February 27, 2009
Update on Proposed Legislation
WASHINGTON -- House Democrats have pushed back until next week a vote on legislation to allow bankruptcy judges to reduce the principal balance of mortgage loans, after some in their party raised concerns about the measure.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said the vote, which was scheduled for Thursday, will be postponed so that House Democrats can meet Monday evening with Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan to discuss the measure.
The vote is now likely to occur no earlier than Tuesday, though the House began debating the measure Thursday.
The postponement comes shortly after the legislation's Senate author, Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), said he would be open to limiting the measure to just subprime mortgages.
Some centrist Democrats began to waver after the remarks, balking at supporting a controversial bill amid signs that the Senate might pass a narrower version. The Obama administration, which backs the measure, also proposed tighter restrictions than are contained in the House legislation.
At a meeting of House Democrats Thursday, centrist Democrats raised concerns that the measure offered little help for troubled homeowners who don't want to turn to the bankruptcy courts for relief, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D., Calif.), said.
The bulk of her constituents who are struggling with mortgage payments "want a quality government loan modification," Ms. Tauscher, a leader of the business-friendly New Democrat Coalition, said.
She added that she and other New Democrats would support the legislation, but wanted assurances from Donovan than the Obama administration was moving swiftly on its plan to offer incentives for mortgage servicers to modify loans. They also want to hear more details about the plan, Ms. Tausher said.
"As of now, we have a skeleton of a program and there still are some Gordian knots that need to be worked out," she said.
The administration is set to release the details of its plan next Wednesday.
Under the legislation, strapped borrowers could have the principal balance of their mortgage loan reduced by a bankruptcy judge -- known as cram down. Currently only vacation properties, and not primary residences, can be crammed down by a judge.
The banking industry has been lobbying fiercely against the measure, contending it would raise borrowing costs on all homeowners. The measure has nonetheless gained momentum in recent weeks due to the shift in power in Washington and the perception that mortgage servicers haven't done enough to help strapped borrowers.
The Obama administration has made it a central plank of its plan to prop up the housing market. However, officials say they view it as a last resort, to be used only when serious attempts at voluntary modifications fail.
Proponents have already made one major concession to the banking industry, limiting the cram down authority only to existing mortgages in exchange for Citigroup's backing. Industry lobbyists are pushing to add further restrictions.
Some House Democrats appear unlikely to support the measure unless it is narrowed. "The criteria judges use [to rework mortgages] needs to be tightened," Rep. Allen Boyd (D., Fla.), a leader of the Blue Dog group of conservative Democrats.
In the Senate, it is unclear if proponents have the 60 votes necessary to avoid procedural obstacles to a vote. Only one Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, has backed the measure.
Mr. Durbin on Tuesday told the American Banker trade publication that he was willing to restrict the authority to subprime mortgages.
Aside from the bankruptcy measure, the House legislation includes provisions to erect a safe harbor against investor lawsuits for servicers that modify loans. It would also revamp the Hope for Homeowners program, started last fall to help refinance troubled borrowers into more affordable government-backed loans.
— Michael R. Crittenden contributed to this report.
2009 Budget - Get Your Copy Here
Well not a copy of the whole budget but you can access the official 146 page summary entitled "A New Era of Responsibility - Renewing America's Promise" here. You can buy a copy here. I bought the budget book, actually a 1200 page appendix, in 1981. I wonder how big the appendix is now?
9th Circuit Court of Appeals to Sit at University of Arizona
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is going to hold oral arguments on March 6, 2009 at the University of Arizona. The flyer can be accessed here. The judges will be Marsha Berzon, Michael Hawkins, and Richard Clifton.
February 26, 2009
Upcoming Symposium on Justice Stevens at UC Davis
Date: Friday, March 6, 2009
Time: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Location: UC Davis School of Law, Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall.
Free and open to the public
February 25, 2009
New Book on Marbury v. Madison
An entire book on Marbury v. Madison, "joy, rapture" said the Cowardly Lion. The book is written by Cliff Sloan, a partner at Skadden and a supreme court buff. You can order it at http://www.amazon.com/Great-Decision-Jefferson-Marshall-Supreme/dp/1586484265 as I just did. Let me know what you think.
