I am often asked whether the debtors here in Rochester will get to meet the Bankruptcy Court Judge during their 341 meeting, otherwise known as the meeting of the creditors. My usual response to this question is no, since the bankruptcy court judges are barred by law from attending the meeting of the creditors.
While the meeting of creditors is open and the public can attend it, the bankruptcy judge assigned to the case may not do so. While it seems counterintuitive, the reasons for this is to avoid any perception of bias on the part of the judge. Prior to 1979, when the current version of the bankruptcy code became effective, a bankruptcy court judge was able to attend the meeting of creditors. However, the Congress decided that it was necessary to prohibit judges from attending the meeting.
Accordingly, Bankruptcy Code section 341(c) provides that “the court may not preside at, and may not attend, any meeting under this section.” Although the local meeting of creditors is held in the Rochester Federal Courthouse, it is not a court hearing and the trustee presiding over the meeting is not a judicial officer. I tell the debtors that in most Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy cases, the debtor will never appear before the judge assigned to the case.
If I am asked the same question about the Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, my answer will be the opposite since as a part of any Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtors will have to attend a confirmation hearing which, in Rochester, will be presided by Judge Ninfo.
If you contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a Rochester, New York, bankruptcy lawyer.