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May 31, 2017

Bankruptcy Judgeships

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill May 3 by voice vote that would convert 14 existing temporary bankruptcy judgeships to permanent status and authorize four additional permanent judgeships in districts where there are too few judges to handle the persistently high number of  bankruptcy filings. In a May 9 letter to committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman commended the members for expedited action on the bill, which he said is necessary to avoid temporary bankruptcy judgeships from lapsing on May 25. The bill, H.R. 2266, is based on a rigorous bankruptcy judgeship needs assessment recently conducted by the Judicial Conference of the United States, and Susman said the ABA is concerned that resources are already so strained in the nine bankruptcy courts identified in the bill that the courts will not be able to function effectively if they lose even one of their temporary judgeships. He pointed out that Congress, which has created no additional permanent bankruptcy judgeships since 1992, has been accommodating expanding workloads through a piecemeal approach of creating or extending existing temporary judgeships time and again. Seven of the 14 temporary judgeships in H.R. 2266 were extended last month as part of P.L. 115-31 (H.R. 244), the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2017 signed by the president on May 5. “Instead of relying on appropriators to temporarily avert the next crisis, your bill will restore stability and functionality to the system by addressing the demonstrated need for permanent bankruptcy judgeships in a comprehensive and lasting manner,” Susman wrote. In a subsequent letter sent May 16 to all members of the House, Susman urged a prompt vote on the bill to “ensure an efficient bankruptcy system.”


Back to the May 2017 Washington Letter