So began a foreclosure trial I had this week. The judge began, in a most perfunctory way…
I SEE FORECLOSURES VERY SIMPLY, YOUR CLIENT DIDN’T PAY….THEY LOSE.
Shortly thereafter I took out my appellate cases that remind judges (primarily in the context of criminal proceedings) that they must remain neutral, impartial and show fairness to all litigants…even those charged with heinous crimes. I reminded the judge that my client was entitled to the presumption that she would win…not a presumption that the bank was entitled to win.
I set the tone early, objecting to every single thing that was coming out of the bank attorney’s mouth, and pointing out that his witness had absolutely no basis to make the accusations against my client that he was making. This of course infuriated the bank side and started to be very irritating to the judge. But I know my job and I presented both of them with a big fat stack of case law which supported every single objection I was making.
YOUR HONOR, THE CASE LAW IS CLEAR…THIS WITNESS CANNOT MAKE THESE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST MY CLIENT!
The bank lawyer was incredulous, the bank witness was incredulous…but the judge was buried deep into reading the cases that I presented to him…(carefully and precisely highlighted)
MR. BANK, I’M SORRY, BUT ACCORDING TO THE CASES MR. WEIDNER SHOWS ME, HE’S RIGHT AND I’M GOING TO SUSTAIN HIS OBJECTIONS
Keep in mind now, this exchange was the very first little bit of the day. The bank lawyer got boxed in, quite literally with the first sentence out of his mouth. The case should have been over for them right away. I told them they should take a dismissal so they could come back and try it again. But he wouldn’t listen. The bank lawyer kept repeating to me and my client
I’M BATTING A 1000% OF FORECLOSURE JUDGEMENTS IN FRONT OF THIS JUDGE…I’M NOT GOING TO LOSE
The bank lawyer was arrogant. And unprepared. And by repeating that statement, he only made my client…who believed in the justice system….more angry. Worse, the comment showed deep disrespect for the court. He failed to accept that this good judge was going to do his job and follow the laws and the rules.
Now, keep in mind this judge was quite stern, quite resistant to the fact that i would dare to come in his courtroom and make a defense of a foreclosure case. He was quite accustomed to granting judgements…because that’s what most typically happened in foreclosure cases. In fact, as we sat there waiting for our case to be called, I watched one judgment after another being entered. Never mind though, after several testy exchanges…intense, forceful, but with respect for the court, the judge slid comfortably back into his role as a real judge. Impartial and willing to be guided by the law…the law carefully presented to him in the binders and binders of case law that I carry with me into a courtroom.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FORECLOSURE DEFENSE AND A FORECLOSURE PLAINTIFF? I CARRY WITH ME BINDERS OF CASES….THE BANK LAWYER HAD NONE!
The trial day lasted six hours…..and that’s on top of the roughly 6 hours I spent preparing for the trial. Every document, carefully examined. Every potential worst case scenario considered. Cases that I know by heart, re-read so that I could quote them on the fly.
At first it seemed clear to me that the judge did not appreciate that I was putting up such a defense. But by the end of the day, I think he respected the fact that I prepared and put on a real defense of foreclosure. I certainly had great respect for this judge that did in fact treat this case with neutrality. He didn’t like the fact that the defendant won….but he respected his most sacred position as a neutral enforcer of the law.