J. Rich Leonard,
Dean of Campbell Law School
More than a year ago, I sat down with the Campbell Law Review Board of Editors to brainstorm about topics for a symposium. The search for an issue that has both significant substantive content and topical appeal is a surprisingly difficult exercise. We honed in on municipal bankruptcy, and, as this Issue makes clear, our choice was a wise one.As more and more municipalities across the country face the realities of financial commitments made long ago, Chapter 9 is a powerful influence. Even though the number of filings remains small, it is the elephant on the municipal savannah, with its very presence influencing negotiations and decisions.
Our first task was to assemble a cast of participants taken from the finest lawyers, academics, and judges working in this area. With some confidential help from my former colleagues on the bankruptcy bench in identifying who these people are, we were successful beyond our wildest dreams. The group of speakers that assembled in Raleigh on October 17, 2014, was the dream team of experts in this sophisticated area. A packed house hung on every word of one superb panel after another. My greatest fear—that Judge Rhodes would set an emergency hearing in the Detroit case for that date and decimate our program—did not come to pass.
For a bankruptcy judge, the filing of a Chapter 9 case is akin to a hurricane making landfall in your district. Everything about it is different from anything else that you do, from the manner in which the case is assigned, the required eligibility hearing, the piecemeal incorporation of other provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, the underlying constitutional issues, and above all, the intense public and political interest in the proceedings. It is precisely this interweaving of issues that makes the topic such a fascinating one for academic treatment. We hope you enjoy our Symposium Issue.