The Pino Appeal is Florida’s Ibanez moment. The Florida Supreme Court will soon decide just how serious Florida courts are going to take systematic, repetitive fraud on the Courts of the State of Florida. The bottom line is this….
Will banks and foreclosure mills be given a free pass or will the Rule of Law be upheld in courtrooms across this state?
What will our courts do when confronted with evidence of widespread and systematic fraud on the court?
Here are the real issues, directly from the transcript:
MS. GIDDINGS: I’m urging you to consider this case in the grand scheme of things. If you allow courts to go back and open up all of these cases, when it’s clear on the face that there was no affirmative relief obtained, or that the affirmative relief would not have been material, then you’re going to create chaos in the court system.
JUDGE FARMER: So, are you suggesting that this fraud has been that widespread that it —
MS. GIDDINGS: Your Honor, I’m not acknowledging that any fraud occurred. I think that there is — we all know —
JUDGE FARMER: Why would we shrink — as a court system, why would we shrink, no matter how many cases it might involve, from looking out for attempts to defraud courts to publish and utter and use false
instruments? Why wouldn’t we be most vigilant?
JUDGE POLEN: These matters contained in Mr. Stern’s law firm are the subject of an investigation by the Attorney General, are they not?
MR. NIEVES: Yes, they are.
JUDGE POLEN: — to know that not just one, but perhaps dozens or hundreds of lawsuits filed in courts with fraudulent documents are being used as a basis to get foreclosures against people who don’t have the benefit of Mr. Nieves’ law firm to represent them.
JUDGE FARMER: Fraud on the Court is not material?
MS. GIDDINGS: Your Honor, fraud on the Court —
JUDGE FARMER: Publishing false documents is not material?
MS. GIDDINGS: Fraud on the Court did not occur in this case.
JUDGE FARMER: It didn’t.
MS. GIDDINGS: A document was filed, but nothing was ever heard before the Court. And if you look at the service expert’s case —
JUDGE FARMER: Let’s just confront that for a minute. I mean, to the extent that the cases that you talk about, Select, and the others talk about, and that is, achieving affirmative relief and all that stuff, I’m wondering if they’re not just talking about two different things as two separate grounds. In other words, obtaining or using voluntary dismissal after you’ve already gotten relief in some way may be one kind of piece of voluntary dismissal, but not under an entirely separate kind may be fraud or attempted fraud on the Court. I don’t know why we would adopt a rule of our inherent powers to deal with fraud in the Court, why we would engage in a reading that says only if the fraud proves to have been successful. And that is to say if the representee relied, to its detriment, on the fraud and changed their position and did stuff, only then would we allow relief of any kind. That strikes me as not —
JUDGE POLEN: I see a number of distinguishing factors, most important of which the alleged fraud that occurred in that case pertained to two affidavits which were filed by the appellee which the appellant suggested were fraudulent in furtherance of a motion for summary judgment, but only because they’re contesting the factual allegations and apparent inconsistencies that may have existed in those affidavits. Now, that may be considered some kind of fraud. But it’s not the kind of fraud on the Court that would be if the appellant here could prove their allegations, where documents filed in support of a mortgage foreclosure proceeding were fraudulently generated by employees of the attorney hired by your client.
And the bottom line:
To sum everything up, if this Court affirms the
Trial Court, it’s basically saying that it’s okay to
lie, cheat and steal, as long as, when you get
caught, you voluntarily dismiss the case. And that’s
what they’re trying to do, just allow the judges of
Florida to put a little sunshine in these issues, and
you can allow the courts to address the prevailing
fraud. By itself, that would deter a lot of these
abuses, when you empower our judges and allow them to
deal with the issues.
Click below and watch the Oral Arguments