Once again, we’re facing a possible federal government shutdown. (See Shutdown Nears as House Votes to Delay Healthcare Law and, for comic relief, Boehner Advises Americans to Delay Getting Cancer for a Year).
How will this affect operations of bankruptcy courts?
The Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina has issued a statement through Chief Judge David R. Duncan:
The Judiciary . . . will continue to operate for an estimated 10 business days (through approximately October 15, 2013) using available funds. There are certain limitations to these operations; but parties and litigants will notice little change.
After the 10-day period, if there is still no budget or CR, the Bankruptcy Court will operate under the Anti-Deficiency Act, which allows ‘essential work’ to continue despite the lapse in appropriations. The clerk and judges are developing a plan should this become reality. In the event of a lapse in funds beyond October 15 the court will implement a plan to continue the ‘exercise of the judicial power of the United States’ and dispose of matters that ‘preserve life or property.’ The plan will provide for the staffing necessary to perform essential functions, including accepting new cases and proceedings for filing and hearing cases and controversies where essential to protect property.
The United States trustee will separately issue a statement concerning meetings of creditors and other functions of that office at the appropriate time. If asked, the Court will assist the United States trustee in disseminating the statement.
The take away from all this…
First, our bankruptcy judges and staff are doing an excellent job as they try to serve those who must use the bankruptcy system–creditors and debtors alike. The predominant opinion of my bankruptcy attorney friends is that we’re in a great district to practice bankruptcy law. We have three very capable and qualified judges and a dedicated clerk’s office as well.
Second, bankruptcy will go on. Good folks hurt by the Congressional policies of the last couple of decades can still get debt relief. We’ve had uncontrolled deficit spending, continued failure to regulate the financial services industry, and the embrace of so-called “free trade” at all costs–at least for everyone but Big Pharma, which wants to protect the ability to sell drugs to U.S. consumers for the highest price paid anywhere.
But life must go on. If you have financial problems, rest assured that the political turmoil in Washington won’t affect your right to debt relief. And thank you to the judges and staff at the Bankruptcy Court here in South Carolina for all their hard work.