1 BEHIND THE BENCH A Publication of the Association of Bankruptcy Judicial Assistants Volume 20 Issue 2, May 2013 Hon. Laurel Isicoff LAUREL MYERSON ISICOFF was sworn in on February 13, Prior to becoming a judge, she specialized in commercial bankruptcy, foreclosure and workout matters both as a transactional attorney and litigator and was also a Registered Bankruptcy Mediator with the USBC SD/FL. Judge Isicoff was born in New York. She graduated cum laude from Barnard College, and began law school at New York University before transferring to the University of Miami, where she graduated cum laude. After graduating from law school, Ms. Isicoff clerked for two years for the Honorable Daniel S. Pearson on the Florida Third District Court of Appeal. She then worked for seven years in the Miami office of Squire Sanders & Dempsey. Judge Isicoff holds an AV rating from Martindale- Hubbell, and has been recognized several times in The Best Lawyers in America. She was admitted to practice in the State of Florida in Also very active in the community, Judge Isicoff served for 10 years on the Executive Board of Bet Shira Congregation and the Endowment Committee of Greenfield Day School. FINANCIAL LITERACY FROM CARE TO ELDERCARE Honorable Laurel Isicoff, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Southern District of Florida Many of you are familiar with the CARE program but even those of you in the know may not be aware of what has been happening with CARE lately. The CARE program was started by Bankruptcy Judge John Ninfo, Western District of New York, in Judge Ninfo was concerned when he Inside this issue: saw many, many cases involving young people who had to file bankruptcy due to overwhelming credit card charges. Judge Ninfo realized there was a dearth of education for our young people about President s Message - 2 the dangers of using credit without understanding its costs so Sherie Sands CARE (Credit Abuse Resistance Education) was born. By the time Judge Ninfo retired last year, there were CARE programs being offered in every one of the United States and the District of Columbia. CARE programs are administered through judges, local bar associations, and bankruptcy clerk s offices. CARE instructors include lawyers, judges, accountants, and court staff. Judge Ninfo maintained a website that included a great deal of information about CARE as well as resources for local presenters to create their own CARE presentations. When Judge Ninfo retired, he was concerned about how CARE would continue Judge Ninfo had maintained the website and was the force behind the program. Judge Ninfo reached out to the American Bankruptcy Institute (the ABI ), who gladly agreed to assume the CARE mantel. Today, CARE is overseen by ABI s John Good, the CARE Program Administrator. The materials are continually being updated and information about becoming a CARE presenter, or finding a CARE presenter in your area, is available on the CARE website - Since CARE was created by Judge Ninfo, the dangers of credit abuse have changed somewhat, but not necessarily for the better. Some of the hidden dangers that Judge Ninfo saw as hidden traps, such as the true cost of minimum payments, interest rate jumps, and preying on college students, have been ameliorated slightly by changes in the credit card laws three years ago. But there are still pitfalls for the unwary, and now CARE not only warns our young people about the dangers of credit card abuse and the importance of budgeting, but also about student loan debt, pay day lenders, and the importance of having a bank account. CARE programs are presented at high schools and colleges, synagogues and churches, Girl Scout troops and Boy Scout troops, and fraternities and sororities. CARE programs are also offered at juvenile detention centers and transition shelters for women and men coming out of prison. There is a tremendous need to educate our young people to make them financially literate. (cont d. on pg. 2) Tradition of Service - Hon. Randy Doub News from the AO - Jim Wannamaker CM/ECF Training - Kate Malin Dismissal Sonnet - Hon. A. J. Cristol Circuit Reports 7 Intern Info Requested Laura Frick JA Spotlight - Kim Conrad Judge Speer Remembrance Cheryl Kahler Judge Briskman Portrait - T. Branson & K. Osment My Favorite Things - Hon. Sherie Bluebond Meet Judge Cheryl Jackson L. Russell & L. Pendergast Court Funding - Cindy Korbol Grammar Gremlins - Don Ferguson CBA Announcement - C. Brejlie & J. Ranchor Committee Reports 20 Walk Down Memory Lane Ann Virgadamo JSAG Report Cathy Farrell 22 24
2 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 2 President s Message By: Sherie Sands, ED/MI I am excited to inform you that the 2013 ABJA Annual Conference is well underway! The ABJA Officers, Committee Chairs, and Committee Members put their administrative skills to work quickly and efficiently to plan yet another successful ABJA conference! It has been fun incorporating their new ideas into the agenda. I am confident that the ABJA will continue to be a valuable association to all of its members due to the time and talent that our conference planners invest in the ABJA. The ABJA has wonderful speakers planned in All of the conference speakers were very cooperative and more than gracious to accept our invitation to be a speaker. The ABJA appreciates their commitment to the ABJA given that they may also be participating in the NCBJ conference that same week. If your Judge is attending the NCBJ conference, please invite the Judge to stop at the ABJA conference and say hello! The ABJA would like to thank the NCBJ for its continued support in A special thank you to the NCBJ s new ABJA liaison, Judge J. Craig Whitley, for contacting me and asking how the NCBJ might be able to further assist the ABJA. In addition, I want to note that the ABJA s 2013 Secretary, Ursula Hamilton is Judge Whitley s Judicial Assistant (JA). The ABJA looks forward to working with Judge Whitley in the future! I also want to mention, that the ABJA s 2013 President Elect, Linnie Patterson, is JA to NCBJ President, Chief Judge C. Ray Mullins in Atlanta. It has been a pleasure working with all of you. To the many ABJA members, I encourage all of you to begin making your travel arrangements now to attend the ABJA Annual Conference. Atlanta is a very happening city and we expect that the hotel block will fill quickly. In addition, the ABJA will host a retirement celebration luncheon for the ABJA s CBA Program founder and former twice President, Ann Virgadamo. The amount of time that Ann has dedicated to the ABJA is priceless. Please plan to attend and wish Ann a fun-filled, and well deserved retirement. It is never too late to join an ABJA committee. You can join on the ABJA website at Communication.htm. The ABJA will welcome your assistance in the final conference planning stages. Enjoy your summer! Financial Literacy (cont d. from pg. 1) There are movements around the country, some that have been ongoing for many years, to make financial literacy a required course in high school, rather than just a one or two-day class as part of a larger curriculum. Indeed, in Florida the legislature took what we are hoping is the first step in requiring a course in high school on financial literacy; this past legislative session a bill was passed that requires the Florida Department of Education to analyze the cost of implementing a separate one-half credit course in financial literacy. Our own Judge Karen Specie of the Northern District of Florida spoke to a legislative committee about the importance of financial education for our young people and what she saw as a bankruptcy trustee, a practitioner and now as a judge due to the lack of that financial information. But financial literacy doesn t end with our young people. Many of our elderly have been victimized by scams, or have fallen into terrible financial traps due to a lack of understanding about how to handle their own finances. Two years ago the Public Outreach Committee of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges launched a project called ElderCARE (name used by permission of Judge Ninfo). Under the guidance of Judge Tracey Wise of the Eastern District of Kentucky, with underwriting from the NCBJ, a team of experts in elder law have put together a CARE type program for the elderly. The program is broken down into different segments reverse mortgages, home repair scams, credit card abuse or misuse, and living trusts that can be presented in short segments. We are in the final stages of tweaking the material, and hope to start field testing shortly. Once the materials are complete, the materials will be available to the public at the NCBJ website. If you are interested in getting involved as a CARE presenter, contact John Good at the CARE website or contact me and I will put you in touch with John. Also, get involved in financial literacy. Find out if your state has mandatory financial literacy education and if not, why not!! Helping people understand why credit can be your friend, and your worst enemy, helps all of us.
