All posts in Judges Corner

Judge Meredith Jury’s Comments at the cdcbaa Ashland Awards Dinner

Judge Jury received the cdcbaa award as Judge of the Year at our annual Ashland Awards dinner last month.   Her comments were epic and the award so well deserved.  Luckily I was able to track down someone who taped her statement on an IPhone (or something).  I had the comments transcribed with Judge Jury’s permission and posted on the cdcbaa website.  You can read her statement here.   It is one of my greatest honors to count her as a friend.

More on Sundquist: Are Fees Based on Contingency Fee Agreement here Reasonable?

No according to Judge Klein (in 40 pages).

Sundquist v. Bank of America (In re Sundquist) — B.R. — (Bkrtcy, E. D. Cal. Nov, 2017) Klein, J.

Issue:   Is it appropriate to “expunge” an attorney’s lien on the facts here?

Holding:   Yes.  The court here “canceled” the fee agreement between counsel and the debtor on the basis, in part, that fees exceeding $70,000 here were unreasonable.

Judge Christopher Klein

This is a 40 page diatribe excoriating the efforts of debtor’s counsel on behalf of the debtor.  It lays out very nicely however the rules of determining what fees are “reasonable” and how that determination intersects with state law.    Read more…

Hon. Harry Pregerson 1923 – 2017 RIP

Judge Harry Pregerson

I interviewed Judge Harry Pregerson about ten years ago in his chambers in Woodland Hills.  I was writing a short profile of him for the San Fernando Valley Bar Journal.  To say he regaled me over four hours with stories is to put it very mildly.  He was seriously wounded in the Pacific at the Battle of Okinawa when he was 22 years old.  He spent a few months I believe recovering on the island of Tinian.  He loved talking about the time he presided over the Oakland Raiders v. NFL trial, especially how smart the lawyers were and a few little tricks that they played trying to get an advantage with the jury.  In the bankruptcy arena, Judge Pregerson was on the panel in the Kagenveama case and later on the en banc panel in Flores where he dissented.

The article I finally wrote is below the jump.  The LA Times article on his death is here.

Judge Harry Pregerson
“Senior Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals” Read more…

Nice Profile of Judge Laura Taylor, Chief Bankruptcy Judge in San Diego

This is a nice profile of Chief Judge Laura Taylor, written by Gary Rudolph for the state bar Business Law Section, Insolvency Law Committee eBulletin:

November 14, 2017  
Dear constituency list members of the Insolvency Law Committee, the following is a judicial profile of the Hon. Laura S. Taylor, Chief Bankruptcy Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of California.  Gary Rudolph, a member of the Insolvency Law Committee, met with Judge Taylor to discuss her personal and professional background and her experience so far as a member of the bankruptcy bench.

In the Beginning

Judge Taylor has known since high school that she wanted to be a lawyer because it blended her interest in law and the political process.  After engaging in private practice, including taking time away from a successful bankruptcy and finance practice with a large law firm to represent  disadvantaged families on a pro bono basis through a non-profit program she helped to found, she set a new challenge for herself that would best use her talents and interests–namely, to become a judge.  Judge Taylor had two respected judges as mentors and role models to follow on this path to the bench–most immediately, her husband, the Hon. Timothy B. Taylor, Judge of the Superior Court for the State of California, and the Hon. Irma E. Gonzalez, United States District Judge (Ret.), who was Judge Taylor’s neighbor and whose daughter babysat Judge Taylor’s oldest son. Read more…

Very Nice Profile of Judge Sheri Bluebond

This was written by Michael Davis and published by the Insolvency Law Committee of the California State Bar

ILC Profile Series: United States Bankruptcy Judge Sheri Bluebond

The following is a profile of the Honorable Sheri Bluebond – the eighth in a series of profiles of Ninth Circuit bankruptcy judges.  Judge Bluebond and members of the Insolvency Law Committee met in her chambers and discussed her personal and professional background, observations from the bench, and issues of interest. Read more…

Judge Scott Clarkson Affirmed by 9th Circuit – When is a Home Mortgage not a Consumer debt?

