By Ansley Owens, Contributing Writer and Intern for the NACTT Academy (Nashville, TN)
A heated dispute between a judge and foreclosure attorney ended with the 70-year-old attorney handcuffed, charged with two felonies, and incarcerated overnight.
On November 14, 2014, Palm Beach Circuit Senior Judge Howard Harrison found attorney Stuart Golant in contempt and issued a $500 fine. The transcript from the hearing in GMAC Mortgage, LLC v. Philip Joseph Maszak, et. al., reveals Golant and other attorneys accusing Judge Harrison of denying a motion “as a sanction” against their firm.
When Golant refused to stop yelling in opposition, Judge Harrison ordered bailiffs to remove Golant from the courtroom and a tussle ensued.
The arrest affidavit alleged that Golant violated the law “by grabbing [the officer’s] collar and throat . . . causing [him] to defend [himself].” Golant was charged with resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer.
A video of this altercation shows the events alleged in the affidavit. Golant’s wife and law partner, Margery, is heard in the background pleading with the officers to stop as Golant had a heart condition.
Judge Harrison entered an Order and Judgment finding Golant guilty of Contempt of Court and assessing him a $500 fine on January 7, 2015. Golant filed a Notice of Appeal on January 31, 2015 with Judge Harrison’s order attached.
According to the Clerk and Comptroller of Palm Beach County, the state attorney’s office dropped the charges against Golant on January 8, 2015.
Despite the charges being dropped, the incident had after shock effects. In an unrelated case, married clients of Golant & Golant, P.A., filed a writ of prohibition to disqualify Judge Harrison from their foreclosure case. Clients Richard and Meryl Cannon cited their fear of bias was due to Golant’s previous confrontation with Judge Harrison.
The petition was denied June 10, 2015 in an unsigned opinion. Judge Martha Warner dissented concluding that the “motion was technically sufficient,” and “the facts alleged were sufficient to require disqualification.”
Ansley F. Owens is a contributing writer and intern with the National Association of Chapter Thirteen Trustees Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. Ms. Owens graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, and expects her Juris Doctor from Belmont University College of Law in May 2016.
While at Belmont University College of Law she serves as a Student Bar Association Senator and the Vice President of the Family Law Society. She is trained in the Harvard Negotiation Model and participates as a member of other law-related student associations. Outside the classroom she interned with MTR Family Law in Nashville, Tennessee, and was a judicial clerk for Judge Lynda Jones in General Sessions Court, Division IX in Nashville, Tennessee.