Looking Back on Bankruptcy Judging

Looking Back on Bankruptcy Judging

Journal Issue: 
Column Name: 
Journal Article: 

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt of the remarks delivered by Judge Bayt on Sept. 20 at a retirement reception given in his honor by the Commercial and Bankruptcy Law Section of the Indianapolis Bar Association. Judge Bayt retired after 24 continuous years on the bankruptcy bench.

e had a rare opportunity handed to us in 1979 when Congress passed the new Bankruptcy Code. No one really knew what the Code meant back then. We had no precedent to guide us. All we had was a bare-bones statute, and we needed to put some flesh on it and some meaning into the words of the statute. So, for the next 10 years, you lawyers litigated and we adjudicated, every day, section by section and line by line, to where we created a substantial body of law and procedure to guide the bar on what to expect when they came to court. I'm proud to have been a part of that tremendous effort that we pursued together.

I love the law, I love its complexity, and I love its simplicity. I love its boldness and black letters, its nuances and its subtleties. The law is an enigma. The law is a revelation. And it was you, the lawyers, who brought out all those properties and traits in the law. All the nuances, all the subtleties, all the simplicities, and all the complexities you brought out in your arguments and writings presented to the court. And I reveled in that process.

After having traveled all over the country, having talked to my fellow judges in every jurisdiction, and having worked with all of you these past years, there is no doubt in my mind that you are one of the best bars in the country. Your work is first-class, your ethics are among the highest, and your demeanor in the courtroom brings honor to the entire system. I am so proud of the way you conducted yourself when you entered the courtroom. Your civility toward one another lent credence toward the entire process. It made your clients feel that they were in a court of law and were going to receive a reasoned judgment based on the law and facts that you presented. I know that you beat each other up pretty good out in the hallway, but once you stepped into the courtroom, you showed respect for the court, respect for each other and respect for the system. And that's the best investment you have ever made.

We have come a long way from the days when we had no law clerks and no courtroom deputies to where we, as a court of commerce, now provide an integral service to society as a whole, to where we are now paying back each year over $25 million to creditors in chapter 13, to where we are reorganizing businesses and industries in chapter 11 that have made Indianapolis and the Southern District of Indiana a vibrant and economically healthy place to live, and to where we are giving deserving debtors a fresh start so they can go on to become productive members of society.

I'm proud to have made that journey with you and to have been a part of it all. I've had a great time. I'm going to miss all of you, and Iwill think of you often. You are the best. Thank you for this evening.

Bankruptcy Code: 
Journal Date: 
Wednesday, November 1, 2000