Aspen Skiing Company v. Cherrett (In re Cherrett), — F.3d —, (9th Cir. Oct, 2017)

Issue:   Is a loan taken out to buy a place to live necessarily a consumer debt for section 707(b) purposes?

Holding:   No.   It depends on the debtor’s intent when the loan is incurred.

Appeal from BAP, Kirscher, Dunn, Taylor

Bap appeal from order of Judge Scott Clarkson

Judge Morgan Christen, dissent Jacqueline H. Nguyen Read more…

Judge Neil Bason – Chambers Copies and APOs

Email from Keith Higginbotham

Dear Colleagues!

Judge Bason announced today that for his matters, he no longer requires, desires, needs or wants Chamber copies on any pleadings filed.

If you have an emergency motion or a motion on shortened notice, docket it and then call his chambers and alert either of his law clerks.

Judge Bason also announced today that he no longer allows APO’s with language that states that the Automatic Stay terminates upon conversion to Ch7.  The Court will strike that language from the APO.

But, as a concession to Movants/Creditors, he has added this situation on his list of matters that can be scheduled on Shorten Notice.

Keith Higginbotham

In re Sundquist, Last Add?

This is an article today in the ABI blog today.

BofA Judge Doesn’t Want to Rip Up Scathing Ruling Against Bank

A bankruptcy judge who rebuked Bank of America Corp. over its “heartless” foreclosure on a California couple is not happy that the homeowners want him to erase his ruling, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. The couple reached a private settlement with the bank that calls for rescinding both the $45 million penalty that Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein imposed on the lender and the scathing ruling he issued in March. “So you want me to take the injunction and tear it up and throw it out,” Judge Klein asked during a hearing yesterday in Sacramento. He then explained that if the opinion is vacated, it will be expunged from the annals of law and can’t be cited as a precedent in other foreclosure abuse cases. As one of the couple’s lawyers explained to the judge that they were very grateful for what he’d done in the case and said that approving the settlement wouldn’t take away from the message in his ruling, the wife sat in the courtroom next to her husband and cried silently. Judge Klein sent attorneys for the couple and the bank to meet privately with another judge to discuss further revising the settlement. After they spent four hours behind closed doors, the judge announced there were some unresolved issues and that they’d try to wrap it up on Oct. 18.

Short Bio of Judge Maureen Tighe from the Insolvency Law Committee

The link to the bio is here.  The link also has the past bios created by the ILC.

In re Sundquist – $45 million in Punis Sounds About Right to Me

I hereby nominate Judge Christopher Klein for Super Judge.  This is my brief of the 109 page Memorandum.

Sundquist v. Bank of America (In re Sundquist) 566 B.R. 563, 14-02278 CN (Bkrtcy, E. D. Cal. May, 2017) Klein, J.

Issue:   Given that Bank of America violated the automatic stay, what is the proper amount of damages under section 362(k)?

Holding:   Actual damages of $1,074,000 plus $5 million of punitive damages, further punitive damages awarded of $40 million payable to two consumer organizations and five law schools.

Judge Christopher Klein

The debtors here had attempted unsuccessfully prepetition to do loan mods with Bank of America.  They finally filed chapter 13 to stop the foreclosure sale.  Notwithstanding that it had notice, the bank conducted the foreclosure sale the next day anyway.  “Bank of America committed at least six further automatic stay violations by the end of August 2010 as it bulled forward.”  This included bringing an unlawful detainer.  About the same time, a different department of the bank recognized the error and notified the foreclosure company.  But upon receiving the three day notice, the debtors panicked and immediately moved.  “Although Bank of America knew on August 20, 2010, and beyond cavil by September 7, 2010, that the foreclosure would be rescinded, it did not withdraw the unlawful detainer action or tell the Sundquists the action would be dismissed.”  Six months later, the bank finally rescinded the foreclosure sale but did not tell the debtors nor their counsel.  The debtors learned about the rescission a month or two later and asked for the keys back.  The bank gave them the keys.  When they moved back into the property, the tress were dead, appliances gone, the place was ransacked, and the HOA had assessed a $20,000 penalty for not taking care of the place.  The bank not only refused to pay for the damages but demanded that the debtors pay the mortgage for the time when it owned the property.  Read more…