Thursday, April 22, 2010
Council Elects Kirscher to Bankruptcy Appellate Panel
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Ninth Circuit Judicial Council has elected Chief Bankruptcy Judge Ralph B. Kirscher of the District of Montana to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, effective May 1, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said yesterday.
Kirscher, who is 58 and is based in Butte, will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of BAP Chief Judge Dennis Montali of the Northern District of California.
Bankruptcy Judge Jim Pappas of the District of Idaho was elected by his colleagues on the panel to succeed Montali as chief judge.
Kirscher is the only full-time judge sitting on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana, which handled 2,771 cases in 2009, according to a release from the Ninth Circuit.
Kozinski opined that Kirscher “has proven an able and efficient judge” since his appointment to the bankruptcy bench in 1999. Kirscher has been serving as chief bankruptcy judge since then, and Kozinski said he was “pleased” to have Kirscher join the BAP.
A native of Livingston, Mont., Kirscher received his undergraduate degree from the University of Montana at Missoula in 1974 and his law degree from the University of Montana School of Law in 1979. He engaged in private practice in Montana from 1979 to 1999.
Kirscher chaired the Executive Committee of the Ninth Circuit Conference of Chief Bankruptcy Judges from 2004 to 2007, and served on a number of circuit committees including the Court-Council on Bankruptcy Judge Appointments, the Bankruptcy Judges Education Committee, and the Public Information and Community Outreach Committee.
Pappas, 58, has served on the BAP since 2005 and described his tenure there as “one of the true highlights and joys of my judicial career.” He remarked that “[f]ollowing in the footsteps of some terrific former chief judges, leading the BAP’s fine group of judges, law clerks and staff will truly be an honor.”
The newly elected chief judge maintains chambers in Boise, Idaho. He was appointed to the court in 1990 and reappointed to a second 14-year term in 2004. Pappas also served as the district’s chief bankruptcy judge from 1990 to 2004.
Born in Pocatello, Idaho, Pappas received his undergraduate degree from Idaho State University in 1974 and his law degree from the University of Idaho College of Law in 1977. He engaged in private practice from 1977 to 1990.
The BAP was established in 1979 by the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit as an alternative forum for hearing bankruptcy appeals. Since then, it has disposed of more than 15,000 cases, including more than 5,250 decided on the merits.
BAP judges are appointed by the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit. They serve a term of seven years and are eligible for a three-year extension. Other bankruptcy judges from around the circuit also serve on appellate panels on a pro tem basis.
The Ninth Circuit was the first federal circuit to establish a bankruptcy appellate panel, which is based in the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Courthouse in Pasadena. It received 332 appeals in 2009, about 51 percent of all appeals originating out of bankruptcy courts throughout the Ninth Circuit.
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