order granting that relief.  For me, though, the issue is much bigger than what happened in this case.

From the minute I received the Final Judgment of Foreclosure, I wondered “How could this happen?”

How can a judge who is not assigned to a case enter a Final Judgment of Foreclosure when the presiding judge ruled that the hearing had been canceled?

How can a judge who is not assigned to a case enter a Final Judgment of Foreclosure when Plaintiff’s counsel filed a Notice of Cancellation, which was filed in the Court file prior to the hearing?

How can a judge who is not assigned to a case enter a Final Judgment of Foreclosure when neither side attended the hearing?

These questions troubled me, so I did some investigating.  As it turns out, plaintiff’s counsel did nothing wrong.  Plaintiff’s counsel was required to submit the summary judgment “package” (including copies of the Final Judgment of Foreclosure) to the Court at least 7 business days before the hearing.  As of September 2, 2010, the date Judge Demers cancelled the hearing, Plaintiff’s counsel had already sent in the foreclosure “package” to the Court.

The problem, though, was not that the package was submitted – it’s that a judge signed it.  Here’s where things really went awry.  Apparently…

Pinellas County has a “procedure” where, when a summary judgment hearing begins, the judge covering that hearing will inquire whether the Defendant or his counsel is present.  If not, the judge grants summary judgment, and signs a Final Judgment of Foreclosure, even without Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s counsel being present.

That’s so outrageous it’s worth repeating:

Standard procedure in Pinellas County is for judges to enter Final Judgment of Foreclosure if a Defendant is not present at a summary judgment hearing, even if Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s counsel is not present.

As a result of this “procedure,” Judge Kelly did not realize the hearing had been canceled, and since she didn’t look in the file and didn’t talk to either side, she signed the Final Judgment of Foreclosure that had been provided with the foreclosure “package” sent by Plaintiff’s counsel seven days prior.

I found this so outrageous that I wrote a three-page letter to Chief Judge Thomas McGrady.  Respectfully, I cannot fathom that Pinellas judges would not require, before signing a Final Judgment of Foreclosure, any argument from opposing counsel, or, at minimum, some type of representation that summary judgment is appropriate on that case.  To ignore those safeguards, and to enter a Final Judgment of Foreclosure without even require Plaintiff’s counsel to attend the hearing, is truly astonishing to me.   Essentially, the Pinellas judges say:

“Set a hearing, and if nobody shows up to oppose the motion, we’ll enter a Final Judgment of Foreclosure.”

What transpired in my case shows the fundamental flaws with this procedure.  Most significantly:

Judges aren’t even looking at the file before granting a Final Judgment of Foreclosure!

Judges aren’t even looking at the file before granting a Final Judgment of Foreclosure!

Yes, it sounds impossible to believe, but

Judges aren’t even looking at the file before granting a Final Judgment of Foreclosure!

If you don’t believe me, let me ask you this.  If the Judge (or an assistant or a case manager) had looked in the file (or looked at the docket), wouldn’t she have seen the Notice of Cancellation of the hearing from Plaintiff’s counsel?   Check the docket for yourself – it was filed on September 7, 2010.  Unfortunately, it seems that judges are too intent on “pushing through” foreclosures to do things like look at the file.

Here’s the scary part.

If judges are so oblivious they don’t realize a hearing had been canceled, how could they possibly be evaluating the propriety of summary judgment?

How could they possibly be reading the Plaintiff’s affidavits, motions, or other filings?

How could they possibly be evaluating the case for the fraud with which we’ve all become far too accustomed?

If I wasn’t diligently representing this client, what would have happened?  Simple – mistake or not, the client’s homestead would have been sold on October 13, 2010.  Let’s say I didn’t receive the Final Judgment of Foreclosure in the mail – same thing; the property would have been sold on October 13, 2010.

Here’s the really scary part.  I’m counsel in a lot of counties, and Pinellas County is actually pretty good when compared to other counties.  They’re light years ahead of the procedures in Lee County / Palm Beach County, among others.  So if this is going on in Pinellas, then I can hardly imagine what’s happening in those counties.


You can read more about Mark and the issues he is seeing here…


9 Responses to “Is Justice Dead? Attorney Mark Stopa – Final Judgment of Foreclosure – Without a Hearing!”
  1. This is sooooo disgusting…. Mark Stopa is a very high rated attorney in Florida….why should his time be taken up to prove the courts are not following the rules / laws of the State of Florida. His time is more valuable than any court that follows the rules and laws of the fraudster banksters. These judges ‘ that are off the chart ‘ are doing the exact same frauds by aproving the fruads …they need to be taken off the bench and all rights taken from them to practice law again.

