"Judicial Spotlight LOS ANGELES DAILY JOURNAL WEDNESDAY NOVEM BER"
Judicial Spotlight LOS ANGELES DAILY JOURNAL - WEDNESDAY, NOVEM BER 19, 2008 Barry Russell Judge U.S. Bankruptcy Court Central District of California (Los Angeles) Career Highlights: Appointed by the U.S. Central District judges to the U.S. Bankrupcy Court, 1974; assistant U.S. attorney, Central District, 1970-74; Los Angeles County public defender’s office, 1967-70 Law School: UCLA School of Law, 1966 Age: 68 He Wrote the Book Judge Barry Russell's Evidence Manual is on every bankruptcy lawyer's desk. By Amanda Becker Daily Journal Staff W riter LOS ANGELES - If it seems like Judge Barry Russell has "Being a judge helps serve as an entree to things," written the book on bankruptcy, it's because he has. The Russell said. former chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court's Central It was his ticket to dispute resolution conferences District first wrote the Bankruptcy Evidence Manual in 1987 with the W orld Bank in W ashington, D.C., Buenos Aires, and has updated it every year since. Argentina and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he participated in "It's the book on evidence in bankruptcy," said forums on insolvency. It also earned him an invitation to Robbin Itkin, Steptoe & Johnson's lead restructuring partner lecture in China. on the W est Coast. "Every lawyer who has litigated in a A friend and fellow judge, who had helped the former bankruptcy court has it, or should." Chinese president's daughter attend UCLA, knew that Russell Russell may have written the bankruptcy bible, but he had just published the first edition of his bankruptcy book. didn't start out as an expert. W hen he was appointed to the Around the same time, China had just written its first, fledgling bench in 1974, he was the youngest bankruptcy judge in the bankruptcy document. Russell's name got passed along. country. Now, he is the second most senior. In Feburary 1988, Russell received an invitiation "At that point, I didn't really know anything about from China's Supreme People's Court to lecture on the subject bankruptcy, I wanted to either teach or become a judge," of bankrtupcy law. He still keeps the letter in his office. Seven Russell said of his appointment nearly 35 years ago. "I think months later, he, along with his longtime secretary Katie they were looking, in those days, for someone that was not a Kwok, embarked on a 2Â½-week tour through four cities in bankruptcy person ... they wanted new people in that small China. world." "Talk about timing," Russell said. "All of this stuff But for Russell, who worked briefly as an engineer just came together. That trip, that's what it must feel like if and a public defender and did a stint in the U.S. attorney's you're the president or something, it was that kind of office, entering that small world opened doors to a number of treatment." others - international travel, mediation, teaching and Russell also made his mark in Los Angeles - first, by recognizing federal law enforcement. establishing a program that honored federal law enforcement officials and then by starting a bankruptcy mediation program. Here are som e of Judge Barry Russells recent cases and the W hen Russell served as the national president of the lawyers involved: Federal Bar Association, he attended a program that honored federal law enforcement officers throughout the country. Tri City Mental Health Center, 04-13167 - Chapter 9 Inspired, he decided to start a similar program for federal employees in Los Angeles. For the debtor: Dean G. Rallis, Jr. and Leib M. Lerner, Alston The first year of the program, called the Medal of & Bird Valor, was in 1990. Over the next 14 years, Russell oversaw awards given to federal law enforcement in Los Angeles at an For the creditors: Barry S. Glaser, Theodora Oringer Miller; annual luncheon that drew more than 600 attendees. Keynote Jeffrey A. Krieger; Bernard A. Leckie speakers included the actors W illiam Shatner from "Star Trek" and Robert Stack from "The Untouchables." AFC Acquisition Corp., 08-28517 - Chapter 11 "It brought together a lot of people from all of the federal agencies that were involved in law enforcement," said For the debtor: David S. Kupetz, Sulmeyer Kupetz Lester Horowitz, an attorney at Clark & Trevithick who has practiced before Russell. "It took a great deal of work and a For the creditors: Scott C. Clarkson; Eve A. Marsella; W ayne great deal of dedication." R. Terry Russell was also the impetus behind the bankruptcy mediation program, begun by the court in the 1990s. More Fitness Holdings International Inc., 08-27527 - Chapter 11 than 200 volunteer mediators hear cases each quarter to help save debtors from what can be an expensive trip to the For the debtor: David S. Kupetz and Tamar Kouyoumjian, bankruptcy courtroom. Sulmeyer Kupetz. "It's been an incredibly successful program in the Central District of California," Itkin said. For the creditors: Henkie F. Barron, W inson & Strawn; By October of this year, 3,888 people had met with a Christopher M. Alston; Paul Carey; Jerome Bennet Friedman; volunteer mediator, and 64 percent had reached a settlement. Caroline C. Fuller; Jean M. Heinz, Brian D. Huben, Katten Russell said that given the current economic climate, he Muchin Rosenman; Kevin M. Newman. anticipates the number will only grow. "I expect it's going to get a lot worse before it gets W inston Tires, 02-11180 - Chapter 7 better," Russell said. Statistics confirm Russell's expectation. The For the debtor: Philip Gasteier, Robinson Diamant & American Bankrupty Institute reported that consumer W olkowitz; Garrick A. Hollander, W inthrop Couchot; Sean A. bankruptcy filings in October had increased 40 percent O'Keefe. nationwide over the year before, and total filings surpassed 100,000 for the first time since the Bankrtupcy Abuse and For the creditors: David N. Kuhn; James O'Callahan, Girardi Consumer Protection Act went into effect in 2005. & Keese; Allan D. Sarver "I don't know of any bankruptcy judges in the country who think it's a good bill, including myself," Russell said. "It was like killing a fly with an atomic bomb." Russell will prepare for the onslaught of cases in his chambers at the downtown federal courthouse, where photos of Russell alongside former presidents Clinton, Reagan and George H. W . Bush line the walls. Russell said he followed the recent election closely. "It will be fascinating to watch Obama surround himself with really the best people," Russell said. Russell said he that same approach himself, which he said he learned from reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln. "If you want to succeed, you surround yourself with good people," Russell said. "I really want people to protect me from myself."