Voter Fraud: 670 Ballots Cast in Georgia Precinct with 276 Voters (There’s No Place Like Home!)


Image Credits: Joe Raedle / Getty.

Voter Fraud: 670 Ballots Cast in Georgia Precinct with 276 Voters
Voting irregularities come as state investigated other instances of voter fraud
Katherine Rodriguez | Breitbart – August 8, 2018 0 Comments
Voter Fraud: 670 Ballots Cast in Georgia Precinct with 276 Voters
https://www.infowars.com/voter-fraud-670-ballots-cast-in-georgia-precinct-with-276-voters/

Six hundred and seventy ballots were cast in a Georgia precinct with 276 registered voters in the state’s primary election, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

A northeastern Georgia precinct located in Habersham County had 276 registered voters before the state’s primary elections at the end of May, but 670 votes were recorded—indicating that 276 percent of voters turned out in Georgia’s primary election, McClatchy reported.

The recently publicized voting irregularities come as the state investigated other instances of voter fraud—including one where an Atlanta City Hall staffer claimed she had to “print and deliver 500 blank absentee ballots” to an advocacy group staffer and pick up additional ballots from the Atlanta mayor’s campaign office to drop them off at an office in Fulton County.

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Georgia judge faces renewed ethics scrutiny after journalist’s charges dropped

Georgia judge faces renewed ethics scrutiny after journalist’s charges dropped

July 8th, 2016 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News Read Time: 5 mins.

Fannin Focus Publisher Mark Thomason, who was arrested…

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee dropped…

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Now that the criminal charges against a North Georgia journalist have been dropped, the questions he originally raised about his local government are back in the forefront.

Fannin Focus Publisher Mark Thomason, who was arrested last month after seeking bank account documents through a subpoena and open records request, said Thursday he intends to continue pursuing the information. In particular, he wonders why Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver used public money to fund a private civil lawsuit against his newspaper, and why local county commissioners have no oversight of her account.

“We’ll see where this leads,” Thomason said Thursday, hours after Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee said she would not prosecute him despite a grand jury indictment.

Sosebee wrote in a court motion that she was declining to prosecute Thomason or his attorney at the request of Weaver, the alleged victim in the case. Weaver, meanwhile, told Sosebee in a letter Wednesday that she felt the district attorney had more pressing criminal cases to worry about than the one against Thomason.

In the same letter, Weaver continued to attack Thomason’s credibility.

“As a public official,” she wrote, “I must expect not only false reporting in newspaper articles and television (which I have always understood), but I should ignore even blatant false allegations made in written emails to county commissioners.”

At the request of Weaver, Sosebee presented a case to a grand jury on June 24 against Thomason and his attorney, Russell Stookey. The grand jury returned indictments against the two on counts of identity fraud and attempted identity fraud, saying that Thomason and Stookey attempted to get into Weaver’s account, which they believe to be off limits.

The grand jury also indicted Thomason on a count of making a false statement for a records request he sent to Pickens County earlier this month, in which he asked for checks sent to Weaver’s account that he believed were “cashed illegally.” After Thomason’s and Stookey’s arrest last month, First Amendment and journalism foundations demanded that Sosebee drop the charges.

Origins of the case

The dispute between Thomason and Weaver started more than a year ago, with a different controversy. In March 2015, Superior Court Judge Roger Bradley told a story from the bench during a hearing in Fannin County Superior Court about a man he used to know named “[n-word] Bob.”

Thomason wrote about Bradley’s statement. A month later, when court reporter Rhonda Stubblefield released a transcript of the hearing, Thomason wrote a second article questioning the accuracy of Stubblefield’s transcript. He said other witnesses in the courtroom reported that members of the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office also used the racial slur, though those statements did not appear in Stubblefield’s transcript.

Thomason filed an open records request for Stubblefield’s audio recording of that court hearing. Stubblefield declined the request. Thomason then hired Stookey and filed a court motion, demanding the audio under the Open Records Act. A judge from outside the Appalachian Judicial Circuit listened to the audio and declined Thomason’s request, saying the recording did not suggest Stubblefield’s transcript was inaccurate.

Stubblefield, in turn, filed a $1.6 million libel lawsuit against Thomason, though she later dropped the case.

In November, Weaver wrote a letter to county commissioners, informing them that she was going to use her publicly funded operating account to pay for Stubblefield’s legal expenses, which came to about $17,000. Stubblefield is not a county employee, and her legal fees are not covered by county insurance.

