Bankruptcy Court: A preview of the water shutoff hearing

Bankruptcy Court: A preview of the water shutoff hearing

Detroit’s bankruptcy trial is postponed for a week but Judge Steven Rhodes is holding a hearing Monday on the issue of water shut offs.

Here’s why:

In July, he heard from several people objecting to the city’s Plan of Adjustment. Some of them complained about the cancellation of water service to customers with unpaid bills, and following their testimony, the judge raised questions about the shut-off procedure.

Now, a coalition of individuals, welfare rights groups and lawyers are asking the judge to issue a restraining order … and prevent the city from shutting off water service. They argued the written motion in court hours before the bankruptcy trial started, and the judge ordered both sides to file more documents before he would decide.

Since then, both sides have complied, and Rhodes scheduled Monday’s hearing for oral arguments. The coalition asking for the halt to shutofs has  34 witnesses listed for the hearing.

City attorneys say such an order from the bench would be unprecedented in a bankruptcy case as it interferes with the daily operations of the water department. They also object to a blanket ban on shutoffs because some water hook ups are illegal.

The city is asking the Judge Rhodes to dismiss the request. Here’s that motion. But, assuming the hearing continues, the city also has several witnesses and exhibits ready to present at Monday’s hearing.

Last week the judge said he would hold an evidentiary hearing on Monday. will be there.