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Brent Blanchard
Brent Blanchard, Bankruptcy Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 1905
Experience:  Twelve years experience in all aspects of debtor & creditor BK.
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can a bankruptcy judge overturn or render a void judgment of

Customer Question

can a bankruptcy judge overturn or render a void judgment of a state case ruling/decision where jurisdiction in the state case was challenged, yet ignored, even by the Appellate decision of that case, when the decision is directly related to the Adverse Claim in the bankruptcy itself?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  cfortunato replied 3 years ago.

Hi JACustomer,

A Bankrutpcy court has no authority over a State court. However, if the Bankruptcy trustee thinks a different State court outcome can positively affect the Bankruptcy case (positive = more assets for the Bankruptcy estate), the trustee can pursue an appeal.

 

I think this is what you wanted to know. If not, please let me know.
Thank you!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I found this online last night, does it apply to my first question?

"Rooker-Feldman Doctrine":

http://www.tucker-hester.com/PDFs/Rooker-Feldman%20Doctrine.pdf

"Conversely, if a state court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to determine the scope of an automatic stay, but hands down a judgment on the scope of a particular stay anyway, which the debtor (obviously the defendant in such a state court proceeding) is not pleased with (or even is pleased with), then the debtor can complain to the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court does have the power (subject matter jurisdiction) in the instance to overrule that state court's decision that is void ab initio -- the state court should not have decided the case in the first place because the state court in fact did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear that issue."

Please let me know asap. I forgot to mention that I am a Pro Se litigant homeowner in CA. I have a July 22, 2011 deadline to respond to US Bank NA's Reply in my Bankruptcy case in which the judge already denied their "Motion for Relief of Automatic Stay" because he is not satisfied that the proper parties have brought the action against me in the UD, therefore, he is not going to lift the stay unless and until they prove they are the proper party. I have a concurrent Appeal in the State Court of Appeals of the final ruling in my UD case based on a Trustee's Deed Upon Sale. The UD ruling granted Summary Judgement to US Bank NA. Interestingly enough, I am still in my home and the Automatic Stay is the only thing standing between me and eviction. Help!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Is it possible to have an attorney call me? Home Telephone No: (XXX) XXX-XXXX. I am expecting the Reply Brief from my opposition, and I will only have 2 weeks to come up with a whopper of a response. If no one can call, please let me know asap. Thank you so very much!
Expert:  Brent Blanchard replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

The case law you quote from applies only to a state court exceeding its subject-matter jurisdiction by making a ruling on the "automatic stay" of bankruptcy law.

That type of ruling happens only after a BK case is filed. Your question seems to indicate that was NOT the order of operations: "I have filed a Ch. 7 Bankruptcy to prevent eviction from my home following a wrongful foreclosure and the Unlawful Detainer was ruled in favor of the bank despite the fact I raised subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the case law citations withing the CA Judges Benchguide. . ."

Since Unlawful Detainer depends on the claimant having valid title to the real estate, and bankruptcy courts don't touch foreclosures that were completed before the case was filed, I don't see a way for a BK court to reach that far back into the process and reverse anything. On top of that, the CA Code governing foreclosures protects the validity of title of a purchaser at a Trustee's sale, and all of that is purely a matter of local state law.

Timing is key. It would be different if a BK case is filed BEFORE the Trustee's sale--then the BK Court is where at least the preliminary issue of whether the sale can be taken out of BK and put back into regular state law proceedings is fought.

The BK Court has jurisdiction over the assets of the BK estate. Property foreclosed on before filing is not property of the estate, and I've seen judges and BK trustees drop the issue so quickly you could imagine cartoon-type dust being left flying as they move on to the next subject. The subject-matter jurisdiction question goes against the BK court for any property which left the Debtor's possession before filing--fraudulent or avoidable transfers being excepted of course.

I'm sorry this might not be what you want to hear, but the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine applies only to state court decisions regarding the automatic stay of BK law. The automatic stay does not apply to actions taken against property the Debtor no longer owns. The validity of foreclosure remains a question of state law.

Oh, and we cannot call you because that is against the rules here. See the Terms of Service. Those of us who take private clients for personal legal services--they find us through other means.

Thank you.

BAB.

