Storage Liens and bankruptcy …

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country, as they may be a harbinger of things to come in districts in which I practice and can be used to help Debtors get the financial relief they need.

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The bankruptcy court here allowed a storage lien for pre-petition repossession costs but held that post-petition storage costs violated the automatic stay, as the storage lot, Collateral Bankruptcy Services, had violated the automatic stay by retaining possession of the vehicle and not turning it over to the Trustee.

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT

MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

TAMPA DIVISION

http://www.flmb.uscourts.gov

In re: Case No. 8:16-bk-10041-MGW

Chapter 7

Stefan Kaschkadayev,

Debtor.

___________________________________/

ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION ON STAY RELIEF MOTION

Before filing for bankruptcy, the Debtor surrendered his car to Collateral Bankruptcy Services, a towing and storage company. Collateral Bankruptcy Services, which has continued to maintain possession of the Debtor’s car, now seeks stay relief to foreclose a statutory lien for unpaid storage charges. Because Collateral Bankruptcy Services’ postpetition storage charges were incurred in violation of the automatic stay, the Court will grant Collateral Bankruptcy Services limited stay relief to foreclose its statutory lien for unpaid prepetition storage charges.

Background

Under the Bankruptcy Code, debtors are prohibited from retaining personal property that secures a debt unless they redeem the collateral or reaffirm the debt. But debtors who want to surrender collateral—instead of redeeming it or reaffirming the debt—complain that they sometimes have difficulty doing so. Some debtors complain that they are told to deliver the collateral to the secured creditor at a specified time and place, only to find that the secured creditor is not there. Other debtors have been told the secured creditor will pick up the collateral only to be left holding the collateral even after they have received a discharged and their case has been closed. Apparently, there is a burgeoning new industry of companies willing to take possession of collateral from debtors and store it for their benefit.

One of those companies is Collateral Bankruptcy Services. Collateral Bankruptcy Services, which is owned by a chapter 7 panel trustee, offers to safely retrieve and secure surrendered collateral at no cost to the debtor, the debtor’s lawyer, or the debtor’s estate. Collateral Bankruptcy Services says its calling card is its excellent customer service: its agents, the company says, show up on time (wearing clean uniforms) at the debtor’s preferred location. In Collateral Bankruptcy Services’ view, there is a market for a debtor friendly (and trustee friendly) alternative to repossession agents.

As the Court understands the business model, debtors contact Collateral Bankruptcy Services to pick up secured collateral—e.g., a car—and tow it to Collateral Bankruptcy Services’ storage facility.

If Collateral Bankruptcy Services is required to pick up the collateral, it charges a towing fee (around $3 per mile) for transporting the collateral to its storage facility. Naturally, it charges a storage fee as well (usually $55 per day). According to Collateral Bankruptcy Services, its towing and storage charges are “middle of the road” for those services.

Collateral Bankruptcy Services, however, has been struggling to make its business practices comport with the Bankruptcy Code. Early on, in In re Ervin, Collateral Bankruptcy Services took possession of the debtor’s car, imposed a storage lien for unpaid storage charges, foreclosed its storage lien, took title to the car at the foreclosure, and resold it to a third party—all without relief from the automatic stay.

In another case, In re Galvez, Collateral Services imposed a storage lien on a car before seeking stay relief.

Collateral Bankruptcy Services’ conduct in Ervin and Galvez was, to say the least, problematic. By taking possession of the debtors’ cars after the petition date in those cases, Collateral Bankruptcy Services took possession of property of the estate in violation of the automatic stay.

In Ervin, this Court ordered Collateral Bankruptcy Services to pay the secured creditor the value of its collateral as a sanction for the stay violation. In Galvez, Collateral Bankruptcy Services agreed to withdraw its belated stay relief motion and consented to the Court granting the secured creditor’s stay relief motion.

It is worth noting that the Court would not have necessarily granted a timely stay relief motion in Ervin or Galvez because, by taking possession of the debtor’s car postpetition, Collateral Bankruptcy Services was interfering with the debtor’s duty under § 521 to first surrender the car to the Trustee and, if the Trustee abandoned it, to then surrender the car to the secured creditor.

But this case presents a different problem: Here, unlike in Ervin and Galvez, Collateral Bankruptcy Services took possession of the Debtor’s car before the petition date. One month before the petition date, Collateral Bankruptcy Services picked up the Debtor’s 2014 Chrysler Town & Country and towed it 62 miles to its storage facility.

One week later, Collateral Bankruptcy Services served a claim of lien on JP Morgan Chase Bank, which has a lien on the Debtor’s car.10 According to the claim of lien, Collateral Bankruptcy Services has incurred $183 in towing charges (62 miles at $3/mile), $330 in storage charges (6 days at $55/day), $125 in recovery charges, and $75 in administrative fees, for a total of $713.11

When he filed this case, the Debtor did not list his 2014 Chrysler Town & Country on Schedule B. Instead, he says in his Statement of Financial Affairs that the Bank repossessed his car in October, and he lists them on Schedule F. But Collateral Bankruptcy Services says it picked the car up at the Debtor’s request.

Collateral Bankruptcy Services now asks the Court to grant it stay relief so it can foreclose its storage lien since there is no equity in the car.

Conclusions of Law

On its face, Collateral Bankruptcy Services’ stay relief motion seems straightforward. Collateral Bankruptcy Services alleges that the value of the Bank’s lien exceeds the value of the car. So there is no equity in the car. And because this is a chapter 7 case, the car is not necessary for an effective reorganization. On top of that, Collateral Bankruptcy Services has a statutory lien for unpaid storage charges under section 713.78, Florida Statutes, which primes the Bank’s, as well as any other lien on the Debtor’s car. In fact, absent this bankruptcy case, Collateral Bankruptcy Services would have been entitled to sell the Debtor’s car as early as December 12, 2016, at a public auction under section 713.78(6), Florida Statutes.13 But there is one problem with Collateral Bankruptcy Services’ motion.