3 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 3 A Tradition of Service - Judge J. Rich Leonard By: Honorable Randy D. Doub, Chief Bankruptcy Judge, ED/NC None of us were greatly surprised at the opportunity to become Dean of the Campbell Law School recently afforded to Judge J. Rich Leonard. What a great opportunity and what a perfect fit for such a talented man. We were perhaps surprised that his announced departure from the bench came prior to his being eligible for judicial retirement. Judge Leonard has often said at our Christmas Special sessions of court, that all of us as court employees are only entrusted with these duties for a time, and during the terms of our service, we work hard and give our judicial responsibilities our best efforts. And when our time to leave comes, there will be other talented folks who then will be entrusted with these positions. Sometime over the next year, a new bankruptcy judge will take the position previously held by Judge Leonard, and that new judge will begin his or her service in one of these entrusted positions. But for many of us, it will be hard to imagine work at our court going on without Judge Leonard being a big part of what we do and accomplish each and every day. Now when Judge Leonard reads this, he will say the operations and leadership of our court going forward will be fine. We have talented and committed people who will overcome the obstacles budget cuts placed in our path. And when necessary, we will rise to the occasion presented us. But our ability to do so in the future has in large measure been influenced by the tradition of service and leadership, both locally and nationally, of Judge Leonard. Rich Leonard s service to the federal judiciary began some 37 years ago when he served as law clerk to the Honorable Franklin Dupree. His tenure as Clerk of the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and Magistrate Judge followed. In 1992, he was appointed United States Bankruptcy Judge to fill the position previously held by Judge Thomas M. Moore. Almost immediately, he became involved in educational programs at the Federal Judicial Center, and through the years provided great leadership in development and updates regarding privacy issues with electronic filing and preparation for the next generation of CM/ECF. He was an integral part of the leadership that developed the CourtSpeak program, which provides direct access to audio hearings on the court dockets, and is presently being implemented nationally. While accomplishing all this, for his love of the law and for students, he found time to teach at North Carolina Central Law School, UNC School of Law, and the Campbell School of Law. His record of service has been duly and properly recognized by the American Bar Association as the 2011 recipient of the Robert B. Yegge Award for Outstanding Contribution to Judicial Administration. Campbell Law s Delta Theta Phi Fraternity recently presented Judge Leonard with the Judge Robinson O. Everett Award for Legal Excellence. In 1992, he was awarded the Administrative Office of the Court Director s Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Federal Judiciary, and since 2011, Judge Leonard has served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Bankruptcy Law Journal. For nearly a decade in the 1990's, Judge Leonard literally served as a judicial ambassador to judiciaries of developing countries, particularly in Africa. He served on the Board of Governors of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, and served as a Vice-President of the North Carolina Bar Association. He presently serves as a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy. As my colleague for the last seven years, and having practiced bankruptcy law before him for fifteen years prior to my appointment, I have always appreciated Judge Leonard s advice and experience, and his commitment to the rule of law and his dispensation of justice from the bench. As a new judge, and as a new Chief Judge shortly after my appointment, Judge Leonard has always been available to provide me with his best advice and opinions on issues our court has faced. I thank him for his excellent leadership and experienced and helpful advice. Just two weeks prior to his appointment as Dean at Campbell, Judge Leonard s beloved father, J. W. Leonard, was laid to rest after 87 years living a Christian life devoted to his family, to God and his church, and to his neighbors and community. In his eulogy to his father, Judge Leonard spoke of the virtues his father extolled of honesty, thrift, hard work, love of family and friends and commitment to a life of Christian service. Clearly, Judge Leonard s record of experience, accomplishment, and servant leadership became reality because of the love and dedication of his loving father and mother, who clearly taught their children that it was more blessed to develop and give of your talents, than to receive; and to love your neighbor as yourself. Judge Leonard has set a great example of service to others and giving of your talents that we all can aspire to reach. As we say thank you and best wishes to our dear friend Rich Leonard, our loss will be Campbell School of Law s great gain. Godspeed Rich Leonard. God has prepared you well for this new opportunity as Dean at Campbell Law School and for all the challenges, opportunities, and great contributions you will make in this new position.
4 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 4 News From the Administrative Office Bankruptcy Judges Division By: Jim Wannamaker, Staff Attorney Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Introduction This column includes something different a description of how the bankruptcy rules and forms are developed and amended. I hope that you find it interesting and useful. Several brief news items from the Administrative Office follow the description of the rules process. Jim Wannamaker Staff Attorney How the Bankruptcy Rules Are Written and Amended The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure govern the conduct of trials, appeals, proceedings, and cases under the Bankruptcy Code. The process for writing and amending the bankruptcy rules is governed by the Rules Enabling Act, specifically 28 U.S.C. 2075, and procedures adopted by the Judicial Conference. Over time, the work and oversight of the rulemaking process for the federal courts has been delegated to the Judicial Conference s Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure (the Standing Committee) and its five advisory rules committees, including the Bankruptcy Rules Committee. Suggestions for rules amendments and new rules are submitted to the Rules Committee Support Office at the Administrative Office through the rules page of the Judiciary website at or by mail. The suggestions are posted on the website and transmitted to the Bankruptcy Rules Committee for consideration. The committee also develops its own proposals for amendments, often on the basis of amendments to the Bankruptcy Code or bankruptcy decisions by the Supreme Court. If, after review by one of its subcommittees, the Bankruptcy Rules Committee decides to pursue a suggestion, it seeks permission from the Standing Committee to publish a draft of the proposed amendment. Based on comments on the published draft, the Bankruptcy Rules Committee may choose to discard the amendment, to study it further, or to transmit the amendment as published or as revised to the Standing Committee for final approval. The Standing Committee reviews the findings of the Bankruptcy Rules Committee and, if satisfied, recommends rules amendments to the Judicial Conference, which in turn recommends amendments to the Supreme Court. The Court considers the proposals and, if it concurs, officially promulgates the revised rules to take effect on December 1 of that year unless Congress enacts legislation to reject, modify, or defer the pending amendments. The entire process, from suggestion to implementation, generally takes three years. Official Bankruptcy Forms are adopted and amended in a shorter version of the process for rules amendments. Amending an Official Form usually takes two years because the Official Forms do not require approval by the Supreme Court and review by Congress. The Director s Bankruptcy Procedural Forms are issued by the Director of the Administrative Office, as authorized by Bankruptcy Rule 9009, usually after review by the Bankruptcy Rules Committee. Changes to the Director s Forms generally take effect on December 1 of the year they are reviewed by the committee. As provided in Bankruptcy Rule 9029, local bankruptcy rules are adopted by the district court following the process set out in Civil Rule 83. Some district courts have delegated the authority to adopt bankruptcy local rules to the bankruptcy court. Metadata in Opinions and Other Court Documents The Administrative Office has responded to judges concerns about the presence of metadata in court documents, particularly opinions, by providing advice on how to avoid problems associated with metadata. (cont d. on pg. 5)
5 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 5 AO News. (cont d. from pg. 4) Metadata is hidden file information that is not generally intended to be printed or displayed. It may disclose earlier versions of the document, the document s file location on the local court s computer drive, and the names of the individuals who authored or worked on the document. Two types of metadata are of particular concern to chambers revision metadata and file description metadata. Revision metadata concerns changes in the document. It remains available until the document is saved using the Save As, Print, or Convert (to PDF) commands, but is not necessarily removed when using the Save command. File description metadata includes the document summary, headers, footers, hyperlinks, OLE object information, and routing slip information. File description metadata can be edited or removed using built-in tools found in word processing and publishing software. Judge Thomas F. Hogan, the Director of the Administrative Office, provided a link to Guidelines for Editing Metadata in his memo of May 15, The guidelines, which were prepared by the Public Access and Records Management Division of the Office of Court Administration, are available on the JNet at Additional information is available from Linda Melchor at (202) Filings Down 14 Percent Bankruptcy filings dropped 14 percent during the 12-month period ending March 31, 2013, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office. A total of 1,170,324, bankruptcies were filed in the 12-month period ending March 31, down from 1,367,006 in the preceding 12 months. Filings dropped for most types of bankruptcy cases, as shown below: Filings for 12 Months Ended March 31, 2013 Consumer Cases 1,132,772-14% Business Cases 37,552-19% Chapter 7 Cases 804,885-16% Chapter 11 Cases 9,811-13% Chapter 12 Cases % Chapter 13 Cases 355,081-10% Chapter 15 Cases 64-45% Chapter 9 Cases % Total filings fell in 88 of the 90 bankruptcy courts. The exceptions were the Middle District of Alabama (up 2 percent as a result of more chapter 13 filings) and the Eastern District of Missouri (up less than 1 percent as a consequence of additional chapter 11 and chapter 13 filings). Introducing CM/ECF Training for Judges and Staff By: Kate Malin, IT Specialist, AO-OIT- SDSD Did you know there is a CM/ECF web page especially for Judges on the SDSD Training website? We all recognize that judges and their chambers staff have a specific approach to case management which requires a different perspective on the functionality of CM/ECF. With this in mind, the CM/ECF bankruptcy trainers at SDSD in San Antonio have published a set of CM/ECF electronic learning modules (ELMs) designed specifically for judges and their chambers staff. We have learned that judges want brevity and conciseness in training. Therefore, we ve tailored some CM/ECF Release 5.0 and 5.1 ELMs for judges and chambers needs without the unnecessary technical terms and extraneous information that other training materials may contain. Each module addresses just one topic, so you and your judge can focus on the information you need at your convenience. Many of the new CM/ECF features are optional, while others are mandated in response to actions taken by the Judicial Conference or Congress, which may be of interest to the judges in understanding the scope of the release. In some cases, the modules are designed to raise awareness of new concepts that will acquaint them with the basic capabilities of new features rather than fully train them how to do something. It is our intention that these ELMs will prompt more discussions with operations and systems staff regarding the benefits, appropriateness, and timeliness of adopting a new program. A short narrative summarizing the new features that would be of interest to judges is posted for each release. The most recent overview is called Release 5.1 for Chambers. See, CourseResource.aspx?id=912 Moreover, since the judicial community has embraced mobile computing, these ELMs can be viewed on any PC as well as tablet computers such as ipads. Finally, the posting date and length of time to play any lesson will appear when you hover your mouse over the icon of each ELM. The average length of the ELMs is approximately six minutes. We ve also included PowerPoint and PDF versions to enable you to quickly preview the content or customize training in your court.
