Chief Judge Victor Tobin Resigns to Join Much-Criticized Foreclosure Firm (Updated)

Categories: Politics
tobinvictor.jpg
Broward Chief Judge Victor Tobin's reign at the top of the county's judiciary has been filled with conflicts, from barbs he traded with the court clerk to fighting the public's distaste for a new courthouse. Now he's leaving, and the firm he picked as his next successor likely won't make his life any less controversial.

Tobin announced in an email to fellow judges and their employees last night that he'll be leaving the bench June 30 and heading to the law firm of Marchall C. Watson. The firm is one of the state's largest foreclosure mills and has been under criticism
for months over the way it handles documents.

During an Attorney General's Office investigation into the firm, a Watson attorney admitted that lawyers there regularly signed affidavits without the required notary present in order to move paperwork more quickly. In March, Watson agreed to pay the state $2 million to end the AG's investigation.

Watson still faces an open inquiry into a complaint filed with the Florida Bar. And Watson was also under fire this week in a St. Petersburg courtroom when a foreclosure judge there ordered firm founder Marshall C. Watson himself to show up and explain problems with his firm's filing documents.

As part of the settlement with the AG's office, Watson agreed to a list of changes meant to correct problems at the firm. Tobin will come in at a time when the firm is looking to regain its credibility in the legal community.

Update: Tobin says his role with Watson will be to assure the firm is "making sure its best practices are proper" and that the firm is conducting cases ethically. "The law firm is very interested in having their best practices and ethics implemented, and my role will be to assure that's happening and make corrections if necessary."

Tobin returned my call quickly, but he doesn't have the best history with reporters -- he once shouted down Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo and told him to "go out and get a real job." As reporters do, Mayo had the last laugh with writing a piece titled "Broward chief judge is failing leadership test."

That fight with Mayo was one of many political battles Tobin fought during his tenure. That's to his credit -- whether you agreed with Tobin or not, and the Pulp often didn't, he was sure willing to fight for what he believed.

The most vocal of his public arguments was with Clerk of Courts Howard Forman. Tobin accused the clerk of mismanaging paperwork and general malfeasance. If you've been to the Broward courthouse, it's hard to disagree -- getting documents is often more difficult than it should be, especially compared to the well organized courthouse in Palm Beach County. But unfortunately Tobin seems to have lost that two-year battle; the courthouse is still often a chaotic source of misplaced documents.

Tobin also championed a new courthouse to replace the often-leaking building on the New River. His support came despite voters shooting down the idea and widespread complaints that the courthouse construction, which will begin as early as later this year, had become too political. It's hard to look at the gleaming building on the banks of the river and think we need a new one, but you also have to appreciate Tobin fighting popular opinion for something he thought would help courthouse employees.

Tobin said he didn't believe the fights he had fought while chief judge were "too controversial" -- he said he still speaks regularly with Forman. "It's my job as chief judge to advocate on behalf of the bench. These are things that a chief judge in any district ought to advocate for."

In announcing his decision to leave, Tobin kept his letter to Gov. Rick Scott short. His email to employees was equally brief:

Late this afternoon, I notified Governor Scott that I would be resigning as a Circuit Court Judge effective June 30, 2011. Effective July 1, 2011, I will return to private practice with the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson.  I wish to express my sincere thanks to each judge for permitting me the honor of being your Chief Judge during the last four years.  I appreciate the confidence you placed in me.
Vic Tobin

Tobin's replacement, Judge Peter Weinstein, might be the type to keep up Tobin's history of political confrontations. He's said to be something of a charmer who can also play hardball when needed.


Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Eric Barton on Twitter: @ericbarton.



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35 comments
Richla
Richla

I knew Judge Tobin when he as in private practice with Mr. Simons. He was an excelent criminal and PI attorney and a nice guy he deserves better than Marshall Watson he needs to go out on his own again I will send him lots of clients

whitemanzen
whitemanzen

All of his ruling in favor of banks were nothing less than a job interview.  Each and everyone of his orders should be vacated and he should be imprisoned. 

Dvc92446
Dvc92446

Well the public should be reassured by this. The fox moves from watching the hen house to living there,$$$$

Broward Lawyer
Broward Lawyer

 The Broward Courts have bent over backwards to accomodate the foreclosure mills and screw the borrowers

Parkland man
Parkland man

hey this lawfirm didn't just get a judge they got the head judge,when was he working out his deal with them to join the firm,in-between hearings with there cases from the same firm,wow talk about a fn under handed act,that courthouse needs to be shut down by the Feds and move all the real cases to fed court,that place can't be trusted it's the biggest good old boys club if there ever was one.this could be a great story for bob Norman to dig into on tv.

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

It sounds like he was hired for quality control. How long will that take, 6 months?

And then what?

Sniff Sniff.....I smell bullshit with this move. It can't just be for the money. How much would Watson pay for a figurehead?

