November 17, 2010
In a Memorandum dated today from Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Canady to Chief Judges of the Florida Circuit Courts, Justice Canady has attached a letter received from the Florida Press Association and other organizations detailing incidents of denial of access to foreclosure proceedings by court personnel and Judges. The denials were made to pro se litigants, observers, and at least one reporter.
In one instance, a court observer in Hillsborough County (Tampa) was told that foreclosure proceedings were not open to the public. In another incident in Duval County (Jacksonville), a pro se borrower was told by court security that she could not access foreclosure proceedings because only attorneys were permitted. In another instance in Orange County (Orlando), a court observer was told that foreclosure hearings were held “in private chambers” and not open to the public. The same type of incident was reported to have occurred in Citrus County. In Jacksonville, a separate, distrubing incident occurred which you may have read about in Matt Taibbi’s column in Rolling Stone magazine.
Apparently, a legal aid attorney in Jacksonville attended a foreclosure proceeding accompanied by Mr. Taibbi, who attempted to interview a pro se litigant after the case was heard. Later that day, the Judge sent an e-mail to the attorney “castigating her for bringing the reporter into the proceedings” and stated that “members of the media are only permitted upon proper request to the security officer”, furthering threatening the attorney with contempt if a reporter attempted to interview a homeowner coming out of a foreclosure hearing.
Our threshold questions are:
What are they trying to hide?
What are they trying to keep from homeowners from learning about their system?
What “secrets” about the foreclosure “railroad” system are they trying to prevent the press and borrowers from discovering?
This arrogant, vicious, and threatening conduct is not only unconstitutional, but manifests an outright bias against borrowers attempting to defend their cases and against members of the media attempting to report the truth. When Judges start banning observers from public court proceedings and threatening attorneys for bringing reporters to court, echoes of Nazi Germany come to mind. Fortunately, Chief Justice Canady has now issued the directive that this kind of conduct is to stop at once.
What also needs to be ordered is that foreclosure counsel, particularly certain “local” attorneys who handle hearings for the likes of The Law Offices of David J. Stern, Shapiro & Fishman, The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, Florida Default Law Group, and their ilk be likewise admonished and ordered to abide by the Constitution, Court Rules, and case law as well and to stop treating borrowers and their counsel with arrogance and disrespect (which we have observed on numerous occasions). One such attorney has recently gone so far as to represent to the Court that he is appearing for one of these law Firms to argue a Motion, but then refuses to accept a copy of an Order reflecting the Judges’ ruling at the hearing.
Justice Canady’s Memorandum states that he is confident that with the cooperation of all judges and court staff “along with the tools of the revised rules of court procedure [including the Foreclosure Complaint verification requirements of the Florida Supreme Court], implementation of the managed mediation program, and the influx of court resources” that “the Florida courts will be able to meet this challenge in a manner that protects and preserves the rights of all parties as well as interested observers.” Again, “the rights of ALL parties”, which includes pro se litigants and members of the press.
The message from On High is thus clear: cut the crap and comply with the Law and the Rules which have been enacted to protect everyone. If the Circuit Judges want to get mad at someone, they should direct their anger and frustration at the real perpetrators: the Banksters and their RICO Enterprise tool known as MERS, for causing this debacle nationwide; consistently filing fraudulent documents in court; lying about owning mortgage paper and obligations; and perpetrating on this country what is probably the greatest and most massive fraud ever schemed in the history of the United States. Fortunately, more and more members of the Judiciary are recognizing that the borrowers are the victims and not the bad people that the Banksters’ attorneys consistently and wrongfully portray them to be.
Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com