Oklahoma Bankruptcy Filings Up by Double-Digit Percentages

Article excerpt

The sweep of the nation's financial crisis extends into the federal courts, which have seen a rise in bankruptcy filings, congressional budget officials have been told.

Even in Oklahoma, which has been less hard-hit than some states, bankruptcy filings are up by double-digit percentages.

According to data from the federal courts, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, where most cases are filed, experienced 5,740 filings during the 12-month period ending last September, an increase of 18.6 percent over the prior year. An increase of 14.7 percent was reported for the Eastern and Northern Districts.

Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Julia Gibbons, who chairs the Budget Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, recently outlined a budget request for the federal judiciary totaling $7.03 billion, an 8.7-percent increase, for federal fiscal year 2010.

Although 86 percent of the $562 million requested increase is for base adjustments for items such as salaries and benefits, rent hikes, technology and the like, Gibbons told members of a U.S. House budget subcommittee that $80 million is for program enhancements.

That includes additional staff and costs for FY 2010 workload increases, primarily in bankruptcy, probation and pretrial services, six additional magistrate judges and staff, technology improvements and other needs such as an hourly rate increase for non-capital panel attorneys, Supreme Court security, education enhancements and the startup cost of a new federal defender organization. …