  2. Save the county & state some money.

    Close the courthouse.


  3. Millie says:

    This is SO Outrageous!!! Something is just not right how the banks and their attorneys get away with so much and are granted favor despite what homeowners do! Just recently I have been talking to some people I know here in CA where I live who are also fighting foreclosure. There are many other stories of how homeowners’ documents are received by the court, but held for many days or even weeks before being entered into the court record, but if the banks or their attorneys file something, miraculously it is entered either that day or a day or two later at most!

    I know some people who have a friend who is a court clerk. The clerk says that sometimes they get calls AT THE COURT HO– USE from attorneys representing banks, loan servicers, etc, who are foreclosing on a home that ask them to “hold off on filing” their opponents’ documents or responses…and depending on the clerk, their requests are sometimes granted! Incredible!

    We have recently experienced in our own case in which we are Pro Se litigants, where the opposing counsel was over 2 weeks late responding to our complaint. We finally filed a default judgment, although you can even file it even one day after they default beyond the 30 days given, but since the court sometimes allows extra time for a good reason, we waited a little longer., longer than we should have. We filed the Request for Default 2 weeks later, but it was “rejected” because opposing counsel filed a Demurrer (the same as a Motion to dismiss) exactly one day later than our Default, so by all rights, the Default should have been allowed!

    Then we re-filed the Request for Default and it was in the process of being reviewed because we talked to the court clerk in our courthouse about how the opposing counsel, having already had the 30 days allowed to respond to our complaint, was over 2 weeks late with an answer! The court said they would consider that fact. About a week later our 2nd filing of our Default was again “Rejected” due to the reason that the Defendants had been allowed to file their Demurrer. Strangely enough, dated on the same day our Default was stamped Rejected, we received a letter from the opposing counsel that they had written a letter to the Clerk of the Court and to the Judge whining and complaining that we had disregarded some supposed “agreement” with them to allow extra time! (now WHY would we agree to such a proposterous extension to give a bank more time in which to perfect their motion to deprive us of our home?) We believe the court was considering upholding our Default, but the letter from opposing counsel was sent to the court and caused the court to give the opponent their way and to deny our default! Talk about unfair!

  4. How right you are to mention Lee County. Of all the Judges in that Circuit there is only one that I believe could be trying to adhere to Canon 3 of the Judicial Code. The so called Sr. Judges are no exception. Judge Thompson recently signed a Writ of Possession on August 27, 2010 in advance of a Hearing set for that purpose on September 21, 2010 in a case absolutely infested with multiple frauds upon the Court, where one of the law firms under investigation has been substituted by a new firm whose moral values seem to be around the same level as their predecessors.
    As a fraud investigator and witness I see thousands of such examples. How right also for one of your responders to have drawn a comparison with Eichmann. Anyone who grew up in Europe in the 1930-40 era and is still alive to tell the tale, knows what happens to any society that is prepared to put up with this level of outright tyranny. I became an American Citizen because I believed in what we once had – a Constitution. I am now fearful for the future of my adopted country.

  5. housemanrob says:

    It is starting to look like problem may be improper toilet training!!

  6. Lit Gant says:

    Wow, is Jeffrey Shaman dressed like a woman in this court? I mean not reading the file? Oh I know, I had others to read it for me and they did not come to me and say “hey judge I see something wrong here.” Or maybe like Adolph Eichmann, I was just following orders or policy. This is all the fault of Sir McGreedy, the chief judge who himself apparently does not read anything. I mean does he not read the papers? Don’t he know his jurist prudence system in his county is wrought with fraud? Has anyone checked his office with sniffing dogs? I find this incredible that any SJ is entered with just robo judges signing the orders. Maybe we should check this order to see if it is really her signature or was that also forged? Did the legal assistant scribble his John Henry. I think this calls for the resignation of two judges, judge Jeffrey Shaman aka Lorriange Killey, and chief judge Jeffrey McGreedy. Please excuse my misspellings here, I am relying on someone else to correct my wrong. I think I am getting the gist of how things work in our Florida court system.

    • Ann says:

      It’s true Judges are not reading the files. In my case the Servicer is pretending to be the Bank. What’s great go through every allegation and deny and say it’s Fraud on You and the courts. See if the Judge sign that and in my case see the Plaintiff take leave to amend.. LMAO

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