One of our attorneys, Errin Stowell, recently had the opportunity to present oral arguments on a bankruptcy issue in front of the 8th Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel. In his honor, let’s discuss how appeals to the bankruptcy court work.
Appealing Cases under Chapter 7,11,12 & 13 Bankruptcy
In cases under any chapter of bankruptcy – Chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13 for all of our clients – bankruptcy courts are granted the authority to enter final orders on “core” issues related to bankruptcies. Chances are that if you are in a bankruptcy and care about an outcome, the bankruptcy court will be ruling on it.
What happens though if you think the bankruptcy judge got the law (or facts) wrong and you want to appeal? Well, you’ll need to move quickly, because the time to appeal is limited when an order is issued and when it becomes final. You should reach out to bankruptcy counsel immediately if you receive an order you don’t agree with.
Steps for Appealing
- The first step you would do is file a “notice of appeal” in the bankruptcy court. That notice would have the order you’re appealing from, and it will identify where that appeal is going. Different courts around the country have different procedures. In Kansas, our clients would either start an appeal with the United States District Court for the District of Kansas or the 10th Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel. The “BAP” is a group of bankruptcy judges in the circuit designated specifically to hear bankruptcy appeals. In Missouri, the appeals would go to the District Court (for the Western District of Missouri for our clients) or the 8th Circuit BAP.
- Pay the filing fee for the appeal. Normally this fee varies depending on the jurisdiction and type of appeal.
- From there, we need to designate the record that the appellate court will review. So that may include a transcript of a hearing in open court, or briefs on the issue submitted to the court, or any other helpful information (like bankruptcy schedules or motions and responses) that would allow the appellate court to understand the underlying facts and address the issues of law.
- Finally, each side takes turns writing briefs on the issue to explain to the appellate court why the bankruptcy court came to the right conclusion or the wrong conclusion. Some appellate courts want to give the lawyers some brief time to argue in person, others will simply rely on the written materials. Then the parties get to respond to each other’s briefs and it is left to the appellate court to issue an opinion to either agree with or disagree with the trial court (or in rare cases, both).
Appeals take time and they certainly come with costs. But sometimes an appeal is the only way to get the court to come to the answer you want. There aren’t a whole lot of appeals filed each year, but each is given careful consideration by the appellate courts.
In 2022, we filed two appeals with the 8th Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, and we’re prepared as needed to file appeals in Kansas and Western Missouri bankruptcy cases. Appeals have their own special rules of the Circuit Courts of Appeal (or District Courts) and need to be done timely and properly to get the issues in front of the judges and a chance to get a good ruling.
We don’t recommend filing an appeal pro se. Talk to lawyers who have filed appeals and can explain the process, the risks, and benefits of an appeal. Lawyers like the attorneys at WM Law. If you would like more information or have questions about this topic, feel free to contact us at 913-422-0909 or visit our website at www.kansascitybankruptcy.com. At W M LAW, we are “Here to Help.”