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Bankruptcy Judges

Article I, Section 8, of the United States Constitution authorizes Congress to enact "uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies." In the Bankruptcy Act of 1898, Congress authorized the district judges to appoint bankruptcy referees to oversee the administration of bankruptcy cases in the district courts.

In 1978, Congress enacted the "Bankruptcy Code" (92 Stat. 2657) and created the position of United States Bankruptcy Judge. A Bankruptcy judge exercises jurisdiction over judicial proceedings related to bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy courts act as units of the United States district courts. Congress determines the number of bankruptcy judges in each district. See 28 U.S.C. § 151. A bankruptcy judge is appointed by the majority of judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the circuit that encompasses the district in which the Bankruptcy Judge will preside. Bankruptcy Judges serve for fourteen year terms.

  Bankruptcy Referee Years of Service
1 William Alexander Bell 1901 - 1919
2 Edward J. Thilborger 1919 - 1933
3 Edmond E. Talbot 1933 - 1969
4 Percy M. Flanagan 1965 - 1971
5 Thomas M. Brahney, III 1969-1978
6 T. Hartley Kingsmill, Jr. 1971-1978


  Bankruptcy Judge Years of Service
1 Thomas M. Brahney, III 1978 - 2004
2 T. Hartley Kingsmill, Jr. 1978 - 1992
3 Jerry A. Brown (recalled) 1992 - present
4 Elizabeth W. Magner,
Chief Judge
2005 - present