Some Introductory Remarks and Requests regarding
Judge Shea-Stonumís "Unpublished" Opinions

Prompted by the request of many practitioners, I have been interested in making available to lawyers and other parties concerned about matters on the docket of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Akron the text of opinions that did not meet my criteria for submission to national publishers of legal opinions. More than a year ago when I first explored the possibility of posting unpublished opinions on the Courtís web site, our systems staff was concerned about capacity issues. The increased storage that has been added to our Courtís computer servers now enables me to go forward with this project.

The act of placing these opinions on the Courtís web page begs the question of the meaning of "unpublished," since putting the opinions on the web page is a publication of sorts. But as those who practice regularly in the Northern District of Ohio should be aware, I do submit certain opinions to all national legal publishers who have requested that I make available to them those opinions that I choose to publish in the traditional sense. During the time that I have thus far served as a judge, I have given significant consideration to what is served by the publication of opinions of trial level courts. By definition such opinions do not have precedential weight, i.e., no judge including myself is bound by such opinions in any future case. Generally I have had three different criteria for submitting matters for national publication. The first is, in my judgment, the matter addressed in the opinion might add to the understanding of the particular issue on other than a local level. The second is to provide a registry function in cases in which parties have claimed to have been uninformed of the operations and/or requirements of the Bankruptcy Code. Publication of such opinions is intended to promote future compliance with the Bankruptcy Code specifically by those parties as well as others similarly situated. In the past, the third has involved matters likely to come up many times and on which various bankruptcy judges have reached differing conclusions, so I wanted lawyers preparing for cases in Akron to know what my current thinking on any such subject might be. I will continue to submit the first two types of opinions for national publication, but expect to submit far fewer in the latter category. Accordingly, I request that neither national legal publishers nor practitioners take steps to publish opinions from this web page without consulting with my chambers; such requests will be given serious and prompt attention, but I ask that I be granted the courtesy of deciding what of my work should become part of national bankruptcy case law development.

Preparation of opinions in my chambers is a collaborative process. The work product that appears on this web page is my ultimate responsibility, but I have been aided in its development by each of the law clerks who has served in my chambers. I am particularly grateful to Lisa Napoli who prepared the index of the opinions for this web site. We will continue to add material to the page and welcome constructive suggestions on how to make this resource more useful.

I hope that this resource will contribute to the fairness and efficiency of the delivery of legal services by lawyers appearing in Akron. We work hard on the writing of legal opinions in my chambers and obviously seek the "right" answer in each matter. Thus, if you have a matter that is similar to one that has been addressed in one of these opinions, I hope that it will aid in the early resolution of your matter. That said, a few of the opinions on the web page have not found total favor in the eyes of the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel. In addition, there are at least a couple of opinions where my views have further evolved. In short, these opinions are not being put forth as the final word. Rather, I hope that they will contribute to dialogue and further development of our mutual understanding of the bankruptcy processes and the many legal sources that bankruptcy practitioners need to consider.

Respectfully submitted,

Marilyn Shea-Stonum
United States Bankruptcy Judge
October 2, 2001

I agree NOT to publish any of the "Unpublished" Opinions, the text which can be accessed by clicking on this link