Bankruptcy judge orders Milwaukee Archdiocese to pay attorney fees

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee must come up with $1.35 million to pay lawyers involved in its ongoing bankruptcy case, at least a portion of the many more millions they’re owed, a judge ordered Wednesday.

The lawyers and other professionals involved haven’t been paid since the archdiocese won a suspension of payments more than a year ago, saying it barely had enough money to continue operations.

At the same hearing Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley also granted the archdiocese’s request late Tuesday to return the case to mediation for a possible consensual resolution to the long, complex and fractious proceeding.

“If the parties truly are sincere and willing to work issues out, we should explore that post haste,” Kelley said. “Let’s ‘git ‘er done,’ to use the vernacular.”

Kelley gave the parties 28 days to submit statements for the mediator, who ideally would begin the process in early September. A prior mediation effort in 2012 failed to reach a settlement.

The bankruptcy case has been at a standstill since June when Kelley ruled that she does not have jurisdiction to approve the archdiocese’s bankruptcy reorganization plan while key questions in a related lawsuit over $60 million it holds in trust for the care of cemeteries are pending before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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