It just keeps getting better and better…in a recent letter sent to the chief judges of all 20 Florida judicial circuit courts, Chief Justice Charles Canady of the Florida Supreme Court was compelled by horror stories from the foreclosure courts to remind judges they should be following the law when deciding foreclosure cases. The Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi: Courts Helping Banks Screw Over Homeowners from last week appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and finally shed some light on this crisis.
Chief Justice Canady’s letter was spurred by complaints the Judge received from several heavy hitters in the civil rights movement, including the Florida Press Association, the ACLU, the ACLU of Florida, the First Amendment Foundation, the Florida Association of Broadcasters, the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, and the Florida Times-Union.
The problem: judges are barring public access to foreclosure cases. Florida has long been known as a state with free access to the courts. However, some judges and judicial staff are using the excuse that many foreclosure cases are now being heard in judge’s chambers rather than in courtrooms due to space constraints to tell people, including the press and pro se litigants that foreclosure proceedings are closed to the public.
In his letter, Justice Canady offers a scathing rebuke to the judges regarding this behavior. But let me share a little secret with you . . . it is a disgrace that he should have to tell judges that courtrooms are public forums, and he certainly shouldn’t have to remind judges that they should be following that law. How ridiculous is that?