Ex-U.S. bankruptcy judge returns to bench after more than 15 years

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 11, 2015 11:06 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - James Garrity, a partner in the law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius, is returning to the bench as a U.S. bankruptcy judge in New York after more than a 15-year absence, court officials announced on Wednesday.

Garrity, who previously served as a bankruptcy judge in Manhattan from 1991 to 1999, will succeed retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper on Feb. 17, according to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees bankruptcy judge succession in the Southern District of New York.

“We are pleased that James L. Garrity, Jr. will be sitting again on the SDNY bankruptcy bench," Robert Katzmann, the circuit’s chief judge, said in a statement.

Gropper is one of three bankruptcy judges who have retired since 2014, along with James Peck and Robert Gerber, representing one third of the judges in the prominent bankruptcy court.

Garrity, who co-chairs Morgan Lewis’ restructuring practice, is a former federal prosecutor. He is a graduate of Holy Cross College and the St. John’s University School of Law.

Gropper, who was appointed to the bench in 2000, oversaw Eastman Kodak Co’s restructuring and the pollution litigation surrounding Anadarko Petroleum Corp’s acquisition of the Kerr-McGee energy and chemical company.

That case led to Anadarko’s agreement to pay more than $5 billion to resolve environmental liability claims against Tronox Ltd, a paint and chemicals company that was spun off from Kerr-McGee before Anadarko’s purchase.

Bankruptcy judges are appointed to 14-year terms. Unlike federal district court judges, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, bankruptcy judges are non-political appointees.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Grant McCool)