The Secrets of Bankruptcy Judge Selection
Everything you wanted to know about bankruptcy judge selection can be found in a report from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver. As many Credit Slips readers will know, bankruptcy court judges are appointed to 14-year terms by the courts of appeals in the various federal circuits. The exact appointment process varies from circuit to circuit. The report provides a detailed look from everything of who gets appointed to the circuit's merit selection panels that do most of the heavy lifting in making recommendations to how these panels conduct the interviews that are part of the selection process. Although the report is pitched more toward a policy-minded audience, it also should be required reading for anyone who might want to be a bankruptcy judge.
As the report documents, most observers think the bankruptcy judicial appointment process works pretty well, producing a high-quality bench through merit selection. As we debate the formalistic legal distinctions in the two pending Supreme Court cases (here and here) that could cut back the amount of bankruptcy judges' discretion, we should not forget the pragmatic reality that this discretion is being exercised by what is perhaps the most overall expert bench in the federal judiciary.
Judge and lawyer image courtesy of Shutterstock.