After filing for Bankruptcy, people naturally wonder “Where do I go for court?” Like all lawyers, we will give our clients the location of the courthouse, the location of your first meeting of creditors if it is held in a different location, and we even have a document with directions and tips on parking, security procedures, and getting to the appropriate room. For the Atlanta Courthouse, this can sometimes be a hassle for people unfamiliar with the downtown area. If you are interested in a little more detail on how Bankruptcy Courts are set up, here you go.
Bankruptcy Courts are part of the federal court system, which operates separately from state courts. Unlike state courts, there is not a federal District Court or Bankruptcy Court in every county or in every large city. Federal courts in the United States are divided into twelve “circuits,” numbered 1-11 plus the D.C. Circuit, and each has a circuit Court of Appeals. Each circuit, other than the D.C. Circuit, includes multiple states. For example, the Eleventh Circuit includes Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Each circuit is then divided into 94 “districts.” In Georgia, we have the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts. A few smaller states may have only one or two districts. Each district has a U.S. District Court and a Bankruptcy Court, as well as the main offices of the Clerk of Court and United States Trustee or Administrator. Each district is further divided into “divisions,” which have satellite courts for the district. For example, the Northern District of Georgia is divided into the Atlanta Division (the main location) and satellite divisions in Newnan, Gainesville and Rome (click here for a map and counties served by each district). Some divisions are busy enough to have a full time Judge assigned to the division and others have judges who may only spend a couple days a week at the division. Bankruptcy judges will occasionally rotate assignments in the satellite divisions.
Lets look at an example. If you live in Fayetteville, Georgia you would file your case and attend court in the Newnan Division, of the Northern District of Georgia. If you appealed something in your case, it would be heard by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (likely by the District Court judge assigned to the Newnan division). The next appeal would go to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and then to the United States Supreme Court (which very infrequently accepts Bankruptcy appeals). Hopefully, I have not bored or confused you at this point!