6 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 6 Editor s Note: I came across this cute sonnet embedded in a 2006 order entered by the Hon. A. J. Cristol, Bankruptcy Judge in the Southern District of Florida (Miami Division) and I asked if he would mind if I reprinted it. He graciously agreed. This just proves we have some very smart and talented judges on the bench! I do not like dismissal automatic, It seems to me to be traumatic, I do not like it in this case, I do not like it any place. As a judge I am most keen to understand, What does it mean? How can any person know what the docket does not show? What is the clue on the 46 th day? Is the case still here, or gone away? And if a debtor did not do what the Code had told him to and no concerned party knew it, Still the Code says the debtor blew it. Well that is what it seems to say: the debtor s case is then Oy vay! This kind of law is symptomatic of something very problematic For if the Trustee does not know then which way should the trustee go? Should the trustee s view prismatic continue to search the debtor s attic and collect debtor s assets in his fist for distribution in a case that stands dismissed? After a dismissal automatic would this not be a bit erratic? The poor trustee cannot know the docket does not dismissal show. What s a poor trustee to do except perhaps to say Boo hoo! And if the case goes on as normal and debtor gets a discharge formal, what if a year later some fanatic claims the case was dismissed automatic? Was there a case, or wasn t there one? How do you undo what s been done? Debtor s property is gone as if by a thief and Debtor is stripped but gets no relief. I do not like dismissal automatic, On this point I am emphatic! I do not wish to be dramatic, but I can not endure this static. Something more in 521 is needed for dismissal automatic to be heeded. Dismissal automatic is not understood, For all concerned this is not good. Before this problem gets too old it would be good if we were told: What does automatic dismissal mean? And by what means can it be seen? Are we only left to guess? Oh please Congress, fix this mess! Until it s fixed what should I do? How can I explain this mess to you? If the Code required an old fashioned order, that would create a legal border, with complying debtors cases defended and 521 violators cases ended, from the unknown status of dismissal automatic, to the certainty of a status charismatic. The dismissal automatic problem would be gone, And debtors, trustees and courts could move on. As to this case, how should I proceed? Review of the record is warranted, indeed. A very careful record review, tells this Court what it should do. Was this case dismissed automatic? It definitely was NOT and that s emphatic # # # [Taken from a Sua Sponte Order Determining Debtors Compliance with Filing Requirements of Section 521(a)(1) entered on July 17, 2006.]
7 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 7 CIRCUIT REPORTS The courtroom in Bangor will be undergoing some remodeling in the new future. Changes include a complete redesign of the upper and lower benches, new seating, paint, and curtains. While the remodel is going on, we will be using one of the two district courtrooms in our building for hearings. District of Rhode Island Judge Diane Finkle has settled in with the District of Rhode Island. She continues supporting many of the innovative programs in that district. District of New Hamsphire 1st Circuit By: Kate Kelly, D/ME Greetings from the First Circuit! Spring has sprung and we ve been enjoying a beautiful stretch of weather in New England! I hope this finds everyone happy and healthy. Sequestration has effected us all, but we somehow manage to provide the public with topquality professionalism and service. District of Maine Chief Judge James B. Haines, Jr. has announced his retirement effective January 3, 2014 after 22 years. A merit screening panel is being formed to begin the search for his replacement. Judge Haines sits in Portland, Maine. Judge Louis Kornreich, who sits in Bangor, Maine, will take over as Chief Judge in July of this year. Alec Leddy, Clerk of Court for the District of Maine, is working in Washington, DC as part of the Administrative Office s 2012 Director s Leadership Program. Individuals in this program will work at the AO on national initiatives and high-priority projects that affect federal courts nationwide. Alec joins the Office of Court Administration (OCA) on a high-profile, national project to address the issues and opportunities involved in considering the implementation of Shared Administrative Services (SAS). He will work with OCA managers and staff from the affected Conference committees and AO advisory groups and councils. He will also help develop and analyze different ways of implementing SAS. Judge Bruce A. Harwood is also settling in as a new bankruptcy judge in the District of New Hampshire. Judge J. Michael Deasy has taken senior status and continues his service. As a result, the District of New Hampshire no longer needs assistance from visiting judges from the First Circuit. Jennifer Hayes took over as Clerk of Court on November 2, 2012, replacing George Vannah who had been with the courts for 32 years, 25 of which were spent with the District of New Hampshire. 2nd Circuit By: Rosemary Rizzico, D/CT No news to report 3rd Circuit By: Dana Muccie, D/NJ Terry O'Brien (D/NJ) has this to share: " Because I'm Only Half Crazy" One of the items on my Bucket List was to run a half marathon, so on November 17, 2012, I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon and finished with a time of 2 hours and 14 minutes. I had so much fun I signed up for the Atlantic City Half Marathon on April 7, 2013, finishing with a time of 2 hours and 20 minutes. I use running as a way to stay in somewhat decent shape, and in order to avoid the inevitable summer vacation weight gain, I signed up for the Philly Rock and Roll Half Marathon scheduled for September (cont d. on pg. 8)
8 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 8 3rd Circuit (cont d. from pg. 7) 15th with the hope that I can get back to or beat my time of 2 hours and 14 minutes. I doubt that I would ever be able to find the time to train for a full marathon so tackling a half marathon every 6 months or so keeps me satisfied. Cathy Farrell (D/DE): Greetings from Delaware! Unfortunately, I don t have good news but wanted to share what has been happening in my court. Much like the rest of the country, the Delaware Bankruptcy Court has been particularly hard hit by the severe budget cuts. Through a combination of early buy-outs, attrition, and lay-offs, our Clerk s office has almost been cut in half and nine mandatory furlough days are in effect for everyone (except Chambers) for the rest of the year. For those still on the payroll, many have been cross-trained to cover duties of those no longer here, or called upon to lend their expertise by way of shared services to the AO and other courts to reduce our salary budget. Since salary is our biggest expense, the Judiciary has little choice but to cut people to meet the budget. Several of our younger employees (with the court for less than five years) are now looking for jobs in the private sector. These measures will certainly shrink the pool of future quality candidates who will first look to the private sector, instead of the government, when making their career choices. Especially since our Courtroom Deputies sit in Chambers, the mandatory furloughs and layoffs affect the morale of the entire Court. As of now, Chambers staff has been spared, mainly because our salaries would not come back to our Court to help the budget or prevent furloughs. I hope our elected officials can get it together before the dire predictions of next year become our new reality. After the news this week, I m just thankful I don t work for the IRS! Pamela Jewell, (WD/PA): Yay! It s finally getting warm and sunny here and everything is blooming in Western PA! As I am sure you all are as well, it s been extremely busy around our Court. With the decrease in staff and the start of the Loss Mitigation Program in our Court late last year, I feel like there is never a dull moment! So this article will be a brief one The big news here is the retirement of Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald at the end of May. I believe many of you are familiar with Judge Fitzgerald from the many wonderful articles she has written for our newsletter over the years and her involvement with various Courts. Judge Fitzgerald will be enjoying what she loves most, spending time with her family, teaching and traveling. We wish her the best... she will never be forgotten. The Third Circuit announced the appointment of Gregory L. Taddonio to be the WDPA s newest Judge and he will take the Bench located in the U.S. Steel Building, Pittsburgh, PA on June 1 st. We welcome Judge Taddonio to our Court family and look forward to supporting him while he gets acquainted with U.S. Bankruptcy Court. A big accomplishment for me recently was completing the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 5 th. This was my first half marathon and it turned out to be an amazing experience. In case anyone is interested... the 2013 Atlanta Marathon, 10 mile and 5k takes place the weekend before our conference, on October 27 th. Anyone care to join me? Laura Frick (ED/PA) reports that following local practice, the five-year term of Chief Judge Stephen Raslavich ended on February 28, The District Court following the tradition of seniority, has appointed Judge Eric Frank as the Chief Judge starting March 1, Chief Judge Frank has served as a bankruptcy judge since February Congratulations to Chief Judge Raslavich for a successful term and best wishes to Chief Judge Frank. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will soon be implementing the new electronic order processing beginning May 1, To view a high level overview via webex click here:
