Certification of State-Law Questions by Bankruptcy Courts

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Bankruptcy courts must often decide unsettled questions of state law. This Article seeks to bring to the bankruptcy courts' attention their ability to certify open questions of state law directly to the highest level state court. By identifying existing language in state statutes and rules that permits certification from bankruptcy courts, and drawing on an original study of prior certification of state-law questions arising in bankruptcy proceedings, the Article demonstrates that the mechanism has been available for over forty years, across numerous judicial districts, and involving a wide range of subject areas and types of bankruptcy cases. This Article not only provides this broad range of precedent, but also proposes model language for a local rule and makes recommendations to increase the chances of acceptance of a certified question by the state court. Finally, tables in the Article's appendix provide readers with easy access to state enabling language and past precedent.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-524
Number of pages42
JournalAmerican Bankruptcy Law Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Precedent (Law)
  • Certification of questions of law
  • Bankruptcy courts
  • State laws
  • Bankruptcy -- United States -- Cases
  • Statutes -- United States -- States
  • Abstention doctrine (Law)
  • United States. Supreme Court


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