Consumer Bankruptcy Journal Spring 2015 - Page 26

Judge Spotlight filled out the application and sent it in. In a sense, it was just something that fell into my lap. I eventually would have gotten around to try and plan my life in such a way to make that happen, but it was convenient timing for me that there was suddenly an opening when I needed it. to accommodate those who can’t afford full service representation? Our goal in studying this issue is to divine the essential minimum core of duties that a lawyer must perform if he undertakes to represent a client. If you prepare the schedules, must you at least go to the 341a meeting? If the 8. Do you find that your experiences in private practice impact how you decide cases on the bench? I don’t know that it directly affects how I decide a case, but what it does is gives me a better understanding of what is really going on behind the scenes, or what people aren’t telling me, or when something seems strange, or when a lawyer is reluctant to come out and say what he or she is obviously dancing around. I understand better. It takes fewer words to communicate the problem. I like to think that I catch on more quickly than I otherwise would as to what’s really going on. 9. What was your first hearing as a judge and what was it like? I don’t remember the first hearing but I do remember heading out the door for my first hearing. I had the robe on and they say “clothes don’t make the man,” but, boy, the right costume really does help you play the part. I remember thinking about putting on the mantle of solemnity and getting into character and walking into the courtroom, but, from that point on, I never looked back. I have no recollection of any of my first cases. Laughing the Judge further stated, Of course, I have no recollection of any of the cases I handled this morning either. I think we can all relate to that. 10. A hot topic right now in the Central District California is the unbundling of services for consumer cases, particularly in chapter 7’s. Do you think attorneys should be able to unbundle their services 26 CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY JOURNAL you have been involved in? Well, it wasn’t my case – it was Judge Donovan’s case -- but I did sign on to the Ballas and Morales decision. Ballas and Morales was a legally married gay couple. Normally, we try to avoid constitutional issues, but this one was smack dab right there. According to DOMA, they couldn’t be considered “spouses” within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Code, but they were legally married1. I didn’t have much involvement in crafting the decision, but I guess you could say