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A Quick Look Into Bankruptcy Court Jurisdictions

Bankruptcy Court Jurisdictions

With so many bankruptcy court cases facing our country annually, there must be organs of the Federal judiciary to which this responsibility can be more evenly distributed. Indeed, for every state, United States territory, and even the District of Columbia, there are bankruptcy districts.

Including the court specifically representing the District of Columbia, there are twelve district court circuits composed of 94 separate districts that preside over bankruptcy court cases in America. The eleven numbered circuits into which the fifty states are fit are organized based on geographic proximity. For example, the Second Circuit is comprised of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, and the Eighth Circuit is made up of Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Regarding overseas U.S. territories, meanwhile, Puerto Rico is assigned to the First Circuit, the Virgin Islands to the Third Circuit, and Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands to the Ninth District.

Just looking at how these geographically-oriented districts are organized, it is clear that the circuits with oversight over all bankruptcy court cases in its region are not exactly evenly distributed. Going back to the examples of the Second and Eight Circuits, the former has but three states under its domain, but the latter has governance of a full seven. The disparity is yet larger between the D.C. Circuit, which does not even represent a whole state, and the Ninth Circuit, which includes nine states and two territories.

Each court has its own bankruptcy court records, which makes them hard to review at large and at length. However, efforts are still made by certain organizations to compile more comprehensive analyses of these bankruptcy court records.

The official service of the Federal judiciary that is tasked with the assembly of known bankruptcy court records is the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system (PACER). PACER's mission is to provide public access (for a fee) to case and docket information for all hearings in Federal courts, including bankruptcy court cases. In addition, West's Bankruptcy Reporter independently puts together volumes of bankruptcy court records, also with cost.

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