Although Collateral Bankruptcy Services has sought stay relief before foreclosing its storage lien, it has nonetheless violated the automatic stay in this case. Bankruptcy Code § 362(a)(3) explicitly prohibits any act to exercise control over property of the estate. The Debtor’s car, of course, was property of the estate as of the petition date. So Collateral Bankruptcy Services violated the automatic stay by maintaining possession of the Debtor’s car. In fact, Bankruptcy Code § 542(a) requires Collateral Bankruptcy Services to turn the car over to the Trustee.

Collateral Bankruptcy Services’ stay violation is not a mere technical violation. By continuing to maintain possession of the Debtor’s car, Collateral Bankruptcy Services is increasing its storage charges at a rate of $55 per day. The increased storage charges, in turn, increase the amount of the statutory lien imposed to secure those charges, which reduces any potential recovery by the Bank.

Acts taken in violation of the automatic stay, however, are automatically void.15 So Collateral Bankruptcy Services is not entitled to any storage charges incurred since the petition date. And its storage lien is limited to the amount of its unpaid prepetition storage charges. Accordingly, it is

ORDERED:

  1. The automatic stay imposed by 11 U.S.C. § 362 is hereby lifted to allow Collateral Bankruptcy Services to impose a storage lien on the Debtor’s 2014 Chrysler Town & Country (VIN# 2C4rC1BG9ER271800) for unpaid storage charges incurred before the petition date.
  2. The 14-day stay under Rule 4001(a)(3) shall be waived to permit Collateral Bankruptcy Services to immediately enforce its in rem relief under this Order.
  3. Collateral Bankruptcy Services shall be allowed to exercise its state and common law in rem remedies with respect to the Debtor’s car, including giving notice and taking all actions necessary to protect its rights. Under no circumstances, however, shall Collateral Bankruptcy Services seek to exercise any in rem relief with respect to postpetition storage charges. Nor shall Collateral Bankruptcy Services seek or obtain an in personam judgment against the Debtor.

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

 

 

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Discharging Student Loans: Ripe time, Ripe place …

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 25 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country, as they may be a harbinger of things to come in districts in which I practice and can be used to help Debtors get the financial relief they need.

Here is another in a long line of Student Loan dischargeability cases …

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Student Loans Discharge Action Dismissed because the issue is not ripe!

In Re: David Wayne Sheppard and Tena Marie Sheppard, Debtors; vs. the U.S. Department of Education; West Virginia Junior College, Defendants.

Case # 16-20208; Adversary # 16-2049; Southern District of West Virginia

February 21, 2017

Memorandum Opinion and Order

Pending is the motion to dismiss by the Defendant, the United States Department of Education, filed December 5, 2016. The Plaintiff, Tena Marie Sheppard, responded in opposition to the motion to dismiss on December 12, 2016, and the United States Department of Education (“the Department”) replied on January 18, 2017. The motion to dismiss is ready for adjudication.

Although the Department has filed its motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the grounds for dismissal better align with Rule 12(b)(1).

I.

Mrs. Sheppard and her husband have been deemed permanently disabled by the Social Security Administration. On April 22, 2016, Mrs. Sheppard, along with her husband, filed a joint Chapter 13 petition. The Sheppards have proposed a Chapter 13 plan that provides for a monthly payment of $854.69 for 66 months. However, their disposable income amounts to only $444.68. At this time, the proposed Chapter 13 plan remains unconfirmed. A confirmation hearing is scheduled for March 1, 2017.

Mrs. Sheppard filed this adversary proceeding to discharge her student loans on August 17, 2016. In the complaint, Mrs. Sheppard alleges that the Department and West Virginia Junior College are non-priority unsecured creditors in the associated bankruptcy case. Further, she alleges that the repayment of her student loans imposes an undue hardship because she is disabled and unable to work. Mrs. Sheppard seeks a declaratory judgment as to the dischargeability of the debt pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8), arguing both that the subject loans do not qualify as educational loans and, in the alternative, that the loans cause undue hardship. On October 7, 2016, the Department filed a Proof of Claim asserting Mrs. Sheppard owed $15,310.73 for unpaid student loans. On December 5, 2016, the Department moved to dismiss the adversary proceeding, stating that the matter was not prudentially ripe. Mrs. Sheppard answered and the Department replied. As of this date, West Virginia Junior College has neither answered nor otherwise moved.

II.

  1. Governing Standard

As noted, the Department moves to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).Inasmuch as it argues lack of ripeness, however, the Department challenges the Court’s subject-matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Court analyzes the matter pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), as made applicable to this proceeding by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 7012(b).

Rule 12(b)(1) provides for a dismissal if the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. The Court has statutory subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(b). A bankruptcy court “may hear and determine all cases under title 11 and all core proceedings arising under title 11, or arising in a case under title 11.” 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(1). The Court “may hear and determine” cases and core proceedings “arising under” the Bankruptcy Code or “arising in” a case under the Code. § 157(b)(1). The determination of the dischargeability of a debt is specifically listed as a core proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(I).

A defendant may challenge subject-matter jurisdiction facially or factually. Kerns v. U.S., 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). A facial challenge asserts the allegations in the complaint are insufficient to establish subject-matter jurisdiction. Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999). This type of challenge involves the same procedural protections customarily available to a plaintiff under Rule 12(b)(6). Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. In sum, “the facts alleged in the complaint are taken as true, and the motion must be denied if the complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter jurisdiction.” Id.