“People may agree or disagree as far as the payment of it,” Weaver said during a Fannin County Tea Party Patriots meeting in February. “She had done absolutely nothing wrong. The court reporters are not required to have any insurance. I just did not think it was fair to her. We judges talked about it, to bear the expense of that.”

After the meeting, Thomason filed an open records request with Weaver, asking for the checks she had sent to Stubblefield’s lawyer.

“The judicial branch is not considered a ‘government agency’ for the purpose of the Open Records Act,” Weaver wrote back on Feb. 12, declining his request.

Last month, after Stubblefield’s lawyer argued in court that Thomason should actually have to pay for her attorney’s fees instead of county taxpayers, Thomason and Stookey subpoenaed Weaver’s operating account. Thomason also filed the records request with Pickens County, asking for checks they had sent Weaver for her account.

Sosebee, who served as Weaver’s clerk in 2001 and later worked in the law practice of Weaver’s husband, then sought criminal charges against Thomason.

County funds

The money for Weaver’s operating account comes from the local governments of Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties, or at least some of it does. Fannin County Finance Director Rita Davis-Kirby said Weaver’s account may also contain money from the state government, though it’s not the county’s business to know about Weaver’s funds.

“Once we release our quarterly payment to the judges,” she said, “they’re free to use that money however they see fit.”

Fannin County Commission Chairman Bill Simonds said the counties give Weaver money for her operating account four times a year and let her use it without oversight. He said that is standard practice in Georgia, pointing out that Whitfield County does the same thing.

But Whitfield County Administrator Mark Gibson said that is not true. He said judges present budget proposals to the county commissioners, with a breakdown of how the money will be spent. The commissioners then decide whether to award the judge the money he or she has asked for.

“That would be unusual for [judges] to have their own private accounts,” he said. “We certainly wouldn’t do it, I can tell you that. That’s wild.”

Catoosa County Manager Jim Walker and Dade County Executive Ted Rumley said their local governments also do not let superior court judges use operating accounts.

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, who took office in the beginning of 2015, said he did not know how long his county had given Weaver her own private account. He said he wants to research the issue more before deciding whether to continue operating that way.

It’s also unclear whether Weaver was allowed to use public money on a private lawsuit against the newspaper, said Jessica Gabel Cino, the associate dean for academic affairs for the Georgia State University College of Law.

“It seems to me the judge shouldn’t just use the funds unless there is something on paper that enables her to do so,” Cino wrote in an email, adding that Weaver has not made it clear whether she has specific jurisdiction to use the money in that manner.

Looking forward

Since the arrest, Thomason and the Georgia Society of Professional Journalists have filed complaints against Weaver with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the state agency in charge of overseeing judges. Weaver also happens to be the chairwoman of that agency’s board, appointed by the state supreme court.

It’s unclear how the commission will react to the complaints. First, the Georgia constitution prohibits the agency from publicly commenting on investigations. Second, the agency’s lone position for an investigator is unfilled. And third, the agency’s board meetings are closed to the public.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

DeKalb Commission remains 2 representatives down

 By Mark Niesse

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/dekalb-commission-remains-2-representatives-down/ng82P/

Photo: DeKalb Commission nominee George Turner photo
George Turner, nominee for DeKalb District 5 Commissioner

The DeKalb County Commission’s five remaining members delayed a vote Tuesday to select a temporary commissioner, leaving the body with five of seven seats filled.

The Commission had been scheduled to vote on the appointment of George Turner, an involved member of the southeast DeKalb community, to fill the seat previously held by Interim CEO Lee May, representing about 140,000 residents. But Commissioner Stan Watson made a motion to hold the vote next month, and it passed unanimously without debate.

The other vacant seat belonged to former Commissioner Elaine Boyer, who resigned Monday. Her north DeKalb seat will be filled in a special election.

The southeast DeKalb district seat hasn’t been filled for more than a year since May became the county’s chief executive when Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to replace suspended CEO Burrell Ellis, who is scheduled to go on trial next month.

Ellis faces charges that he pressured and threatened county contractors for campaign contributions.

——————-

Updated: 4:13 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 | Posted: 10:11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014

DeKalb Commissioner Boyer could serve prison time

By Johnny Edwards and Mark Niesse

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/criminal-charges-filed-against-former-dekalb-commi/ng82z/

A TRUE MUST READ!

