It is open to the United States Congress under its constitutional authority to create separate bankruptcy courts. Instead of doing so, Congress has directed United States district courts to serve as bankruptcy courts on a part-time basis. It also is within the congressional prerogative to confer upon the chosen bankruptcy courts exclusive jurisdiction over all controversies arising under the Bankruptcy Act. But that jurisdiction has been fractionated, with some reserved to bankruptcy courts and the balance distributed to two kinds of nonbankruptcy courts, namely United States district courts sitting as ordinary federal courts and state courts. Jurisdiction may be classified as either plenary or summary. Summary jurisdiction is the power to adjudicate controversies in summary proceedings. Plenary jurisdiction is comparable judicial power to adjudicate in plenary proceedings—that is, an ordinary suit at law or in equity in which the trustee or receiver in bankruptcy happens to be a party. Bankruptcy courts exercise plenary jurisdiction in a few instances, but practically all of their cases involve summary jurisdiction. Nonbankruptcy courts exercise plenary jurisdiction. This article deals with the bankruptcy court's summary jurisdiction in straight bankruptcy over controversies between receivers or trustees. It does not deal with summary jurisdiction in reorganizations, arrangements, or other rehabilitative proceedings under the Bankruptcy Act. It also does not deal with summary jurisdiction over other kinds of controversies in straight bankruptcy, most notably those between the bankrupt and his creditors concerning his general discharge or the dischargeability of his particular debts. As a coalescence of procedure and jurisdiction, summary jurisdiction has several perplexing aspects.
Jerrold L. Strasheim,
Fundamentals of Summary Jurisdiction in Straight Bankruptcy over Controversies between Trustees and Third Persons,
51 Neb. L. Rev. 505
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