In all cases in and all types of legal matters, there has to be a way to settle a disagreement. The natural course for these disagreements is to progress to trial and have the cases presented by the attorneys of each party in the dispute to the finder of fact (i.e. judge or jury). Bankruptcy matters follow the same basic process. However, as the very existence of appellate courts would suggest, decisions made at trial are not necessarily the final word. There are times that the final order of a court, or even interlocutory order, may be appealed by a party in litigation.
In 28 U.S.C. § 158(b), the law provides that a judicial council of a federal appellate circuit (Kansas is in the 10th Circuit) is to establish a bankruptcy appellate panel service. The service is to consist of judges from the bankruptcy district courts within the circuit. However, the statute also makes an exception to the creation of the bankruptcy appellate panel service. The judicial council does not have to create such a service if there are not sufficient judicial resources available in the circuit to support the service or if the establishment of the service would cause undue delay or increased cost to the parties in the litigation. As a result, bankruptcy appellate services have only been established in the First, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits. However, in the Bankruptcy District Court of Kansas (which has court locations in Topeka, Wichita, and Kansas City, KS) falls in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals which has a very active Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Service. However, before a matter can ever end up before a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP), 28 U.S.C. § 158 requires that (1) all parties in the matter must consent to the appeal and (2) a majority of district court judges in the circuit agree that the case may be referred to the BAP for appeal; although, the second requirement can be a general authorization, rather than a case by case authorization.If you are in a jurisdiction that uses a BAP for bankruptcy appeals, one way around an appeal to a BAP is to appeal directly to the circuit court. This is not common, and requires the consent the circuit court. Appealing a decision to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel or the circuit court is a complicated, intricate, and if you get it wrong, an unforgiving process. If you feel you need to appeal a decision made by a judge in a bankruptcy matter in the district of Kansas, you would want to seek the assistance of a Kansas bankruptcy attorney to help you safely through the process. by Adam Mack, JD
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