Circuit Judge Meenu Sasser reverses orders against Ice firm

Polyana da Costa

A Palm Beach Circuit Judge has overruled fellow Circuit Judge Meenu Sasser and vacated orders accusing foreclosure defense firm Ice legal of filing “fraudulent” motions.

Judge John Hoy reversed Sasser’s orders directing the Royal Palm Beach firm to withdraw motions in three foreclosure cases because she considered them to be fraudulent.

In the motions, Ice Legal lawyers asked Sasser to force lenders to provide documents related to disputed mortgages. Sasser said the Ice motions were improper because the lenders in the three cases had already asked for more time to respond to Ice’s request for documentation.

Ice, who claimed Sasser showed hostility toward his firm, said he’s happy Hoy’s order removed “this cloud of impropriety that was unfairly placed over the firm.”

But Ice said he still wants an apology from Sasser because her accusations hurt his firm’s reputation. He didn’t get much help from Hoy on that issue. “Well, you go talk to her or you can talk to the [Judicial Qualifications Commission],” Hoy said, when an Ice Legal attorney requested the apology at a Nov. 9 rehearing of the cases. “Don’t talk to me.”

Sasser did not return calls or respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Sasser made her accusations against the firm in July after an Ice Legal attorney filed a motion seeking a judicial order to compel a lender to produce documents in a foreclosure case.

Ice claims the firm filed the motion in error. It later found out the lender had already filed a motion seeking more time to respond to a document request. Ice said the firm withdrew its request for the order against the lender when the error was discovered.

Despite the withdrawal, Sasser held a hearing on the Ice motion seeking the documents. She said the motion “was drawn fraudulently, because there is a motion for extension of time that was filed,” by the lender, according to hearing transcripts.

Sasser also said during the hearing that Ice Legal attorneys had filed similar “fraudulent” motions in five other cases.

Although those cases, which she did not identify at the time, were not scheduled for hearing, Sasser ordered the firm to withdraw the motions by the end of the day because they were filed with “fraudulent representation to the court.”

At the end of the hearing, Sasser’s bailiff gave Ice Legal attorney Dustin Zacks copies of three, not five, cases.

Immediately after, Zacks filed a motion for reconsideration of the three cases. Sasser agreed to a rehearing and scheduled it for a few weeks later. According to Ice, Sasser’s judicial assistant later said the hearing had been canceled. Subsequent efforts to reschedule were unsuccessful. More than a month later, the firm was notified that Hoy had scheduled the hearing for Nov. 9.

After Hoy withdrew Sasser’s orders, Zacks insisted that “Judge Sasser issue a public retraction of the accusations leveled against [the firm’s] attorneys and an apology on the record.”

“There is nothing I can do,” Hoy said.

Ice said “the firm is certainly entitled to an apology, but even if we had a means of forcibly extracting one, it would, of course, have little meaning if it weren’t voluntary.”

Sasser Backed Bank

Two weeks ago, the 4th District Court of Appeal reversed another order by Sasser against Ice’s firm.

In that case, she had rejected a request to have Chase Bank pay a homeowner’s legal fees in a foreclosure case that was dismissed due to misconduct by the lender, according to the 4th DCA opinion.

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