There is something beneath the surface.

anonymous
anonymous

Headline above is wrong...should have been:

CHIEF JUDGE TOBIN HIRED TO PROTECT SWINDLER. 

anonymous
anonymous

Nothing's going to change until we change it.  Itr is time for a revolt in this town, can someone lead the parade?

anonymous
anonymous

With recent reports that Freddie Mac has stopped using Marshall Watson (a Fort Lauderdale foreclosure mill) to prosecute foreclosure cases, the question arises – why?  What has Marshall Watson been doing?  My answer?  The same fraudulent misconduct that Stern, Ben-Ezra & Katz and all the others have done.  As I’ve said all along, in my opinion, none of the foreclosure mills are any different – they’re all pushing fraudulent paperwork.  Forged documents.  They just bought themself a ex-chief Judge.  You bastards! 

anonymous
anonymous

Watson's a crook and he just bought an ex-chief judge!  Does this sound like Rothstein Rosenfeldt and Adler all over again.  Buying judges, ex-con sheriffs.  There's dirt everywhere in this story, and the people get hurt again.   Wonder who Watson thinks Tobin can deliver to make sure he doesn't serve time.  Buying influence.

Parkland man
Parkland man

Come on virgel bury this fn judge help us out I know you know he's no good

anonymous
anonymous

"It's my job as chief judge to advocate on behalf of bench...

wasn't this the same corrupt judge who planned on going into business with Stuart Rosenfeldt?  Owned and operated by corrupt powerbrokers.  Why aren't people in the streets with pitchforks?

anonymous
anonymous

Disgusting. I'm so sick of this system that has nothing to do with justice, it's just fning corrupt. 

anonymous
anonymous

Tobin is a POS, how appropriate that he would show his true corrupt colors by aligning himself with criminals.   

Parkland man
Parkland man

Also glitter every dime I get from bank of America is going to the ne vocal point it's called casa and that stands for children alzheimer's senior and adults I have been the head of that board for 15 years and I don't receive a dime and I have raised over 5 million for them so far,boa already has offered some money I'm not letting them out.I'm going to punish them and give it to the vocal point.

Guest
Guest

Why would a Chief Judgewant to leave? You answered that one ...conflicts and disagreements.I'll bet not too many folks at the courthouse are sorry to see him go. How everGood Luck to the Judge..Let's hope he helps alotof people.

nanook5
nanook5

did tobin offer the writer a loan modification in return for that update?

parkland man
parkland man

 It was bound to happen. With all these judges running for office and collecting money from attorneys who appear before them, someone was bound to complain, perhaps rightfully, that justice was for sale in Broward County. O'Connor​Enter megaboat dealer Todd Littlejohn, owner of Freedom Marine in Deerfield Beach. Littlejohn says that Broward County Circuit Judge Eileen O'Connor has run roughshod over him in a lawsuit filed against him by Bank of America over a financial dispute. Littlejohn believes O'Connor's consistent orders and the dubious $390,000 default judgment against him in the lawsuit are directly related to the fact that O'Connor was showing favoritism to campaign contributor Mimi Sall, the bank's lawyer in the case. Sall has not only contributed the $500 maximum to O'Connor's reelection campaign account but has also, according to Littlejohn, worked as a volunteer on O'Connor's campaign. That's a problem, says Littlejohn. UPDATED: Littlejohn said he initially handled the lawsuit himself, trying to hammer out a settlement with Sall. While they were in talks, he says Sall asked for and received from Clerk of Court the $390,000 default judgment based on Littlejohn not filing answers in the lawsuit. Littlejohn says at this point, he hired an attorney, Michael Sacks, of Parkland.O'Connor then granted the motion during a hearing on June 29. Littlejohn says neither he nor Sacks were notified of that date. On top of that, he was in the hospital at the time suffering from chest pains. After that order came down, Sacks askedO'Connor to set aside the default motion based on the fact that the two sides were in settlement negotiations and the lack of notification regarding the hearing date. O'Connor tersely denied that motion on July 20 based on the fact that Littlejohn didn't provide his defense to the lawsuit with the motion. Sall​Littlejohn says O'Connor's rulings led him to believe something was awry, and a little internet digging showed that Sall had contributed $250 to O'Connor's campaign last December, prior to the case being filed in March, and an additional $250 to the judge on June 4, just 25 days before the default judgment was issued. "Maybe I should have looked at [Judge O'Connor's] campaign contributors' list and picked one of those lawyers so we could have a level playing field here," said Littlejohn. "The court is supposed to be fair to both sides, not just to one." Neither Sall nor O'Connor, who is running against Rhoda Sokoloff for reelection, have returned calls I left for them yesterday. [UPDATED: O'Connor's judicial assistant just called and said O'Connor received the message but can't comment on a pending case.]Anyway you look at this situation, it stinks. O'Connor -- who has been dogged by past discrimination complaints filed against her while she worked as a federal prosecutor before being appointed by Jeb Bush in 2003 -- can say Sall's money and support had no influence on her decisions in the case, but the appearance is there. I can't imagine anyone in Littlejohn's shoes not feeling the same way he does. "It's like Runway 84 on a busy night," says Littlejohn, a veteran businessman in Deerfield. "If you walk in and give the maitre'd $100, they are going to seat you real quick. You don't do that, you got to wait like everybody else."  It's another piece of evidence to support the argument that electing judges is a mess that must be changed. We need a new system. Just looking at O'Connor's contribution list provides reason for that. She is backed by an array of powerful interests in town, including Wayne Huizenga, lobbyist George Platt's firm, lobbyist Tom Panza, Skip Campbell's downtown law firm, W. George Allen, attorney Fred Haddad, attorney David Bogenschutz, taxi king Jesse Gaddis, and attorney Bill Scherer. It's the perfect storm to create the impression that O'Connor is nothing more than a front for the people who run this town. It would seem that an average Joe going up against one of O'Connor's well-heeled contributors in her courtroom would be at a disadvantage. That may be only a perception, but it's there, and it will always be there as long as O'Connor is a judge.Isn't it bad enough they already have a lot of the politicians in their pockets?For Littlejohn, it's not over. He has plenty of means to sustain a legal battle, and he says he's not going to stop fighting until he gets a fair hearing in O'Connor's courtroom -- or in another one. "Maybe they thought I would just roll over," he said. "I'm not going anywhere."  UPDATED LITTLEJOHN WINS HEARING  JUDGE REVESED HER OWN ORDER JUDGEMENT GONE,MIMI SALL GONE,FREEDOM MARINE SUES  BANK OF AMERICA FOR 50 MILLION.

