Trenam’s Appellate Newsletter: Appeals from the Bankruptcy Court
You find yourself on the wrong end of an order or judgment in bankruptcy. Now what? Although litigation of an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy is handled in much the same way as a trial in federal district court, bankruptcy appeals have distinct differences from any other appeal. Here are some of the key differences to keep in mind.
A notice of appeal in bankruptcy must be filed within 14 days of the order or judgment. Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8002(a). This deadline can be extended in certain circumstances. Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8002(d).
An appeal from the bankruptcy court is first made to the district court. In some jurisdictions (not the Eleventh Circuit) the circuit courts of appeals have established a bankruptcy appellate panel to hear appeals from the bankruptcy court. Appeals from the district court or bankruptcy appellate panel are then heard by the circuit courts of appeals. In some rare cases, a direct appeal can be had from the bankruptcy court to the circuit court of appeals. Fed. R. Bankr. P. 8006.
The appellant must file a designation of the record on appeal and statement of the issues within 14 days of the notice of appeal. This requirement recognizes that a bankruptcy docket will include hundreds or thousands of entries, many of which may have nothing to do with the limited issue being appealed. The designation of record and statement of issues allows the appellate court to focus on only the issues being appealed and the relevant record.
Why are bankruptcy appeals different? One bankruptcy case may generate several appeals as opposed to litigation in state or federal court which usually generate only one. Timing is also critical in bankruptcy as issues on appeal may interfere with the progress of the bankruptcy case. There are numerous reasons why the procedures are different, but it’s most important to remember that the procedural differences are substantial and that bankruptcy appeals are governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 8001, et seq., and not the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.