Judge blocks foreclosure case subpoena

Oct. 5, 2010 at 7:59 PM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- A judge in Florida ruled that a subpoena of a foreclosure law office's paperwork would not stand, calling the state attorney general's probe unconstitutional.

Judge Jack Cox of the 15th Judicial Circuit ruled that a subpoena of five years of foreclosure documentation from Boca Raton law firm Shapiro & Fishman was "overbroad, vague, inconsistent and unduly burdensome," The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Cox also called the attorney general office's investigation of a law firm a "constitutional absurdity." Law firms could only be regulated by the Florida Bar or the Supreme Court, the circuit court said.

The blocked subpoena effectively closes down Attorney General Bill McCollum's probe of law firms involved in what has become a national issue: foreclosure proceedings flawed by a number of paperwork shortcuts, including improperly certified documents and unvalidated claims. Jeffrey Tew, a spokesman for David Stern's law office, another firm connected to the case -- involved in processing some of the 400,000 Florida foreclosures this year -- said his firm would file for a motion to block the subpoena, as well.

"We'll be putting it in the mail this afternoon," Tew said.

Several California members of the U.S. House, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called Tuesday for a federal investigation into the foreclosure policies of top mortgage lenders. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and U.S. Comptroller John Dugan, Pelosi and the others said they were concerned about "systemic problems" in foreclosure processing.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the department was "reviewing the letter," The Washington Post reported.

The paperwork debacle has caused Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage to suspend or halt foreclosures so they can review paperwork on tens of thousands of cases.

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