9 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 9 4th Circuit By: Mason Schramm, SD/WV Update from Jane Nuttall (ED/VA): It's official: my retirement date is June 30, I have been blessed working with and for a terrific boss, Judge Douglas O. Tice, Jr. since June 15, 1976 (law firm) then when he was appointed to USBC-EDVA on September 2, Judge Tice just received his notice of recall for after his June 30, 2013, retirement date. In April, the court announced that Keith L. Phillips was selected to fill Judge Tice's appointment. Judge Tice will stay until the installation with his career law clerk Laurie H. Ross. I have been busy clearing out cabinets and shredding paperwork to make it easier for Laurie. I told the judge I was celebrating with the filing of his AO-10, Non- Case Related, & Conflicts Reports on May 1. Bittersweet emotions were felt by me when I finished this important task for the final time. This is short since I am busy trying to clear my desk before I fly to Miami on May 9 and then to Cuba on May 12 for my 12-day People-to-People Cultural trip. Post-retirement plans: weekly participation in Parkinson's Dance Project learning how to teach this wonderful therapeutic program and lots of ballroom dancing; visit daughters in Albuquerque, NM, and College Station, TX; travel to Portland, Oregon, in July with one daughter, then come back in time for an Annandale High School Class Reunion. Other family trips are in the planning stages. I definitely will see my ABJA family in October. Pixie Shannon and I will be roommates and possible travel to Atlanta together. My post-retirement contact info is: FYI: I need to change my FB address since it is in court address. I want to thank ABJA and its membership for a wonderful experience at conferences and keeping up with s and Facebook (especially The Retirees). I am looking forward to a visit with Shirley, Kathi, and those Texas women. I have already received an invitation from our own Queen of Shag, Pam Barnes, to join her in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. next year for some shag dancing. INTERN INFORMATION REQUESTED By: Laura Frick, ED/PA Every year the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has summer interns. Generally they are 1 st year students from various law schools within the 3 rd Circuit. Most have limited exposure to bankruptcy prior to their 10-week internship. We try to give them information before they arrive to familiarize themselves with our work. Besides bankruptcy basics, like terminology and the trustee program, we also include information on ethics, computer use policy, judicial writing, and confidentiality expectations. We try not to overwhelm them with too much information, and I am always looking for better, more concise hand-outs. Do you have interns in your chambers? Do you have an orientation for them? How long is your summer program? Do you provide them with any learning materials? I d like to hear from you with what works for your chambers. If possible, please forward to me any of your reading material/hand-outs that you give to them. I will compile the information and make it available to anyone who would like it. Thank you for your help with this! Please respond by July 31, 2013 to: 5th Circuit By: Shelby Wimberley, ND/TX Hello, again, from the Fifth Circuit. I hope this newsletter finds each of you doing well. On April 1, 2013, Judge Tony Davis took the bench in the Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of Texas, Austin Division. Immediately prior to taking the bench, Judge Davis was a partner in the Houston office of Baker Botts. He has chosen to use two law clerks, and thus, no new J.A., but we are happy to welcome Judge Davis to the courts. Personally, our court here in Lubbock, TX recently welcomed twins! Our law clerk, Mettie Taylor, gave birth to twin boys, Elliott and Finn, on March 11, All are doing well, and as you can tell, they are adorable! Of course, the federal budget is still a major issue for most of us, and sadly, it doesn t appear that things will (cont d. on pg. 10)
10 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 10 Spotlight on Kimberly Conrad JA, ND/IL Kimberly has been working as a JA to the newly appointed bankruptcy judge The Hon. Thomas M. Lynch in Rockford, Illinois since January 1, 2013 but was previously the JA for Judge Manuel Barbosa, who has since retired as of January 1, 2013, since October She is an active member of the ABJA since Prior to coming on board with the Courts, Kim s work background has been in Administrative and Accounting in the private sector. Kim has been around law enforcement all of her life. She is the daughter of a retired Rockford Police Officer, and she has previously worked as a part-time volunteer for 10 years as an approved Licensed Illinois State Humane Investigator thru the Illinois Department of Ag and the Hooved Animal Humane Society, and has since retired as of January Outside of work Kim owns her own business, as an Arabian horse breeder and trainer. She has been breeding, training, promoting and showing purebred Arabian horses for over 28 years. She is very active in the horse business and is an outstanding member of many Arabian horse clubs in her area. She loves being in the spot light showing & promoting her very famous Arabian stallion. Kim and the stallion have performed in front of thousands of people, with being the biggest crowd of 10 thousand. Kim truly enjoys her job working with Judge Lynch and is learning so much from him, and is excitedly looking forward to continue working for him in the future. It truly has been an honor to be a part of this court family! 5th Circuit (cont d. from pg. 9) get better anytime soon. According to a Fierce Government newsletter article dated May 17, 2013, Federal Courts Ask OMB for $72.9 Million in Additional Funds: The federal courts system needs $72.9 million in supplemental funding this year to prevent layoffs and other repercussions from sequester-related budget cuts, says the Judicial Conference of the United States. In a May 14 letter sent to the White House, the conference says it needs $31.5 million for salaries and $41.4 for the defender services account.... The judiciary is confronting an unprecedented fiscal crisis that could seriously compromise the constitutional mission of the United States courts, the letter says. The courts lost around $350 million due to across the board sequestration cuts. story/federal-courts-ask-omb-729-million-additional-funds/ I know this news is not comforting, especially with the 2014 budget year looming ahead and the scary reports of what that will look like. I have some shocking news from the Northern District of Mississippi: David Puddister, the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, was shot when he confronted an intruder in the backyard of his home in Aberdeen, MS on April 27, 2013 at 8 o'clock in the morning. His wife, Laura, works for U.S. Probation in Tupelo, MS. Three shots were fired from a.38 caliber revolver. The first missed. The second hit David in the back and traveled laterally across the top of his shoulders and exited on the lower left side of his neck. The third shot entered an inch below his right ear, traveled through his head and shattered his lower left jaw bone. While David was laying on his back suffering from two bullet wounds, the assailant began busting out his teeth with the butt of the pistol and demanded money. David pushed the assailant off of him, stood up and continued to walk to the back door of his house. By this time his wife Laura had run downstairs and when the assailant saw her he fled. David underwent surgery and has had his jaw wired shut for six to eight weeks. He will require reconstructive dental surgery thereafter. With the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Aberdeen Police Department apprehended a seventeen year old suspect within hours of the attack. He is presently in custody awaiting trial. David wishes to thank all of his friends and colleagues within the Judicial Branch for their kind words, thoughts and prayers. He had especially high praise for the Aberdeen Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service for their swift apprehension of a suspect..."it has aided my recovery process tremendously" he said. (cont d. on pg. 11)
