Distinguished Service Award
accomplishments in improving the administration of justice in the insolvency
and bankruptcy field, primarily arising from volunteer activities (rather
than services to a client or as a judge or other professional).
L. NORTON, JR.
years recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, the Honorable
William L. Norton, Jr., is well known to those working in the insolvency
field. It is an honor to present the American College of Bankruptcys
Distinguished Service Award. Judge Norton has set a high standard for
all of us. One would assume that the criteria for the award are based
on his career. They are: significant accomplishments in improving the
administration of justice in the insolvency and bankruptcy field; distinguished
service consistently rendered over a considerable period of time; and
a career consistent with the goals and purposes of the College.
Many of us first became familiar with Judge Norton as a result of his
Pine Gate decision. Matter of Pine Gate Associates, Ltd.,
1976 U.S. Dist. Lexis 17366 (N.D. Ga. B. Ct. 1976). In that case, Judge
Norton breathed life into a little used reorganization tool, Chapter
XII of the Bankruptcy Act. As Judge Nortons opinion noted, Chapter
XII allowed the debtor to satisfy a nonrecourse, secured claim by payment
in cash of the value of the collateral. This "cramdown" was
described by Judge Norton rather colorfully in his opinion as "a
self-evident, vivid term of immediate understanding, perhaps requiring
no explanation. It creates an instant correct connotation of the involuntary
administration of bad medicine upon a recalcitrant victim, the secured
creditor who opposes the effects of the reorganization proceedings in
the Bankruptcy Court." Id. at 9.
Judge Norton has had a remarkable career and has contributed immeasurably
to the integrity and standing of insolvency practitioners:
- Judge Norton was a Trial Attorney and Special Assistant to the United
States Attorney General, Tax Division, Washington, D.C., and an Assistant
Attorney General of Georgia and Chief Counsel for the Georgia Department
- He authored several ground-breaking and revolutionary decisions
in the Pine Gate case and reinvigorated Chapter XII in
the 1970s when confronted with numerous Chapter XII cases
in a declining Atlanta real estate market;
- Judge Norton was a member of the Standing Faculty of the Federal
Judicial Center for the Regional Seminars for Bankruptcy Judges and
Newly Appointed Judges;
- Judge Norton authored a small book on real property arrangements
under Chapter XII of the Bankruptcy Act of 1898 and co-authored
Evidence and Trials Under the Bankruptcy Act with Judge Barry
- Judge Norton took on the ambitious task of creating a multi-volume
bankruptcy law treatise designed to compete with Colliers treatise
on bankruptcy, and Norton Bankruptcy Law and Practice (2d Ed.) is
up to thirteen volumes and is produced on CD Rom Lexis, CD Rom Westlaw,
and On-line Westlaw;
- Judge Norton also created and published the Norton Adviser,
a monthly newsletter, in 1982 and it is still going strong, and shortly
after that he produced a one-volume Norton Handbook on Trustees,
DIPs and Committees;
- Judge Norton also produced a two-volume pamphlet edition on the
Bankruptcy Code and Bankruptcy Rules, with extensive historical comments,
which were, along with a Quick Reference on Bankruptcy Code and
Rules Small Pocket Edition selected by Committee of the Administrative
Office of the U.S. Courts and a Committee of the Federal Judicial
Center to distribute to the federal judiciary;
- Judge Norton established his well-known Institutes on Bankruptcy
Law to reward those contributing to his publications, and these have
since developed a life of their own and are remarkable seminars given
each year in Park City, Utah, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Las Vegas,
- Judge Norton authored several opinions in Chapter 11 cases finding
the Emergency Rule promulgated after the Supreme Courts decision
in the Northern Pipe Line case which found the Emergency Rule
case unconstitutional, and in 1994, along with several other prominent
bankruptcy judges, with the legal assistance of Richard Liebs
New York law firm, initiated a lawsuit seeking to establish that the
Administrative Office directive was unconstitutional; and
- Judge Norton, after his retirement as a Bankruptcy Judge, served
as an Examiner in the UNR Industries Chapter 11 case and
achieved a consensual plan which caused the U.S. Trustee in Chicago
to praise Judge Nortons services "as artfully using an
iron fist and a velvet glove."
am sure many of you here this afternoon are aware of many of these accomplishments.