By Paul Craig Roberts – Police Are More Dangerous To The Public Than Are Criminals, (Explained to Where Even Sheeple Can Understand!)

A MUST READ FOR EVERY AMERICAN!

From:  http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/09/16/police-are-more-dangerous-to-the-public-than-are-criminals-paul-craig-roberts/

Latest Book

 PCR’s new book, HOW AMERICA WAS LOST, is now available:In Print by Clarity Press and In Ebook Format by Atwell Publishing

 

Police Are More Dangerous To The Public Than Are Criminals — Paul Craig Roberts

The goon thug psychopaths no longer only brutalize minorities–it is open season on all of us –the latest victim is a petite young white mother of two small children

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36211.htm

Police Are More Dangerous To The Public Than Are Criminals

Paul Craig Roberts

The worse threat every American faces comes from his/her own government.

At the federal level the threat is a seventh war (Syria) in 12 years, leading on to the eighth and ninth (Iran and Lebanon) and then on to nuclear war with Russia and China.

The criminal psychopaths in Washington have squandered trillions of dollars on their wars, killing and dispossessing millions of Muslims while millions of American citizens have been dispossessed of their homes and careers. Now the entire social safety net is on the chopping bloc so that Washington can finance more wars.

At the state and local level every American faces brutal, armed psychopaths known as the police. The “law and order” conservatives and the “compassionate” liberals stand silent while police psychopaths brutalize children and grandmothers, murder double amputees in wheel chairs, break into the wrong homes, murder the family dogs, and terrify the occupants, pointing their automatic assault weapons in the faces of small children.

The American police perform no positive function. They pose a much larger threat to citizens than do the criminals who operate without a police badge. Americans would be safer if the police forces were abolished.

The police have been militarized and largely federalized by the Pentagon and the gestapo Homeland Security. The role of the federal government in equipping state and local police with military weapons, including tanks, and training in their use has essentially removed the police from state and local control. No matter how brutal any police officer, it is rare that any suffer more than a few months suspension, usually with full pay, while a report is concocted that clears them of any wrong doing.

In America today, police murder with impunity. All the psychopaths have to say is, “I thought his wallet was a gun,” or “we had to taser the unconscious guy we found lying on the ground, because he wouldn’t obey our commands to get up.”

There are innumerable cases of 240 pound cop psychopaths beating a 115 pound woman black and blue. Or handcuffing and carting off to jail 6 and 7 year old boys for having a dispute on the school playground.

Many Americans take solace in their erroneous belief that this only happens to minorities who they believe deserve it, but psychopaths use their unaccountable power against everyone. The American police are a brutal criminal gang free of civilian control.

Unaccountable power, which the police have, always attracts psychopaths. You are lucky if you only get bullies, but mainly police forces attract people who enjoy hurting people and tyrannizing them. To inflict harm on the public is why psychopaths join police forces.

Calling the police is a risky thing to do. Often it is the person who calls for help or some innocent person who ends up brutalized or murdered by the police. For example, on September 15 CNN reported a case of a young man who wrecked his car and went to a nearby house for help. The woman, made paranoid by the “war on crime,” imagined that she was in danger and called police. When the police arrived, the young man ran up to them, and the police shot him dead. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/15/justice/north-carolina-police-shooting/

People who say the solution is better police training are unaware of how the police are trained. Police are trained to perceive the public as the enemy and to use maximum force. I have watched local police forces train. Two or three dozen officers will simultaneously empty their high-capacity magazines at the same target, a minimum of 300 bullets fired at one target. The purpose is to completely destroy whatever is on the receiving end of police fire.

US prosecutors seem to be the equal to police in terms of the psychopaths in their ranks. The United States, “the light unto the world,” not only has the highest percentage of its population in prison of every other country in the world, but also has the largest absolute number of people in prison. The US prison population is much larger in absolute numbers that the prison populations of China and India, countries with four times the US population.

Just try to find a prosecutor who gives a hoot about the innocence or guilt of the accused who is in his clutches. All the prosecutor cares about is his conviction rate. The higher his conviction rate, the greater his success even if every person convicted is innocent. The higher his conviction rate, the more likely he can run for public office.

Many prosecutors, such as Rudy Giuliani, target well known people so that they can gain name recognition via the names of their victims.

