Although many people have heard of the Florida foreclosure kingpin David J. Stern, not many of those people get to see him in person. And I, who have litigated hundreds of cases against his law firm, never saw the man before today, when I testified in the trial of the numerous bar complaints against Stern.
My testimony is only a small slice of the case against him, Related to the assignment of a mortgage on a single property. In the process of defending the foreclosure case I found an assignment of mortgage, prepared by Stern’s office, that appeared to have been improperly notarized several months after the date of its execution.
Today, I testified about what I uncovered, and how it impacted the legal profession and my clients. On cross-examination, I got a glimpse of the apparent strategy of Stern’s defense: no harm, no foul.
Stern’s lawyer only asked me a few questions, a couple of which were long rambling, muddled speeches instead of actual cross-examination questions. But he tried to get me to concede that, because my clients are still living in the house, they haven’t been harmed. He also tried to get me to admit that the court had not been misled in any way. I didn’t agree with either one of those propositions.
I was a little surprised Stern chose to contest the case, not necessarily related to my small sliver of it, but the numerous allegations against him. Frankly, I don’t see anyway he retains his license to practice law after this is all said and done. But even more surprising is the approach I saw his defense take today. I just don’t buy the idea that falsification of documents affecting title to real property is somehow harmless error. Especially when, as it seems to be the case, this happened over and over again, affecting possibly thousands of properties across the state, the consequences could be long-lasting and severe.
I expect that the sanctions ultimately levied on Mr. Stern will also be long-lasting and severe.