In re: Jacqueline C. Melcher

Filing 40

ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF BANKRUPTCY COURT (and denying 39 ) by Judge William Alsup. (whalc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/30/2017) The deputy clerk hereby certifies that on October 2, 2017, a copy of this order was served by sending it via first-class mail to the address of each non-CM/ECF user listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing. Modified on 10/2/2017 (afmS, COURT STAFF).

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 IN RE JACQUELINE MELCHER No. C 16-05982 WHA 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF BANKRUPTCY COURT 13 14 / 15 INTRODUCTION 16 17 This is an appeal from the bankruptcy court’s order denying debtor’s request for leave to 18 file objections to the Trustee and his attorney’s final fees. The bankruptcy court’s order is 19 AFFIRMED. 20 21 STATEMENT Debtor and appellant Jacqueline Melcher filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2001. 22 Her case was converted to Chapter 7 in September 2008. Throughout the bankruptcy 23 proceedings, which lasted over a decade and spawned multiple appeals in multiple forums, 24 debtor’s repeated opposition and persistent litigation in response to the Trustee and bankruptcy 25 court’s decisions caused the Trustee to incur substantial and unnecessary legal fees relating to 26 his administration of the estate. Examples of debtor’s costly and obstructive tactics have been 27 chronicled in detail in prior decisions and need not be repeated here. Just two nonexhaustive 28 examples will suffice to illustrate the point. 1 In 2014, the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel required the bankruptcy court to “enter an 2 appropriate order to restrain debtor’s further abuses” of the bankruptcy process. After 3 describing those abuses at length, the panel concluded: 4 In 2008, the Ninth Circuit determined that Jacqueline was abusing the bankruptcy process. Inexplicably, she has been shielded by the bankruptcy court and allowed to interfere with the Trustee’s administration of the estate without restraint for more than five years since then. Despite the Trustee’s multiple, desperate attempts to obtain the assistance of the bankruptcy court in curtailing Jacqueline’s abusive behavior, she remains unchecked. The bankruptcy court’s denial of the Trustee’s most recent attempt, made through the Standing Motion, was an abuse of discretion. . . . [T]he bankruptcy court is instructed to make appropriate findings . . . and to implement an appropriate prefiling order to address the outrageous conduct of Jacqueline evidenced by the docket and her voluminous filings, that apparently will be interminable unless she is restrained. 5 6 7 8 9 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 In re Melcher, No. NC-13-1168, 2014 WL 1410235 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2014). Also in 2014, Judge Ronald Whyte withdrew the reference to the bankruptcy court and granted the Trustee’s motion for sanctions “to compensate the victims of Ms. Melcher’s litigation abuses,” finding that her conduct had been “clearly unreasonable and vexatious” and that her “repeated filings and unrelenting interference with the Trustee have been both reckless and frivolous.” In re Melcher, No. C-13-04930, 2014 WL 4954776 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 1, 2014) (Judge Ronald Whyte).1 In 2016, the Trustee and his attorneys filed their final applications for compensation. Debtor requested permission to file an objection thereto. On September 26, 2016, the bankruptcy court denied her request, finding that (1) the proposed objection was duplicative of prior filings on which the bankruptcy court had previously ruled, (2) debtor had no standing to object because the estate was insolvent and would never become solvent, (3) the proposed objection did not comply with the bankruptcy court’s prior instructions, and (4) debtor’s request was motivated by an effort to harass or delay the Trustee’s closing of her estate. 25 26 27 1 28 Judge Whyte deferred ruling on the amount of sanctions pending completion of the bankruptcy case and the bankruptcy court’s determination of the amount of attorney’s fees to award. That action — along with several of debtor’s bankruptcy appeals — was subsequently reassigned to the undersigned judge. 2 1 2 ANALYSIS The bankruptcy court’s decision to reject a proposed filing under a vexatious litigant 3 order is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Cf. In re Fillbach, 223 F.3d 1089, 1090–91 (9th Cir. 4 2000); see also De Long v. Hennessey, 912 F.2d 1144, 1146 (9th Cir. 1990) (a vexatious litigant 5 order is reviewed for abuse of discretion). Its findings of fact are reviewed for clear error. In re 6 Int’l Fibercom, Inc., 503 F.3d 933, 940 (9th Cir. 2007). Debtor bears the burden of providing 7 an adequate record on appeal. See In re Drysdale, 248 B.R. 386, 388 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2000). 8 9 A prior order continued the deadline for debtor to perfect the record to June 5 (Dkt. No. 33). On June 12, she filed a voluminous set of documents — most of which had no apparent relevance to this appeal — labeled “Excerpts of the Record” (Dkt. No. 35). Before that, on June 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 9, she filed her opening brief, which mostly addresses irrelevant issues and describes her 12 narrative of what happened throughout her bankruptcy proceedings (Dkt. No. 34). Her reply 13 brief, for the most part, does the same (Dkt. No. 38). Even assuming for the sake of argument 14 that this order should consider debtor’s late-filed excerpts of record, she has shown no 15 reversible error in the bankruptcy court’s September 26 order.2 16 The gist of debtor’s challenge to the bankruptcy court’s September 26 order seems to be 17 that she believes previous orders had preserved her “right” to object to the Trustee and his 18 attorney’s fees at the end of the bankruptcy case (see Dkt. No. 34 at 8; Dkt. No. 38 at 2–4). Her 19 excerpts of record begin with what she entitled “Bankruptcy Court Orders preserving the 20 Appellant’s right to object to the fees and expenses of the Trustee and his attorney” (Dkt. No. 21 35 at 2). The excerpt in question includes prior orders of the bankruptcy court from 2009 and 22 2011, wherein the bankruptcy court authorized payments by the Trustee for interim 23 compensation and expense reimbursement but reserved debtor’s objections thereto until 24 consideration of final applications (id. at 3–7). 25 26 27 28 2 After briefing completed, debtor filed another motion for “clarification,” asking if the Court received her excerpts of record and requesting permission “to re-file the designations with the Bankruptcy court” (Dkt. No. 39). As explained, debtor’s documents labeled “Excerpts of Record” were filed on the docket in this matter. Otherwise, her motion for “clarification” is DENIED. 3 1 Those prior orders merely indicated that the bankruptcy court would revisit debtor’s 2 previously-filed objections upon consideration of the Trustee and his attorneys’ final 3 applications. Contrary to debtor, those orders in no way guaranteed her any right to file new 4 objections to the final applications, particularly in light of the intervening entry of a vexatious 5 litigant order against her in 2014, under which any future filings would be subject to the 6 approval of the bankruptcy court. Debtor has challenged neither the bankruptcy court’s 7 exercise of discretion in denying her permission to file a new objection nor its underlying 8 findings of fact that her proposed new objection violated the vexatious litigant order. Her 9 reference to the bankruptcy court’s prior orders, without more, shows no reversible error in the bankruptcy court’s order denying her request for permission to file a new objection in 2016. 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 CONCLUSION The bankruptcy court’s order is AFFIRMED. Judgment will follow. 13 14 IT IS SO ORDERED. 15 16 Dated: September 30, 2017. WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?