The American justice (sic) system serves the political ambitions of prosecutors and the murderous lusts of police psychopaths. It serves the profit motives of the privatized prisons who need high occupancy rates for their balance sheets.

But you can bet your life that the American justice (sic) system does not serve justice.

While writing this article, I googled “police brutality,” and google delivered 4,100,000 results. If a person googles “police brutality videos,” he will discover that there are more videos than could be watched in a lifetime. And these are only those acts of police brutality that are witnessed and caught on camera.

It would take thousands of pages just to compile the information available.

The facts seem to support the case that police in the US commit more crimes and acts of violence against the public than do the criminals who do not wear badges. According to the FBI crime Statisticshttp://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/summary in 2010 there were 1,246,248 violent crimes committed by people without police badges. Keep in mind that the definition of violent crime can be an expansive definition. For example, simply to push someone is considered assault. If two people come to blows in an argument, both have committed assault. However, even with this expansive definition of violent crimes, police assaults are both more numerous and more dangerous, as it is usually a half dozen overweight goon thugs beating and tasering one person.

Reports of police brutality are commonplace, but hardly anything is ever done about them. For example, on September 10, AlterNet reported that Houston, Texas, police routinely beat and murder local citizens.http://www.alternet.org/investigations/cops-are-beating-unarmed-suspect-nearly-every-day-houston?akid=10911.81835.yRJa7d&rd=1&src=newsletter894783&t=9&paging=off

The threat posed to the public by police psychopaths is growing rapidly. Last July 19 the Wall Street Journal reported: “Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment–from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers–American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the US scene: the warrior cop–armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”

The Wall Street Journal, being an establishment newspaper, has to put it as nicely as possible. The bald fact is that today’s cop in body armor with assault weapons, grenades, and tanks is not there to make arrests of suspected criminals. He is there in anticipation of protests to beat down the public for exercising constitutional rights.

To suppress public protests is also the purpose of the Department of Homeland Security Police, a federal para-military police force that is a new development for the United States. No one in their right mind could possibly think that the vast militarized police have been created because of “the terrorist threat.” Terrorists are so rare that the FBI has to round up demented people and talk them into a plot so that the “terrorist threat” can be kept alive in the public’s mind.

The American public is too brainwashed to be able to defend itself. Consider the factthat cops seldom face any consequence when they murder citizens. We never hear cops called “citizen killer.” But if a citizen kills some overbearing cop bully, the media go ballistic: “Cop killer, cop killer.” The screaming doesn’t stop until the cop killer is executed.

As long as a brainwashed public continues to accept that cop lives are more precious than their own, citizens will continue to be brutalized and murdered by police psychopaths.

I can remember when the police were different. If there was a fight, the police broke it up. If it was a case of people coming to blows over a dispute, charges were not filed. If it was a clear case of assault, unless it was brutal or done with use of a weapon, the police usually left it up to the victim to file charges.

When I lived in England, the police walked their beats armed only with their billysticks.

When and why did it all go wrong? Among the collection of probable causes are the growth or urban populations, the onslaught of heavy immigration on formerly stable and predictable neighborhoods, the war on drugs, and management consultants called in to improve efficiency who focused police on quantitative results, such as the number of arrests, and away from such traditional goals as keeping the peace and investigating reported crimes.

Each step of the way accountability was removed in order to more easily apprehend criminals and drug dealers. The “war on terror” was another step, resulting in the militarization of the police.

The replacement of jury trials with plea bargains meant that police investigations ceased to be tested in court or even to support the plea, usually a fictitious crime reached by negotiation in order to obtain a guilty plea. Police learned that all prosecutors needed was a charge and that little depended on police investigations. Police work became sloppy. It was easier simply to pick up a suspect who had a record of having committed a similar crime.

As justice receded as the goal, the quality of people drawn into police work changed. Idealistic people found that their motivations were not compatible with the process, while bullies and psychopaths were attracted by largely unaccountable power.

Much of the blame can be attributed to “law and order” conservatives. Years ago when New York liberals began to observe the growing high-handed behavior of police, they called for civilian police review boards. Conservatives, such as National Review’s William F. Buckley, went berserk, claiming that any oversight over the police would hamstring the police and cause crime to explode.

The conservatives could see no threat in the police, only in an effort to hold police accountable. As far as I can tell, this is still the mindset.