11 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 11 5th Circuit. (cont d. from pg. 10) We wish Mr. Puddister and his family all the best during this difficult time. I m sure they would appreciate your thoughts and prayers. No doubt most everyone has heard of the devastating incidents over the last month. Here in Texas, we have been affected by the fertilizer plant explosion in the community of West, Texas, killing 15 people and devastating the community and surrounding area, and most recently, the 10 estimated tornadoes touching down in North Texas on May 15. Most destructive of these tornadoes was the F4 tornado that swept through Granbury, Texas, killing at least 6 people. These tragedies have motivated people to rush in with all sorts of disaster relief, and even Willie Nelson held a concert to benefit the community of West, Texas. And while Oklahoma is not in the Fifth Circuit, they are certainly our neighbors, and we send out prayers for the homes and lives lost in the recent tornadoes that hit Shawnee, OK and Moore, OK. Many Texas -based disaster relief groups are currently on their way to Oklahoma to provide relief to the affected areas, and I m sure groups from other states are sending aid as well. It is good to see people pulling together to help each other out during such tragic times. Finally, I want to end with some very good news! You may recall from the last newsletter that Jan Houchin (ND/TX, retired) reported her son s entry in a screen writing contest. On February 8, 2013, Jan reported: What a magical night. I didn't realize that Final Draft is a software program for writers. They annually sponsor the Big Break contest. Last night was the big gala and presentation of awards, plus honoring the 2012 Hall of Fame recipient, Lawrence Kasdan. In case you don t know who that is, I ll pick a few things out of the program about him: [h]e wrote, directed or produced 22 movies, among which were Body Heat, The Big Chill, Silverado, The Accidental Tourist, and Grand Canyon. Big Chill and Accidental Tourist were Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Accidental Tourist got Best Pic of 1988 by the New York Film Critics Circle. He wrote or co-wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Bodyguard. Not too shabby, huh?! Craig was wined and dined and they put Craig and Suzanne, and the other finalists up in a hotel, picked them up in a limo and drove to the venue for the Gala. Everything they've done has been filmed by Final Draft, even the inside of the limo drive! The Big Break will pay him $15,000, give him an IPad loaded with the Final Draft software, and he ll get access to film equipment, some crew members, etc., and get to direct a trailer for his movie. He'll get to go to some big mug-wump screenwriters seminar for free. There s more but that s all I can remember for now, cuz it s all so foreign compared to the bankruptcy biz. Craig is very unassuming and just goes about his work without calling attention to himself. It was a treat to see him in the spotlight getting all that attention. He did a wonderful little acceptance speech that was just so natural and heartfelt --- just kind of rolled out. Can ya tell I m kind proud of that baby of mine?! Jan, I think I can speak for all of us in saying, we are very proud as well! The apple doesn t fall from the tree! :-) 6th Circuit By: Beth Morris, MD/TN Beth Morris here. I stepped up to be the 6 th Circuit Representative, after Lemetria Davis position was phased out. The following are just a few news snippets from our neck of the woods: June 30 th can t get here fast enough for Donna Famularo. After 41 years with the government, 34 of which have been with the courts in the Eastern District of Kentucky, she will be retiring. Donna has had the pleasure of working for three different bankruptcy judges; Judge Gregory R. Schaaf, Chief Judge Tracey N. Wise, and Recalled Judge Joe Lee. Susie Maruszewski reports to us from the Eastern District of Michigan Our recent trip to Ireland happened because I was casually looking on the Group-on Getaway site. The Group-on included airfare, accommodations at a Ritz Carlton outside Dublin and a rental car. I mentioned it in passing to my husband that evening and the next day I was Kilkenny Castle booking our trip. I cannot say enough great things about the Group-on experience. We enjoyed a great week in the Emerald Isle. It was nice to get back to my roots, my paternal grandparents were born in the County of Amagh. Although we did not get there on this trip, it is our hope that we can get back there someday to find thefamily Sugar Loaf Mountain Outside Dublin 9-11 Tribute to First Responders farm. Our trip did include excursions to Waterford (the Waterford Crystal Factory), Kilkenny Kilkenny Castle) and sightseeing and shopping in Dublin. The only drawback of the experience is that you must have nerves of steel to drive in Ireland. The roads in the cities are narrow and people drive very fast. (cont d. on pg. 12)
12 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 12 6th Circuit (cont d. from pg. 11) However, once you master the roundabout, driving on the wrong side of the road while sitting on the wrong side of the car, the countryside is beautiful. It was truly a trip of a lifetime and the first, and hopefully not the last, stamp in my passport. Also in Eastern Michigan, Sherie Sands is proud to announce she became a grandma on May 24th! Her daughter, Taylor, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Edgar Robert Hall IV (aka Eddy ). He weighed in at 9.1 lb and was 21 long. Both Mom and Eddy are doing fine. Congratulations Sherie and family! In Middle Tennessee, my co-worker Cindy Odle s baby graduated from Middle Tennessee State University on May 11 th. Cindy and Keith are extremely proud of their little girl. The graduation party was a blast - even if the Tennessee weather turned a little chilly, we still managed to frolick in our spring frocks. Honorable Richard L. Speer: A Remembrance By: Cheryl Kahler, ND/OH It is with pride and great honor that I have an opportunity to tell you about the wonderful Judge that I have had the privilege to work with for 26 years: The Honorable Richard L. Speer. On April 3, 2013, after a day of work, heading to his car, Judge suffered a fatal heart attack. We are still in shock and disbelief, but the Court family has been amazing and I wish to thank everyone that sent cards and s to me during this time. There is not enough space for everything, but I did want to give you a quick background of who this man was. Before becoming a Judge, he taught at Margaretta High School, was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Ohio and practiced law in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Education was very important to Judge; he continued teaching at Terra Community College, Fremont, Ohio where he taught real estate law until mid 1990's. He encouraged everyone to better themselves, and each of his children, grandchildren or staff would receive $1 for each A. Judge Speer was nominated for the position of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge by the late U.S. District Judge Nicholas Walinski of Toledo and appointed by the U.S. District Judges of the Northern District of Ohio on September 2, He was later reappointed in 1986 and In 1997 was appointed to serve as Chief Judge for the Northern District of Ohio. Judge Speer served for 37 years, 7 months, and 1 day. Over those years he oversaw 115,122 cases. (He was big on facts and figures.) The best-known case that Judge Speer presided over was Bell & Beckwith, an 85 year old brokerage firm that was shut down due to fraud. This case took just shy of 14 years to conclude and at the signing of the final paper, he invited guests to reminisce, have cake and coffee. A family friend had written this next part and it so caught the character of Judge. A voracious reader, Judge Speer had a keen interest in Civil War, WWII history, and genealogy. Known for his strong character and his acerbic, dry humor, Judge Speer possessed an amusing quirkiness that endeared him to his friends and family. He had a brilliant mind and was know for his Speerisms. He was very active and well known in the Masonic circles and received his 33 rd degree in His passion was Commandery, Knights Templar Eye Foundation and Knights Templar Holy Land Pilgrimage. On a more personal level, Judge Speer was not only a caring, considerate and thoughtful boss, he was my friend and a part of my family. Family was forever 1 st and foremost. If an issue with family came up, work would always be there when you return. Take care of what matters most. He stood by all the good, bad and ugly that life had to offer. It was not unusual during the course of a day to find myself sitting across from him talking about life, family, music, tv shows, etc. Mondays would be movie review day. He would critique the movies that were seen over the weekend. He would always tell us, if you see it and you don t like it, I ll buy your ticket. He would come up with the most obscure trivia questions and tell me to keep it tucked away for future uses, (I was lucky if I could remember what I had for lunch.) There was always time to talk. I will miss my dear friend. Judge Speer leaves behind a wife, Anita, of 44 years, a daughter, Gretchen, son, Richard, and 6 grandchildren.
