The Fourth District Court of Appeal has been asked to certify that its recent decision in Law Offices of David Stern, P.A. v. State of Florida passes upon a question of great public importance. In Stern, the Fourth DCA held that the Attorney General’s Office lacked authority under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUPTA”) to subpoena records of the Stern firm as part of an investigation into possible misconduct in the firm’s handling of foreclosure cases.
Applicable court rules require certification from the Fourth DCA before this office may appeal the Stern decision to the Florida Supreme Court. The Attorney General’s motion asks the Fourth DCA to certify that its decision in Stern passes upon the following question of great public importance: whether the creation of invalid assignments of mortgages by a law firm and subsequent use of such documents by the firm in foreclosure litigation on behalf of the purported assignee is an unfair and deceptive trade practice which may be the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General.
The Stern case is significant because FDUPTA is the principal enforcement tool available to the Attorney General’s Office to remedy foreclosure-related misconduct. In addition to the Stern firm, the Attorney General’s Office has six pending investigations into law firms for potential misconduct in foreclosure cases.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed the motion.