Steven W. Rhodes

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Steven W. Rhodes
Court Information:
United States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of Michigan
Title:   Former judge
Active:   1985-12/31/2013
Senior:   12/31/2013-2/18/2015
Personal History
Undergraduate:   Purdue University, 1970
Law School:   University of Michigan, 1972

Steven W. Rhodes was a bankruptcy judge for the United States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of Michigan. He was appointed in 1985 to the Eastern District of Michigan. Rhodes retired from the bench on December 31, 2013, and assumed senior status.[1] He retired from his senior status position on February 18, 2015.[2]


Rhodes received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1970 and his J.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 1972.[3][4]


Rhodes served on the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 1997 until 2004. He was appointed to a another four-year term on the BAP on January 1, 2008.[1]

Notable cases

Bankruptcy judge says Detroit can shut off water service (2014)

The best things in life are not always free. On September 29, 2014, United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven W. Rhodes refused a request for an injunction barring the city of Detroit from shutting off water service to customers six months or more past due on their bill. Judge Rhodes wrote that there is no right to free water, despite loud arguments for it and the city’s high poverty rate.

The city said it needs the money. Ten residents sought judicial intervention to temporarily stop the city from shutting off the water to non-paying homes. They argued that a temporary injunction or moratorium would enable the city to come up with better ways to help customers pay their bill. Supporters included actor Mark Ruffalo. Opponents, however, claimed that any temporary moratorium would encourage more delinquency from customers.

In the end, Judge Rhodes was swayed by the city, perhaps in part because Detroit was in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings.


Detroit bankruptcy case (2013)

     United States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of Michigan
In July 2013, Senior Judge Steven W. Rhodes was assigned to the case managing the city of Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The city filed for bankruptcy on July 18, 2013, with a debt of over $18 billion. As a result of the filing, Detroit had the power to avoid paying some debts and petitioned Judge Rhodes to approve canceling contracts, notably those with public employees.[5][6]

In early December 2013, Judge Rhodes agreed that public employee pensions should be treated like the other debt of the municipality. This allowed the city of Detroit to cut benefits to retirees as a course of bankruptcy, though Judge Rhodes said that he would not automatically approve a plan which did so.[7]

Judge Rhodes approved Detroit's bankruptcy plan on November 7, 2014, describing it as a "grand bargain." It was the largest bankruptcy case in the United States as of that date. The plan removed $7 billion of the city's estimated long-term debt.[8][9]

To read the order designating and recommending Rhodes as judge for this case, see:, "States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division: Designation of Bankruptcy Judge," July 19, 2013.

For more information on Detroit's bankruptcy filing, see Resnick Law, PC, "Frequently Asked Questions - Detroit Municipal Chapter 9 Bankruptcy."

See also

External links