13 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 13 7th Circuit By: Linda Montano, ND/IL Happy Spring! As we await anticipated Spring changes such as our smiling flower garden and to hear the sound of a sweet song bird chirping her contentment, that is not exactly the Spring we have encountered here in the Northern District. We have experienced a different slice of Spring in the form of a completely new telephone system. We had our new telephones installed here in Chicago and what a challenge it has been. To start, several employees in Chambers and Clerk s Office were given completely new telephone numbers with different prefixes. The initial training included two classes, one to set up the aesthetics of the programmed phone numbers on the phone display, and second. to give an overview of the features and buttons on the phones and how they are utilized to effectively call, transfer calls, forward calls, add speed dialing, check messages, have call waiting for up to six lines at once (do I really want that?) and the list is endless. If that isn t enough, we also had to go online to set up features and program lists of numbers. It took me quite a while to figure out how to just change my pin number. I am trying to be patient and like all new things involving technology, I try not to be an old dog but I am sometimes resistant to new tricks unless I find that yes, in fact, this will be a more efficient system in the long run and will save me time and aggravation. Oh yes, and all this programming will have to be done by me on my judge s phone as well. As it stands right now, I don t have enough experience with the new system to enjoy the refreshing Spring joy of our new phones YET! Our ABJA Treasurer, Dorothy Clay, recently returned from a trip to Paris and shared some pictures and the commentary about her first trip to France. Dorothy shares Beautiful sites and great weather. Finally got a chance to use my passport which I have been patiently waiting to do so. It was a wonderful experience. No problems with the flight, but was disappointed that I didn't get a prettier stamp for my passport. Even learned a few words in French (when I say words, that s what I mean - not phrases). A trip to Paris would be no good if I didn't visit the popular sites: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, Versailles (King Louis XIV Palace), Giverny (home of Monet) and cruising the Seine River. 8th Circuit By: Judy Brooks, D/MN Where has the time gone? Another reporting period is upon us for the next issue of Behind the Bench. I hope the first part of this year has been kind to everyone. I do know that it took spring a very long time to arrive in Minnesota, but I do believe we have finally turned the corner. As reported in the last issue, 2012 ended on a sad note for the Minnesota court with the passing of one of our long-time judges, Nancy Dreher. Four of our judges, Chief Judge Gregory Kishel, Judges Robert Kressel, Dennis O Brien, and Nancy Dreher, had been together on the bench for over 24 years. But change is inevitable. On August 24, 2012, Judge Kathleen Hvass Sanberg joined the Minnesota bankruptcy bench following Judge Kressel s announcement to take recall status. Judge Sanberg came to us from the Minnesota Tax Court. On Monday, May 20, Judge Dreher s successor, Michael E. Ridgway, took his oath of office. Judge Ridgway comes to us from the Office of the United States Trustee, where he has served as a trial attorney. And with the retirement of Judge O Brien at the end of June, our Court will be naming his successor after July 1. Judge Sanberg currently Judge Ridgway has two law clerks, and Judge Ridgway s decision on his chambers staff has not yet been announced. In other news around the Eighth Circuit: Northern District of Iowa. Gail Jones, Judicial Assistant to the Honorable Thad J. Collins, reports that Jane Kelly, Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Iowa, was confirmed by the Senate with a 96-0 vote to replace the Honorable Michael J. Melloy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Judge Melloy took senior status the first part of this year. Gail also reports that Janis McVeigh, JA to Judge Paul Kilburg, retired on January 31, Janis began working for Judge Kilburg in May of Prior to that, she spent 25 years as JA to Eighth Circuit Judge David Hansen. Western District of Missouri. Arlene Wilbers, JA to Judge Jerry Venters (Kansas City), and Judge Venters both retired in January of this year. (cont d. on pg. 14) Arlene, Judge Venters, and Jamie McAdams (courtroom deputy)
14 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 14 8th Circuit. (cont d. from pg. 13) Successor to Judge Venters is Judge Cynthia Norton. Judge Norton will be hiring two law clerks. Eastern District of Missouri. Barb Sutton, Judicial Assistant to the Honorable Barry S. Schermer, reports that several U.S. Marshals in her district received the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery on May 13, stemming from a March 8, 2011 incident where the award recipients demonstrated great courage during the apprehension of an armed fugitive in St. Louis, Missouri, which resulted in the death of a distinguished U.S. Marshal. The recipients of that award were: Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Patrick James; Deputy U.S. Marshal Theodore Abegg; Deputy U.S. Marshal Travis Franke; Deputy U.S. Marshal Nicholas Garrett; Deputy U.S. Marshal Jeremy Wyatt; and Fallen Deputy U.S. Marshal John Perry. Until our next issue, I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful summer! 9th Circuit By: Suzanne Marx, D/OR Arizona In my last report, I had relayed many of the changes that had taken or were taking place in Arizona. I learned recently that Linda Gray, Judge Eddward P. Ballinger, Jr. s JA, has been working with Judge Ballinger going on 13 years. She and Judge Ballinger served with the Maricopa County Superior Court before coming to the bankruptcy court in Phoenix. California The Northern District has a new bankruptcy judge, the Hon. Hannah L. Blumenstiel. Judge Blumenstiel was appointed on February 11, Judge Blumenstiel does not have a judicial assistant, but is assisted in chambers by her career law clerk, John Christopher Cannizzaro, and a term law clerk, Brent D. Meyer. Oregon On May 17, 2013, our court will be bidding farewell to Bethany Coleman-Fire as her term as Judge Elizabeth L. Perris term law clerk is coming to an end. It has been a pleasure to work with Bethany. I am proud to say that the JAs in this district work very well with the term and career law clerks here. We will miss Bethany, but wish her luck in her legal endeavors at Davis Wright Tremaine in Portland. Tonia McCombs, who previously served as Judge Perris BAP clerk several years ago, will be working with Judge Perris on an interim basis until her new term law clerk, Matthew Mertens, arrives in August th Circuit By: Thora Searle, D/UT We are hopefully changing seasons - winter to summer. A few weeks ago, it was freezing and now we are in the upper 70's and 80's. It s wonderful to have the warm weather and to be outside enjoying nature. Our new courthouse is ahead of schedule and the move-in date is sometime around the middle of March The Bankruptcy Court will stay in the old building so there won t be much change for us. The nice thing is that the old building will be much safer in the event of a disaster than the new building will be. The new building is glass all over. The old building has 2 ft. thick walls and not a lot of windows. I m happy to be staying in the safer building. There isn t much happening in our Court except that we are trying to weather the storm caused by sequestration. We have had some termination of employees which is always sad. It s hard to say good-bye to people you have worked with for a long time. It appears that we will now be fine until the end of the current fiscal year and like the rest of you, who knows what will happen after that. Our case load has gone down but seems to be holding fairly steady now. We have a lot of pro se filers that have used non-legal petition preparers to prepare their documents. The U.S. Trustee s office is pursuing several of these petition preparers for giving legal advice to debtors that is incorrect. Our local state bar association has initiated a pro bono and a Modest Means program to help pro se filers in both the state and federal courts to ensure that they are properly represented and their legal needs are met. It seems to be working well. The courts are able to refer pro se debtors to these program for help in meeting their needs for legal assistance. Alexia Bible (ED/OK) reports: On March 14, 2013, I celebrated 25 years with the Court! In the beginning I served as Records Clerk, then I moved to ECRO and Case Administration, before serving as Courtroom Deputy for 10 years. I have been in Chambers for 9 years. I now have two grandsons and I love spending time with them. Mary Anderson (D/NM) reports: Our filings are going up slowly, but of course, the budget crunch is still on. On a personal side, my oldest daughter, Meghan, received her Masters in Elementary Education on May 11th. We are so proud of her.
