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Foreclosure hearings in Hillsborough, Florida open to everyone

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By : Rudson Tren    99 or more times read
Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. of the circuit court of Hillsborough County has emphasized that foreclosure hearings has always been open to the public in the area. The judge added that allegations claiming otherwise are ‘overstated and exaggerated.’

Judge Menendez defended foreclosure procedures held in the county in a letter sent to Florida Chief Justice Charles Canady. Chief Justice Canady issued a memorandum in November that directed all state judges to ensure that all foreclosure proceedings remain open for everyone to hear.

The same memorandum referenced several complaints from press members and court observers who claimed that they had been disallowed to get into foreclosure hearings. A complaint specifically mentioned a court in Hillsborough County, where a court observer was allegedly told by a court staff that foreclosure hearings are not really open to the public.

Judge Menendez said through his response letter that no judge or judicial assistant recall having entertained a call concerning policies governing attendance during foreclosure proceedings. He added that no one in any of the courts in the county recall having advised anyone about how such court hearings are not open to everyone.

Judge Canady’s memorandum and Judge Menendez’s response letter came after the American Civil Liberties Union and several media organizations wrote a letter to Judge Canady. The state’s court system has been put in the limelight recently for supposedly granting hundreds of foreclosure applications in a day in an alleged attempt to meet the quota set by the Florida Supreme Court, which in turn has always wanted reduction in pending foreclosure cases in Florida.

Some insiders noted that many people might have a perception that secrecy is observed in foreclosure hearings, because most of such procedures are held not in court rooms but in smaller hearing rooms. Thus, observers who aim to observe such hearings should check in with an assigned bailiff. Bailiffs admit that in several occasions, access to foreclosure hearings is restricted because the small rooms get overcrowded.

Consequently, Hillsborough county courts have ordered that all foreclosure cases should be heard in traditional courtrooms to accommodate more people. As for Judge Menendez, he is still trying to figure out who the complainant who singled out a Hillsborough court was.
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