When a defendant asserts “that the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint [are] not true,” he is asserting a factual challenge. Id. (internal quotation marks omitted)(quoting Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). When a challenge is factual, “the court may look beyond the pleadings and the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists.” Stahlman v. U.S., 995 F. Supp. 2d 446, 451 (D. Md. 2014). The presumption of truthfulness available under Rule 12(b)(6) does not apply. Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192.

Here, the Department asserts that the complaint fails to allege sufficient facts to support the exercise of subject matter jurisdiction. That is a facial challenge. The Court will thus treat as true the facts alleged in the complaint, along with affording Mrs. Sheppard the reasonable inferences flowing therefrom.

  1. Law and Analysis

The Department asserts that Mrs. Sheppard’s undue hardship challenge lacks prudential ripeness. It contends the dischargeability of a student loan does not ripen until at or near the time a Chapter 13 discharge is granted. Although a bankruptcy court is given statutory and adjudicatory subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 157, ripeness involves constitutional and prudential subject-matter jurisdiction. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. “Ripeness has two components: constitutional ripeness and prudential ripeness.” Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp. v. Coleman, 560 F.3d 1000, 1004 (9th Cir. 2009).

  1. Constitutional Ripeness

For constitutional ripeness to exist, the matter presented must amount to a “case or controversy.” Babbitt v. UFW Nat’l Union, 442 U.S. 289, 298 (1979). This requires asking whether the “conflicting contentions of the parties . . . present real, substantial controversy between parties having adverse legal interests, a dispute definite and concrete, not hypothetical or abstract.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Railway Mail Ass’n v. Corsi, 326 U.S. 88 (1945)). Precedent indicates the constitutional ripeness of a student loan discharge action arises when the debtor files for bankruptcy. Cassim v. Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp., 597 F.3d 432440 (6th Cir. 2010); Coleman, 560 F.3d at 1005. Our court of appeals has not spoken directly to the point, indicating instead that it would “decline- to adopt a hard and fast rule which would preclude bankruptcy courts from ever entertaining a proceeding to discharge student loan obligations until at or near the time the debtor has completed payments under a confirmed Chapter 13 plan.” Ekenasi v. Educ. Res. Inst., 325 F.3d 541, 547 (4th Cir. 2003).

Inasmuch as Mrs. Sheppard has sought relief under Chapter 13, her dischargeability suit is constitutionally ripe.

  1. Prudential Ripeness

As noted, a matter that is constitutionally ripe must also be prudentially ripe. The Supreme Court has held that “[p]roblems of prematurity and abstractness may well present ‘insuperable obstacles’ to the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction, even though that jurisdiction is technically present.” Socialist Labor Party v. Gilligan, 406 U.S. 583, 588 (1972) (quoting Rescue Army v. Mun. Ct. of L.A., 331 U.S. 549 (1947)). On the precise question respecting prudential ripeness of a student loan dischargeability action, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit concluded prudential ripeness is absent until “relatively close” to the actual date that a Chapter 13 discharge is granted. Bender v. Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp., 368 F.3d 846, 848 (8th Cir. 2004).

Our court of appeals appears to tip toward this position. It has concluded that the matter would have to qualify as an “exceptional circumstance” to be considered ripe prior to discharge: it will be most difficult for a debtor, who has advanced his education at the expense of government-guaranteed loans, to prove with the requisite certainty that the repayment of his student loan obligations will be an “undue burden” on him during a significant portion of the repayment period of the student loans when the debtor chooses to make that claim far in advance of the expected completion date of his plan. Ekenasi, 325 F.3d at 547.

In Ekenasi, the debtor claimed undue hardship when attempting to discharge his student loan obligations. Id. at 544. At the time that the adversary proceeding was filed, the debtor’s Chapter 13 plan had been confirmed for three months. Id. The bankruptcy court granted the debtor a complete discharge of his student loan obligations because the debtor was unlikely to increase his income or his disposable income after the plan’s conclusion. Id. On appeal, the district court affirmed. Id. The court of appeals disagreed, concluding that a dischargeability determination so early in the case required too much speculation. Id. at 548. Although the plan had been confirmed, completion was two years away. Id. Our court of appeals noted that when the plan was scheduled to conclude, three of the debtor’s six children would no longer be dependents. Id. at 549. Further, the debtor’s obligations to general unsecured creditors would be discharged in their entirety. Id. These changes would have potentially increased the debtor’s disposable income during the life of the plan, which would have relieved any undue hardship. Id.

Here, Mrs. Sheppard asserts that the repayment of her student loans creates an undue hardship because both she and her husband are deemed permanently disabled by the Social Security Administration. Because of their disabilities, the Sheppards contend that their circumstances will not change in the future (Id.). Although their incomes appear to be fixed, discharging Mrs. Sheppard’s student loans would still require a great deal of speculation on the Court’s part. Unlike the Chapter 13 plan in Ekenasi, Mrs. Sheppard’s Chapter 13 plan has not been confirmed. Further, her proposed plan is unfeasible because her plan payments greatly outweigh her disposable income. Allowing this adversary proceeding to continue would require the Court to speculate not only regarding the confirmability of the proposed plan, but also that the Sheppards will obtain a Chapter 13 discharge at the plan’s conclusion, which is at least five years away. Assuming a modified plan produced a feasible path forward, at least one bankruptcy court has astutely observed as follows:

