Rule 5004


Rule 5004. Disqualification

(a) Disqualification of Judge. A bankruptcy judge shall be governed by 28 U.S.C. §455, and disqualified from presiding over the proceeding or contested matter in which the disqualifying circumstances 1 arises or, if appropriate, shall be disqualified from presiding over the case.

(b) Disqualification of Judge from Allowing Compensation. A bankruptcy judge shall be disqualified from allowing compensation to a person who is a relative of the bankruptcy judge or with whom the judge is so connected as to render it improper for the judge to authorize such compensation.

(As amended Apr. 29, 1985, eff. Aug. 1, 1985; Mar. 30, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1983

Subdivision (a). Disqualification of a bankruptcy judge is governed by 28 U.S.C. §455. That section provides that the judge “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned” or under certain other circumstances. In a case under the Code it is possible that the disqualifying circumstance will be isolated to an adversary proceeding or contested matter. The rule makes it clear that when the disqualifying circumstance is limited in that way the judge need only disqualify himself from presiding over that adversary proceeding or contested matter.

It is possible, however, that even if the disqualifying circumstance arises in connection with an adversary proceeding, the effect will be so pervasive that disqualification from presiding over the case is appropriate. This distinction is consistent with the definition of “proceeding” in 28 U.S.C. §455(d)(1).

Subdivision (b) precludes a bankruptcy judge from allowing compensation from the estate to a relative or other person closely associated with the judge. The subdivision applies where the judge has not appointed or approved the employment of the person requesting compensation. Perhaps the most frequent application of the subdivision will be in the allowance of administrative expenses under §503(b)(3)–(5) of the Code. For example, if an attorney or accountant is retained by an indenture trustee who thereafter makes a substantial contribution in a chapter 11 case, the attorney or accountant may seek compensation under §503(b)(4). If the attorney or accountant is a relative of or associated with the bankruptcy judge, the judge may not allow compensation to the attorney or accountant. Section 101(34) defines relative and Rule 9001 incorporates the definitions of the Code. See the Advisory Committee's Note to Rule 5002.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1985 Amendment

Subdivision (a) was affected by the Bankruptcy Amendments and Federal Judgeship Act of 1984, P.L. 98–353, 98 Stat. 333. The 1978 Bankruptcy Reform Act, P.L. 95–598, included bankruptcy judges in the definition of United States judges in 28 U.S.C. §451 and they were therefore subject to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §455. This was to become effective on April 1, 1984, P.L. 95–598, §404(b). Section 113 of P.L. 98–353, however, appears to have rendered the amendment to 28 U.S.C. §451 ineffective. Subdivision (a) of the rule retains the substance and intent of the earlier draft by making bankruptcy judges subject to 28 U.S.C. §455.

The word “associated” in subdivision (b) has been changed to “connected” in order to conform with Rule 5002(b).

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

The rule is amended to be gender neutral. The bankruptcy judge before whom the matter is pending determines whether disqualification is required.

1 So in original. Probably should be “circumstance”.

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