October 26, 2017

Bankruptcy Judgeship Act

President Trump Signs 2017 Bankruptcy Judgeship Act

On October 26, 2017, the president signed the 2017 Bankruptcy Judgeship Act, H.R. 136.  The final bill added four five-year bankruptcy judgeships and extended 14 temporary ones in Delaware, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Puerto Rico for an additional five years. The four new judgeships would be one each in Florida and Michigan and two in Delaware.  The Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, James Duff, stated in a letter to Congress that if the 14 temporary bankruptcy judgeships were allowed to expire, those districts would experience a “serious and, in many cases, debilitating workload crisis,” as districts like Delaware could be “crippled” under the workload.

The passage of this legislation capped an effort by the Judicial Division to avoid the expiration of these judgeships that began with the passage of a resolution co-sponsored by the National Conference of Federal Trial Judges, the Judicial Division, the JD Lawyers Conference, the Business Law Section and others calling for the extension of the judgeships and the creation of the additional judgeships in the locations of greatest need. 

At the ABA Midyear Meeting in Miami in February 2016 the House of Delegates passed Resolution 101 by which the Association urged Congress to pass then-pending bills to convert certain temporary Bankruptcy Judgeships and to create four additional judgeships.  In March 2017, the Lawyers Conference of the Judicial Division convened its second annual “LC Day on the Hill” (actually multiple days).  The Lawyers Conference made passage of the Bankruptcy Judgeship Act its primary focus in its meetings with members of Congress and their staffs.  They coordinated with the Administrative Office of the US Courts and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges in highlighting the need for this legislation.  Several judges from the National Conference of Federal Trial Judges attended the meetings in order to provide information about the need for passage of this legislation. 

Needless to say, the LC Day on the Hill 2017 bore fruit when both houses of Congress passed the bill and the president signed it into law on October 26.  LC members Michael Bergmann, Mark Sessions, Chris Browning and others led the effort in Washington.  This highly successful collaborative effort highlights what can be accomplished through the Judicial Division. 

Kudos to all concerned!