Bankruptcy judges are unusual creatures in the law. If you file bankruptcy, you often never actually come face-to-face with your judge. In many cases, even your attorney might not have to appear before the judge formally. Yet the judge is ultimately the one who makes everything in bankruptcy happen.
Bankruptcy court judgeships are created by Congress under Article I of the United States Constitution. So they are federal judges. But since they are not created under Article III which established the federal judiciary like the U.S. Supreme Court, bankruptcy judges are not appointed for life. Instead, they are appointed for 14-year terms. And they are appointed by the judges of the Circuit Court of Appeals which oversees the particular district.
In America, "Thou shalt protect your credit rating" is the Eleventh Commandment. Some folks track their credit score the way cardiologiststrack blood pressure and cholesterol.
It's true: Your Fico score is important. What you pay for credit will start - and sometimes end - with that one number, generated by the secretive math wizards at Fair Issac. A good number can save thousands over the course of a home or even car loan.
But like any asset, your "good credit" costs something to acquire and keep.
Being in debt -- and particularly if you can't pay -- might be the last real taboo in America. With marital counseling on Dr. Phil and sex bragged about on MySpace, there aren't many taboos left for Americans. We'll talk to almost anyone about the most intimate things -- except debt.
Every bankruptcy lawyer is familiar with the problem: We are the financial equivalent of the VD clinic. A lot of people need our help and no one wants to talk about it. Almost every person who files bankruptcy asks who will find out they had to file bankruptcy because they fear discovery or they think they're the only ones who have to go through it. And debt collectors thrive on this fear.