15 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 15 11th Circuit By: Laura Stevenson, MD/FL Jennifer Rolph, J.A. to Hon. A. Jay Cristol (SD/FL) reports that in April, Judge Cristol hosted a delegation of Egyptian Judges under the auspices of the Library of Congress Open World Program. The judges spent a week in Miami visiting the Bankruptcy Court, District Court, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. They also visited other agencies such as the Office of the U.S. Attorney and the Public Defender's office. They witnessed portions of a District Court jury trial, and a criminal trial in the Domestic Abuse Court. The judges also enjoyed presentations by the U.S. Marshals Service and a tour of the Federal Correctional Institute. They also visited the campus of the University of Miami School of Law where they were hosted at a special luncheon. Seated L-R: Judge Ahmed Tharwat; Judge Amr El Zohery, Judge Hossam Ramzy; Standing L-R: Judge Mohamed Shahawi, Judge Rosemary Barket (11 th Circ. Court of Appeals; Judge A. J. Cristol; Dean P. White (Univ. of Miami School of Law); Judge Adel Maged, and Judge Mohamed Elabd. Judge Cristol has been involved in the Open World Program for several years and in addition to the Egyptian delegation mentioned above, he has hosted judicial delegations from Ukraine, Russia and Thailand. In the Middle District of Florida, we are welcoming both a new judge and J.A.! Gena Whitsett started work with new Judge Cynthia Jackson beginning on April 8th in Orlando. Prior to working with Judge Jackson, Gena worked for Steve Busey at the law firm of Smith Hulsey & Busey in Jacksonville. She had been with the firm for 22 years. [See pg. 18 for introduction of Judge Jackson.] According to Gena, she loves to sing, dance, and paint. She'll tell you that she isn't any good at those things, but she loves them anyway. She likes long walks on the beach-- but never takes them because it totally destroys her pedicure. She loves to read but will regularly turn to the end of the book to see what happens. Please don't judge her for that. She loves to cook but rarely does because, well, let's face it, ain't nobody got time for that! Gena has been married to David for 29 years (she loves a good challenge) and has a son in the Army. She joined the ABJA right away, and we are so glad to have her welcome, Gena! On a sad note, Brenda Jennings, CBA, with Gray Robinson in Orlando reported that Lydia Gardner, Orange County Clerk of Court, recently lost her fight to breast cancer. Tammy Branson, CBA, reports: Greetings from Orlando! My husband and I just returned from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Conference in Savannah, Georgia. It was a marvelous conference that included Chief Judge Dubina receiving the distinguished American Inns of Court Circuit Professionalism Awards for the 11th Circuit. Aside from his highly regarded professional career, colleagues shared that Judge Dubina is a very caring Tammy (front) and Justice Thomas in grey suit man. One example of this was when he offered during a hurricane in Florida to fly his plane down from Alabama and drive as close as he could to the hurricane to bring attorneys that were stuck in Miami back to Alabama. The Conference included guest speakers United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Canadian Supreme Court Justice Rosie Abella and the authors of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil written by John Berendt and Praying for Sheetrock written by Melissa Faye Green, both written in a southern Georgia setting. We were fortunate to have all of the Middle District Judges present along with so many distinguished Judges from the 11th Circuit. The conference was incredibly informative, mentally stimulating, and entertaining. I am looking forward to the next time we are able to attend the 11th Circuit Conference which is held every two years. (cont d. on pg. 16)
16 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 16 11th Circuit cont d from pg. 15 From the Northern District of Florida, Martie Kantor reports: It has been a very busy few months in our court. Since the last newsletter, our Clerk of Court, William (Bill) Blevins, announced he was leaving effective May 3rd to accept a position as the Clerk of the District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Our current Chief Deputy, Traci Abrams, was appointed as Acting Clerk while we go through the process of finding a new Clerk. Being a brand new judge of only eight months, Judge Specie asked several other judges, Hon. Karen Jennemann (MD/ FL); Hon. Arthur Briskman (MD/FL); Hon. Michael Williamson (MD/FL) and Hon. Margaret (Peggy) Mahoney (SD/AL) as well as the Clerk of Court in the Middle District of Florida, Lee- Ann Bennett, to assist her in the selection process. Judge Specie, Traci Abrams, & Bill Blevins In addition to our Clerk leaving, two of our positions have been abolished and we will be losing two more of our employees in September. One is eligible to retire but unfortunately the other is not. We also lost several positions last year. So far we have not been forced to furlough anyone though and we re hoping that holds through Also, I made the official announcement in March to retire at the end of this year. After being on the fence about it for over a year, I felt it was time while I still had my health and could enjoy my grandbabies. I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to have worked for three wonderful judges during my 35½ years with the court. I started in September, 1978 working for the Hon. N. Sanders Sauls and worked for him until 1986, when Judge Lewis Killian was appointed. I worked for Judge Killian until he retired last year after 26 years on the bench. Fortunately, Judge Karen Specie asked me to stay on when she was appointed upon Judge Killian s retirement. It s been an ever changing, sometimes challenging but fun adventure and am lucky to have been able to work with a staff who I enjoy seeing everyday. I became involved with the ABJA in 1999 when I went to Minneapolis and sit for the CBA exam. It was through the constant badgering of Patsy Burkhalter (SD/GA) that I decided to quit making excuses, stepped outside my comfort zone, spent a $1,000 of my own money and attend my first conference. From that point, it became a passion to assist in whatever way and have served in several different capacities. It wasn t until I became President in 2004 that I realized how much the association helped me to grow. I m so grateful for the friendships that have come out of it as a result and I hope they will continue long after I retire. Saying goodbye will be bittersweet but I look forward to the next chapter in this journey. On a personal note, I ve had two of my children get married within a few months of each other. My daughter, Arianne and her boyfriend, Christian, decided to get married on February 14th with a small, romantic ceremony at the courthouse. Family and friends gathered afterwards at a nearby restaurant to help them celebrate. My son, Matt and his fiancé, Sara, who got engaged this past January, surprised us on Mother s Day by moving up their wedding date up and decided to get married this past Saturday, May 25th. Sara s mom managed to put together a beautiful Matt & Sara Christian & Arianne wedding in two weeks. The fact that everything seem to fall into place perfectly, tells us it was meant to be. After 9 years of them being together, we had all been waiting for this day. MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW FOR ATLANTA - CBA EXAM - OCTOBER ABJA CONFERENCE - OCTOBER 31 - NOVEMBER 1
17 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 17 Portrait of Hon. Arthur B. Briskman Unveiled By: Tammy Branson, CBA,, and Kim Osment (MD/FL) On December 13, 2012, the Honorable Arthur B Briskman's portrait was unveiled in Orlando. The unveiling was an incredible event with Chief Judge Joel Dubina, of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Anne Conway of the District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Chief Judge Karen S. Jennemann, Judge Paul M. Glenn, Judge K. Rodney May, Judge Catherine Peek McEwen and Judge Caryl E. Delano. Many other distinguished judges were present at the ceremony. The portrait magnificently captured Judge Briskman in every detail. We were honored to hear stories from Chief Judge Joel Dubina and others about Judge Briskman's early days working for Senator Howell Heflin, time on the Hill in Washington on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his commitment to public service. President John F. Kennedy greatly influenced Judge Briskman s commitment to public service, so much that he chose November 22 as his investiture date as Judge. Judge Briskman has promoted mental health counseling for debtors. He was instrumental in establishing our pro se clinic in 2012, which has over 50 attorneys volunteering to help unrepresented debtors. Although Judge Briskman has officially retired, he will stay on as a recall Judge for three years. We are all happy we will have more time with him on the bench. If you are in Orlando, please come by and visit our new facilities at the George C. Young Federal Building and United States Courthouse. Judge Briskman's portrait is on display on the 6 th Floor outside our courtrooms. Wishing everyone a great... Judge Sheri Bluebond in the Central District of California (Los Angeles) is known for her composition of bankruptcy related lyrics for popular tunes. Below is one of her many renditions found in a 2002 issue of the NCBJ Newsletter. Another example from one of our talented judges! My Favorite Things Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings My lien is perfected in all of these things Young girls dresses with blue satin sashes Cans of fake snow, artificial eyelashes Prosthetic devices you purchase next spring My lien attaches to all of these things. Commodities contracts, consignments and fixtures Proceeds and profits and tropical mixtures Cattle and chattel and crop liens and such Plowing the corners won t leave very much. When the dog bites When the bee stings And the culprits pay You d better turn over the proceeds to me Cause that s what the loan docs say! More definitions and paperless filing Banks may be happy, but debtors aren t smiling Manna from heaven for lenders, I m told But bankruptcy lawyers may need to be sold. Take out your code books, start parsing the sections Too late to change things in coming elections It s been adopted in oodles of states Since July 1, see what difference it makes. Debtor dozes Bank forecloses Nothing left but dust But what will we say to the vendor that asks, What will be left for us? # # #