What we observed in the police response to the Boston Marathon bombing suggests that the situation is irretrievable. One of the country’s largest cities and its suburbs–100 square miles–was tightly locked down with no one permitted to leave their homes, while 10,000 heavily armed police, essentially combat soldiers armed with tanks, forced their way into people’s homes, ordering them out at gunpoint. The excuse given for this unprecedented gestapo police action was a search for one wounded 19-year old kid.

That such a completely unnecessary and unconstitutional event could occur in Boston without the responsible officials being removed from office indicates that “the land of the free” no longer exists. The American population of the past, suspicious of government and jealous of its liberty, has been replaced by a brainwashed and fearful people, who are increasingly referred to as “the sheeple.”

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About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts 

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

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Office Depot Memorial Drive Stone Mountain, GA 3-4 Hours to Make a Copy

Office Depot Acting Like Idiots

 
Have you ever been to Office Depot, where everyone wants to act like an idiot?

I sent someone to Office Depot today.  All he needed was three cover sheets printed onto 50-65# card stock.  He knows nothing about these things, and is from another country.

Anyway, the idiots in there told him that it would be 3-4 hours to make three copies on 50-65# card stock, because they have to change the paper?  What kind of bullshit is that?  3-4 Hours?  Hell, all they have to do, is take the three pieces of card stock over to the copier, stick those three blank pieces of card stock on top of the paper in the copier, and but the document to be copied onto the scanner, punch 3 for 3 copies, and hit enter.

How hard is that?  I swear Alex Jones and the others are absolutely right about us being “dumbed down”, that is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard.  3-4 hours for 3 copies.  I was in printing back before computers took over, and hell, you could wash up the printing press, put the new ink in, warm it up, install the plate on the drum, and get it registering, and print 3 sheets of card stock in 15 minutes tops.  And they are going to tell me that it will take 3-4 hours to change a copier over to print on card stock, when I know for a fact, it will print on that stock, without changing a damned thing.

Ok, Good Luck To All Out There Having to Get Something Printed on Card Stock at the Office Depot Memorial Drive Stone Mountain, GA!

Overwhelmingly, Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

I have been trying to get the time to post something, anything.  I hate my Blogs to sit without activity, and I appreciate all my followers and readers.  I really do.

I have to be honest with yall.  I have been overwhelmed.  I’ve tried not to be.  I’ve tried to let it all go, and not worry about things.  I failed to do so.  

Between the Banksters, the Globalists, the Feds, ObamaCare Joke, DHS, Cops shooting people all over the place, Cops shooting dogs for wagging their tails, Seven cops beating a dead man.  

Then there is Fukushima, and Foreclosure Hell going 100 mph.  Where does it end?  It don’t, it just gets worse.

So…we do what we can, and this week, I have decided that we will warn others about eating the fish!  Don’t eat seafood and don’t eat the fish for God’s sake, unless it came from the local catfish farm or whatever.

We went to netc.com and purchased our monitoring station, and we are up and running and monitoring for radiation spikes.  At least we are informed, and we are not walking around like sheeple.  

You must realize that our government is not going to talk about Fukushima, no one is talking about it.

http://enenews.com/magazine-the-fukushima-crisis-comes-to-the-u-s-professor-new-and-improved-version-of-the-original-atomic-plague-is-spreading-the-truth-is-so-incomprehensible-its-easier-to-pretend-it-does

I promise, I will try to find time to write every few days.  You promise not to eat seafood…. Please.

 

J&J

Judiciary Has Become a Disappointment to MarK Stopa and The Rest Of US!

Foreclosure Court: The Erosion of the Judiciary

http://www.stayinmyhome.com/foreclosure-court-the-erosion-of-the-judiciary/

Posted on September 2nd, 2013 by Mark Stopa

 I’m a big believer in the justice system.  In fact, that’s part of why I became a lawyer.  I believe in every litigant’s right to obtain a fair hearing and trial before a neutral judge and/or impartial jury.  It sounds cliché, but that’s what I do – help people navigate the judicial system in their time of need. 

In recent months, though, the judiciary in many parts of Florida (not all, but many) has turned into something I don’t recognize.  The change has been so sudden and so extreme that it’s altering the face of the judiciary and hindering that which I hold so dear – the right to fair hearings and due process.  Yes, what I consider the “core” of a fully-functioning judicial system is eroding. 

If you’re a Florida lawyer but you don’t handle foreclosure cases, you likely have no idea what I’m talking about.  After all, outside of foreclosure-world, Florida’s courts are operating like normal, business as usual.  Sure, the down economy has brought some minor changes, but all in all, our courts are functioning in a normal way. 

