In the past couple of years, we’ve written a number of articles—not quite a series, but more than a couple—asking the following question regarding whether or not judges are impartial, or favor Goliath over David, or whether they really can do whatever they want or have to follow the law: “Judges—dupes or in on it?” After reading this short blog entry from Florida foreclosure defense attorney Mark Stopa (i.e., one of the good guys), I’m very much inclined to come down decisively on the side of totally in on it. Check out what this judge did, according to Stopa:
This case was over. Deutsche failed to meet its burden of proof, and an involuntary dismissal was required. The presiding judge knew it and admitted as much yet refused to rule accordingly. Instead, the court took a recess, went to its Chambers, sua sponte conducted a Google search to procure the missing evidence for Deutsche, resumed court, handed the internet printout to Deutsche, suggested Deutsche re-open its case, admitted the printout into evidence over objection, and used that internet printout as the basis for its ruling.
Essentially, the judge acted as an unpaid–and totally partial–advocate for the bank. He did volunteer attorney work for the bank right there in his chambers. Then he took off his helpful bank attorney hat, put on his judge hat, and then actually used the evidence he had just found to rule in favor of the bank! WTF? Forget acronyms, y’all—what the actual fuck?
I mean, it’d be one thing if judges did the same type of thing for homeowners every once in a while. The judge would still be acting ultra vires, or at least inappropriately, but at least it would level the playing field. But they don’t do it for homeowners (especially in Florida, the home of the infamous foreclosure rocket docket). As I put it in the first “Judges: Dupes or in on it?” article:
“Judges have to know what’s going on. They read the news. They’re not naive. We’re always told that judges can do whatever they want, and at some point one has to ask–if that is so, why does “whatever they want” almost always seem to be to throw homeowners in the street on the strength of fake documents?”
In the case Stopa is talking about, the documents may not have been fake, but as Stopa pointed out in his very damning brief, the documents were unauthenticated and were not certified copies. But the judge sure as hell did what he wanted and showed that his loyalties and sympathies lie not with impartial justice, but with the banks. Imagine if a homeowner had brought in a printout of a Google search conducted a few minutes earlier, waved it around and insisted that it be used to decide the case in his favor? Oh, the haughty sport his honorable Google searcher would’ve made of that. The derision would’ve been brutal—at the very least the “don’t confuse your Google search with my law degree” type of attitude would’ve been trotted out.
As you might unfortunately expect, the judge thought he did nothing wrong. His exact words, from Stopa’s appeal brief: “I feel pretty confident that I was within my rights as a judge to do what I did.” Unbelievable.
Anyway, to answer the age-old question that we here at LRM only started asking out loud about two years ago (after thinking it silently to ourselves for much, much longer)—”Judges, dupes or in on it?”—Stopa’s experience confirms what we suspected all along, that the latter is true, i.e., in on it. Rigged. And you can take that to the bank, pun very much intended.
Question is, what do we do about it?