A Florida judge denied a motion by the Law Office of David J. Stern that sought to quash a subpoena from Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum in connection with the AG’s investigation into several of the state’s foreclosure firms. An attorney representing David J. Stern, Jeffrey Tew, said that he will appeal the ruling. “We don’t agree with it,” Tew said. The subpoena was sent to the law firm as part of a civil investigation by the AG, alleging the firm fabricated and manufactured documents to speed up foreclosures. A sworn statement from a former paralegal at the firm was publicly released last week. In it, the former employee alleged other employees at the law firm changed dates, forged signatures on documents, claimed homeowners were served with foreclosure lawsuits when they weren’t, and overcharged for services. In a one-page ruling, Palm Beach County Judge Eileen O’Connor denied the motion to quash without giving a reason for the denial. The subpoena seeks the names of all current, former and contract employees, names of notaries who signed affidavits, and the names and addresses of all lending institutions the firm has represented, among other things. The subpoena also asks for documentation on several specific foreclosure cases. McCollum is investigating four of the largest foreclosure law firms in the state over their foreclosure filing practices. One of those firms, Shapiro & Fishman, won a motion to quash last week and that decision was upheld Thursday after the AG’s office appealed. Circuit Court Judge Jack Cox ruled in the Shapiro & Fishman case that the attorney general used the “wrong tool” by relying on the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act to get the kind of data the AG was requesting in the subpoena. The act, he said, was meant to protect consumers and does not apply to law firms. In his ruling, Cox also said the Florida Supreme Court was the correct venue for attorney misconduct, and that a criminal investigation was another potential avenue. Sarah Mueller is an editorial assistant at HousingWire.
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