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An Ingham County Circuit Court Judge asks the State of Michigan to withdraw its bankruptcy petition ruling that the filing violates retiree’s state constitutional rights. The State of Michigan Attorney General appeals.
Ruling the governor and Detroit’s emergency manager violated the state constitution, an Ingham County Circuit judge ordered Friday that Detroit’s federal bankruptcy filing be withdrawn.
“It’s absolutely needed,” said Judge Rosemary Aquilina, observing she hopes Gov. Rick Snyder “reads certain sections of the (Michigan) constitution and reconsiders his actions.”
The judge said state law guards against retirement benefits being “diminished,” but there will be no such protection in federal bankruptcy court.
State-level legal skirmishing over the Chapter 9 bankruptcy effort by Snyder and Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr now will quickly move to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Attorney General Bill Schuette, on behalf of Snyder, filed an application for Appeals Court consideration of Aquilina’s order an hour after it was issued.
Schuette asked the Appeals Court to put a hold on present and future lower-court proceedings and was planning to seek emergency consideration to expedite the process, said spokeswoman Joy Yearout.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Detroit, said Friday that Aquilina’s ruling justifies the need for congressional hearings on whether Detroit is misusing the bankruptcy process to slash retiree pensions and health insurance coverage.
While experts say federal proceedings take precedence, state-level legal maneuvering could delay the process. Pension board attorneys said their pleadings could wind up in federal court, too.
Snyder authorized Thursday’s bankruptcy filing in U.S. District Court in Detroit by Orr and his legal team. That was to set in motion a process in which the court determines whether Detroit qualifies for bankruptcy.
The filing involved a bit of courtroom drama.
With rumors it was imminent Thursday afternoon, attorneys representing the pension boards hurried into Aquilina’s court in Lansing to ask for a temporary restraining order.
But Snyder and Orr beat them by a few minutes. Aquilina, informed by phone, allowed the pension board lawyers to revise their restraining order request, then granted it.
Prior to her ruling on Friday, the judge criticized the Snyder administration and Schuette’s office over their hasty move.
“It’s cheating, sir, and it’s cheating good people who work,” the judge told assistant state Attorney General Brian Devlin. “It’s also not honoring the (United States) president, who took (Detroit’s auto companies) out of bankruptcy.”
Southfield attorney John Canzano, representing several pension plan members, said bankruptcies of cities such as Stockton, Calif., have been handled in a way that didn’t compromise pensions.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130719/METRO01/307190099#ixzz2Zst1YGaw
Supreme Court conservatives are making sure minorities will be further disenfranchised in America. First, Citizens United opened the floodgates for corporations to spend unchecked on elections. Now, the Court, in a horrific and unnecessary decision, has disemboweled the Voting Rights Act.
The old South may rise again. As Justice Ginsburg so eloquently stated, “The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective,” Ginsburg wrote. “The Court appears to believe that the VRA’s success in eliminating the specific devices extant in 1965 means that preclearance is no longer needed.”
Have a look at this Huffington post article on the SCOTUS decision.
With Stafford Loan interest set to double July 1, 2013, Congress is scrambling to come up with a solution. This Detroit Free Press article, by David Jesse, is an in depth discussion on how the government profits from these loans.
Should the government be profiting or is Senator Elizabeth Warren right and students should be able to borrow at the same rate that banks borrow from the Federal Reserve (.75%).
Fraud does not pay in Bankruptcy Court. You want to disclose all your assets when you file for Bankruptcy. Local man filed Chapter 7 in 1999 and did not disclose valuable assets, cars, jewelry and cash. He faces up to 20 years in Federal Prison.
Here is the article about the Dearborn Heights man from the Detroit Free Press:
A Dearborn Heights man pleaded guilty today to money laundering and bankruptcy fraud, admitting he hid luxury cars, jewelry and cash from the courts while claiming bankruptcy.
Adnan Hassan Tageddine, 42, was charged following a lengthy investigation by IRS agents, who unraveled a scheme that stretched back to 1999, when he filed bankruptcy in Detroit, authorities said.
The bankruptcy filing, which he declared under penalty of perjury, was supposed to include a list of all of his personal property. But he left out multiple luxury assets he owned, including cars, jewelry and cash, authorities said.
IRS Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez said: “Hiding assets from the bankruptcy court is a very serious offense and is extremely costly to the American public.”
Tageddine will be sentenced Aug. 12. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
A recent blog post from a fellow Michigan bankruptcy attorney, Laura Genovich, raises the interesting question of how a famous person (famous for good or bad reasons) can factor into their bankruptcy case. Attorney Genovich looks as the ongoing bankruptcy filing of Casey Anthony in Florida. Here’s her write up of the situation on the Michigan Bankruptcy Blog:
FAME AS AN ASSET: WILL CASEY ANTHONY’S CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY CASE PRECLUDE FUTURE BOOK AND MOVIE DEALS?