Foreclosure cases, though, are a totally different animal. 

I was chatting with a colleague the other day, an attorney who doesn’t handle foreclosure lawsuits, and he was shocked as I described the things I see in foreclosure court on a daily basis.  This is a seasoned attorney who was SHOCKED at what I see every day.  That made me realize … I’m not doing a good enough job of explaining the travesties I see every day in foreclosure-world. 

It’s a tough line to toe, frankly.  Bar rules prohibit me from disparaging any particular judge, so it’s sometimes difficult to explain what’s happening in foreclosure court without crossing that line.  In this blog, though, I’m going to toe that line.  Don’t misunderstand – I’m not criticizing anyone in particular.  Rather, my critique – and that’s what I see this as, a constructive critique, coupled with a hope that everyone will realize just how flawed our system has become – is aimed at the entire institution.  My concerns aren’t with any particular judge or any one ruling – they lie with the entire judicial system, the way the entire judiciary is operating right now, at least as it pertains to foreclosure cases. 

I know what you’re thinking.  I’m just a self-interested, foreclosure defense attorney who’s trying to delay foreclosures and let people live for free.  I’m upset because the courts are making that more difficult.  Right?

Before you blow off my concerns in that manner, you tell me.  Are my concerns legitimate?  Is this how a judicial system should operate?  You tell me … 

As a foreclosure defense lawyer, I’ve seen pro se homeowners attend hearings in their cases and not be allowed to speak.  Not one word.  It wasn’t that the judge didn’t hear the homeowner or didn’t realize he/she was present, either – the homeowner asked the judge to speak at a duly-noticed hearing and was not permitted to do so.  Homeowner loses, yet couldn’t say one word.  Isolated incident, you say?  I’ve personally seen it more than once. 

Not being permitted to speak has not been limited to pro se homeowners.  I have personally been threatened with criminal contempt – criminal contempt – for moving to disqualify a judge after striking my defenses without letting me say one word about those defenses.  Your defenses are stricken, you can’t talk, and if you complain about it, I’ll throw you in jail. 

In many parts of Florida, attorneys are not permitted to attend foreclosure hearings by phone – regardless of how insignificant or short the hearing may be.  Never mind that the Florida Supreme Court created a rule of judicial administration which requires phone appearances be permitted for hearings that are 15 minutes or less absent “good cause” – in many parts of Florida, attendance by phone is simply not permitted. 

I’ve heard some justify this procedure by explaining how it’s difficult to deal with phone appearances in foreclosure cases.  Really?  How is it any more difficult than in other types of cases?  Frankly, I can’t help but wonder if the prohibition on phone appearances is designed to make it harder for defense lawyers to appear in cases for homeowners, enabling the courts to push through those cases faster.  (Prohibiting phone appearances obviously makes it harder and more expensive to attend hearings, often making the difference in a homeowner’s ability to afford counsel.) 

That’s an absurd proposition, though, right?  Why would our courts care how quickly foreclosure lawsuits are litigated?  Judges are neutral arbiters – they don’t care how quickly the cases are adjudicated.  Do they? 

The answer to that question is at the heart of the problem.  In recent months, the Florida legislature has been putting immense pressure on Florida judges to clear the backlog of foreclosure lawsuits.  How much pressure?  Well, the legislature controls the amount of funding that goes to our courts – funding that is needed to retain new judges, senior judges, court staff, and clerks (basically, the funding necessary to keep all judges and JAs from being totally overwhelmed).  Unfortunately, the legislature has been giving these judges an ultimatum, kind of like parents do to their children regarding allowance.  Basically, it works like this … “if you don’t finish these foreclosure cases, we won’t give you more funding.”  As such, the legislature holds the judiciary hostage … if the judiciary doesn’t clear cases, then the legislature doesn’t give the judiciary the funding necessary to manage the many thousands of foreclosure lawsuits pending before it. 

Perhaps worse yet, and to my sheer disgust, I’m told the legislature recently cut the pay of Florida judges (for the first time in years), and the clear understanding was that it was done as a way to punish/blame the judges for not clearing up the backlog of foreclosure cases faster.  “You won’t enter judgments fast enough for our liking … we’ll cut your pay.” 

(The pay of Florida judges is public record, right?  Why is nobody talking about this?) 

