Part II: Five Year Statute of Limitations Series “The banks invocation of the ‘Wall Street Rule'”
At a recent seminar with the Daily Business Review, 250 lawyers engaged in the practice of foreclosure law where a number of foreclosure and appellate judges served on a panel with me, I admonished the judicial branch to take heed. Specifically, I suggested that as the Florida Supreme Court in 1939 in Kilgore Groves, Inc. v. Mayo warned, one cannot allow judicial expediency to become the end all in the dispensing and administration of justice; for if that were to occur we would no longer be a society of laws but rather one of men that would allow the whims and notions of the moment to drive the law into an abyss that ultimately moves society towards anarchy.
Obviously, the way the courts are handling the foreclosure trial dockets by dispensing with traditional rules of due process, civil procedure and the rules of evidence puts these issues front and center. At times it would seem to the lowly bystander that the courts and judges are following “lore” rather than the law due to some unseen yet unbearable pressure from the Legislature, the Governor, the Supreme Court and even in some cases the chief judges of a particular Circuit to reduce their outstanding cases at all cost.
I once again suggest that in America historically we judge ourselves as much by the road we choose to take as we do our destination. The process of getting where we go as a nation will ultimately be the predictor of our destiny. How we get through this foreclosure crisis, and for that matter any other subsequent crisis, will be a measure of how we will handle future crises, whether with grace and dignity or simply with an eye to expediency at whatever cost. History will likely look back at this time period as one of the darkest hours in the annals of Florida jurisprudence. I for one do not believe the ends justify the means at any cost. However, I am clearly in a minority when compared to my esteemed brethren on the bench who may think it’s ok to sometimes throw the baby out with the bath water.
May G-d forgive us and them.
From the Trenches,
Much has been written and said about the state of the nation’s foreclosure crisis. South Florida has served as ground zero for much of the mess in the past few years and only recently is starting to dig out from under the mountain of foreclosure filings.
New South Florida foreclosures are down. After reporting the No. 1 foreclosure rate for two consecutive months, the metro area covering Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties fell to third in April, according to RealtyTrac Inc.
Nationwide, foreclosure activity fell to its lowest level in six years.
Meantime, several of the big banks have actually halted foreclosure sales to ensure they are complying with federal guidelines.
In his most recent “From the Trenches” video, Oppenheim about the newly passed foreclosure legislation – HB 87 – which is awaiting Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s signature. Roy wrote a letter to Scott asking him not to sign the bill, pointing out that if passed it could push homeowners out of their residences without the due process to which they are entitled.
There also has been a re-emergence of the so-called “rocket docket” with the Florida Supreme Court giving its blessing to a plan that allows for lawyers to serve as general magistrates to help push the hundreds of thousands pending foreclosures through the court system.
What are the implications of this decision? Watch the video to find out.
Real estate and foreclosure defense attorney, Roy Oppenheim left Wall Street for Main Street, founding Oppenheim Law along with his wife Ellen in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He also is vice president of Weston Title and creator of the South Florida Law Blog, named the best business and technology blog by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Follow Roy on Twitter at @OpLaw or like Oppenheim Law on Facebook
I am repeating this because the message is just not getting through. This country was built on a system which held the rule of law in the highest regard and protected our judicial system.
That is what I learned in 8th grade civics class, anyway.
Whatever issues I might have with our political process and the ways influence can be garnered, with a few exceptions judges have been allowed to focus on the law and nothing else.
Yet again and again the judicial branch is being brought down into the muck, by both politicians and big business, without any hint of shame or contempt. It is seen now as another commodity which can be used to exert power by the brokers who seek to impose their will.
In this case it is the Republican Party of Florida which is trying to have its way in the courtroom. If it was the Democrats who were meddling, I would be just as opposed.
The RPOF voted to oppose the merit retention of three Florida Supreme Court Justices. Why? Their statement is brief and and extremely vague, and claims there is extensive ‘evidence of judicial activism’, yet cites just one case where these judges voted to set aside a death penalty case.
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