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Income, Expenses and Related Issues under BAPCPA

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A Roundtable Discussion Featuring Debtor’s Counsel, the U.S. Trustee, Chapter 13 Trustee and the Bench

October 22, 2007

ABI’s Deputy Executive Director Felicia S. Turner moderated a 90-minute roundtable discussion among a judge, a chapter 13 trustee, a U.S. Trustee representative and a debtor attorney regarding issues related to §§707(b) and 1325 of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). The panelists discussed specific issues, arguments and rulings related to income and expense calculations under the means test, special circumstances to rebut the means test, dismissal and plan payments when the means test is not applicable or rebutted, and related issues unique to chapter 13s, such as the meaning of projected disposable income and whether the applicable commitment period for a plan is a temporal requirement or based on a multiplier.


Felicia S. Turner became the deputy executive director of the American Bankruptcy Institute in September 2007.  Immediately prior to that, she was the U.S. Trustee for Regions 20 and 21, managing 12 offices covering 13 federal judicial districts and four federal circuits in Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico. She oversaw the coordination of the U.S. Trustee offices’ participation in bankruptcy cases under all chapters to preserve the integrity of the judicial system, including the development and implementation of policy and ensuring regional and national consistency in and appropriateness of the federal government’s legal positions.  Prior to her appointment in 2003 as the U.S. Trustee for Region 21, Ms. Turner was a partner in the Atlanta-based law firm of Troutman Sanders, LLP, where she was a member of the bankruptcy practice group and the litigation section, mainly representing creditors and debtors in chapter 11 cases.  Before joining Troutman Sanders in 1999, she practiced with Sullivan, Mountjoy, Stainback & Miller, PSC, in Owensboro, Ky., where her work ranged from representing debtors and creditors in consumer cases to serving as debtor-in-possession counsel for Big Rivers Electric Corporation.  Ms. Turner is a frequent panelist and speaker at ABI and bar meetings all over the country and served on the ABI’s Caribbean Insolvency Symposium Advisory Board.  During 2005 she served on the U.S. Trustee Program’s committee for implementation of the provisions of BAPCPA.  Until taking her new position, she also served on the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges’ liaison committee with the U.S. Trustee Program.  Ms. Turner received her law degree from Duke University School of Law in Durham, N.C., in 1994 and her undergraduate degree in mathematics magna cum laude from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana in 1991.


Hon. Mary Grace Diehl was appointed to the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia in February 2004.  Previously, she was a partner in the Litigation Section of Troutman Sanders LLP, where she chaired the Bankruptcy Practice Group.  She received her undergraduate degree in history summa cum laude from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., and her law degree cum laude from Harvard Law School.  Ms. Diehl has chaired the Bankruptcy Sections of both the Atlanta Bar Association and the State Bar of Georgia.  She is a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy, was president of the Southeastern Bankruptcy Law Institute and chaired the Women in the Profession Committee of the Atlanta Bar Association.

Melissa R. Burgess is one of three Civil Enforcement Unit trial attorneys in the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST) in Washington, D.C.  She advises and consults with the 95 field offices of the U.S. Trustee Program on issues related to §§707(b) of BAPCPA.  Ms. Burgess joined the EOUST in November 2005 after five years in the Los Angeles, Houston and Washington, D.C., offices of Dewey Ballantine LLP, where she primarily represented secured creditors and equity security-holders in complex chapter 11 cases.

Richard H. Thomson received his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1984 and is the managing partner of Clark & Washington, P.C., a multi-state law firm specializing in representing debtors in consumer bankruptcy cases. Mr. Thomson is the president of the Metro Atlanta Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney Group (MACBAG), an associate member of the NACTT, and a member of NACBA and ABI.

Mary Ida Townson has been a standing chapter 13 trustee in Atlanta since May 2003. Her caseload is divided between the Atlanta and Rome Divisions. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Townson represented both debtors and creditors in consumer cases for several years. In addition, Ms. Townson was a chapter 7 panel trustee from 1998-2000. Ms. Townson is a member of and past chair of the Bankruptcy Section of the State Bar of Georgia and is a member of the National Association of Chapter 13 Trustees and ABI. She is admitted to practice in Georgia and New York. Ms. Townson graduated from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., in 1987 and received her J.D. from the University of Georgia in Athens in 1990.


Materials for this conference included an outline written by the ABI’s current resident scholar, as well as other relevant articles and information.

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