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7th Circuit finds remand to be unreviewable

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals looked at the issues of removal and remand in the context of bankruptcy in a case July 21 and found the bankruptcy court’s decision to remand a case to state court is unreviewable.  

In the 19-page decision authored by Judge Richard Posner, the federal appellate court looked at Judicial Code (Title 28) sections 1446(a) and 1447, and federal cases, which included Carlsbad Technology Inc. v. HIF Bio Inc., 129 S. Ct. 1862 (2009), to determine whether a company could appeal a bankruptcy judge’s order that an action originally filed in state court and removed to bankruptcy court should be sent back to the state court.

Alan Brill owned several radio stations that eventually went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The successful bidder on those at auction was Regent Communications, now known as Townsquare Media, who had at one point discussed with Brill the possibility of buying the media companies prior to bankruptcy. Brill filed suit in state court claiming the creditors of the debtors and some of the debtors’ lawyers and other professional advisors misused confidential information and encouraged Regent to violate two confidentiality agreements it had previously made with Brill. All his claims were based on Indiana law.

The case was moved to bankruptcy court after pre-bankruptcy creditors named as defendants asked the bankruptcy judge to take the case to enforce compliance with a previous order. The bankruptcy court took the case, but Brill later amended the case to only include Regent as a defendant in the alleged violations of the confidentiality agreement claims.

The bankruptcy judge ruled the amended complaint was unrelated to the bankruptcy, so the court had no jurisdiction over it. The judge ordered the suit remanded to the state court, which Regent appealed. The District Court affirmed, saying once the bankruptcy court found it had no jurisdiction, no action could be taken but to remand the case.

“The word ‘jurisdiction’ is a chameleon, judges do not always use it with precision, and the distinction between relinquishing and disavowing jurisdiction is a fine one. Had Regent argued supplemental jurisdiction to the bankruptcy judge, we might interpret what the judge did as relinquishment rather than disavowal,” wrote Judge Posner in Townsquare Media Inc., f/k/a Regent Communications Inc. v. Alan R. Brill, et al., Nos. 10-3017, 10-3018.

“But as no one mentioned supplemental jurisdiction, it hardly seems likely that the judge, in holding that he lacked jurisdiction, meant that he had jurisdiction but was relinquishing it. Such a characterization of his ruling would not be ‘colorable.’ So the remand was indeed unreviewable, and Regent’s appeal must therefore be – we conclude at long last – dismissed.”

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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