How Cases Move Through Federal Courts
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cases
Shortly after the petition is filed, the case is assigned to a bankruptcy judge and added to the docket of the U.S. trustee. U.S. trustees relieve bankruptcy judges of routine matters, such as supervising cases and conducting certain meetings. They also maintain a list of people qualified to serve as case trustees in bankruptcy cases, typically lawyers and accountants. The case trustee’s role in a Chapter 7 case is to liquidate the debtor’s property, pursue rights the debtor may have to additional money, and distribute the proceeds (the bankruptcy estate) to creditors.
The U.S. trustee appoints an interim trustee to serve in the case. In theory, the interim trustee’s role is to take possession of, preserve, and protect the estate until the creditors elect a case trustee to preside over the liquidation. In most cases, however, the election never takes place and the interim trustee automatically becomes the case trustee.