January 23, 2004

Law school hosting training session for state judges

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The impact that federal bankruptcy laws have on state courts is the focus of a free training program for state court judges next month at the law school at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The three-hour training session is from 2 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the law school. The session is for associate, circuit and appellate judges in the Fifth Judicial District.

The American Bankruptcy Institute, which is providing course materials at no charge, is co-sponsoring the session.

"Federal bankruptcy laws affect what state court judges do," said law school Dean Peter C. Alexander. "Sometimes it prevents them from making rulings or having hearings, and lots of times, state court judges don't know the limitations. We thought if we had federal judges talking to state court judges, along with bankruptcy professors, it will help educate them."

Alexander will run the seminar, and several noted bankruptcy judges and law professors also will participate.

Federal bankruptcy judges participating are Kenneth J. Meyers of the Southern District of Illinois; Judge Larry L. Lessen of the Central District of Illinois; and Chief Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald of the Western District of Pennsylvania. Participating professors are Janet A. Flaccus of the University of Arkansas School of Law, and Christopher W. Frost, the associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Alexander plans to have the free training sessions for state court judges in each of the five judicial districts in Illinois. He is now piecing together the program for judges in the Fourth Judicial District. Alexander hopes to have sessions about every six months.

Alexander brought the training sessions with him from The Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University, where he served on the faculty for 11 years.

Providing continuing education and outreach programs is among the goals of "Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment," the long-range blueprint for the growth of the University.