February 24, 2009
Duke Prof. Paul Carrington and Others Propose Sweeping Changes to Supreme Court
Term limits? Senior status? No certiorari? Ain't gonna happen. The Washington Post Article can be accessed here. I kind of like the way it is.
Two New 9th Circuit Cases
In re Simpson, --- F.3d ----, 2009 WL ------ (9th Cir. Feb 2009)(single-premium annuity here does not qualify as exempt property under California Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 704.100 where debtor purchased it as an individual and annuity was not established for debtor by employer)
Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0209%2F0715626
McKay v. Ingleson, --- F.3d ---, 2009 WL ------ (9th Cir. Feb, 2009)(Student's financial arrangement with university allowing her to defer tuition payments until end of each semester constituted a nondischargeable educational loan under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 523(a)(8))
Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0209%2F0735362
February 23, 2009
Upcoming Symposium on Clarence Thomas at NYU
Symposium by the NYU Journal of Law & Liberty
Date: Friday, March 2, 2009
Time: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Location: New York University School of Law, Vanderbilt Hall.
Free and open to the public
February 22, 2009
New Bankruptcy Rule 2015.3 - Reporting of Non-Debtor Entities
Bankruptcy Rule 2015.3 states:
Rule 2015.3. Reports of Financial Information on Entities in Which a Chapter 11 Estate Holds a Controlling or Substantial Interest
(a) Reporting requirement.
In a chapter 11 case, the trustee or debtor in possession shall file periodic financial reports of the value, operations, and profitability of each entity that is not a publicly traded corporation or a debtor in a case under title 11, and in which the estate holds a substantial or controlling interest. The reports shall be prepared as prescribed by the appropriate Official Form, and shall be based upon the most recent information reasonably available to the trustee or debtor in possession.
(b) Time for filing; service.
The first report required by this rule shall be filed no later than five days before the first date set for the meeting of creditors under § 341 of the Code. Subsequent reports shall be filed no less frequently than every six months thereafter, until the effective date of a plan or the case is dismissed or converted. Copies of the report shall be served on the United States trustee, any committee appointed under § 1102 of the Code, and any other party in interest that has filed a request therefor.
(c) Presumption of substantial or controlling interest; judicial determination.
For purposes of this rule, an entity of which the estate controls or owns at least a 20 percent interest, shall be presumed to be an entity in which the estate has a substantial or controlling interest. An entity in which the estate controls or owns less than a 20 percent interest shall be presumed not to be an entity in which the estate has a substantial or controlling interest. Upon motion, the entity, any holder of an interest therein, the United States trustee, or any other party in interest may seek to rebut either presumption, and the court shall, after notice and a hearing, determine whether the estate's interest in the entity is substantial or controlling.
(d) Modification of reporting requirement.
The court may, after notice and a hearing, vary the reporting requirement established by subdivision (a) of this rule for cause, including that the trustee or debtor in possession is not able, after a good faith effort, to comply with those reporting requirements, or that the information required by subdivision (a) is publicly available.
(e) Notice and protective orders.
No later than 14 days before filing the first report required by this rule, the trustee or debtor in possession shall send notice to the entity in which the estate has a substantial or controlling interest, and to all holders – known to the trustee or debtor in possession – of an interest in that entity, that the trustee or debtor in possession expects to file and serve financial information relating to the entity in accordance with this rule. The entity in which the estate has a substantial or controlling interest, or a person holding an interest in that entity, may request protection of the information under § 107 of the Code.
(f) Effect of request.
Unless the court orders otherwise, the pendency of a request under subdivisions (c), (d), or (e) of this rule shall not alter or stay the requirements of subdivision (a).
The Tribune Companies have sought a modification of this requirement, for one thing, for the requirement to report on the operations of the Cubs. The request for modification can be accessed here.
Tribune Attoneys Seek Approval of $1,100 per Hour Fees
Judge Kevin Carey has ruled that the hourly fee request of Sidley & Austin of $1,100 must be limited to $925 unless Sidley comes in with evidence of why that amount should be allowed. Sidley has agreed for now to limit its fees to that rate. I'm trying to track down the transcript of that hearing.
By the way, a monthly operating report was on the docket for the 20 day period ended December 28, 2008. You can access that report here.