Many of you know that I was in trial this morning for a Miami-Dade County
foreclosure client. The judge was the Honorable Alan Schwartz. It was
quite the show that left jaws dropping in open court. The judge allowed
the note and mortgage into evidence without objection from me. Then the
bank tried to introduce the Notice of Acceleration and the loan payment
history. I objected and asked the court to allow me to voir dire the witness
prior to the introduction of the records. This means I asked for the right
to question the witness about their knowledge regarding the records keeping
practices of Bank of America. The judge did not allow me to ask any questions
at this stage and allowed the documents into evidence over objection.
So, the bank rested and I got an opportunity to cross examine the witness,
or so I thought. I was barely allowed to even ask a question. He shot
me down almost every time I asked something. When I went to put my position
on the record, he would not allow me to open my mouth. Well, I am not
a wall flower, I am going to stand up for my clients.
The acceleration notice that Bank of America sent was invalid in my opinion
and about a dozen other judges around the state have found in favor of
the homeowner on this very issue with the same acceleration letter from
Bank of America. When I raised this to him, he could not believe that
I had the audacity to actually ask him to rule in favor of my client.
He implied that he is not going to allow a homeowner to stay in their
homes without paying their mortgage even if the bank screwed up. When
I asked to read the appellate opinions into the record regarding the paragraph
22 defense, his response was basically that he did not care about the
letter they sent and the fact that they filed a foreclosure action alone
is good enough for him.
At that point I asked the judge to respect my client's due process
rights and pointed out that he was ignoring appellate cases from around
the state. At that point he turned to the bank's lawyer and said "I
guess I better let Benjamin Cordozo III ask some questions". I took
this as a personal attack on me, so I asked the judge to recuse himself
because by making that statement he showed that he could not be fair to
me or my client. He then said that I should take it as a compliment, but
he clearly did not mean it as a compliment. He meant to insult me in my
opinion. I said that not only was it not a compliment, but I believe that
the court intended to slight me in the middle of trial in front of a courtroom
full of people. He was not too pleased at this point that I was standing
up to him. I started to hand write a motion to recuse him on a piece of
yellow notebook paper when he then said that he would recuse himself.
Afterwards when the court reporter started to get up, he made a number
of personal attacks on me. Fortunately, the court reporter got back in
her seat and got the personal attacks on the record (hopefully, I am waiting
for the transcript). At one point he even said I would have a "short
and unhappy career". I am not sure if that was meant to be a threat
or not. Well, Your Honor, I have been practicing law for over thirteen
years and, thank the Almighty above, my career has been extremely successful
because I work hard, I fight for my clients, and I never roll over and
In the thousands of cases I have handled, I do not recall ever asking judges
to disqualify themselves, but what is going on in Miami-Dade county before
certain judges is a travesty of justice. I see homeowner after homeowner
losing their homes every day without regard to due process of law. I even
saw Judge Alan Schwartz force a case to trial when the homeowner had a
Motion to Dismiss pending that had not been ruled on yet. So, the homeowner
did not even get to file any affirmative defenses! The case was not at
issue and it was CLEALRLY error to force the case to trial. Of the 40
or so cases set for trial today, my client was the only one who walked
out of there without a sale date, except for a couple of cases where the
bank failed to show up.
Miami-Dade county is just setting hundreds of foreclosure cases for trial
at a time without regard to whether any attorney is available or ready.
I think this is a problem and shows that in Miami-Dade county, they are
just interested in plowing through foreclosures, not administering justice
and due process. I am an experienced trial attorney and I will try foreclosure
cases all day long because I love fighting for my clients. However, at
least give the homeowners a fair shake and rule in their favor when appropriate.