In what I hope will turn into an ongoing Bankruptcy Judges series, bring Plan Proponent out of an unintentional COVID hiatus, and highlight the blog’s “new look” on the LexBlog platform, this is the kickoff post for a weekly series on Georgia’s very own Hon. W. Homer Drake, Jr., likely the longest or second longest serving bankruptcy judge after 1960, if not in all of U.S. history. As we are prone to focus on, the series will emphasize Judge Drake’s opinions. But first an introduction.

On January 31, 2021, Judge Drake retired after over 53 years on the bench, first as a “referee in bankruptcy” (read: a judge) starting in 1964 and then continuing as a bankruptcy judge starting in 1979. In honor of Judge Drake’s retirement, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten described Judge Drake as “one of the all-time preeminent bankruptcy judges in the United States”—high praise from the “upstairs judge” who often quipped that everyday people in Newnan, Georgia would see them at lunch and assume that Judge Batten was Judge Drake’s law clerk.

Beyond that, though, where do you start? Judge Drake’s resume is unapproachable in its breadth, especially for this Macon lawyer who practiced in front of him for just the last fifth of his tenure. While I’ll do my very best, I’m hoping that our Georgia readers, in particular, will not be bashful about setting me straight or pointing out what I may have missed.

Continue Reading Judges Series – Judge Homer Drake’s Bankruptcy Opinions – Introduction

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last Friday. She was 87. Politics aside, she was a legal giant on the world’s most powerful court . . . That’s a cheap introduction to our first blog post since March, as I simply adapted it from the opening lines of our February 2016 tribute to Justice Scalia. The parallels are bittersweet because, famously, Scalia and Ginsburg were close friends; the parallels are frustrating because of their similarly enormous political ramifications.

Continue Reading Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Bankruptcy Opinions

Last night we blogged about the $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill that proposes to increase the SBRA small business debt limit in Subchapter V Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases from approximately $2.7 million to $7.5 million, at least for the next year. The Senate approved the legislation late last night, 96-0, and it’s now headed to the House and, ultimately, to the President. Unfortunately, our email feeder didn’t pick it up, hence this post for our email subscribers. Click here for last night’s post.

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We spent the last part of February blogging about the first series of substantive opinions under the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA), which became effective on February 19, 2020. That news seems rather quaint a month later, as the world, and now the U.S., is in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, those worlds collided for me when my client in the Northern District of Georgia, a Subchapter V debtor, let me know that he had to shut down both of his business locations in response to Gov. Kemp’s COVID-19 order. And this morning, we all woke-up to news that Congress was close to passing a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, potentially the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history. 

Continue Reading COVID-19 Stimulus Package May Temporarily Increase SBRA Chapter 11 Debt Limit to $7,500,000

It’s the Wild West of “firsts” in these opening days of the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA), which went live on February 19, 2020. We blogged about the first ever small business Subchapter V case here and provided some opening filing stats here. On Friday, Stone & Baxter even filed the first Sub V case in Georgia. More importantly, it appears that Judge Scott C. Clarkson, a bankruptcy judge in Central District of California, is the first judge to issue a substantive opinion about Sub V, and about one of its most talked-about issues no less:

Continue Reading California Bankruptcy Judge Clarkson Suggests that Pre-SBRA Debtors May Opt-Into Subchapter V

I blogged late yesterday evening about what appeared, at first glance, to have been a slow debut for the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA). Although the Turney case still gets the trophy for the first ever Subchapter V small business Chapter 11 case, there were still a few other Sub V filings on Wednesday. At 11 p.m. EST, the Turney case was the only Sub V case being reported. As of 8:30 a.m. EST this morning, PACER caught-up, with some rough, updated filing statistics as follows:

Continue Reading The First Subchapter V Small Business Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case (Updated)

Effective today, the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA) is live and taking cases. Thus, we figured that PACER would have much to report about such a potentially big day for small business debtors. In fact, we assumed that dozens of debtors, if not more, have been holding their breath since August 2019, hoping that they can bridge the gap to February 19, 2020. However, as of 11 p.m. EST, it appears to have been a big day for just one debtor: Michael and Gwatholyn Turney, the husband and wife owners of Papa Turney’s Old Fashioned BBQ in the Nashville, Tennessee area. 

Continue Reading The First Subchapter V Small Business Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case

With an exciting but somewhat controversial finish in last night’s game, the Washington Nationals tied the series 3-3 with the Houston Astros, setting-up for a potentially exciting Game 7 conclusion to the World Series. Unlike the Cubs in 2016 and the Dodgers in 2017 and 2018, neither of this year’s teams is a former Chapter 11 debtor. However, the Astros are still very much tied-up in Houston Regional Sports Network, L.P.’s Texas Chapter 11 from 2013. Hence, our hook for our third bankruptcy-related World Series post.

Continue Reading The Houston Astros in October: Bankruptcy Edition

What better way to wake Plan Proponent from a seven (!) month slumber than a minor Supreme Court opinion? Monday’s Taggart v. Lorenzen decision is not a confirmation opinion, but we’ve always tried to cover the Court’s bankruptcy decisions. In Taggart, with Justice Breyer writing for his unanimous colleagues, the Court held that, under § 524 of the Bankruptcy Code, a court can impose civil contempt sanctions for violations of a debtor’s discharge order when there is no “objectively reasonable” basis for viewing the creditor’s conduct as lawful under that order. 

Continue Reading Supreme Court Adopts Objective Standard for Bankruptcy Discharge Violations