Noreen Marcus, FloridaBulldog.org
Broward Foreclosure Judge Andrea Gundersen is running for re-election under the motto “Experience Matters.”
Key voters will have to decide if her experience is good or bad.On Aug. 23, they will decide whether Gundersen, 66, will continue to take charge of the Broward County mortgage foreclosure.
They have the option of replacing her with 38-year-old Lauren Alperstein, a divorce and family attorney at the prestigious Boys-Shiller-Flexner law firm. pro bono Job, she’s nothing like the trashy, folksy Gundersen.
Alperstein is Sun Sentinel, It is Broward County’s dominant newspaper and is named for five past presidents of the Florida Bar Association. Gundersen has a police-teacher union and is a trusted voter for the Democratic Browards. Early voting begins Saturday.
The incumbent is powerful, but leaves a paper trail. Gundersen’s report includes an apparent reversal by her supervisor in the Fourth District Court of Appeal and an adverse oversight body report.
Gundersen and the “robo-signature” document
After nearly six years on the Broward Circuit Court, Gundersen’s track record forms the basis of accusations that she is biased against lender’s attorneys, forcing them to turn fraudulent documents into foreclosure judgments. .
A year ago, the nonprofit watchdog Floridians for Honest Lending (FHL) announced that Gundersen would always set rules against homeowners seeking to fight foreclosures that relied on illegal “robot signature” documents. reported that
Recently, the FHL investigated about half a dozen foreclosed homeowners and learned that nothing had changed in their dealings with Judge Gundersen.
FHL Executive Director Laura Wagner said: “They didn’t feel a great deal of sway in presenting the evidence.”
Questioner florida bulldog Gundersen used Kathleen Angione, a Pompano Beach attorney who represents clients in foreclosure court, to delegate someone to speak on her behalf.
Lawyers: Judges favor borrowers
Angione said he never saw Gundersen, a judge of “honor and integrity,” back a lender.
“If there’s a slope, I think it’s probably in the borrower’s favor,” she said. Proof: They only give her 30 days to move out of the foreclosed property, but Gundersen has a policy of giving her 60 days.
Angione said he was “disappointed” that the borrower and his lawyer had wrongly targeted Gundersen, but that he understood the urge. “It’s easier to blame others than to face a dire financial situation.”
She did not discuss the FHL report, except that she hinted that another judge had handed some of the sentences attributed to Gundersen.
Still, Wagner said no one asked for corrections when the report was released last year. She said she supported the report based solely on her 2019 and her 2020 foreclosure court filings. A different judge may have started working on her foreclosure case in 2019, but while Gundersen was still in family court, her name was in a key judgment. for the lessor.
Judge Family Court Matters
During his first three years on the Broward Circuit Court bench, Gundersen handled cases involving divorce and child custody. She has been in family law for her 23 years and has been in familiar territory.
However, her treatment of divorce and child custody issues, especially those who represent herself, raises concerns about Gundersen’s understanding and respect for due process and simple fairness.
at a meeting with sun sentinel Editorial board member Gundersen said she always showed “compassion within the law.”
Her record suggests otherwise.
In the case of Boucher v. Warren, Gundersen dismissed a domestic violence injunction against her husband in a pending divorce case. Her wife, on behalf of herself, has evidence that her husband has sworn to “put a bullet in her head,” sneaked up on her in her car, and drove menacingly close to her. presented.
N.0 Protection of stalked wives
At the time of the injunction hearing, the husband was on probation for domestic violence. Mr Gundersen said the criminal case covered the case and that other threats were either too late in time or that her wife was in “imminent” danger, as required to justify an injunction. said it had not shown that it had been exposed to
“He didn’t blame her, he didn’t chase her, he didn’t yell at her, he didn’t confront her,” Gundersen said of the Karstalking incident.
In fact, the husband “yelled something as he fled,” the District 4 opinion statement said. The appeals court judge not only overturned Gundersen’s ruling, but told her exactly what to do. She grants an injunction.
Westlaw’s legal investigation shows that Gundersen was dismissed in 10 of the 61 cases appealed.
Other errors District 4 called out to her included: Accepting the ex-husband’s petition “with prejudice” (no redo allowed) and banning a hearing to prove that he cheated on his ex-wife to take their share of the marital home. Allowing changes to parenting plans that no one asked for. And not let her mother present her side of a child custody case before deciding against her.
Judges take offense, not mercy
The reversal reflects concerns over Gundersen’s judicial attitude, with a constant stream of complaints, mostly off the record, from lawyers who rely on her grace to serve clients and earn a living. increase. Her judge has been known to assess her legal fees against those who displease her.
So it’s surprising how many lawyers publicly bear Alperstein’s name, either by joining a 181-person host committee or by publicly funding her campaign. A significant number of court support personnel are also among Alperstein’s 600 or so financial supporters.
Gundersen doesn’t seem to have a host committee and has far fewer public advocates. “I think I expected that,” said Wagner.
Her critics say homeless Broward residents — and not deadlocks — can’t expect a show of mercy from Gundersen. Thunder and cut off lawyers and non-lawyers over time.
“I’ve seen her on the bench and I was blown away by the way she acted and the way she treated people. It was terrifying,” said Tackle another non-judicial race. A campaign consultant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of this, said the consultant is not advising Alperstein or Gundersen.
‘She just obeys the law’
A consultant observed the Zoom hearing when Gundersen yelled at a young black woman trying to speak for herself and save her home. “It was the most demeaning behavior I have ever seen,” said this observer. “Not polite.”
Speaking for Gundersen, Angione said he had never seen a judge behave disrespectfully and warned against confusing style with substance. “I think she’s just following the law. She’s where it falls wherever it falls,” Angione said.
Only two of the Gundersen District 4 reversals involve foreclosure cases. However, the reason may be unrelated to her work performance. To appeal, the borrower must present a bond that is supposed to protect the lender’s interest in the home until the court of appeals decides.
Judges set bonds that may be as high as the outstanding mortgage debt. Borrowers who are able to find money to pay their mortgage will never be foreclosed in the first place.
A foreclosure attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said, “The judge knows that the parties will not appeal because they do not have the money to pay the bond.