Judge sues litigant who accused him of conspiring with bank in foreclosure case
A Florida judge has sued a foreclosure defendant who claimed in court documents that the judge violated “U.S. constitutional laws” and conspired with Wells Fargo Bank and its lawyers to steal her property.
Judge Thomas Minkoff of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida sued homeowner Leslie Armstrong and the Pinellas Clerk of Court Ken Burke, report the Tampa Bay Times and the SaintPetersBlog. Minkoff had ruled against Armstrong in September in the foreclosure action by Wells Fargo.
Armstrong made the conspiracy allegations in documents labeled a “criminal complaint” in the foreclosure case and in federal court. She sought liens against Minkoff, the bank and its lawyers, and said they owe her $2.4 million. Among her citations of “U.S. constitutional laws” which she claims Minkoff had violated was that “no law-abiding person shall be forced to do anything he does not want to do.”
Minkoff’s suit says Armstrong’s documents are “false, fictitious and fraudulent” and the appearance of an outstanding lien can harm his credit and interests in property.
A court spokesman said Minkoff sued because the homeowner’s court filings could harm his reputation as a judge. Burke said the lawsuit was a necessary step to expunge the records. “I have no authority to seal records,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “I need some type of direction from the court to do so. This lawsuit would give me that type of direction.”
Southern Poverty Law Center senior fellow Mark Potok told the Tampa Bay Times that the kind of wording used by Armstrong in the court documents is similar to language used by the sovereign citizen movement. “It’s possible the person who filed them doesn’t adhere to all the ideas of sovereign citizens, however,” he wrote to the newspaper in an email.
ABA Journal: “‘Sovereign citizens’ plaster courts with bogus legal filings—and some turn to violence”