Foreclosure mill head faces Florida Bar discipline
by Kim Miller
The owner of the Fort Lauderdale-based Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson has agreed to plead guilty to offenses found during a Florida Bar investigation in what is believed to be the first disciplinary action taken by the regulatory group against a so-called foreclosure mill.
The consent judgment, which still requires approval by the Florida Supreme Court, would suspend attorney Marshall C. Watson for 91 days _ a move that means the closure of his firm _ and require him to pay $30,000 for a record-keeping analysis, plus $5,931 for the Bar investigation.
All suspensions of 91 days or greater require proof of rehabilitation and approval of the Florida Supreme Court before a lawyer may be reinstated to the practice of law.
Signed in December, the agreement accuses Watson of failing to develop foreclosure policies for firm employees and includes charges that the firm routinely filed court documents alleging a mortgage note was lost without confirming that its clients had in fact lost the note.
Filing a “lost note count” was a time-saving tactic for lender firms. The note was typically found before final judgment.
Foreclosure defense attorneys concerned that no one would be held accountable for shoddy and fraudulent foreclosure practices in Florida lauded the Bar’s action. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s investigation into several of the companies was shut down last year after a state Supreme Court decision upheld a ban on her ability to subpoena the firms.