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Judges differ on allowance of trustee's appeal

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Judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, including Northern District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen - who was sitting in designation - disagreed whether a bankruptcy trustee's appeal should be dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction because he didn't file a petition for permission to appeal.

Judge Diane Sykes dissented from Judges Richard Posner and Van Bokkelen in their decision in In Re: Joel Anthony Turner,  No. 08-2163, that the bankruptcy trustee's failure to file the petition doesn't prevent the Circuit Court from reaching a decision on the merits of the case. The two reversed the bankruptcy court's decision to allow Chapter 13 filer Joel Anthony Turner to continue to deduct more than $1,500 in monthly mortgage payments when he stated he planned to abandon the house to the mortgagee. The trustee in bankruptcy, representing the unsecured creditors, objected to the plan, and the Bankruptcy judge rejected the objection. The Bankruptcy judge certified his order for a direct appeal to the 7th Circuit.

That direct appeal is what caused the judges to dissent. The trustee didn't follow the specified temporary procedures in place at the time of the appeal under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 because he failed to file a petition for permission to appeal. The trustee filed his notice of appeal within the specified time, the bankruptcy court entered its certification order, and the clerk transmitted to the 7th Circuit the certification order and the trustee's request for certification.

Judges Posner and Van Bokkelen, who concurred in part and in the judgment with Judge Posner, determined none of the parties were harmed or inconvenienced by the trustee's failure to file the petition. Judge Posner wrote the filing in the 7th Circuit was both complete and timely, and that in essence, the petition was transferred by the court of the bankruptcy clerk rather than the trustee. The information sent by the clerk contained the same information the trustee would have sent.

"We don't mean to trivialize the requirement of filing a petition for review; in another case the failure to comply might well be fatal," wrote Judge Posner. "...Had Turner challenged the request for certification, it would have behooved the trustee to meet the challenge in a petition for review lodged with this court. But there was, as we said, no challenge, and hence the petition would have said nothing that was not in the request for certification-the request transmitted to us and treated by us as the petition for review, which in every respect except label it was."

The majority reversed the bankruptcy court's decision, agreeing with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals that while the calculation of disposable income is a starting point for determining a debtor's projected disposable income, the final calculation can take into account changes that have occurred in the debtor's financial circumstances.

In her dissent, Judge Sykes would have dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction because of the trustee's failure to follow the act's requirements that he file a petition for permission to appeal.

"The trustee did not file the functional equivalent of a petition for permission to appeal within the applicable time limit for filing a petition; indeed, he did not file anything within the time limit for filing a petition," she wrote. "The majority permits the bankruptcy clerk's premature transmittal of a portion of the record to stand as the trustee's 'petition.' This is a significant and unwarranted expansion of the functional-equivalence principle."

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  1. Please I need help with my class action lawsuits, im currently in pro-se and im having hard time findiNG A LAWYER TO ASSIST ME

  2. Access to the court (judiciary branch of government) is the REAL problem, NOT necessarily lack of access to an attorney. Unfortunately, I've lived in a legal and financial hell for the past six years due to a divorce (where I was, supposedly, represented by an attorney) in which I was defrauded of settlement and the other party (and helpers) enriched through the fraud. When I attempted to introduce evidence and testify (pro se) in a foreclosure/eviction, I was silenced (apparently on procedural grounds, as research I've done since indicates). I was thrown out of a residence which was to be sold, by a judge who refused to allow me to speak in (the supposedly "informal") small claims court where the eviction proceeding (by ex-brother-in-law) was held. Six years and I can't even get back on solid or stable ground ... having bank account seized twice, unlawfully ... and now, for the past year, being dragged into court - again, contrary to law and appellate decisions - by former attorney, who is trying to force payment from exempt funds. Friday will mark fifth appearance. Hopefully, I'll be allowed to speak. The situation I find myself in shouldn't even be possible, much less dragging out with no end in sight, for years. I've done nothing wrong, but am watching a lot of wrong being accomplished under court jurisdiction; only because I was married to someone who wanted and was granted a divorce (but was not willing to assume the responsibilities that come with granting the divorce). In fact, the recalcitrant party was enriched by well over $100k, although it was necessarily split with other actors. Pro bono help? It's a nice dream ... but that's all it is, for too many. Meanwhile, injustice marches on.

  3. Both sites mentioned in the article appear to be nonfunctional to date (March 28, 2017). http://indianalegalanswers.org/ returns a message stating the "server is taking too long to respond" and http://www.abafreelegalasnswers.org/ "can't find the server". Although this does not surprise me, it is disheartening to know that access to the judicial branch of government remains out of reach for too many citizens (for procedural rather than meritorious reasons) of Indiana. Any updates regarding this story?

  4. I've been denied I appeal court date took a year my court date was Nov 9,2016 and have not received a answer yet

  5. Warsaw indiana dcs lying on our case. We already proved that in our first and most recent court appearance i need people to contact me who have evidence of dcs malpractice please email or facebook nathaniel hollett thank you

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