In the late 1970s, Congress enacted comprehensive legislation that significantly revised bankruptcy law. Among its various provisions, the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 (11 U.S.C.A. § 101 et seq.) reorganized the structure of the bankruptcy courts. Bankruptcy matters are now heard by a bankruptcy judge. Bankruptcy courts serve as adjuncts to U.S. district courts and have jurisdiction to administer and enforce federal bankruptcy law. A bankruptcy court operates in each federal district. Appeals from this court go to the district court or, if the parties agree, directly to the court of appeals that has jurisdiction over the district.
The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994, Pub. L. 103–394, Oct. 22, 1994, 108 Stat. 4106, authorizes bankruptcy judges to hold status conferences to determine the progress of a case and to attempt to expedite the case's conclusion. Pursuant to a status conference, a judge may issue orders that prescribe limitations and conditions necessary to ensure the economic handling of the case. The act also authorizes bankruptcy judges to conduct jury trials with the consent of all parties.
Bankruptcy judges are appointed by the circuit court for the judicial district in which the judges will sit. They serve for a term of 14 years.
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