All posts in Courts

Interview with Judge Alex Kozinski

The highlight of the Insolvency Conference on Coronado Island this year was the interview of Judge Alex Kozinski on Friday afternoon.  Judge Peter Bowie (Ret.) started off by asking Judge Kozinski for a word that describes who he is and what he is all about.  The word? – handsome!  He asked Judge Kozinski about his early life in Romania and his life after that in Vienna – when he first tasted ice cream and “immediately became a capitalist.”

After clerking for 9th Circuit Judge Anthony Kennedy and US Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, his first job was with Quittner, Stutman, Triester & Glatt.  He was sworn in as a US citizen sometime in those years by Judge Harry Pregerson, then a district court judge, now his colleague on the 9th Circuit.   Judge Kozinski gushed about what a great judge William Lazarow was and determined to be like him.  After joining the 9th Circuit himself in 1985 at 35 years old, he somehow wangled himself the the job of running Judge Lisa Fenning’s calendar while she was off on maternity leave.   He described the effort as “the hordes coming at your.”  He was not derisive in the slightest.  The bankruptcy world has a lot of people who need help and the bankruptcy judge deals with that every day.  He said that bankruptcy “brings order from chaos.”  For that reason it is important.

There is a great hour-log interview with Judge Kozinski on youtube here.  Pretty fun.

Prof. Chemerinsky Explains Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger

The 9th Circuit was reversed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday in Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger, — S. Ct. —, 2017 WL 1377379 (2017).  The case deals with a court’s inherent powers to sanction parties and attorneys.   The rule is pretty clear that a court may sanction a party using its inherent power if the party’s conduct was “bad faith, wanton, vexatious, or oppressive,” i.e., more than reckless or even frivolous.  But how much?  The unanimous Supreme Court said the sanctions “must be compensatory rather than punitive in nature.”  It said that the “fee award may go no further than to redress the wronged party ‘for losses sustained’; it may not impose an additional amount as punishment for the sanctioned party’s misbehavior.”  Thus, “a court’s shifting of fees is limited to reimbursing the victim.”  That is not to say that the sanctions cannot be punitive but if they are, that is essentially a criminal proceeding and the sanctionee has the same rights as other criminal defendants.

In Goodyear, certain reports favorable to the Plaintiff were not turned over to the Plaintiff.  The Plaintiff, not knowing that the reports existed, ultimately settled with Goodyear.  A year later, the reports were discovered.  How is the district court going to figure out “the losses sustained” because of the failure to turnover the reports? Read more…

Court is Asking for Local Students to Participate in 9th Circuit Civics Contest

The U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts for the Central District of California are encouraging high school students to participate in the 2017 Ninth Circuit Civics essay and video competition (the “Contest”).

The theme of the Contest is “Not to be Forgotten: Legal Lessons of the Japanese Internment.”  Students are asked to relate the legal history of the Japanese internment to current government efforts to protect the nation against terrorism.  The focus is on constitutional conflicts that can arise when national security and individual rights are both at stake. Student winners will receive cash prizes and other recognition.

For more information, please review the attached flyer.

Brown Bag on the Loan Modification Management Program – Feb 6, 2017 at Roybal

Judges Barash and Bason are going to host a brown bag lunch presentation on the Loan Modification Management Program (“LMM”) currently in the pilot phase in cases pending before Judges Barash, Bason, Bauer, Brand and Yun.  The luncheon will be held on 2/6/17 at 12:00 p.m. at the Roybal building.    This is the link to the event page on the Court’s website.

I highly recommend attending this.  The courts need our input.  If they don’t get our input, they are flying blind to some extent.  There is certainly the desire on the part of the courts to help.

See you there.

Judge Erithe Smith Calendar This Week

Dear Colleagues:

The Court announced that:  “I am sorry to report that Judge Erithe Smith’s mother has just passed away.  Judge Smith will be continuing all of her hearings this week.  

Keith Higginbotham

Haeger v. Goodyear Tire – Supreme Court to Consider Limits on Federal Court’s Inherent Power to Award Compensatory Sanctions

I will be attending oral argument at the Supreme Court next week, January 10, 2017.  Below is my brief of the 9th Circuit Opinion at issue.

Haeger v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co, 813 F.3d 1233 (9th Cir, 2016)

Issue: Do compensatory sanctions awarded under the district court’s inherent power have to be causally linked to the harm done by the bad conduct?

Holding: No, compensatory sanctions may be part punitive and part compensatory.

District Judge Roslyn O. Silver, District of Arizona,

Milan Smith, dissent by Paul Watford (other judge on the panel was Clifford Wallace). Read more…

Judge Barash to Hold Brown Bag on Loan Modification Management Program

This program is an excellent opportunity for you to get the inside scoop on the new Loan Modification Management Program.  This is a “pilot” program meaning there will be a “feeling out” period by everyone involved.  I think its a great effort and should be supported by the local bankruptcy bar.  Brown Bag Flier Barash Read more…

Chief Justice John Roberts Releases his 2016 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

This annual report by Chief Justice Roberts is down right nice.  It is a ten page summary – overview of what our Federal District Court Judges do.  I expected a two page plea at the end asking Congress to increase the paychecks of the district court judges.  He does not and need not since the summary of what these civil servants to do is proof enough that they should be paid better.

From the report:

United States district judges are the principal trial judges of our federal system. Congress has authorized 673 district judgeships, as well as four territorial positions. The active judges receive assistance from more than 500 senior district judges, who are eligible for retirement with full pay but still continue to work—most in a part-time capacity, but many full-time—without additional compensation. Read more…

Central District Institutes New LOAN MODIFICATION MANAGEMENT PILOT PROGRAM

Chief Judge Sheri Bluebond has announced that the Central District has established a Loan Modification Management Pilot Program (“LMM”).  Currently, the LMM is just a pilot program and not a district wide program.

Five Judges are participating in the pilot program, Judge Julia W. Brand, Judge Neil W. Bason, Judge Scott H. Yun, Judge Catherine E. Bauer and Judge Martin R. Barash.

There are forms and procedures as you can imagine.  The forms may be accessed here.  The procedures may be accessed here.

The 11 pages of procedures state: Read more…

Supreme Court Clarifies Meaning of Tippee in Insider Trading Dispute

Salman v. United States is not really a bankruptcy issue but it confuses my Biz Org students to no end so I spent a little time trying to simplify it.  You can access my UWLA blog here.