The United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit

BAP Appeals Decided on the
Merits Now Exceed 5,000

April 24, 2007

By BAP Staff

The current Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel consists of, seated from left, Judge Christopher M. Klein of Sacramento, Philip H. Brandt of Seattle and Dennis Montali of San Francisco, and standing from left, Jim D. Pappas of Boise, Erithe A. Smith of Santa Ana, and Randall L. Dunn of Portland. Judge Brandt presides as chief bankruptcy judge of the BAP.

The United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Ninth Circuit (BAP) recently announced that its total number of appeals decided on the merits now exceeds 5,000 cases. Of these appeals, 1,439, nearly 30 percent, were decided in published opinions with the remaining 3,572 decided in unpublished memorandum decisions. The decisions reflect the work of 82 different bankruptcy judges since the BAP's inception in 1979.

Commenting on the milestone, BAP Chief Judge Philip H. Brandt of Western Washington noted, "The BAP has been instrumental in developing a uniform body of bankruptcy case law within this circuit. BAP decisions are cited in courts throughout the United States as persuasive authority on bankruptcy issues."

Judge Brandt added that the 5,000-plus merits decisions do not include procedural dispositions, such as dismissals for lack of jurisdiction or lack of prosecution. "All told, the BAP has disposed of more than 15,000 bankruptcy appeals, which has enabled our court of appeals and district courts to focus more of their attention on their heavy civil and criminal caseloads, especially those cases tied to national interests such as cases involving narcotics trafficking, illegal immigration and terrorism."

BAP Clerk of Court Harold Marenus noted that federal law allows litigants to have their bankruptcy appeals heard either by the BAP or a district court.

"The BAP is a court of choice," Mr. Marenus said. "Our staff is keenly aware that litigants have a choice as to where they take their bankruptcy appeals. This keeps us highly motivated to provide the best service possible."

The BAP, which has offices in the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Courthouse in Pasadena, was established by the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit as an alternative forum for hearing bankruptcy appeals. The BAP currently consists of six members, all sitting bankruptcy judges from districts within the circuit. Panel membership is voluntary, and appointments are for seven-year terms. To date, 25 bankruptcy judges have served on the BAP as members. Another 57 bankruptcy judges have served on the BAP as pro tem judges, whose assignments typically cover a single panel sitting consisting of three to six appeals.

The Ninth Circuit was the first federal circuit to establish a bankruptcy appellate panel. Other circuits with bankruptcy appellate panels are the First, Sixth, Eighth and Tenth circuits. For more information, visit: http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/bap.