The Sarasota Tribune has always done an excellent job of covering the foreclosure catastrophe that has infected our courtrooms. I attended yesterday’s 2 hour long hearing when Judge Dunnigan handed down the $49,000 penalty and will publish the transcript and Order as soon as they are completed.
More than anything, it’s good to see a judge finally taking notice of the abusive conduct of these foreclosure mills…the abuse effects us all, judges, attorneys, staff…but most importantly taxpayers as a whole. This lack of respect for the courts is causing a great rot in our court system and it’s costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The foreclosure mills have abused our courts, our judges and their staff for so long and so dramatically….the most amazing thing is that judges have put up with it for so long.
Judge Dunnigan’s order and the transcript detailed all the conduct that she was fed up with…scheduling hearings then canceling or not showing up, failing to show respect and consideration for other attorneys and defendants, wasting the court’s time and resources. The Order and the transcript will detail all the abuses.
I felt some sympathy for Roy Diaz as he stood up to take his public flogging, but this newspaper article reminds me that the tone of his testimony was all about excuses and that he failed to recognize the costs his firm had visited upon the court and all the associated players. Then, one of his young attorneys got snippy afterward, excusing the conduct away with an arrogant, “We have 20,0000 cases” dismissal. I particularly wanted to have sympathy for the young attorneys whose careers will forever be slighted by the very serious penalty of a finding of contempt. The fact of the matter is the elder attorneys are walking these young attorneys into trouble and Diaz’ only explaination was that he had to run a volume practice in order to be successful. The judge left open the possibility of holding the attorneys liable for criminal contempt…this may not be the end of this case.
It really isn’t fair to pick out just Smith Hiatt & Diaz for this kind of public sanction…the reality is every single firm should be subject to similar hearings in every circuit. Our courts have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of our taxpayer dollars due to the improper conduct of all the mills. It’s high time taxpayers demanded that our judges seek to recoup some of these funds by taking the kind of judicial action that this judge has If every judge took similar action just once, the foreclosure courts would unclog, their attorneys would be far more responsive and some sanity might begin to prevail in the foreclosure courtroom.