In re Casey Marie Anthony, Bankr. M.D. Fla., Case No. 8:13-bk-00922-KRM
Although this blog typically focuses on Michigan bankruptcy cases, last week’s Chapter 7 filing by Casey Anthony raises interesting questions about the impact of bankruptcy on public figures.
Casey Anthony held the national spotlight for nearly three years after being charged with murdering her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. Anthony initially alleged that Caylee was kidnapped by her nanny, then claimed that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool. After a jury found her not guilty on all charges except some misdemeanors, Anthony faced a barrage of lawsuits, including claims for defamation and for reimbursement by private investigators who searched for Caylee in the months before her remains were found.
Those lawsuits ground to a halt when Anthony filed a voluntary Chapter 7 petition in the Middle District of Florida on January 25, 2013. In her bankruptcy papers, Anthony lists few assets (comprised mostly of household goods) but discloses unsecured debts of nearly $800,000, plus numerous debts of unknown amounts. The debts include the pending lawsuits against her and $500,000 in legal fees owed to her criminal defense attorney.
DISCHARGEABILITY OF DEBTS
If Anthony obtains a discharge, many of those debts – including her legal fees and other costs arising out of her nationally televised murder trial – will be wiped away. The dischargeability of the defamation claims is more questionable, as Florida’s bankruptcy courts have recognized that defamatory statements can be a “willful and malicious injury” – and thus excluded from discharge – if the debtor knew the statements were false.2 The plaintiffs in the defamation actions would be required to file lawsuits in bankruptcy court to determine whether the debts are nondischargeable.
I spend a good amount of my law practice helping clients get out of debt. My proven debt solutions have helped so many clients throughout Michigan. Whether filing for bankruptcy is the right choice for you or an alternative, I will guide you during each step of the way.
I found a recent article on the Motley Fool website to be a great resource for those looking get out of debt. In 60 seconds, the Motley Fools give some great advice:
Imagine being free of debt — no more sleepless nights over mounting credit card balances, no more ball-and-chain of debt feeding your anxieties, and no chance of threats from dreaded collection agencies. You can do it! Here’s the scoop — in one minute flat.
0:60 Resolve to spend less than you make
Make it a habit as fundamental as stopping for red lights. Realize once and for all that if you can’t pay for it today — you can’t afford it.
0:55 Distinguish between Bad Debt and OK Debt
OK Debt has an interest rate well under 10% — preferably with some tax advantages to boot. In the best case, what you bought with borrowed funds will appreciate in value. Home mortgages and student loans are examples of OK Debt. Automobile loans are on the border: They often satisfy the low-rate piece, but automobiles almost never appreciate in value. Bad Debt is everything else — from your titanium credit card to the 35% loan from Larry’s Kwik Kash.
0:50 Pick a winner
Out of all your cards, pick the one or two major credit cards that feature the lowest annual interest rate. Resolve to use those cards for emergencies only. As for all the other plastic pals in your wallet, remove temptation by taking them out of your wallet. Throw them behind a major appliance, freeze them in a bowl of water, or decoupage them to a shoebox. Do whatever it takes not to use them.
0:41 Gather the latest bills from all Bad Debt accounts
Line these up on the kitchen table. Find the minimum monthly payment for each account and then add these up to get an overall monthly minimum. Pledge to pay this overall minimum PLUS a hefty additional chunk every month — enough to make a solid dent in the outstanding balance of at least one account.
If you can’t pull this off, you’ll have to make a drastic move to increase your income or lower your expenses. It’s harsh, we know, but it’s also an inescapable fact.
0:34 Pick the highest interest rate account and: Attack!
Next, order the latest bills according to annual interest rate charged. Apply the “hefty additional chunk” (beyond the minimum) to the highest rate account(s). Repeat this process monthly until the last Bad Debt account is paid in full.
0:26 Ask for a lower interest rate
Grab a bill from any account charging you more than 14% interest. Dial the toll-free number on the bill and ask to have your rate reduced — say, to 11%. Tell them that you’d really like to stay with them out of customer loyalty (embellish according to your acting skills), but that you have received offers for much-lower-rate cards. Expect to be made very uncomfortable, but stand firm and remember that, to them, you are both a customer and a profit center. You also stand to save a bundle. The more calls you make, the more persuasive you’ll become.
