ollowing the adoption of the United States Constitution in 1789, Congress exercised its power under Article I to establish inferior federal courts. The Judiciary Act of 1789 created both district and circuit courts. Congress established one district court in each state and assigned each state to a circuit. This law organized three circuits. With the addition of new states, Congress created more district courts, and in 1802 it redivided the country into six circuits. A second reorganization took place in 1807 and an additional circuit was created. Thus began the history of the Seventh Circuit Court out of which the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Indiana was eventually created.
he District of Indiana was divided into the Northern and Southern districts in 1928. The senior district court judge in the state at the time of the division became the district judge for the Southern District and the junior district judge for the state of Indiana became the district judge of the Northern District. The Bankruptcy Code of 1978, which took effect on October 1, 1979, provided for a separate bankruptcy clerk's office. Prior to the 1978 Code, the district court clerk handled all bankruptcy petition filings and payments of all fees.
The Northern District of Indiana is one of 94 districts in the United States. It is comprised of 32 counties divided into the following three divisions:
Fort Wayne Division
Comprised of the counties of Adams, Allen, Blackford, DeKalb, Grant, Huntington, Jay, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells, and Whitley. Court for the Fort Wayne Division is held in Fort Wayne.
South Bend Division
Comprised of the counties of Cass, Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, LaPorte, Marshall, Miami, Pulaski, St. Joseph, Starke, and Wabash. Court for the South Bend Division is held in South Bend.
Hammond Division at Lafayette
Comprised of the counties of Benton, Carroll, Jasper, Newton, Tippecanoe, Warren, and White. Court for the Hammond Division at Lafayette is held at Lafayette.
Comprised of the counties of Lake and Porter. Court for the Hammond Division is held in Hammond.
rior to the establishment of a separate bankruptcy clerk's office, disposition of bankruptcy cases was decided by bankruptcy referees.
Charles A. Burnett, whose appointment date is unknown, handled cases in the Hammond Division at Lafayette. He died on November 23, 1942.
William B. Duff, who was responsible for cases filed in the Fort Wayne Division, was succeeded by Benjamin F. Heaton appointed on August 19, 1941. Referee Heaton resigned on November 20, 1943. Heaton was succeeded by William G. Keane. Referee Keane was appointed to his post on November 13, 1943. On July 1, 1955, he was assigned all the cases in the South Bend Division. He resigned in November 1960.
In the South Bend Division, Alvin F. Marsh was appointed referee prior to 1942 and resigned on April 26, 1944. He was succeeded by Alban Smith who served as referee through July 1947. Smith was succeeded by Henry R. Sackett who held this post until June 30, 1955. In addition to his South Bend Division caseload, Sackett also handled cases in the Hammond Division.
Alfred P. Draper was appointed referee for the Hammond Division on April 1, 1942, and resigned on June 30, 1947. Russell H. Nehrig was appointed referee on November 1, 1955, and served the Hammond Division until his retirement on June 27, 1984.
he 1984 amendments to the 1978 Code delegated appointment power of bankruptcy judges to the United States Court of Appeals. Prior to that time, the district court had jurisdiction to appoint bankruptcy referees. Currently, each bankruptcy judge serves for a term of 14 years, subject to reappointment, but may continue to perform the duties of the office until a successor has been named. In districts having more than one bankruptcy judge, the district court selects one judge to serve as chief judge. It is the role of the chief judge to ensure that the rules of the bankruptcy and district courts are observed, and that the business of the bankruptcy court is handled effectively and expeditiously.
Judge Rodibaugh was appointed to the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Indiana, to the position of Referee in Bankruptcy in 1960, and was appointed a bankruptcy judge on November 11,1972. He handled cases filed in the South Bend and Fort Wayne Divisions until his retirement on September 30, 1986. Judge Rodibaugh served in a recall status until January 1999.
Judge Rodibaugh died August 7, 2003, at the age of 87. Judge Rodibaugh established a level of civility and professionalism that was admired and respected by all who knew him. The Bankruptcy Court in South Bend is named in his honor.
t the present time, the Northern District of Indiana has three judges in active service, and one in recall status. Appointed on May 20, 1985, Judge Kent Lindquist served as Chief Judge of the bankruptcy court from November 1, 1986, until January 2003. Judge Lindquist retired from active service in January 2003, and currently serves in recall status. Judge Lindquist maintains his office in Hammond and handles cases filed in the Hammond Division. Judge Harry C. Dees, Jr. was appointed on October 1, 1986, and served as Chief Judge from January 2003 to January 2010. He maintains his office in South Bend and handles cases filed in the South Bend Division. Judge Robert E. Grant was appointed on August 17, 1987, and in January 2010, was appointed Chief Judge, a position he currently holds. Judge Grant is headquartered in Fort Wayne and handles cases filed in the Fort Wayne Division and the Hammond Division at Lafayette. Judge J. Philip Klingeberger was appointed on June 16, 2003, and is headquartered in Hammond. Judge Klingeberger handles cases filed in the Hammond Division.