Roughly 60% of Chapter 13 cases in this district do not result in a discharge, usually because of the debtor’s inability to make the required plan payments for the requisite three or five years. Given the strong possibility that a Chapter 13 case will be dismissed long before discharge can occur, a determination of undue hardship early in the case would likely be rendered unnecessary and irrelevant. In re Brantley, No. 15-81516-WRS, 2016 WL 3003429, at *3 (Bankr. M.D. Ala. May 17, 2016)

In view of this necessary speculation, the Court concludes that Mrs. Sheppard’s adversary proceeding is premature and outside the boundaries of prudential ripeness.1 Additionally, the Court concludes that dismissal does not work a sustainable hardship on the parties. See In re Brantley, at *4 (While Brantley would understandably want to know whether the Chapter 13 payments she is making will obtain a discharge of her student loans, the Defendants have an equally compelling interest in avoiding potentially unnecessary litigation. Also, the Court is disinclined to keep the proceeding open in perpetual stasis, draining the Court’s resources, for five years while Brantley completes her plan payments.”).

III.

Based upon the foregoing discussion, it is, accordingly, ORDERED that the United States Department of Education’s Motion to Dismiss be, and is hereby, GRANTED.

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The Court isn’t kicking the ball down the road – it makes a very logical and reasonable statement: why look into the dischargeability of a debt until we are more confident these Debtors will even receive a discharge? Who knows what will happen in the intervening years? As of April 2018, the Debtors are still paying into their Chapter 13 Plan … two-plus years to go!

But I worry about this issue – I have seen many objections to dischargeability of student loans fall apart in a Chapter 13. “If the Debtor can afford five years of monthly plan payments why can’t they afford monthly student loan payments afterwards?”

Heads, they win; Tails, you lose…

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About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Centralia, McLeansboro or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

 

 

Hiding behind a mask: Stan Lee and Elder Abuse…

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Elder Abuse is a heinous crime. Protecting our old, our young, our infirm should be the foundation of any nation that claims to be a Christian one. It should be the foundation of any nation, period.

Sometimes it takes a celebrity to put a face on an important subject: Rock Hudson and AIDS, Glen Campbell and Alzheimer’s Disease … and Stan Lee for Elder Abuse.

From Wikipedia:

Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber, December 28, 1922) is an American comic-book writer, editor, film executive producer, actor and publisher. He was formerly editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, and later its publisher and chairman before leaving the company to become its chairman emeritus, as well as a member of the editorial board.

In collaboration with several artists, including Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created iconic comic book characters including Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, and, with the addition of co-writer Larry Lieber, the characters Ant-Man, Iron Man and Thor. In addition, he challenged the comics industry’s censorship organization, the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to it updating its policies. Lee subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation.

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(Reprinted mainly from an article from the Washington Post)

When Stan Lee lost Joan, his wife of seven decades, last summer, he lost the one person he trusted to keep most of the financial predators, would-be scam artists and other sketchy interlopers at bay. From their Hollywood Hills home, she protected Stan’s interests and checked the barbarians at the gate.

But since her death of a stroke at 95, reports out of the Lee camp have become increasingly bizarre and alarming.

In January, the Daily Mail reported that Lee was accused of groping nurses who were working at his home; Lee’s camp denied the “false and despicable” allegations.

In February, Variety reported that Lee was briefly hospitalized, and the Los Angeles Times reported that the Marvel legend was battling pneumonia.

Then, in April, the Hollywood Reporter’s Gary Baum took an extensive look at the fighting figures close to Lee. They reportedly included his lone child and heir, J.C. Lee, who some insiders said has spent family money too freely, leading to an ongoing point of conflict; longtime road and convention manager Max Anderson; excommunicated caregiver/consigliere Jerry Olivarez; and memorabilia dealer turned Lee business manager/adviser Keya Morgan, who had befriended J.C. Lee.

“He’s in need of a superhero himself,” one Stan Lee friend told THR.

Now, perhaps the Los Angeles legal system will serve as that superhero.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Morgan was arrested and charged with recently “filing a false police report by calling 911 and saying burglars were in his house, when in fact two detectives and a social worker were conducting a welfare check on Lee.”

Then on Wednesday, a restraining-order application was filed against Morgan, 42, that accuses him of “taking advantage of Lee’s impaired hearing, vision and judgment, moving Lee from his longtime family home and preventing family and associates from contacting him,” the AP reported. A judge granted the order pending a July 6 hearing.

Also on Wednesday, as multiple outlets reported, court documents showed that the LAPD is investigating claims of elder abuse against Lee — an investigation that began in February.

Morgan was “taking advantage of Lee’s age to influence and isolate him,” attorney Tom Lallas said in the restraining-order request, according to the AP. Lallas served as Lee’s financial planner until he was fired in February.

Meanwhile, Lee has appeared in online videos — some published with a Morgan copyright line — that only complicate the picture. In a video published by TMZ in April, Lee denied accusations of elder abuse. And in a video posted to his verified Twitter account on June 10, Lee says: “If you can’t get me, call Keya Morgan. The two of us work together and are conquering the world side by side.”

As Deadline reported, Lee has said he made the video statements under duress.

Many of Lee’s friends, including in the comics and film community, have worried about him for months, especially as he has become more isolated.

Now, Lee’s case is gaining more open public scrutiny.

