Fighting for Hearings before Tampa Judges
A recent Administrative Order in Tampa (Hillsborough County) gives judges the discretion to grant/deny motions in residential foreclosure cases without a hearing. This has been very frustrating for foreclosure defense attorneys such as myself, particularly since I’ve gone from winning about half of my motions to dismiss over a period of many months (when senior judges were presiding over hearings) to, recently, losing all of these motions without even being given a hearing (in Hillsborough, anyway).
I had a hearing yesterday before Judge Levens. Ironically, it was the bank that was complaining about a senior judge making a ruling without a proper hearing. When the argument was made, Judge Levens turned to me and noted my habit of pushing for hearings in foreclosure cases.
It was lighthearted (even some mutual laughter), and it was good. I’m glad the judges in Tampa realize I’m pushing for hearings in foreclosure cases, politely but firmly pointing out the unfairness of denying defense motions without a hearing. In fact, I sort of had the impression that my actions had prompted an internal discussion/debate about the issue. That’s good. Maybe they think I’m right and maybe they think I’m wrong, but you don’t make 100% of the shots you don’t take.
You can check out the rest from Stopa here…
A copy of his letter to the judge is below…
Stopa Letter to Judge Levens RE Motions to Dismiss
What we have here is a lawyer who know if he pushed a foreclosure injustice too far that he will most likely have a false very expensive and time consuming bar complaint filed against him. Those in foreclosure are forced to fight the ALMIGHTY BANKS and their crooked foreclosure mills with puss-lawyers! ” I apologies if this sounds like I am unloading on you” PUSS-LAWYER. How about if action is not taken to reverse this apparent injustice it will have to be dealt with via a writ of mandamus and / or certiorari. Officer Of THe Law is 100% correct in the cases he cites. Mark Stopa “GROW A PAIR”.
This is bullcrap with this Aministrative Order!!! Some judge(s) are lining their pockets and that is obvious from what they are trying to effectuate in the courts. I’m certain that Mark knows this violates the Rules of Civil Procedure….what I cannot understand is why he did not take such a stance on that issue.
Motions to dismiss cannot be denied without a hearing in Florida unless the judge wants to violate due process and ignore the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure which specify which motions may be considered ex parte and do not include motions to dismiss on that very short list. See e.g., Hilton v. Florio, 317 So.2d 83 (Fla. 3d DCA 1975).
By the way, Florida’s judges may only enter orders without a hearing on motions for a temporary injunction, and even then, only under very limited circumstances. See Rules 1.090(d) and 1.610.
For more Florida appellate court decisions overturning lower court judges who entered orders without a hearing in violation of due process and the Rules, see e.g., McCrea v. Deutsche Bank, 993 So.2d 1057 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008) and Shlishey v. Citifinancial, 14 So.3d 1271 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009).
Also, Circuit Court judges are not supposed to enter administrative orders which conflict with the rules of procedure or violate due process. See Hatcher v. Davis, 798 So.2d 765 ( Fla. 2d DCA 2001).
It’s too bad that Stopa either didn’t do any research before writing this letter or didn’t want to upset the judiciary by pointing out that they were violating the law.
If the judges break the law in a court of law than can the police cuff ’em? If not, than who has jurisdiction to arrest a judge who is not upholding the rule of law?
In this instance it isn’t law they are violating, but procedure. The remedy is further litigation, and that likely at the appellate level. So, no cuffs on this one.
Well, now what have we here? A chief judge can suspend constitutional rights of redress with an order? He can take away our rights to defend our motions? Many of you lawyers may think these judges are fair, I DO NOT! You will see I am telling the truth when they start robo-stamping motions DENIED. I think there must be at least an affirmation signed by the judge saying he read the motion, and then give his opinion on his action. At least the defendants would have something to appeal on. I doubt there will be any of these affirmations that he read the motion, understands the motion and the facts thereof, and then makes his ruling. I believe all we will see are rocket-docket robo-signing. And who knows who will place the scribbles on these rulings? Has anyone checked the signatures of these judges against the signatures on the rulings? Might uncover another layer of fraud. All I can say is, prepare for a lot more appeals. I always took Judge Leavens to be fair and honest. Now I have questions about his being an impartial judiciary representative. I think we all need to remember the name Leavens next election cycle. Thanks Mr. Stopa for being a great American and also a great lawyer who has the rights of people as his motivation. Thanks Sir.