Parkland man
Parkland man

This is why I rant and rave a out fn lawyers and judges are in bed together forever ,and that's why it's 100 percent unfair for people that are not lawyers to have a fair hearing in ant courtroom ever,here you have a judge that has been handling rulings with this law firm and now telling everyone he's going to work for them,now if that's not inside trading I don't know what is,you want to talk a out greasing pockets,WTF I think it's unreal for anything like this to happen and should not be aloud,how it works is you go from being a lawyer to become a judge,but you should not be aloud to go back and be a lawyer in the same area,that's 100 percent insider trading at it's finest,I can only hope the Feds will shut that whole corrupt court house down,it's almost as bad as going to the race track and buying your tickets after the race is over,this story belongs on 60 minuets.We the people have no fn shot.

Christy
Christy

Tobin's getting a real job?

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

You are starting to win me over. WTF? This guy was presiding over mortgage cases where this firm--his future employer--appeared in front of him everyday for the last several years? Holy Shit.

Talk about Quid Pro Quo. And the entire time, the homeowners are being denied justice.

What a disgrace!

unowho
unowho

Virgel is most likely watchin Heat game  Heat 44 Bulls 45  Go Heat!!! 

Parkland man
Parkland man

Help people glitter he's gonna help himself to money that's all it's about,you and I have kidded around in the past this is no laughing matter,it's all about stealing from people I wish you would see that,if you really think he's for the people then he would stay as judge.

Parkland man
Parkland man

Hey pal you can laugh all you want I would like to see you open your wallet to people that need it,I have been doing that a very long time and you know what it feels very good,I came to Florida homeless and I hit it big on very hard work and I am giving alot back,try it some time it feels good,the o Ly thing I don't like down here is the stealing lawyers,and I'm going To change that,I don't have to work anymore so my new job is lawyers.

anonymous
anonymous

It's "allowed" not aloud, but that's okay because you're making so much sense Parkland Man. 

anonymous
anonymous

Not really,Tobin sold his name to the most disgusting pig in town, which is a hard role to earn in Broward County.  Must be someone Tobin can influence that will allow Watson to keep thieving without serving time.   That's alright I guess, they'll just end up having to live with each other's filth. 

anonymous
anonymous

Tobin is a shitbird.  I hope the airplanes fly that statement over the courthouse and Marshall's office.  Fly up and down the beach, too.  Vic Tobin is a effin shitbird. 

Anon
Anon

After months of inane posts, parkland man had a few decent ones.  I'm still questioning whether this is same parkland man since I have not seen the word "shitbird" in any of these comments.

anonymous
anonymous

Tobin, Gardiner, the meatballs judge from Frankie and Johnnys, Cohen, the diddler judge, elderly widow's Judge Seidlin, Greenhawt, some who come to mind.  skolnick...Eric, you need to put a full team on uncovering these corrupt judges.  There are so many psychopaths on the bench.   

Guest
Guest

I'll  probably regret this, but for once I might agree with you, but don't tell anyone. 

Parkland man
Parkland man

Hey it's the only reason he's leaving let's hope pulp finds out and exposés him on ch 10 I have always know about the lawyers and the judges but this guy is unreal go get em pulp I know your watching over us send it in bob home run waiting on you.

Parkland man
Parkland man

Hey it's the only reason he's leaving let's hope pulp finds out and exposés him on ch 10 I have always know about the lawyers and the judges but this guy is unreal go get em pulp I know your watching over us send it in bob home run waiting on you.

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