Dealing with non-lawyers in court

One of the most interesting cases that we have in the Consumer Law Clinic right now deals with a client who was renting a home that was the subject of a foreclosure action.  Under federal law, the client’s lease was protected and the client and his family could not be evicted by the new owners of the foreclosed property.  However, the new owners of the property are an investment company who wanted our client out of the property.  So it proceeded to get an illegal notice of eviction and managed to successfully evict our client and his family when it had no right to.  It managed to accomplish this eviction by filing motions with the court without an attorney – Florida law requires all corporations to be represented by counsel in court.  In addition to the new owner filing improper motions, the court then granted those motions without giving our client an opportunity to be heard on the motions at a hearing. 

Once we brought these mistakes to the court’s attention, the court issued an order to show cause for why the new owners should not be held in contempt of court.  We will argue at the show cause hearing in August that the court should hold the owner in contempt of court for its actions and order it to pay our client significant damages for the wrongful eviction.  We can only hope that the court will recognize the injustice that has been done to our client, hold the owners in contempt, and award damages for our client.