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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. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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