***

His lawyer has since released the following statement:

‘For approximately four (4) months beginning in February 2018, Detective G. Munoz (“Detective Munoz”), acting in collaboration with fellow colleagues in the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”), has conducted an investigation (the “Investigation”) with respect to various events that have occurred (collectively, the “Events”) affecting the life and wellbeing of Stan Lee (“Mr. Lee”). In this regard, Mr. Lee signed under penalty of perjury on February 13, 2018 the Declaration of Stan Lee (“Declaration”) in which Mr. Lee expressed concerns regarding the intentions and conduct of various people as described therein. Based on the facts, documents and information Detective Munoz and others working with him have acquired and evaluated in this Investigation, Detective Munoz determined that in order to protect Mr. Lee, it was necessary to obtain an Emergency Protective Order (“EPO”) and, thereafter, an Elder Abuse Restraining Order (“EARO”) against Keya Morgan (“Morgan”). At the request of Detective Munoz and others working with him, the Los Angeles County Superior Court (the “Court”), issued an EPO against Morgan on June 11, 2018.

As a result of his Investigation, Detective Munoz determined that it may be necessary and appropriate, in order to obtain an EARO to protect the interests, health and wellbeing of Mr. Lee, to have a Guardian Ad Litem appointed. On June 12, 2018, Detective Munoz requested that Tom Lallas, Esq., a friend of, and lawyer who represented, Mr. Lee, agree to act as the Guardian Ad Litem, if necessary, and to seek an EARO, and Mr. Lallas unconditionally accepted this request. The Court issued an EARO against Morgan on June 13, 2018.

The objectives of Mr. Lallas, whether acting as a Guardian Ad Litem, seeking an EARO, or otherwise, on behalf of Mr. Lee, are to: (i) protect the financial, emotional, physical and mental health and wellbeing of Mr. Lee, (ii) help Mr. Lee preserve his assets and estate, and (iii) prevent Mr. Lee from being subject to undue influence, coercion, and/or control by third parties whether by bad actors, predators, or otherwise. In order to achieve this objective, Mr. Lallas is prepared to and will execute any responsibilities as directed by the Court in the pending matter.'”

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Centralia, McLeansboro or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

Riding the Circuit: Lincoln Photo Presented at Jefferson County Courthouse

This invitation was open to the public:

“The Illinois Judges Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and their respective foundations, the Illinois Judges Foundation and the Illinois Bar Foundation, in partnership with the Illinois State Historical Society, are presenting a high quality canvas reproduction of a famous Abraham Lincoln portrait from 1860 to the Jefferson County Courthouse on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.”

Lincoln-Photo-Presentation-6-13-678x381

Current and former state and appellate judges participate in the portrait’s unveiling

Photographer Alexander Hesler took the photo in 1860 for Lincoln’s presidential campaign. Historians consider the portrait as one of the best taken of Lincoln before his presidency … Lincoln agreed.

The unveiling ceremony was on the first-floor lobby of the courthouse, which also featured an array of Lincoln memorabilia and artifacts.

Some of the items were are-inspiring! Including a lock of Lincoln’s hair cut by the attending physician on the night Lincoln was shot during examination of his head wound …

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and a tiny piece of the flag that draped him as he was carried from Ford’s theater to the house in which he died.

 

 

 

The unveiling began with an introduction of the judges and county officers who were present – the county and circuit clerks the sheriff, etc. Then followed a wonderful recap of his life and accomplishments, including his many times as a judge

 

Lincoln appeared in the circuit court of Jefferson County several times in 1940 – as an attorney and as a speaker for presidential candidate William Henry Harrison.

He returned to (what is now) the appellate court (the supreme court at the time) on November 18th and 19th in 1959 to successfully argue a case for his client, the Illinois Central railroad.

And now the county houses a beautiful portrait and, for a day some excellent memorabilia! I was privileged to attend!

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Grayville, West Salem, Centralia or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

Celebrity Spotlight: Gary Burghoff – Bankruptcy is Painless…

Bankruptcy affects people of every age, creed, sex or ethnicity from every part of the country. Even celebrities both loved and disliked have their financial problems and depend on the bankruptcy laws to get out from under crippling debt.

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GaryBurghoff03

From Wikipedia (mostly):

Gary Burghoff

Born May 24, 1943, in Bristol, Connecticut. He studied tap dance and became a drummer, despite having a congenital deformity of three fingers on his left hand. He gained early experience acting with the Belfry Players of Williams Bay, Wisconsin

In 1967 Burghoff originated the role of Charlie Brown in the original Off-Broadway production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

He was the drummer for a band called the Relatives in 1968. Actress Lynda Carter was the band’s singer. The group opened at the Sahara Hotel and Casino lounge in Las Vegas, Nevada, and played there for three months. He and Carter remained friends, and she helped cast him in an episode of her later hit series The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, in the 1978 episode “The Man Who Wouldn’t Tell”.

He is of course best known as Radar O”Reilly from the film and television show M*A*S*H.  Burghoff was nominated for six Emmy Awards for M*A*S*H in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and, of those nominations, he won an Emmy in 1977. Burghoff’s co-star Alan Alda accepted the award on his behalf.

Burghoff left the television show M*A*S*H after seven years. In the 1980s, Burghoff was the TV spokesman for BP gasoline and IBM computers. In 2000, Burghoff was a spokesman for dot-com era auction aggregation site PriceRadar.com. Burghoff is a self-taught amateur wildlife painter who is also qualified to handle injured wildlife in California. He also worked as a professional jazz drummer, heading the trio The We Three.

Burghoff is also the inventor of (and holds a patent on) the “Chum Magic”, a fishing tackle invention that attracts fish toward the user’s boat. Other Burghoff inventions include a toilet seat lifting handle and a new type of fishing pole.

Despite the accomplishments, he filed for bankruptcy in 1991

Burghoff was married to Janet Gayle, from 1971 to 1979. They had one child before their divorce. In 1985, he married Elisabeth Bostrom. The couple had two children and divorced in 2005.

Today the actor sells his wildlife drawings for up to $25,000 each, and except for the 2010 movie Daniel’s Lot, has retired from acting.

