Thursday, January 9, 2014

Update on Minnesota Debtor's Prison Case

On December 4, 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle entered an order dismissing the lawsuit I brought against Dakota County for holding my client Julius Chad Zimmermann in jail for five days after he had filed for bankruptcy.  The order can be found here.  In my client's case, he had his Notice of Meeting of Creditors in his hands when the police arrested him and when he was brought to jail.  All of his pleas to be released in accordance with the Federal Automatic Stay he had evidence of in his hands were completely ignored and not even considered.

Interestingly, Judge Kyle dismissed the automatic stay violation claim for lack of jurisdiction on his own motion (the law term for this is "sua sponte").  There is an academic argument about this that is beyond the scope of this update.  However, as a lawyer, I try to think about things as simply as possible.  I respectfully disagree with the Court that an Article III Judge does not have jurisdiction over a a bankruptcy stay violation claim.  My reasoning is this:  Bankruptcy Courts would not exist but for the existence of the Article III Courts.  There is a lot more that could be said about this, but I do not intend for this post to turn in to a complicated jurisdictional discussion.  What Judge Kyle's Order means is that the bankruptcy claim, that is, the automatic stay violation claim, needs to be brought in the Bankruptcy Court as an adversary proceeding, which is a fancy word for a lawsuit in Bankruptcy Court.

Therefore, I intend to bring the automatic stay violation claim in Bankruptcy Court.  This time, I intend to name the arresting officers of the Rosemount Police Department and the Dakota County Sheriff.  I hope to get this bankruptcy court lawsuit out some time next week or the following week.

If you are interested in delving in to the academic/legal angles of this case, Dakota County's Brief is here and my Brief is here.

Nathan Hansen

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