H.R. 4967, the Temporary Bankruptcy Judgeships Extension Act of 2012, extends 29 existing temporary judgeships for an additional five years. The bankruptcy judgeships in the bill were created or extended in 2005 as temporary judgeships. By statute, five years after a judge fills the office, the first bankruptcy judgeship vacancy to occur in their district cannot be filled. The five years are up for most, and vacancies are beginning to occur in the 19 districts that have those temporary judgeships.
The bill comes just in time for many bankruptcy courts, after legislation was pursued on the Hill for over a year. When the next Delaware bankruptcy judge steps down, creating a vacancy, the district would have lost the first of its five temporary bankruptcy judgeships. With three temporary bankruptcy judgeships out of a total of seven, the District of Maryland also would have begun to lose its temporary bankruptcy judgeships with the next vacancy. The District of Nevada, first in the nation for bankruptcy filings per capita, but with only four bankruptcy judgeships, also would have risked losing a temporary bankruptcy judgeship. Last calendar year saw well over 24,000 bankruptcies filed in that district. The Western District of Tennessee was expected to lose a temporary bankruptcy judgeship this summer.
The passage of H.R. 4967 secures the continuation in the immediate future of those temporary bankruptcy judgeships. To make this possible, Chapter 11 filing fees had to be raised.
“This legislation allows the bankruptcy courts to continue to utilize these needed judicial resources to resolve cases, and gives individuals and businesses the ability to move forward,” said AO Director, Judge Thomas F. Hogan. “The success of this bill would not have been possible without the hard work of many Members and their staffs. In the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX ), Ranking Committee Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI ), Representative Howard Coble (R-NC), and Representative Steve Cohen (R-TN), provided stewardship for the effort. Senate passage was made possible by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Committee Member Charles Grassley (R-IA), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), among others.”