Former Orlando resident Michael G. Williamson has been appointed chief judge of the nation’s second-busiest bankruptcy court, Florida’s Middle District.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Williamson, 64, formerly led the Orlando offices for law firm Maguire, Voorhis and Wells. When that firm merged with Holland and Knight in 1998, Williamson moved to Tampa, where he has been serving as a bankruptcy judge since 2000.
“Judge Williamson brings years of experience, management skills and a deep and abiding love of this court that will take us further along our way to excellence,” the current chief judge, Karen Jennemann of Orlando, said of the appointment.
In a statement, Williamson said he plans to continue the work Jennemann has done in his new position.
“I plan to continue the work Judge Jenneman has done, continuing to provide uniformity for procedures among the various courthouses,” Williamson said.
Across the country, approximately 728,833 Chapter 7 bankruptcies are filed each year. As head of one of the nation’s busiest bankruptcy courts, the Florida Middle District, Williamson will oversee some 35,000 bankruptcy filings annually. So far this year, the Middle District courts have handled 13,385 bankruptcies.
Why is Central Florida such a hub for bankruptcies? For one, the bankruptcy district encompasses a greater geographic area than many federal court districts. The district consists of four divisions — Fort Myers, Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando — and spans 35 counties.
Additionally, the district’s population, in excess of 10 million, is huge compared to the typical bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction. The Middle District contains 60% of Florida’s population — and ranks first in the country for the number of bankruptcies filed without an attorney or legal representation. The district is also second-busiest for business filings like Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
U.S. District Judge Anne Conway appointed Williamson with approval of a panel of district judges, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Williamson’s four-year term will begin on Oct. 1.