But what you may not know is he is the primary reason you are here.
In order to tell that story, I quote from Judge Chandler Watson, Jr.s
letter nominating Judge Norton for the Award.
He attended the American Bar Association meeting in August 1978,
in Chicago, and witnessed the discussions of the bankruptcy court
jurisdiction issue and the final vote by a substantial majority
of the Business Bankruptcy Committee, in favor of the Article III
provisions contained in the House Bill.
As did I, Bill Norton maintained that Bankruptcy Judges routinely
exercised "the judicial power of the United States" and
that litigants were entitled to an independent, protected Article III
judge as provided to other litigants in federal courts. We regretted
that the Bankruptcy Commission reversed itself on this issue, and
he was very impressed with the analysis of the jurisdictional issue
in the House Report. Bill Norton used to say that when he came on
the bench he was shocked to observe the inferiority complex that
many of the "referees-in-bankruptcy" and the bankruptcy
bar seemed to harbor. He argued that the reason that the general
bar sometimes had little respect for the bankruptcy bar and alleged
the existence of a "bankruptcy ring" was because of the
status of the appointing authority over the referees, plus the delegated
jurisdictional and dual intermediate appellate system. He felt that
respect for bankruptcy practice and bankruptcy lawyers among the
mainstream bar and public would never receive the level that the
important bankruptcy practice and very good bankruptcy lawyers deserved
until the court was an Article III court.
A month after the Chicago meeting he witnessed the meeting of the
Delegates of the American Bar Association in Atlanta and was disappointed
that they overwhelmingly rejected the recommendation of the Business
Bankruptcy Committee . . . .
Bill decided from the tone of the Delegates who generally disdained
the quality of the bankruptcy practice that the ABA would never
endorse recommendations of the Business Bankruptcy Committee on
bankruptcy issues such as an Article III court that were opposed
by the hierarchy of the federal judiciary. He soon started advocating
an organization different from the ABA, to include all of the disciplines
of the bankruptcy process with the objective to study, recommend
and counsel with Congress and have more influence on bankruptcy
legislation. By fall 1979 he had written a memorandum which he shared
with some judicial colleagues and his Contributing Editors, including
probably you, Dick Lieb, and Jonathan Landers, which outlined the
purposes and objectives of a membership association which would
be open to include all participants in the bankruptcy arena. The
memo also proposed that whenever the membership organization attained
some maturity an independent College of Bankruptcy Professionals
should be organized to honor bankruptcy attorneys and others considered
the most distinguished by their peers.
Judge Norton served on the ABI Executive Committee for several
years before becoming the third President in 1989, after his resignation
as Bankruptcy Judge in 1986.
At a board meeting [of the ABI] in Washington on February 3, 1989
prior to becoming President of ABI in May 1989, he was asked whether
he felt that ABI was sufficiently established to begin thinking
about sponsoring the college of professionals that Judge Norton
had been advocating. He responded favorably, and Judge George Paine
made a motion (which carried) that Bill Norton be appointed as a
Committee of one to organize the College. Judge Norton already had
submitted copies of By Laws of the College of Trial Lawyers and
two or three more to all ABI directors for review. Subsequently,
he enlarged his organizational committee and you were included in
that project of developing the By Laws and launching the College.
[In addition to his efforts to establish a College for the insolvency
profession, Judge Norton conceived] the idea of a . . .
distinguished bankruptcy service award . . . .
Norton, it gives me great pleasure and it is my distinct honor to award
to you the American College of Bankruptcy Distinguished Service Award.
You clearly deserve to enter the ranks of such distinguished recipients
of this award as Professors Frank R. Kennedy and Lawrence P. King. Perhaps
you had this in mind when your fertile imagination conceived of this
R. Neal Batson
Hon. Ralph R. Mabey
Salt Lake City, UT
David T. Sykes, Esq.
Raymond Shapiro, Esq.
|| J. Ronald Trost, Esq.
New York, New York
|| Harvey R. Miller, Esq.
New York, New York
|| Jerry Patchan
|| Leonard M. Rosen
New York, New York
|| Hon. William L. Norton, Jr.
Los Angeles, California
K. Smith, Esq.
M. Treister, Esq.
Los Angeles, California
S. Forman, Esq.
Lawrence P. King
New York, New York
Frank R. Kennedy
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Service Award Committee