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Detroit Bankruptcy Appeals Given A Go Ahead

DETROIT (UPI) — A bankruptcy court judge in Detroit said appeals in the city’s case could go directly to a higher court, but balked at ordering an expedited process.

Judge Stephen Rhodes said the appeals could bypass the federal district court and go directly to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Detroit News reported Monday.

Retirement groups and unions are also pushing for an expedited process for appeals, but Rhodes held back on making that decision, the News said.

Last week, Rhodes ruled that Detroit could cut pension funds as it tried to restructure its $18 billion debt. The funds, however, are pushing for an appeal ruling before the city goes ahead with restructuring proposals that include cuts in retirement benefits, the News reported.

Lawyers for the retirement system and local unions argued for an expedited process, as the issue, they said, has national significance.

“This is an issue of national importance,” said Sharon Levine, lawyer for the city’s largest union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Retirement system attorney Lisa Fenning said the appeal process would not slow the bankruptcy case down, as negotiations with the city would continue.

“We’re not trying to slow down the confirmation process. We think the two things have to go in tandem,” Fenning was quoted as saying, referring to the appeals and the negotiations.

Bankruptcy attorney Corinne Ball representing the city argued that the adjustment plan was the higher priority, the News reported

“The city is committed to proceeding as rapidly as possible and moving onto a plan of adjustment that has broad support,” Ball was quoted as saying. “Anything that detracts from that is not something we support.”

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