Florida Judge Feels Misled By Homeowner in Foreclosure Case

Miami-Dade Senior Circuit Judge Jon Gordon doesn’t like to be lied to in his courtroom. When the judge felt Vilma Violetta Martinez, a homeowner who appeared before him in a foreclosure trial, lied to him repeatedly, he ruled in favor of the lender, Bank of New York Mellon, and told Martinez she should be happy she was walking out of the courtroom instead of being locked up in jail for perjury.

Initially, Judge Gordon seemed sympathetic to Martinez, a Miami woman facing foreclosure on her $334,000 home. Martinez bought the house in 2006, made her last payment in 2008, and owed more than $333,000 to the bank.

Martinez told the judge she never received a default notice, even though she never moved out of the house. She based her defense on an assertion that the lender never sent a breach letter to her correct address. If this case could be made, the lender failed to meet a legal requirement for commencing foreclosure proceedings thus denying her the opportunity to respond to the problem.

The judge’s trust in the homeowner’s testimony weakened after Jason Vanslette, the lender’s attorney, suggested Martinez purposely rerouted her mail. He introduced a U.S. Postal Service change-of-address notice to the court, and told Gordon the homeowner changed her address to a post office box without apprising the lender, leading mail carriers to return the notice of default as undeliverable.

To further shake Martinez’ story, Vanslette presented a letter Martinez reportedly sent to the lender in 2008, informing the bank she’d left the property in 2008 after losing her job and falling on economic hardships. The letter states she had to move out of the property, stay with friends, and was trying to sell the house at any price the lender would approve. When the judge asked Martinez if she had written this letter to the bank, she acknowledged the letter contained her correct social security number and account information, but denied it was her signature. A brief roundabout ensued about how she writes out her name and the judge wasn’t impressed.

“You know what? I think you’re lying to the court,” Gordon told Martinez before entering a default judgment for the lender. “You ought to consider yourself lucky that you’re leaving here today and not going to jail,” he said. “Give me the judgment. You’re excused. Shame on you all. Shame on you. Leave.