Your bankruptcy trustee does not work for the court. It is a common public misconception that he does. When you file bankruptcy normally your only contact with the system is the meeting of creditors. The assigned bankruptcy case trustee presides over it.
The creditor meeting is a part of your case that is required by law. The meeting in Cleveland is on the sixth floor of the courthouse, so everything about it appears judicial. The sixth floor is actually part of the offices of the US Trustee. One thing you should notice immediately, attorneys refer to the case trustees by name. That is something that will never happen in court with a judge. Although I know each of the judges the honor of the court and their position in it is worthy of my complete respect. Call a judge by name in open court, and I bet your next appearance will be a contempt proceeding.
Three Branches of Government
Not to say that the trustees are not worthy of respect, the positions are not the same. Trustees and judges are part of two separate branches of government, although their official duties are performed in the same building. Think back to high school civics. Remember the branches of government?
- Judicial, and
The legislative branch makes the laws. I comment on them a lot on this site, not always positive. The executive branch enforces those laws, and the judicial branch interprets them. That’s a whole semester of government 101 in two paragraphs.
Your Bankruptcy Trustee Is The Executive Branch
Your bankruptcy trustee is part of the executive branch. Specifically they are private individuals, usually attorneys, who perform the duties of the US Trustee in individual bankruptcy cases. The US Trustee, who monitors their adherence to a load of rules and regulations, selects them. In a nutshell they represent the unsecured creditors as a whole. This is a bit of over simplification, but I hope you get the idea. They are just one player in the bankruptcy process. They are private contractors. They are not on the payroll of the US Trustee.
When your bankruptcy trustee wants something he just can’t order you around. He must apply to the bankruptcy judge for a court order. He is not the judge. Like any other court proceeding, he must establish he is entitled to what he asks for.
The Bankruptcy Court And Judge Is The Judicial Branch
Your judge is part of the judicial branch. The judge will hear arguments and apply the bankruptcy laws and rules as they interpret them. Sometimes your bankruptcy trustee will get what he requests, and sometimes not.
The important thing to take away from this discussion is that the bankruptcy trustee and the bankruptcy court are not one in the same. The judge is the court as it pertains to your case. The trustee is not.
Other lawyers participating in the bankruptcy alphabet project:
- Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
- Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, J. Dinkins G. Grange
- Bay Area Bankruptcy Lawyer Cathy Moran
- Hawaii Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart T. Ing
- New York bankruptcy lawyer Jay S. Fleischman