• Bankruptcy Judge Declares Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

    A bankruptcy judge for the Central District of California declared DOMA unconstitutional in a ruling on June 13, 2011. 19 other bankruptcy judges in the district signed the ruling in consensus.

    The case began when a gay couple in California filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy protection as a married couple. The U.S. Trustee’s Office asked Judge Donovan to dismiss the case on the grounds that DOMA barred the court from recognizing the couple’s marriage.

    Judge Donovan declined to dismiss the case, stating in his judgment that “no legally married couple should be entitled to fewer bankruptcy rights than any other legally married couple.” He also wrote that the couple “demonstrated that there is no valid governmental basis for DOMA. In the end, the court finds that DOMA violates the equal protection rights of the debtors as recognized under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

    Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the government would have no comment on the ruling or potential next steps by the department.

    Robert Pfister, the attorney who represented the gay couple in bankruptcy court, expects an appeal of the ruling to be filed by the trustee on behalf of members of Congress who want the law to remain in force.

    If you are interested in filing for bankruptcy and would like to learn more about the process works, contact a Chicago bankruptcy attorney for more information.

  • Owner of Giordano’s Pizza Makes Strange Decisions during Bankruptcy

    Giordano’s owner, John Apostolou, has made inexplicable decisions during the chapter 11 bankruptcy of his pizza chain. His actions have caused the court to bar him from his restaurants and hire an investment banker to sell the chain.

    Apostolou’s lawyer admits that his client made mistakes, causing Apostolou to lose control of the business during the bankruptcy . The biggest mistakes made are unusual documents Apostolou filed in court in which he improperly tries to terminate the bankruptcy, alleging fraud and other misdeeds. Included in the documents is an affidavit signed by his wife, Eva, in which they claim they do not recognize U.S. currency and are free of any legal constraints.

    Apostolou also fired Giordano’s bankruptcy attorney. This action caused the U.S. Justice Department to ask the bankruptcy court to appoint a trustee to seize the business.

    Trustee Philip Martino stated in a court hearing “because of certain perspectives that the Apostolou’s have, they have done a few things that merit this court’s attention. Perhaps it contributed to the lack of confidence that creditors have and certainly were part of the reason why I wanted them removed as fiduciaries.”

    Martino also said in court that he asked the Apostolous not to patronize Giordano’s because he thought their presence could be disruptive.

    If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and would like to learn more about the process, contact a Chicago bankruptcy attorney for more information.