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Bankruptcy can Happen to Anyone

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you may be having feelings of guilt or failure. Don’t. Bankruptcy can happen to anyone, regardless of their work ethic or their financial planning. Often, unanticipated events in life, work, or in the market can have disastrous effects on a person’s financial situation, leaving obligations and liabilities that they are unable to meet. Earlier in this blog we discussed former Oakland A’s slugger Jose Canseco. This narrative is fairly common, with professional athletes making often exorbitant sums during their professional careers, living to the full extent of their means, and then upon retirement, having no marketable skills through which to earn a living. What is less common is it happening to a well regarded working professional.

Bankruptcy can happen to anyone. Just ask George W. Bush appointed Federal Judge Otis Wright of California’s Central District. A Federal District Judge’s salary is around $174,000 per year, and in his bankruptcy filing Judge Wright claimed assets of $833,426 and liabilities of $895,292. According to his Chapter 7 filing, Judge Wright and his wife has accumulated more than $73,000 in credit card debt, and had just more than $700 in cash on hand at the time of the filing. The couple reported an average monthly income $12,998.94, while they had average monthly expenses of $13,994.90.

There are several interesting things to note here. First, a Federal Judge has “succeeded” in most societally defined measures of the word. Second, in relation to the means test, here is a family making over $200,000 per year qualifying for Chapter 7. It does not seem that either Judge Wright, or his wife, a licensed social worker, are in danger of losing their professional licenses. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, a bankruptcy trustee plans to auction off the Wright’s primary residence to generate money to pay off creditors. The asking price is $1.2 million.

Judge Wright received his B.A. from California State University at Los Angeles in 1976 and his J.D. from Southwestern Law School in 1980. He was a U.S. Marine from 1963 to 1966, and a deputy sheriff in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department from 1969 to 1980. He practiced as a private attorney from 1983 to 2005.

The moral of the story here is that if it can happen to Judge Wright, it can happen to anyone.  Good, hard-working, and educated people can become the victims of financial circumstances that are out of their control. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, bankruptcy may be an option you may want to consider. Bankruptcy does not reflect upon your worth as a person or as a productive member of society, but is a legally permissible fresh start to help people get back on their financial feet. The Westbrook Law Group practices solely in the field of bankruptcy law and has helped hundreds of clients regain their financial footing through bankruptcy. To schedule a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney, call us today at (636) 493-9231, or fill out the contact form to the right and a member of our staff will be in touch with you shortly.