The judicial system shouldn’t operate this way.  We all learned it in elementary school, how the three branches of government exist as “separate but equal” branches of government, employing a system of “checks and balances” to ensure a fully-functioning government.  But that’s not what’s happening right now, certainly not in foreclosure court.  In foreclosure-world, the legislature is king. 

You might think this is conjecture and speculation on my part.  It’s not.  I can’t go a week without hearing how the legislature is forcing judges to move cases.  Judges discuss it openly in open court, and not just to me – to everyone.  As a result of this dynamic – judges wanting to move cases – I see all sorts of crazy things I’d never see in any other area of law. 

I’ve mentioned the homeowners who can’t speak, the threats of incarcertaion, and the prohibition on phone appearances, but let’s get to some more egregious concerns. 

Judges sua sponte set trials in foreclosure cases (without a Notice of Trial having been filed, without a CMC or pretrial conference, and without discussing/clearing the date with an counsel).  This is now routine, virtually everywhere in the state. 

Judges sua sponte set trials in foreclosure cases where a motion to dismiss is outstanding and the defendant has not filed an answer. 

Judges sua sponte set trials with less than 30 days’ notice (such that, as defense counsel, you randomly receive a trial Order in the mail, reflecting you have a trial in 2 weeks). 

The sua sponte setting of trials dominates the landscape of foreclosure-world.  Banks often don’t want trials in foreclosure cases, but the judges will set them anyway.  Then, even when the plaintiffs are vocal about not wanting a trial in that particular case, judges often insist they go forward anyway.  Even stipulated/agreed Orders to continue a trial or vacate a trial Order often go unsigned. 

Sometimes, where trial has been set in violation of Rule 1.440, judges will recognize the error and fix it.  (The judges in Pinellas and Hillsborough in particular are good about this, striving to follow the law.)  In many others cases, though, judges will proceed with trial anyway.  In foreclosure circles, one county has become known for using a stamp – DENIED – right on the motion to vacate trial Order, without a hearing.  Case not at issue?  Doesn’t matter.  Less than 30 days’ notice?  Doesn’t matter.  Bank doesn’t want a trial?  Doesn’t matter.  We’re going to trial! 

Often, judges won’t proceed with trial where the defendant hasn’t filed an Answer but will essentially force the Answer to be filed forthwith.  How is this accomplished?  Easily – either deny the motion to dismiss (often without a hearing), or sua sponte set a CMC to ensure the case gets at issue.   Some courts use CMCs as a way to, in my view, browbeat parties into settling.  One county, for example, has started setting three CMCs at once – one per week for three consecutive weeks, requiring in-person attendance, at mass-motion calendars that last an hour or more, with no input from counsel on when the CMCs are scheduled.  You’re not available?  Too bad.  You don’t need a CMC three weeks in a row?  Yes, you do.  Your case will get at issue and it will be set for trial. 

Oh, and if you want to set a hearing in this county, you have to mail in a form – MAIL IN A FORM – and wait for them to respond to you, by mail, with a form that gives you a set hearing date, without any input from you on when that hearing takes place. 

What dominates the thinking from the judiciary – again, not my speculation, but something the judges openly discuss – is their desire to “close” cases.  That’s the monster that the legislature has created – evaluating the performance of judges not based on their work as judges but based on the results set forth in an Excel spreadsheet.  How many foreclosure lawsuits were filed in that county?  How many judgments have been entered?  If the ratio of judgments entered to cases filed is high enough, then the judges in that county are doing a good job and deserve more funding from the legislature.  If not, then those judges and JAs can all suffer through the many thousands of cases without more help. 

The dynamic is so perverse that I’ve seen judges refuse to cancel foreclosure sales even when both sides ask them to. 

Plaintiff’s lawyer:  “We don’t want this foreclosure sale to go forward, judge.” 

Defendant’s lawyer:  “We are living in this house.  We don’t want this foreclosure sale to go forward, judge.” 

Judge:  “Foreclosure sale will go forward as scheduled.” 

Huh? 

This dynamic is particularly difficult to take when the parties have reached a settlement.  For example, loan modifications sometimes happen after a judgment but before a sale.  That means, essentially, that both sides are willing to forego foreclosure with the homeowner resuming monthly mortgage payments.  Incredibly, based partly on their desire to “close” a case, some judges will force a foreclosure sale to go forward even when both parties don’t want it to, having settled their dispute via a loan modification. 

