Bankruptcy judge warns of impact of ‘fiscal cliff’

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Chief Judge James K. Coachys in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana sent a memo to the Indiana State Bar Association Wednesday explaining how budget cuts and the potential “fiscal cliff” have affected the court.

Nearly 90 percent of the court’s budget this year has been allocated to pay clerk’s office personnel. The number of staff has been reduced over the years: for the fiscal years 2011 and 2012, the court cut four and five positions, respectively. Coachys anticipates cutting six positions by early January because of a projected shortfall of nearly $500,000. Since the end of fiscal year 2011, the staff has gone from 73 to 58 when including the upcoming cuts.

The court is also eliminating or severely curtailing funding for cyclical building maintenance, personnel training, travel and supplies, the memo says.

He expects the budget to be reduced further for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, leading to more personnel terminations.

Historically, the Southern District of Indiana has ranked in the top 15 of the 94 judicial districts in terms of the bankruptcy cases filed.

“Although the information here is specific to our district, the budget cuts described and the resulting changes are similar to those being experienced by bankruptcy courts cross the country,” Coachys writes. “In fact, I have patterned this memo on a similar one by Chief Bankruptcy Judge Pat Morgenstern-Clarren in the Northern District of Ohio – a court experiencing very similar challenges.”

The “fiscal cliff” – automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 2 unless Congress acts – will result in sequestration of funds otherwise budgeted for all federal agencies, according to the memo.

“I hope that the information is useful in understanding how this Court continues to restructure to operate with the amounts allocated to us, and how that process is expected to continue in future budget cycles,” Coachys writes to the state bar. “However, be assured that we are doing our utmost in these extremely challenging times of declining resources to continue providing prompt and efficient service to you and your clients.”



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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.