Christmas Party? Bah Humbug.

On Friday, December 6, 2013, Stopa Law Firm had its annual Christmas party.  I took the staff to Busch Gardens for the day.  The event was planned months in advance, with the calendar blocked off for all attorneys and staff.

Unfortunately, in foreclosure-world, judges sometimes sua sponte set hearings and CMCs over which we have no input.  Hence, even though we blocked off the calendar for that day, two hearings were set for December 6, 2013.  One of those was set by a Tampa judge who, when I alerted him to the previously-scheduled Christmas party, graciously reset the CMC for a different date.  That courtesy was much appreciated, and it speaks to the professionalism exhibited by the judiciary in the Tampa area.

A second CMC was set by a judge in Volusia County.  In that case, I filed a similar motion to reschedule, alerting the Court to the previously-scheduled Christmas party.  Without a hearing, the court’s staff advised my office that the motion had been denied and our in-person appearance was required on December 6.

Convinced the court did not realize the facts, I took a few minutes and drafted this, more comprehensive, Emergency Motion to Continue Hearing or Appear Telephonically.  I explained how the party had been planned months previously, that the Court gave no input on the CMC hearing date (set with just a few weeks notice), and that it would be unfair to require an attorney from my firm to miss the Christmas party on such facts.  Alternatively, I argued that we should be allowed to appear by phone because the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration require phone appearance for hearings of 15 minutes or less absent “good cause.”

This is the Order I received in response.


Mark Stopa

Posted in Main | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to Christmas Party? Bah Humbug.

  1. Jonathan Klurfeld says:

    Thank you for taking time to address this issue that most client’s don’t understand.

    Our firm has gotten CMC orders mere days before the CMC because the bank lawyers “forget” to serve the orders. We have gotten orders from the court the same as in your story where scheduling has been very difficult.

    It has gotten as bad in a certain county that judges are threatening sanctions for not showing up, despite defense counsel having no notice. Either the notice was sent directly to the client or our firm had substituted out of the case long ago and a new lawyer took over. The judge(s) chose to ignore this and issue an order to show cause on our firm to appear for a CMC where we were no longer even in the case, at our own time and expense.

    I have attended CMCs where both sides were ordered to re-appear only 2 days later (some scheduling burden huh?) because the judge failed to bother to look at the docket when issuing mass CMC orders to see the case was not even at issue when the CMC date was to occur, and would have been if set only 3 days later, so nothing could be done at the first CMC.

    I understand the purpose of CMC, but you cannot set a CMC every month in every case, with no system to ensure that all counsel gets proper and timely notice. It is simply too much.

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