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North Carolina Eastern District Bankruptcy Judicial Vacancy

Published February 26, 2021 by Travis Sasser
Eastern District of North Carolina Bankruptcy Judicial Vacancy

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently announced it will be filing a bankruptcy judge vacancy in Raleigh. For more information about the vacancy, click here.

The process for appointing bankruptcy judges in the Fourth Circuit is that a seven-member Merit Selection Panel reviews applications and interviews some of the candidates. The top four or five candidates are ranked by the Merit Selection Panel and forwarded to the Fourth Circuit for a decision.

The Merit Selection Panel is composed of the Fourth Circuit Executive, the Chief District Court Judge for the E.D.N.C. the chief bankruptcy judge from the E.D.N.C., a law school dean, the North Carolina State Bar President and two bankruptcy practitioners. The identity of the Merit Selection Panel is confidential.

The term of a bankruptcy judge is fourteen years. Re-appointment to an additional term is possible and common but not automatic.

When installed, the newest bankruptcy judge will be the eighth in the history of the Eastern District of North Carolina. The prior judges and their respective dates of service were:

Thomas Milton Moore (1960-1991)[1]

  1. Thomas Small (1982-2009)
  2. Rich Leonard (1992-2014)

Randy Davis Doub (2006-2015)

Stephani W. Humrickhouse (2010-present)

David M. Warren (2014-present)

Joseph N. Callaway (2015-present)

Under the Bankruptcy Act of 1898, a bankruptcy referee was appointed by the U.S. Federal District Court judge. A bankruptcy referee did much of the judicial and administrative work in bankruptcy cases. The decisions of referees were subject to review by the U.S. District Court. The term “bankruptcy referee” was used because the bankruptcy cases were referred by the U.S.

District Court. The term was two years. Referees were compensated based on a “fee system” based on activity in a case rather than a set amount. In 1946, the fee system was replaced by salary compensation and the term was extended to six years. In 1973, bankruptcy referees were redesignated as bankruptcy judges.

Under the Bankruptcy Code that was passed in 1978 and enacted in 1979, the role of a bankruptcy judge became less administrative and more judicial. In 1984, the appointment power switched from the U.S. District Court to the Court of Appeals and the term was extended to fourteen years.

[1] Moore was appointed a part-time bankruptcy referee in 1960 and became a part-time bankruptcy judge in 1973 and became a full-time judge in 1976.

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