According to information I have received from reliable sources, four candidates for the position of Bankruptcy Judge in Rochester were interviewed on Wednesday, July 20. Three of the candidates interviewed were:1) Kathleen Schmitt, currently the Assistant United StaTes Trustee for the Rochester UST office2) Michael Arnold, a chapter 7 trustee in private practice3) Ken Gordon, also a chapter 7 trustee in private practiceThe identity of the fourth candidate interviewed is not known to me. One source reported it was a female candidate from outside the Rochester area.
Who would have thought that an endless lawsuit involving the late Anna Nicole Smith might be the vehicle for the Supreme Court to curtail the constitutional jurisdiction of Bankruptcy Courts? But the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision along the usual ideological lines, ruled bankruptcy courts do not have the constitutional power to make a final ruling on issues strictly of state law, saying that only judges appointed under Article III of the Constitution (lifetime appointment District Court Judges) have that authority. Marshall v. Marshall; United States Supreme Court decision June 23, 2011. The majority opinion of Chief Justice Roberts opens on a lighter note, quoting Charles Dickens: This "suit has, in course of time, become so complicated, that . . . no two . . . lawyers can talk about it for five minutes, without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable children have been born into the cause: innumerable young people have married into it;" and, sadly, the original parties "have died out of it." A "long procession of [judges] has come in and gone out" during that time, and still the suit "drags its weary length before the Court." Those words were not written about this case, see C. Dickens, Bleak House, in 1 Works of Charles Dickens 4-5 (1891), but they could have been.
Rochester Bankruptcy Judge John C. Ninfo has ruled that Worker's Compensation disability payments are not exempt from a bankruptcy trustee if received before the filing of the bankruptcy petition. In re Widner; Western District of New York Bankruptcy # 10-20209; decision dated July 11, 2011. In an earlier decision, In re Herald(294 BR 440, WDNY Bank. 2003), Judge Ninfo had ruled that Worker's Compensation benefits were 'disability benefits', and, therefore, could be exempted in bankruptcy under NY D&C 282 (2)( c ). In Herald, the benefits in question were payments the debtor was entitled to after filing the petition. In Widner, the question was whether the debtor could exempt $57,500 remaining from a lump sum Worker's Compensation award received before the filing of the bankruptcy. The funds had been held In a separate bank account, not commingled with any other money.