Thank you.

BAB.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
One last thing before I accept your answer: I would like you to hear some quotes from the Bankruptcy (BK) Judge directly from the Transcripts from my most recent bankruptcy hearing on June 23, 2011. The judge said, (verbatim quote): (Court)"But as I look through all the doc--you're asking me for relief from stay to allow your client [actually a fictitious plaintiff, in the UD and the BK, my interjection here] to go back to state court and complete enforcement of an unlawful detainer action, but as I look at all the pleadings that you filed, the unlawful detainer action wasn't prosecuted in the name of the Terwin Mortgage Trust." ALSO,(Court)"...Well, no, it was prosecuted in the name of U.S. Bank National Association as Indenture Trustee. That's where the title stops on every document you filed relating to the unlawful detainer. So you now come in basically and ask me to bless your client's right to go back to state court and proceed with enforcement of a state law action that I'm not satisfied they properly prosecuted in the right name in the first place." The judge denied their Motion for Releif of Automatic Stay. In my BK case, I am contending that their erroneous filing(s) was/are contempt of court, punishable by sanctions, per FRBP Rule 5001-1. The judge is seeing more than I asked of him, sua sponte. If CA Unlawful Detainer is "unsuitable forum" to hear matters that involve "complex issues of title" and of "due process", the Limited Civil Superior Courts do not have jurisdiction according to the CA Judges Benchguide, 31-26 (G)(8). "Subject Matter Jurisdiction" should render the UD void ab initio on those grounds, which I see in the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine. I know this is a narrow exception not usually used in bankruptcy. BUT, IF but I used this in my upcoming pleading, do you think it will be saluted by the bankruptcy court? The BK judge said he was taking the case "under submission" as of July 22, 2011, my due date to file my responsive pleading. From what I understand, the BK judge must take matters "under submission" to the Federal District Court, not just the Bankruptcy Division. Is this correct? And if I use the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, how well do you think that will go over? Sorry, several questions interwoven there, so I'll sum them up into the most important one (you can answer the rest if you would like): Question: (1) If the state court lacked jurisdiction and yet ruled anyhow, can I use the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine to ask the BK judge to treat the UD and the TDUS as void in abitio, giving the BK court jurisdiction?
Expert:  Brent Blanchard replied 3 years ago.
I'm sorry, but you are now asking me to violate the Terms of Service and my own Expert Agreement with JustAnswer.com. We cannot provide personal legal representation or counsel here--only answer general questions.

"I would like you to hear some quotes from the Bankruptcy (BK) Judge directly from the Transcripts from my most recent bankruptcy hearing on June 23, 2011" goes towards personal legal services. You would have to hire an attorney to get an opinion on that.

"Under submission" means only that the judge is not making a decision from the bench right then and there, but instead is going to review all the papers and research the law and otherwise study up on it before making a decision. Nothing goes up to another court on a "submission" without something more, like certification of a state law question from a federal forum to that state's highest court (not all of them call it their "Supreme Court" like CA does), or an appeal of some sort--and appeals are done by the parties, not by the court.

To the original question, no, it is almost never that a federal court will overturn a state court decision *and render a new decision* saying X, Y, or Z. It is far more common for the federal court to rule on what it has jurisdiction over in the federal arena, which can include in rare circumstances a ruling that the state court ruling violated A, B, and/or C. But then, one result is (in BK cases) is limited relief from the automatic stay, releasing the parties to trot back into the state court only for the purposes of having the state court fix its decision. The state court is almost always considered the best place to fight out state law issues.

Your quote makes it sound like the foreclosure was completed before filing. It hints that the Unlawful Detainer action was completed at the court level but perhaps had not gotten to the point of the court's Order being executed. Anything that happened BEFORE filing BK happened BEFORE there was any "automatic stay" in existence, and I really don't see how the doctrine can apply when there was no state court decision on the federal issue of the scope of the automatic stay. Within the BK Court's area of operations, the *right* person must ask for relief from the Stay. That goes to the fundamental question of "standing", which is good for an entire semester in law school.

Thank you.

BAB.
Brent Blanchard, Bankruptcy Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 1905
Experience: Twelve years experience in all aspects of debtor & creditor BK.
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