Some excerpts from his post…
You obviously feel passionately that these problems are not pervasive in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, and I’m not going to argue with you about that. Instead, I’ll say this – as for the rest of Florida, you haven’t seen what I’ve seen:
– You haven’t seen a Palm Beach senior judge, at the start of a rocket docket of more than 100 summary judgment motions, assert he’s “heard it all before,” limit the arguments of homeowners and their attorneys to sixty seconds, even going so far as to count down the time as the minute concludes. You may think there aren’t “robo-judges” in Florida, but how else would you define this? Remember – those were summary judgment motions.
– You haven’t seen a senior judge in Tampa let the bank’s lawyer argue for 4 pages of transcript at a hearing on a Motion for Ssummary Judgment, then limit the defense argument to 4 lines of transcript, cut off the attorney after those four lines, and enter summary judgment without reading or looking at the opposing affidavit, written response, motion to vacate default, or motion to stay for military status (justifying his conduct in the face of due process objections by asserting it was “too little, too late” since the case had been pending for two years).
– You haven’t seen Lee County judges systematically and sua sponte require docket soundings in all foreclosure cases, immediately after the cases are filed (without clearing the date with counsel and without allowing phone appearances), and require all discovery be completed in two months, for the purpose of granting summary judgment or setting trial, even though the case is not at issue and the homeowner’s motion to dismiss has not been adjudicated.
– You haven’t been told, by a senior judge in Hernando County, that a plaintiff’s attorney can schedule a summary judgment hearing whenever he wants, without clearing the date with defense counsel (or even knowing defense counsel has a conflict), and that if defense counsel has “a problem with it,” he needs to file a motion to strike the hearing. You didn’t hear this judge assert, when defense counsel complained about the procedure, that it was his “job,” at the instruction of the Florida Supreme Court, to dispose of foreclosure cases as quickly as possible.
– You haven’t tried to set hearings on defense motions in foreclosure cases, only to have court assistants or administrators tell you that the available hearing times were reserved exclusively for plaintiffs’ motions. Of course, there is never a corresponding time set aside for defense motions.
– You haven’t tried to attend foreclosure hearings in Tampa (Section I, on the fifth floor) only to be told those hearings are not open for public access.
– You haven’t received dozens of conformed Orders on disputed matters, ex parte, without notice and without hearing, which most Florida judges sign routinely, even when it is obvious that these Orders are not agreed Orders, usually without giving defense counsel a chance to object. For instance, I once had a situation in Tampa where I prevailed on a motion after a hearing and the Judge entered an Order in my client’s favor, I prevailed on rehearing and the Judge entered a second Order in my client’s favor, yet, weeks later, the bank’s attorney submitted an Order, ex parte, that reversed the Court’s rulings, and the judge executed it before I received a copy in the mail or a chance to respond Respectfully, this never happens except in foreclosure cases, yet in the foreclosure context, it happens routinely.
– You haven’t had a client have a Final Judgment of Foreclosure entered against him – hours prior to the beginning of the summary judgment hearing, then have the judge explain this was her “procedure.”
– You haven’t seen the Administrative Orders in Orange, Seminole, and Lee Counties, which systematically prohibit any phone appearances in foreclosure cases, in direct contravention of Fla.R.Jud.Admin. 2.530, which requires that phone appearances be granted for all hearings of 15 minutes or less absent good cause. (It is my opinion that these Orders exist to make it harder for attorneys to defend homeowners and, hence, to cause more foreclosure cases to go uncontested).
– You haven’t witnessed senior judges routinely reschedule hearings where the defense counsel is present but plaintiff’s counsel is not, yet systematically grant the relief sought by plaintiffs when plaintiff’s counsel is present and defense counsel is not. This double-standard is, respectfully, gross, yet it happens on a regular basis throughout Florida courtrooms in foreclosure cases.
– You haven’t successfully argued that a summary judgment hearing should be stricken from the calendar, had plaintiff’s counsel cancel that hearing pursuant to the court’s Order, yet have a senior judge enter a Final Judgment of Foreclosure (without anyone present at the prior hearing time) because she did not even look in the court file or the docket and did not see that the hearing had been cancelled.
– You haven’t watched a Brevard County judge repeatedly chastize foreclosure defense attorneys for asserting motions to dismiss, arguing it was a “waste of time” and that counsel should be “trying to settle the cases,” then, when counsel responded that the motions to dismiss were sometimes granted, angrily retort that “accomplished nothing” because the bank could amend or re-file.
Some very real issues here…
And these are the experiences of an attorney, imagine how much worse it is for the homeowners that are trying to defend their constitutional right in this environment…
There is more to this post that can be checked out in its entirety here…
If this makes you angry, do something about it and join us for our Homeless for the Holidays Rally next Thursday December 9th at 2pm downtown West Palm Beach FL…