Plaintiff’s lawyer:  “We have agreed to a loan modification.  We want the foreclosure sale cancelled.” 

Defendant’s lawyer:  “We have agreed to a loan modification.  We want the foreclosure sale cancelled.” 

Judge:  “Foreclosure sale will go forward as scheduled.” 

Huh? 

Even when both sides are able to resolve disputes before trial, even then they sometimes can’t escape a dress-down from the judiciary.  For instance, I’ve watched judges threaten Bar grievances against lawyers – yes, Bar grievances – where they settled the lawsuit by consenting to a foreclosure judgment with a deficiency waiver and extended sale date.  Mind you, that’s a perfectly legitimate way to compromise and settle a foreclosure lawsuit – bank gets the house, homeowner avoids any further liability and gets to stay in the house longer so as to pack up and move – but the prospect of the sale date getting pushed out 4-5 months angers some judges.  “No, you can’t settle that way.  The sale has to happen sooner.”  Yes, I’ve seen settlements like this rejected with the sale set sooner than the parties agreed.

Huh? 

There’s absolutely no rule or law that requires a sale to happen sooner where the parties agree.  Unfortunately, the judges are motivated by having that case “closed” so the numbers on the spreadsheet look better for the legislature. 

My natural response is to lament the unfairness of it all.  After all, that homeowner gave up the chances of winning at trial predicated on getting more time in the house.  I find it terribly unfair that the homeowner gave up a right to trial in exchange for an extended sale date that the judge took away … right?  Some judges would scoff at that notion.  After all, I’ve heard several times, in open court, ”there is no defense to foreclosure,” or “I’ve never seen a valid defense to foreclosure,” or words of that ilk.  Never mind that I’ve had many dozens of foreclosure cases dismissed throughout Florida, including several at trial (25 different judges have dismissed a lawsuit of mine on paragraph 22 noncompliance, for example) … there is no valid defense to foreclosure and, hence, no reason for an extended sale date. 

Another county has become known for punishing any defendants who force a trial to proceed.  I personally observed the judge begin every hearing by telling the homeowners and their counsel that they “better” accept a 120-day extended sale date, as if that “offer” was rejected then it would be “off the table” after the trial.  The implication here was obvious to everyone in the room … You want to show up and force the bank to prove its case?  You’ll lose, and I’ll punish you by ruling against you and forcing you to move out sooner. 

Some would say that the way to deal with this madness is to appeal.  Easier said than done.  Homeowners facing foreclosure are often in no position to fund an appeal.  I’ve taken some appeals for free, but there’s only so many I can handle that way.  Oh, and even if you get beyond the issue of funding, go look for published decisions that are pro-homeowner in the First DCA, Third DCA, or Fifth DCA.  Many thousands of foreclosure cases have been adjudicated in those areas in the past several years.  How many favorable rulings do you think have come out of those jurisdictions during that time?  I’ll give you a hint – not many.  In many ways, appealing in those parts of the state is like standing at the bottom of Mount Everest and being told “climb.” 

Dealing with this dynamic has been very difficult in recent months.  It’s a hard pill to swallow.  It’s difficult to watch the judicial system bend at the direction of the legislature.  It’s tough to know the concept of “separation of powers” that we all learned in elementary school is being cast aside.  It’s hard to feel like the most fundamental concepts of due process are being sacrificed to push lawsuits faster when even the plaintiffs in those lawsuits don’t so desire.  It’s hard to feel like these procedures have made it impossible for me to help homeowners in certain parts of the state.  It’s frustrating that many reading this will be upset at the entire judiciary, not realizing there are many circuit judges – particularly in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and other areas within the ambit of Florida’s Second District – who are striving to be fair and follow the law notwithstanding all of the pressure from the legislature. 

Mostly, though, I’m disappointed.  I’m disappointed that such perverse procedures are happening in our courts every day yet nobody is talking about it – and many don’t even realize it’s happening.  I’m disappointed that the justice system I knew is eroding.  I’m not going to find a dictionary definition, but that’s what erosion is – a slow process of deterioration such that, before too long, that thing which previously existed is no more. 

I hope everyone shares this blog.  I hope my friends, colleagues, attorneys and homeowners all understand what’s happening in our courts.  I hope everyone stands up to the legislature and demands it stop this madness.  Most of all, I hope the erosion of our judiciary stops … soon.