Firm battles state probe
The Law Offices of David J. Stern took its fight against the attorney general’s investigation to court on Tuesday, moving to quash the state’s subpoena.
By TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA
The battle between Attorney General Bill McCollum and four law firms accused of shoddy foreclosure practices continued in Broward County Court on Tuesday, with the Law Offices of David J. Stern challenging the state’s subpoena.
Jeffrey Tew, legal counsel for Stern’s Plantation-based firm, argued that the attorney general’s office does not have jurisdiction to investigate law firms under the Federal Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, or FDUTPA.
That statute — the basis of McCollum’s case — only applies in cases where goods and services are being transferred between the accused and the alleged victim, Tew said.
“The alleged quote-unquote `victims’ in this case are the borrowers,” said Tew, presenting a motion to “quash” the subpoena. “FDUTPA requires that the law firm be exchanging goods and services of monetary value with the borrowers.”
Tew said that the law firm was exchanging its services with the banks, not the borrowers.
The judge, Eileen O’Connor, said she would rule in a couple of days.
The case is crucial to the state’s investigation, because it comes on the heels of another ruling in which a Palm Beach judge quashed the state’s subpoena of the Shapiro & Fishman law firm. That judge said the Florida Bar and the Supreme Court have jurisdiction to sanction lawyers, not the attorney general.
O’Connor indicated that she would judge independently.
“That’s not your better argument,” she told Tew after he referenced the Palm Beach case.
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