Florida foreclosure law firm faces closure after bar investigation
A Florida foreclosure law firm will have to shut its doors if the state's highest court approves a disciplinary action handed down by the Florida Bar Association.
The Law Office of Marshall Watson, P.A.is the subject of a conditional guilty plea that attorney Marshall Craig Watson entered into voluntarily with the Florida Bar Association.
Watson entered the plea after the bar investigated him for his staff's mishandling of foreclosure documents and for failing to properly oversee staff members who handled default-related records.
The investigation also centered around allegations of robo-signing, with the Florida Bar Association noting in the consent judgment that an attorney working for Watson signed about 150,000 affidavits of reasonable fees without the presence of a notary. The attorney practiced with Watson as an independent contractor.
"An undetermined number of those AORs were signed by that attorney outside the presence of a notary public and then were later notarized by respondent's support staff," the Florida Bar Association said in its complaint.
The bar association claims the firm's "failure to develop, institute and maintain acceptable policies and operating practices" between 2009 and 2011, resulted in failures to either cancel foreclosure sales or pay clerks fees in several cases.
Considering all of the foreclosure document handling and procedural factors, the Florida Bar recommended numerous disciplinary actions in Watson's disciplinary consent decree.
The bar noted that Watson voluntarily cooperated with the association and even self-reported issues. The firm also entered into an assurance of voluntary compliance to improve foreclosure practices with the Attorney General of Florida and has been following that agreement since March 24, 2011.
The plea agreement between the bar and Marshall Craig Watson is subject to the Florida Supreme Court's approval.
If the court approves the judgment agreement, The Law Office of Marshall Watson will have to be closed.
Watson also faces a 91-day suspension from the practice of law and must pay 30,000 for a records analysis to be conducted by the Law Office Management Assistance Service. He also must pay reasonable costs in the amount of $5,931 within 30 days or face the accrual of interest.