Judge Rosen: On Mediation In City Of Detroit Bankruptcy (Part I, Getting Started!)

By: Donald L Swanson

Hon. Gerald E. Rosen (Ret.) serves as mediator, arbitrator and neutral evaluator in high-level business cases for the JAMS office in Detroit.  

Previously, Judge Rosen served as Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, when the City of Detroit filed its Chapter 9 bankruptcy.  Shortly thereafter, the presiding bankruptcy judge appointed Judge Rosen as Chief Judicial Mediator in the City of Detroit bankruptcy case.

Judge Rosen, as Chief Judicial Mediator, is recognized as the person who “masterminded an $820-million deal that rescued Detroit” out of bankruptcy and as “the Judge who helped save Detroit.”

The interview linked above is Part I, of a three part series. This first part is on “Getting Started.” What follows is an index to subjects discussed in the interview, with time notations where each item can be found on the video.

Part I: Getting Started

How Judge Rosen became the Chief Judicial Mediator

(1:10) The first deal in the bankruptcy case

(1:50) Bankruptcy judges in Chapter 9 cases are assigned by Chief Circuit Court Judge—input requested of Judge Rosen, as Chief Judge of District Court

(4:10) One Judge was clear choice for various reasons, including administrative capabilities

(6:15) Input requested and recommendation given on bankruptcy judge assignment

(7:20) Consensus existed on appointing Judge Rhodes

(8:00) Discussion with Judge Rhodes on retirement issue

(8:50) One condition for acceptance—that Judge Rosen would be mediator

(10:00) This raised sensitive issues

(11:00) Appeal issues are an example

(11:40) Other ethical issues existed

(11:50) Discussion with son on whether to accept

(13:40) A photobomb

(16:10)  Committed

Did you follow a mediation model or make it up as you go?

(16:30) The question

(17:00)  A unique and complex case

(18:00) Received input from others

(18:30) Was informed by the nature of the case

The City had many problems, requiring a team of mediators

(19:20) Service delivery insolvency

(19:40) Detroit was not meeting its basic service obligations

(20:20) Realized that he needed a team of mediators and put one together

(21:20) The felt like a tiny army confronting an empire of armies

(21:30) The team and assignments

(24:00) The team of mediators is an unusual part of the case

(24:30) Judge Rosen’s authority came from the Bankruptcy Judge’s orders—not from role as judge in the District Court.

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