Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
The meeting of creditors is open to the public and anyone can attend — except one very important person — the bankruptcy judge assigned to the case.
You’d think that the bankruptcy judge might want to know what’s going on in the meeting of creditors, which is the informal hearing conducted by the trustee to examine the debtor. However, bankruptcy judges are barred by law from doing so.
This prohibition didn’t always exist. Our current bankruptcy code went into effect in 1979. Prior to that time, judges were able to attend the meeting of creditors. However, Congress thought it was necessary to prohibit judges from attending the meeting to avoid any bias.
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 meeting of creditors is held in the courthouse, it is not a court hearing and the trustee presiding over the meeting is not a judicial officer. Incidentally, in most Chapter 7 consumer cases, the debtor will never even appear before the judge assigned to the case and will never meet their judge.