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 play dead.
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.
Read the recusal order here.
If you feel that you have been wronged by the judicial system in Miami-Dade County, please share your story in the comments section below. I, and others, would love to hear about it.
Tags: Alan Schwartz, Audacity, Bank Of America, Bavaro, Eye To Eye, Fireworks, Foreclosure Action, Jaws, Jud, Loan Payment, Miami Dade County, Mortgage, Notice Of Acceleration, Objection, Opportunity, Paragraph, Payment History, Voir Dire, Wall Flower, Witness