18 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 18 Meet Judge Cynthia Carson Jackson By: Lanny Russell & Leanne Pendergast, Smith, Hulsey & Busey Submitted by: Laura Stevenson, MD/FL On March 5, 2013, Cynthia Carson Jackson was sworn in as a Bankruptcy Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. Judge Cynthia Jackson and Chief Judge Karen Jennemann Judge Jackson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, to the late Dale and Doris Carson. Dale was an FBI agent and later served as the Sheriff of Duval County for nearly three decades. Doris was a widelyrespected physician and community leader, as well as the first woman to practice obstetrics/gynecology in Duval County and the first female chief of staff at Baptist Hospital. Judge Jackson was actually on her way to an event honoring her mother when she learned that the Eleventh Circuit had selected her as its nominee for bankruptcy judge. Judge Jackson attended Tulane University for two years and studied two semesters abroad at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. By then however, she had met her future husband, Dale Jackson, and decided to complete her undergraduate degree closer to home. She graduated from Florida State University with a double major in Government and History and a double minor in Economics and International Relations. Judge Jackson then obtained her law degree from the University of Florida. Although she has always maintained her neutrality when the Gators played the Noles, her son says he is going to change that when he becomes a Gator. Prior to her appointment, Judge Jackson was with Smith Hulsey & Busey in Jacksonville since she graduated from law school. Her practice there included all aspects of bankruptcy, insolvency and restructuring. She represented debtors, creditors, committees and trustees in commercial and consumer cases. Some of her significant cases include The Charter Company, Prime Hospitality Corporation, Winn- Dixie Stores, and RQB Resorts (the Sawgrass Marriot). Judge Jackson earned a state-wide reputation for being a collegial, effective problem solver in the most difficult of cases. As her many life-long friends know, Judge Jackson is well suited to fulfilling this Court s stated mission of treating everyone with integrity and respect. (Look for the spotlight of Judge Jackson s Judicial Assistant, Gena Whitsett, in the 11th Circuit Report!) Court Funding for Annual Conference By: Cindy Korbol, WD/WI On February 27, 2013, Judge Thomas Hogan, Director of the AO, sent a memo to all the judges regarding sequestration implementation. In an attachment to the memo, he asks that courts defer the use of the General Authorization for Training for judges and chambers staff occurring on or after March 1, 2013, and for the remainder of this fiscal year. Since our conference will take place in the 2014 fiscal year, I asked the AO if there is a possibility of the funds being restored next year and whether we should send our course agenda and descriptions to them for approval for the use of those funds. At this time, there is no information on next year s training funds for chambers. But we were asked to submit our agenda to them for approval (as usual) so that we can be reimbursed in the event the funds are there for us. We will do our best to keep this year s agenda within the guidelines for the use of the funds in the event they are available. This year s program is excellent, including classes on bankruptcy appeals; procedures on dealing with Chapter 11 cases, including small business 11s; how to deal with difficult people and save your sanity; a motivational class taught by Steve Morgan (one of the best motivational speakers in the country); and workplace harassment. Laura Stevenson is working on getting us a tour of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which would be very fun and beneficial for us. It s probably one of our best agendas ever, so I sincerely hope you will be able to attend. Prior to May of 2000, there were no chambers training funds, and judicial assistants/secretaries paid their own way to the conference. Since the funds became available, attendance at our conferences has grown. Everyone that has attended a conference knows that the training and contacts we make there make us better judicial assistants. Sherie, Laura, and I will work very closely with the AO and notify you as soon as we have a definite answer about funding. In the meantime, please keep an eye out for cheap airfares. Flights into Atlanta are extremely reasonable. (I recently purchased a non-stop flight from Minneapolis for $258.) But please consider attending even if there is no funding. As anyone that has attended a conference can tell you, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
19 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 19 C B A o R N E R GRAMMAR GREMLINS By: Don Ferguson, ED/TN [I thought the following excerpt from Don Ferguson s 1995 book Grammar Gremlins still very much applies today and chose to forego the usual grammar usage tips - Martie] Our use of the English language is one of the key standards by which we are measured socially, professionally, and academically, but many Americans seem to be losing the ability to use proper grammar. It is almost as if few care anymore. Washington Post columnist William Rasperry once wrote that the proper use of the language is routinely accepted as a mark of intelligence, the first basis on which we are judged by those whose judgments matter. You may be quite a decent computer programmer, he said, but few prospective employers will believe it if you speak poorly. You may have the skills necessary to become a first-rate manager, but if you can t write a decent memo.. you are likely to be thought incompetent. # # # Don K. Ferguson, Eastern District of Tennessee, welcomes comments and questions via telephone, , extension 2222, or by at ED.uscourts.gov. His office address is U.S. District Court, 800 Market Street, Ste. 130, Knoxville, TN Don writes a weekly newspaper column titled Grammar Gremlins and is the author of a book by the same name, published by Glenbridge Publishing Lt., Aurora, CO. The message here is, if one speaks properly, we assume that that person has some degree of intelligence, but if he or she uses poor grammar, we think just the opposite. Thank back on it; you have made early judgments about others just by hearing or seeing the grammar they used. ATTENTION CBA s By: Colleen Brele, CBA and Jeanne Rachor, CBA Are you thinking about taking the CBA exam this year? Let us help you decide why you should take it: Puts the tasks we do in our everyday jobs in perspective; Creates opportunities for advancement; Self-satisfaction and sense of accomplishment; Networking; and Certification in a specialized area of law enables you to be a valuable resource. NOW THAT YOU ARE A CBA Please consider attending the educational portion of the ABJA conference in Atlanta, Georgia this October. If you are a CBA who has not attended a conference in recent years, please consider coming back. CBA s now have the opportunity of suggesting topics for the conference which will benefit them. This year s suggested topics are: Discharge, lien avoidance and conveyance of real estate through bankruptcy. Important dates for both debtors and creditors. Available checklist type documents that can be adopted to into your job duties. How can we incorporate the Practice Excellence mindset. Negotiating reaffirmation/redemption agreements to the benefit of all affected. Critical issues analyzed from the debtor, creditor and courts view. A panel of debtor attorneys, creditor attorneys, trustees and bankruptcy judges speaking about document prep through discharge. Plus do s, don ts and helpful suggestions. Please encourage all of your friends, and other colleagues to attend the educational conference and become involved in this very worthwhile organization. Are you ready to make yourself more valuable to your employer?
20 BEHIND THE BENCH May 2013 Page 20 COMMITTEE REPORTS Conference Committee By: Marleen Young, D/NJ This year s conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia in conjunction with the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges. Our host hotel will be the Hilton Atlanta which boasts a central location in the heart of downtown Atlanta within walking distance of some of the best attractions in the city, including the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Center and the Georgia World Congress Center. This beautiful hotel features tennis, swimming, exercise room, 7 restaurants, 3 bars, free in-room web access (per contract), entertainment in Trader Vic s (motif complete with authentic palm trees, tiki torches and Polynesian wood carvings). All attendees will receive the standard room at our group rate of $ Reservations may be made by calling or by cutting and pasting the following link into your browser. https://resweb.passkey.com/resweb.do?mode=welcome_ei_new&eventid= EDC is our group code. The group rate of $133 is extended 3 days prior and after conference dates. If there are not enough rooms prior to or after our dates, ask the operator to offer you the government room rate which will be pretty close to our room block rate. We only have so many rooms reserved so once they are gone we cannot add to our room block without financial responsibility for the ABJA. Reimbursement for travel expenses are not a certainty, but please make every effort to attend this year. Check with your individual court for this request. If no funding is available, start planning and saving your pennies. PLEASE CHECK ROOM AVAILABILITY BEFORE BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT. Mark your calendars and start checking out flights. Dates CBA early registration Monday, October 28, 2013 CBA Tuesday & Wednesday, October 29-30, 2013 Opening reception Wednesday, October 29, 2013 (off site with NCBJ - No guests) Professional Skills Seminar Thursday, October 31, 2013 Business Meeting Thursday, October 31, 2013 ABJA program Friday, November 1, 2013 Closing Banquet - Friday, November 1, 2013 (Guest fee: $75) We anticipate the registration rate for the conference for ABJA members to be $175 this year. Airport Transportation Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is just a 15 minute drive from the hotel. Shuttle runs $29/Round trip or a cab would be about $30 one way. The MARTA ($2.50) is also available from the airport. Take the train north and exit at Peachtree Center Station. Take the Harris Street escalator or follow the directions for Peachtree Center Mall. You will go up a very steep escalator into the Mall. Take the walkway from the Mall to the parking garage. Take the elevator to the street. The hotel is on your right when you exit the garage. This transportation is only advisable if you are using rolling luggage (or need a workout carrying your bags).