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About the author:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (probate, wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Salem, Centralia or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

Bankruptcy FAQs: Can I keep my car?

Frequently Asked Questions about Bankruptcy

I help people file for bankruptcy throughout southern Illinois to help eliminate their crushing debt and protect their assets.  For almost 25 years and in over five thousand bankruptcy filings, I answer many questions people have about the process. I thought I would share some of the more common questions here.

“Can I keep the vehicles that I own free and clear?”

That depends on the value.

Every state uses exemptions to determine how much value in a vehicle you are allowed to keep. In Illinois you are allowed $2,400.00 in ONE vehicle.

It does not matter if it is your only vehicle. “It’s the only car I got!” “It’s a 2014 Ferrari F12berlinetta and you owe nothing on it!”

I exaggerate to prove a point, of course.

And you can’t split the exemption up: if you have one car worth $1,500.00 and another worth $900.00 you cannot use the $2,400.00 exemption on both – only one of them. This means the $900.00 is not protected by Illinois’ vehicle exemption.

Don’t panic – there are other exemptions that might cover any excess equity.

Another option is the Chapter 13 consolidation: people file a Chapter 13 if they might lose something in a Chapter 7: if they are behind on the car or house and they want to prevent repossession or foreclosure and/or if there is too much equity in their property.

Your attorney will be happy to discuss these options with you.

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About the author:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (probate, wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Salem, Centralia or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

Tweeking your mortgage in a Chapter 13 … part 2.

Read a summary of this case.

 

From the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois

In re: ANDRES HUERAMO, Case No. 16-32350

Opinion by the Honorable Judge Deborah L. Thorne

 

Andres Hueramo (“Debtor”) is attempting to save his home (the “Residence”) through confirmation of a chapter 13 plan. Both the Debtor and the lender, Byline Bank agree that the Residence’s value is far less than the remaining balance owed to Byline. Debtor has asked this court to determine the value of the Residence, through the adversary case and through his proposed plan, to modify Byline’s secured claim. Byline has filed a motion to modify the automatic stay and has objected to the proposed plan.

For the reasons stated below, the court holds that the Debtor’s attempt to defeat the prohibition against modification of the secured claim on the Residence is not authorized under the Bankruptcy Code. Both the Debtor and Byline agree that there is no equity in the Residence if the secured claim is not reduced and for this reason, the motion to modify the automatic stay is granted.

  1. Jurisdiction

The court has subject matter jurisdiction to decide this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(b) and the Internal Operating Procedure 15(a) of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. A motion to modify the automatic stay under section 362 and plan confirmation are core proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2)(A), (G) and (O).

  1. Background & Procedural History

The Debtor is a co-owner with his wife of the Residence located at 2503 S. 57th Court, Cicero, Illinois 60804. Debtor previously had an interest in an investment commercial property located at 2346 S. Central Avenue, Cicero, Illinois 60604 (the “Commercial Property”). The note held by Byline1 was originally secured by both the Residence and the Commercial Property.

Prepetition, the Commercial Property was foreclosed upon by Byline or sold and is no longer collateral for the Byline note. The loan secured by the Residence matured on December 22, 2013 and Byline proceeded with a state court foreclosure. On August 13, 2015, the state court entered

a Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale in the amount of $392,810.49. Debtor’s right to redemption expired on November 13, 2015 and a judicial sale was scheduled.

On October 11, 2016, the date scheduled for the judicial sale, Debtor filed for relief under chapter 13. The Debtor has proposed a chapter 13 plan which modifies the secured claim of Byline to $140,0002 and proposes to pay the secured portion of the claim with a balloon payment during the last month of the plan. Byline filed a motion to modify the stay and objects to the proposed plan for a number of reasons, including that the plan violates the anti-modification prohibition of section 1322(b)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code and further that the payments to be made to Byline are not regular, equal monthly payments as required under section 1325(a)(5)((B)(iii)(1).

  1. Discussion

The crux of the matter before the court is whether the Debtor can modify the rights of Byline in the Debtor’s Residence. If the Debtor cannot modify the rights of Byline, the value of the Residence is not relevant as the Debtor’s proposed plan cannot be confirmed. The Debtor, while not disputing that the 2503 S. 57th Court property is the Debtor’s Residence, is trying to distinguish the prohibition against modifying the rights of a lender in a debtor’s primary residence contained in section 1322(b)(2). The Debtor asserts that section 1322(b)(2) does not apply for two reasons: (1) at the time the loan was made, it was secured by the Residence and the Commercial Property, and (2) the loan documents include as security, personal property and, therefore, the loan is collateralized by more than just the primary residence.

Byline counters this argument by asserting that the Petition Date is the relevant date to make the determination of whether the anti-modification provisions of section 1322(b)(2) apply.

Using the Petition Date eliminates the argument that the original collateral, which included the Commercial Property, allows the strip-down of Byline’s lien on the Residence. Byline further argues that the inclusion of incidental personal property in its security interest cannot be used to circumvent the anti-modification prohibition of section 1322(b)(2).

  1. Section 1322(b)(2)

Section 1322(b)(2) prohibits the modification of “a claim secured only by a security interest in real property that is the debtor’s principal residence….” 11 U.S.C. § 1322(b)(2). A security interest, however, that is in property other than the debtor’s principal residence may be subject to modification. Thus, the issue in this case is whether the Byline loan is a “commercial loan” and subject to modification or whether the loan only includes Debtor’s primary residence.

If this court uses the Petition Date as the proper time to determine the nature of the loan, the claim may not be modified under Section 1322(b)(2), while it may be modified if the loan origination date is controlling.

