This past Friday, I had several hearings in foreclosure cases before a judge in St. Petersburg before whom I appear regularly. There is mutual respect between this judge and I, and we each do our best to make our respective experiences as pleasurable and, dare I say, fun, as possible. Anyway, during the course of these hearings, the judge joked that I must drive a Porsche or a Maserati given all the foreclosure cases I’ve gotten dismissed over the years. While I know it was purely said in good fun, this disappointed me.
You see, I don’t drive a fancy car. I drive a Toyota Prius with 130,000 miles. More than that, though, the judge’s comment disappointed me because if that’s the perception I’ve left with the judge – that I’m in it for the fees, money, and fancy cars, then I’m doing it wrong. I know the judge was just kidding around, but still … the hint of that perception must change. And it will change, starting now.
You see, I don’t do what I do for the fees. Sure, I have to run a business and pay staff, and of course, I like/need to make money for myself and my family. For me, though, foreclosure defense is about fighting for justice. About ensuring the integrity of the judicial system even as the powers that be try to push foreclosures through the system at lightning speed. About helping people. About creating law in ways that will help consumers. About keeping people in their homes and preventing homelessness.
To help prove that point, and leave no doubt about my intentions (among judges whom I appear or anyone else), I have a new plan. Starting this month (on a random date of my choosing), I’m going to take $2,000 cash – all hundreds – and hand it out to randomly-selected homeless people, in my sole discretion, in Williams Park in St. Petersburg (a known hangout for homeless in St. Pete, just blocks from where the judge made his comments). And I’m going to do the same thing in other, randomly-chosen places throughout Florida once per month for the rest of the year. That’s $2,000, once per month, cash, in hundreds, handed out to homeless people as I see fit – for the rest of 2014.
I’m going to help people. I’m going to help the homeless. I’m going to make sure everyone knows that’s why I’m in this. And, yes, I’m going to keep driving my Prius (until it will drive no more).Mark Stopa