and Submitted April 19, 2017 San Francisco, California
from the Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Pappas,
Kurtz, and Jury, Bankruptcy Judges, Presiding BAP No. 14-1482
L. Geyser (argued), Stris & Maher LLP, Los Angeles,
California; Christopher P. Burke, Las Vegas, Nevada; for
Wenthe (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; Daniel G.
Bogden, United States Attorney; United States Attorney's
Office, Las Vegas, Nevada; for Appellee.
Before: Mary M. Schroeder and Johnnie B. Rawlinson, Circuit
Judges, and William H. Stafford, Jr., [*] District
a decision of the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, and agreeing
with other circuits, the panel held that the Bankruptcy
Code's automatic stay provision does not prevent the
government from collecting criminal restitution under the
Mandatory Victims Restitution Act.
SCHROEDER, Circuit Judge.
bankruptcy appeal presents a question of first impression in
this circuit concerning whether the Bankruptcy Code's
automatic stay provision, 11 U.S.C. § 362, operates to
prevent the government's collection of criminal
restitution under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act
("MVRA"). The MVRA provides the government with
broad powers to enforce a civil judgment "[n]ot with
standing any other federal law." 18 U.S.C. §
3613(a). We agree with the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel
("BAP") that the MVRA allows the government to
collect restitution despite the automatic stay. The two other
circuits to consider similar issues have reached the same
result. See In re Robinson, 764 F.3d 554 (6th Cir.
2014); United States v. Colasuonno, 697 F.3d 164 (2d
begin by comparing the two statutes. The Bankruptcy
Code's automatic stay provision was passed in 1978.
Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95-598, 92 Stat.
2549, 2570 (1978). The stay is triggered upon a debtor filing
for bankruptcy, and the stay suspends all activity relating
to collection of pre-filing debts, with a number of
exceptions. See 11 U.S.C. § 362(a), (b). The
legislative history explains the stay's purpose is to
"give the debtor a breathing spell from his
creditors" by stopping "all collection efforts, all
harassment, and all foreclosure actions." H.R. Rep. No.
95-595, at 340 (1977). The stay gives the debtor time to
attempt a repayment or reorganization plan, "or simply
to be relieved of the financial pressures that drove him into
bankruptcy." Id. But the drafters were also
mindful that the stay should not be "a haven for
criminal offenders." S. Rep. No. 95-989, at 51 (1978);
accord H.R. Rep. No. 95-595, at 342. As a result,
the automatic stay does not apply to collection efforts
undertaken in "the commencement or continuation of a
criminal action or proceeding against the debtor." 11
U.S.C. § 362(b)(1).
MVRA was passed in 1996, nearly two decades after the
automatic stay. See Mandatory Victims Restitution
Act, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1238 (1996). Its history
explains it is for the purpose of "ensur[ing] that
criminals pay full restitution to their victims for all
damages caused as a result of the crime, " regardless of
the criminals' economic status. H.R. Rep. No. 104-16, at
4 (1995). The MVRA's enforcement provision, at issue in
this case, provides:
The United States may enforce a judgment imposing a fine in
accordance with the practices and procedures for the
enforcement of a civil judgment under Federal law or State
law. Notwithstanding any other Federal law (including section
207 of the Social Security Act), a judgment imposing a fine
may be ...