USA v. Robinson, Jr. (In re Robinson, Jr.)

USA v. Robinson, Jr. (In re Robinson, Jr.)., 6th Cir. Court of Appeals, (No. 13-5857), August 22, 2014
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment that 18 U.S.C. § 3613 supersedes the automatic stay and allows the government to enforce restitution orders against property included in the bankruptcy estate. Based on the plain meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 3613(a), provides that the government may enforce a judgment imposing restitution “notwithstanding any other Federal law.”
Procedural context:
The bankruptcy court denied the government’s “request to terminate the automatic stay as to all assets,” but granted relief from the stay as to Robinson’s IRA account and two of his three automobiles. The bankruptcy court concluded that neither statute, 11 U.S.C. § 362(b)(1) or 18 U.S.C. § 3613, allowed the government to enforce the restitution orders against property of the bankruptcy estate. The Bankruptcy court recognized that 18 U.S.C. § 3613 is “powerful and far-reaching,” but the court held that § 3613 does not overcome the automatic stay, therefore, property of the estate is protected during the pendency of Robinson’s bankruptcy proceeding. The government appealed the bankruptcy court’s order and elected to have a district court hear the appeal. The district court reversed the bankruptcy court’s order. Robinson timely appealed the district court’s order.
In 1996, Robinson pleaded guilty to mail fraud and aiding and abetting under 18 U.S.C.§§ 1341 and 1342. A year later, Robinson pleaded guilty to a second set of criminal violations, resulting in convictions of wire fraud and aiding and abetting under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1342 and 1343. After James Robinson defrauded more than one thousand victims in mail and wire fraud schemes, the district court ordered him to pay criminal restitution. Robinson did not comply with the court’s order, and he later filed a petition for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The government, by virtue of the criminal restitution judgments, is a lien creditor. The Department of Justice is listed as a general unsecured creditor on Robinson’s Bankruptcy Schedule F, with a $283,101 claim. The government moved for a declaratory judgment to determine whether the automatic stay prevented its actions to collect restitution. According to the government, it had the authority to enforce the restitution judgments under 11 U.S.C. § 362(b)(1) and alternatively under 18 U.S.C. § 3613(a), which provides that “notwithstanding any other Federal law . . . a judgment imposing a fine may be enforced against all property or rights to property of the person fined”. The government also sought to terminate the stay as to all of Robinson’s assets, and specifically moved to allow for the enforcement and execution on Robinson’s IRA account, pension fund, and two of his three automobiles under 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(2)(B). The bankruptcy court denied the government’s “request to terminate the automatic stay as to all assets,” but granted relief from the stay as to Robinson’s IRA account and two of his three automobiles. In ruling out this exception, the bankruptcy court concluded that § 362(b)(1)allows enforcement actions only against the debtor, not against property of the estate. The bankruptcy court noted that the stay and its exceptions apply to different entities—the debtor in personam, property of the debtor, and property of the estate—and that these categories must be examined carefully “to assure that the correct entity . . . has the intended statutory protection of the automatic stay.”
COLE, Chief Judge; GRIFFIN, Circuit Judge; PEARSON, District Judge.

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