A majority of courts have determined that the petition date is the appropriate date for determining whether the anti-modification provision of § 1322(b)(2) applies to a claim. In re Landry, 462 B.R. 317 (Bankr. D. Mas.2011). see also In re Benafel, 461 B.R. 581, (B.A.P. 9th Cir.2011) (holding that the determination of whether the debtor is using real property as his principal residence is made as of the petition date for the purposes of section 1322(b)(2)); In re Abdelgadir, 455 B.R. 896, (B.A.P. 9th Cir.2011) (same but construing section 1123(b)(5)); In re Leigh, 307 B.R. 324, 331–32 (Bankr.D.Mass.2004) (whether claim is secured by collateral in addition to debtor’s principal residence is determined as of the petition date). This court agrees.

On the Petition Date, the Debtor retained only the Residence as Byline’s lien had been released against the Commercial Property through a foreclosure. The fact that the Commercial Property was no longer part of the collateral base leaves the Debtor squarely in the prohibition of the anti-modification under section 1322(b)(2). In re Amerson, 143 B.R. 413 (Bankr. S.D. Miss. 1992) (release of lien against chapter 13 debtor’s car prior to the filing of the petition left only the debtor’s primary residence as security for the loan and thus, anti-modification benefit existed under section 1322(b)(2)).

Finally, Debtor contends that because the mortgage also grants a security interest in personal property related to the Residence, the anti-modification provision of section 1322(b)(2) is defeated. While the Bankruptcy Code is clear that if a security interest was granted in property other than the debtor’s residence, section 1322(b)(2) might not apply, but if the security interest granted as part of a mortgage in the debtor’s principal residence also grants an interest in rents or other “incidental property”, the anti-modification provision is not impacted.

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (“BAPCPA”) applicable to bankruptcy cases filed on or after October 17, 2005 added the following definitions:

(13A) The term “debtor’s principal residence”—

(A) Means a residential structure, if used as the principal residence by the debtor, including incidental property, without regard to whether the structure is attached to real property . . .

BAPCPA also added section 101(27B) which defines “incidental property”:

(27B) The term “incidental property” means, with respect to a debtor’s principal residence—

(A)Property commonly conveyed with a principal residence in the area where the real property is located;

(B) All easements, rights, appurtenances, fixtures, rents, royalties, mineral rights, oil or gas rights or profits, water rights, escrow funds, or insurance proceeds; and (C) All replacements or additions.

Thus, under the express terms of these provisions added by BAPCPA, it appears that a lender does not lose its section 1322(b)(2) protection by taking a security interest in any of the listed “incidental property.” In re Inglis, 481 B.R. 480, 482-3 (Bankr. S.D. Ind. 2012). The Debtor has not pointed to any personal property other than “incidental property” that would otherwise destroy the anti-modification provision of section 1322(b)(2). Thus, the Debtor may not modify the rights of Byline. The Debtor’s proposed plan is not confirmable.

  1. Modification of the Stay

Section 362 states that the automatic stay may be modified for property when the debtor does not have any equity in the property and the property is not necessary for reorganization. 11 U.S.C. Section 362(d). Both parties acknowledge that Debtor holds no equity in the property.

The only question remains is whether the property is necessary for reorganization. In order to successfully demonstrate that a successful reorganization is possible, the Debtor must cure the arrearage owed to Byline and the Debtor has not done so in his proposed plan. See In re Stincic, 559 B.R. 890 (Bankr. W.D. Wis. 2016)(holding that debtor failed to satisfy burden of showing that property was necessary to any reorganization reasonably in prospect, where debtor did not have the ability, based on his earnings, to cure his more than $56,000 arrearage on mortgage debt even over the full term of 60-month plan.)

In this case, Debtor has not satisfied his burden. The only method of potential reorganization presented to the court was by modifying Byline Bank’s secured claim. As discussed above, Debtor is not permitted to avoid the anti-modification provisions of Section 1322(b)(2). The court remains unconvinced that there is a reasonable possibility that Debtor can successfully reorganize. As a result, Byline Bank’s motion to modify the stay is granted. Byline has also requested that this court dismiss the case.

  1. Conclusion

Confirmation of the proposed plan is denied for the reasons discussed above. Byline’s Motion to Modify the Automatic Stay is granted. A status on the future of this case is continued to March 1, 2017 at 10:30.

Deborah L. Thorne

United States Bankruptcy Judge

Dated: February 9, 2017

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About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

 

 

Tweeking your mortgage in a Chapter 13 … part one

As a bankruptcy attorney in Mount Vernon, IL for over 20 years, I read through and analyze court rulings throughout the country, as they may be a harbinger of things to come in districts in which I practice and can be used to help Debtors get the financial relief they need.

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Very rarely can you manipulate your home mortgage in a Chapter 13 – that is, you can change the payment terms, interest or amount owed.

One of the criteria is if the home mortgage includes collateral OTHER than your home – another piece of real or personal property for example.

In this case we have a debtor trying to change his home mortgage because at one time the debt was also tied in with commercial real estate and business (non-real) property.

A bankruptcy attorney needs to keep track of these opinions if his clients wish to affect his mortgage payments in a Chapter 13. Especially as this case is from northern Illinois, the opinion and ruling here will be strongly considered in our District!

If a client seeks the advice of a bankruptcy attorney and it is similar to the facts in this case – he or she may face the same result!

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Bankr ND Illinois: Chapter 13 Debtor could Not Modify rights of Secured Creditor in Primary Residence, even though Mortgage also gave creditor Security Interest in Personal Property

The crux of the matter before the court is whether the Debtor can modify the rights of Byline in the Debtor’s Residence.