0:18 Be prudent
Be aggressive in paying down Bad Debt, but don’t get so ambitious that you risk missing minimum payments on your mortgage, automobile, or any other secured credit account. (Secured means that if you miss enough payments, the bank can show up and take away your stuff.)
0:12 Commiserate with others
On our Consumer Credit / Credit Cards discussion board, you’ll find plenty of emotional support and great ideas. Help others celebrate their debt-free “happy dance.”
0:05 Dance, Fool!
You’re done when the Bad Debt is 100% exorcised and you can make remaining OK Debt payments with ease, leaving plenty of budget room for savings.
My job as an attorney is to help people. I have made that the core my profession since day one. I try to be charitable throughout the entire year, but like most people I emphasize charitable giving more during the holiday season. In that spirit I wanted to mention the outstanding work of Romulus ARC – Women’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in Romulus. It is the first 180-day residential rehabilitation program in Southeast Michigan for women struggling with substance abuse.
The center, which treats people free of cost, receives funding from seven Salvation Army retail stores in Wayne County. This includes the location in the Tel-Joy Shopping Center in Dearborn Heights. The center also accepts direct donations.
The guiding principles of the program are those of friendship, encouragement, and spiritual motivation. The end goal is for individuals who enter the program to come out as contributing members of society.
I’d also like to recognize the efforts of Merle and Cheryl Miller, Salvation Army Romulus ARC Advisory Council members, who have overseen the development of this project.
The Romulus ARC – Women’s Adult Rehabilitation Center is located at 5931 Middlebelt Road in Romulus. The facility is near Middlebelt and Van Born Roads. The center can be reached by phone at 734-729-7842.
Admission to the program occurs Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Applicants must present either a current ID or driver’s license, both of which need to have been issued by the State of Michigan. They are also required to show a social security card.
Additional information on the center is available at the Salvation Army’s website.
Rolling Jubilee, an outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, formed to address the issue of consumer debt. The organization focuses particularly on medical debt, as 62% of all bankruptcies are caused by an illness. The non-profit has now taken in nearly $432,000 to abolish more than $8.6 million of debt. This will protect vulnerable debtors, who cannot afford to pay their medical expenses, from being pursued by collectors.
The group has held concerts to raise money and bring attention to its cause, as noted in a recent article in The Times-Picayune – “Praise and criticism for Occupy movement’s Rolling Jubilee debt-elimination strategy.”
The collection agency process is often confusing. Many people do not realize that once a debt reaches an agency, the amount originally owed may be out of the equation. And, what some consumers also don’t know is that many times, money paid to the collection agency will not reach the original creditor. In fact, the collection agency is likely making a huge profit when someone pays the full amount of a debt.
Here’s how it works: the company to which the debt is originally owed wants to take it off its records, so it writes it off as a bad debt and claims it as a loss for tax purposes. The company then sells the debt to a collection firm, often for pennies on the dollar, and for as little as one to five percent of the original figure. The collection firm then contacts the consumer, sometimes using aggressive tactics. The consumer may pay his/her bill in its entirely, but not a cent goes back to the original creditor.
However, Rolling Jubilee will not solve all of a debtor’s problems. While the organization does not pursue collection of the debt, the consumer’s credit score will still suffer. There will be a “black mark” on one’s credit report given that people were delinquent to the point of the loan being sold. This is unfortunate, but perhaps the most important contribution of Rolling Jubilee is the fact that they have raised consumer awareness of the issue.
If you are having issues with debt and debt collection, feel free to contact me for a consultation. I can help you sort out your finances and advise you if and when you should file for bankruptcy. Debt can be confusing and frightening, but I’m here to help.
I watched the third and final presidential debate Tuesday night, and I found one issue particularly troubling – Romney’s discussion of the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler.
When the auto companies were on the verge of collapse in 2008, Governor Romney called for a structured chapter 11 bankruptcy. Taking the auto industry through bankruptcy without proper funding to keep the companies operational surely would have been a disaster. It would have lead to the demise of both GM and Chrysler, put thousands out of work, and might have crippled an economy already on the verge of collapse.
Presidents Bush and Obama understood this. They knew the industry needed an infusion of government capital because private lenders were not coming forward to help the companies. The administrations gave the auto companies nearly $80 million in aid and GM and Chrysler went through a managed bankruptcy. The companies have now returned to profitability, scores of people have jobs, and the economy continues to recover.
The governor’s change on this position has been well documented in many places, including an article published after the debate in The Washington Post. I encourage you to read it.
As a bankruptcy attorney, I have a special understanding and sensitivity to this and other issues related to bankruptcy. But you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to receive the care and attention you deserve. I have decades of experience assisting people just like you, and I’m here to help you on the path to financial recovery. Please contact me today.