Steven W. Rhodes, Retired Chief Judge, US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

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Steven W. Rhodes, Retired Chief Judge, US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, joins JAMS following 30 years of distinguished service to the federal judiciary. He is best known for his role presiding over the City of Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.

Since his retirement in 2015, Mr. Rhodes has served as the City of Detroit Public Schools Transition Manager, an office created to lead the City’s public schools out of difficulty in the wake of the larger bankruptcy. 

Mr. Rhodes is known for his keen intellect, ability to manage complex, high-stakes litigation and creativity in solving problems.

ADR Experience and Qualifications
Mr. Rhodes has extensive experience in the resolution of complex disputes in the following areas:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Business/Commercial
  • Class Action/Mass Tort
  • Fraud/Ponzi

Representative Matters

  • Selected Decisions
    • In re City of Detroit, No. 13-53846
    • In re Buttermilk Towne Center, LLC, BAP No. 10-8036
    • In re Big Buck Brewery & Steakhouse, Inc., No. 07-04213
    • In re Omega Door Company, Inc., BAP 07-8047
    • In re Collins & Aikman Corp., No. 05-55927
    • In re Key Plastics, LLC, No.00-44478

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Honors
  • Memberships and Professional Activities
    • Adjunct Professor, Bankruptcy Law, University of Michigan Law School, 1992-2003; 2013
    • Adjunct Professor, Ethics, University of Detroit Law School, 1986
    • Bankruptcy Judges Representative, Judicial Council of Sixth Circuit, 2011-2014
    • Sixth Circuit Representative, Board of Governors, National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, 1999-2002; 2011-2014
    • Judicial Chair, American Bankruptcy Institute, Consumer Bankruptcy Association Veterans Day Consumer Conference, 2006-2012
    • Member, Advisory Board, American Bankruptcy Institute Central States Conference, 1997-2013; Judicial Chair, 1997-2005
    • Chair, Advisory Board, American Bankruptcy Institute Consumer Fee Study, 2009-2011
    • Chair, American Bankruptcy Institute Consumer Task Force, 2009
    • Judicial Advisor, National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees Ethics Committee, 2005-2013
    • Vice President for Research, American Bankruptcy Institute, 2005-2009
    • Chair, National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges Endowment for Education, 2002-2004
    • Associate Editor, American Bankruptcy Law Journal, published by the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, 1994-1996
  • Selected Publications
    • Chapter, In Pari Delicto: Solutions to an Inequity Plaguing Bankruptcy Trustees and Innocent Creditors, Norton Annual Survey of Bankruptcy Law (West 2015), co-authored with Kathy Bazoian Phelps
    • Chapter, Effective Expert Testimony, Fraud and Forensics:  Piercing Through the Deception in a Commercial Fraud Case (American Bankruptcy Institute 2015)
    • Equity Receivers and the In Pari Delicto Defense, 69 Bus. Law. 699 (American Bar Association May 2014), co-authored with Kathy Bazoian Phelps
    • Obtaining the Release of Grand Jury Evidence in Ponzi Cases, 42 Golden Gate U. L. Rev. 657 (2012)
    • Coordination Agreements in Parallel Forfeiture and Bankruptcy Proceedings, American Bar Association Business Law Section’s Online Resource, Business Law Today, June 21, 2012
    • Supplementing the Tools in the Trustee’s Toolbox, NABTalk, The Journal of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Trustees, Spring 2012, co-authored with Kathy Bazoian Phelps
    • The Ponzi Book: A Legal Resource for Unraveling Ponzi Schemes, LexisNexis (2012), co-authored with Kathy Bazoian Phelps

Background and Education

  • Transition Manager, Detroit Public Schools; Appointed by Governor Rick Snyder, March 1, 2016
  • Transition Manager, newly-created Detroit Public Schools Community District; Appointed by Governor Rick Snyder, July 1, 2016
  • United States Bankruptcy Judge, Eastern District of Michigan-Detroit; Appointed 1985; Reappointed 1999 and 2013; Retired February, 2015
    • Appointed by the Chief Judge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to preside over the City of Detroit bankruptcy case, July 2013; Confirmed the City’s Plan of Adjustment, November 2014
    • Chief Judge, United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan, 2002-2009
    • Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Sixth Circuit, 1997-2004 and 2008-2011
    • Chief Judge of the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, 2002-2004
  • United States Magistrate Judge, Eastern District of Michigan, 1981-1985
  • Private Practice, 1977-1981
  • Assistant United States Attorney, Eastern District of Michigan, 1974-1977
  • Law Clerk, Honorable John Feikens, United States District Judge, Eastern District of Michigan, 1973-74
  • J.D., cum laude, University of Michigan Law School, 1972
    • Associate Editor, Michigan Law Review
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, 1970


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