If the Debtor cannot modify the rights of Byline, the value of the Residence is not relevant as the Debtor’s proposed plan cannot be confirmed. The Debtor, while not disputing that the is the his residence, is trying to distinguish the prohibition against modifying the rights of a lender in a debtor’s primary residence contained in section 1322(b)(2).

The Debtor asserts that section 1322(b)(2) does not apply for two reasons: (1) at the time the loan was made, it was secured by the Residence and the Commercial Property, and (2) the loan documents include as security, personal property and, therefore, the loan is collateralized by more than just the primary residence.

A majority of courts have determined that the petition date is the appropriate date for determining whether the anti-modification provision of § 1322(b)(2) applies to a claim.

On the Petition Date, the Debtor retained only the Residence as Byline’s lien had been released against the Commercial Property through a foreclosure. The fact that the Commercial Property was no longer part of the collateral base leaves the Debtor squarely in the prohibition of the anti-modification under section 1322(b)(2).

Finally, Debtor contends that because the mortgage also grants a security interest in personal property related to the Residence, the anti-modification provision of section 1322(b)(2) is defeated. While the Bankruptcy Code is clear that if a security interest was granted in property other than the debtor’s residence, section 1322(b)(2) might not apply, but if the security interest granted as part of a mortgage in the debtor’s principal residence also grants an interest in rents or other “incidental property”, the anti-modification provision is not impacted.

Thus, under the express terms of these provisions added by BAPCPA, it appears that a lender does not lose its section 1322(b)(2) protection by taking a security interest in any of the listed “incidental property.” In re Inglis, 481 B.R. 480, 482-3 (Bankr. S.D. Ind. 2012). The Debtor has not pointed to any personal property other than “incidental property” that would otherwise destroy the anti-modification provision of section 1322(b)(2). Thus, the Debtor may not modify the rights of Byline. The Debtor’s proposed plan is not confirmable.

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Read the entire opinion here.

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About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

Riding the Circuit: Vienna, Johnson County, IL

As a Mount Vernon, Illinois attorney, I travel throughout the state practicing law and meeting with clients about topics ranging from bankruptcy to estate law, from divorce to litigation. In my travels, I enjoy seeing the courthouses in our county seats. Occasionally in my blog I will stop to describe these wonderful buildings and the towns and cities in which they set.

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Johnson_County_Illinois_1843

From Wikipedia:

Johnson County was organized in 1812 out of Randolph County. It was named for Richard M. Johnson, who was then a U.S. Congressman from Kentucky. In 1813, Johnson commanded a Kentucky regiment at the Battle of the Thames, after which he claimed to have killed Tecumseh in hand-to-hand combat. Johnson went on to be Vice President of the United States.

The population of Vienna was 1,434 at the 2010 census. It is a lovely town and I enjoyed driving around seeing the sights!

The Trail of Tears halfway point commemorative totem and flags are located in the adjacent city park.

The courthouse was built from 1869 to 1871; as county records are unclear on the matter, the courthouse was either the fourth or fifth built in the county and the second or third in Vienna. Architect Niles Llewelly Wickwire designed the courthouse in the Italianate style. The courthouse’s design features narrow arched windows with iron hoods, brick quoins on the corners, triangular pediments above the east and west entrances, and a bracketed cornice. The roof is topped by an octagonal cupola with a clock facing each side of the building. The courthouse has functioned continuously since its opening.

A marker in front of the courthouse gives more details:

“The contract for the present courthouse was let on August 5, 1868 for $38,000. Final payment was made in 1881 with the total cost of $80,000.  When the courthouse was completed, it was one of the most attractive ones in the area. About 1908 the interior of the building was rearranged, fire proof vaults built, a heating plant installed, and a local water supply system added. During the 1960s the courthouse got a much needed facelift when it was sandblasted and tuck pointed. The east and west entrances were sealed up and enclosed into offices to give more room. The clock has been recently repaired and again can be heard striking the hours. Some of the county offices have now moved in a building on the west side of the square in an effort to relieve overcrowding. Much of the work on the grounds of the courthouse was done by the Daniel Chapman Chapter DAR. They were responsible for much of the coping wall around the court square which was completed in 1920. In 1921 the sidewalks were laid. … The cannon in the northwest corner was used during the Civil War. … ”

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 9, 2010

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The courthouse has the familiar design of a long narrow first floor leading to offices as corner circular stairways (with the familiar creaking underfoot) leading to a modern, comfortable courtroom.

The lawn of the courthouse has historical markers and lots of benches to relax on a lovely day. The surrounding shops are typical for a county seat – offices and (open and closed) antique or second-hand shops.

Its age makes it regal and one can imagine standing here one hundred – or even one hundred and fifty – years ago.

A lovely historic courthouse for a lovely historic town!

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About the blogger:

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Grayville, West Salem, Centralia or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

Lincoln portrait to be presented to Jefferson County Courthouse

Local attorneys received this news from their bar association:

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The Illinois Judges Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and their respective foundations, the Illinois Judges Foundation and the Illinois Bar Foundation, in partnership with the Illinois State Historical Society, are presenting a high quality canvas reproduction of a famous Abraham Lincoln portrait from 1860 to the Jefferson County  Courthouse on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

The unveiling ceremony will take place at 11:30 am on the first-floor lobby of the courthouse. The Jefferson County Courthouse was also chosen to feature an array of Lincoln memorabilia and artifacts which will be on display at the unveiling ceremony.

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This is quite an honor for my “home court” and I will be proud to attend! If you are in the area, you should too! During and after the ceremony I intend to take some pictures (if allowed) to share here!