In the Matter of: Al-Haroon B. Husain, Appellant.
March 27, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
Bauer and Easterbrook, Circuit Judges, and DeGuilio, District
Easterbrook, Circuit Judge.
Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois
disbarred Al-Haroon B. Husain. (The court called the step
"permanent suspension, " which is disbarment by
another name.) The United States Trustee began the proceeding
by alleging that Husain's filings regularly failed to
include debtors' genuine signatures. The full bench
assigned the disciplinary proceeding to Bankruptcy Judge Cox,
who held a lengthy hearing and made extensive findings.
In re Husain, 533 B.R. 658 (N.D. 111. 2015). In
addition to disbarring Husain, Judge Cox also ordered him to
refund fees he had collected from 18 clients. When he did not
do so, Judge Cox held him in contempt of court.
appealed both the disbarment and the contempt finding to the
district court. It assigned both appeals to the court's
five-member Executive Committee, which handles the
court's disciplinary proceedings. The Executive Committee
affirmed the order disbarring Husain but dismissed the appeal
from the order holding Husain in contempt. Unfortunately, the
Executive Committee did not transfer the contempt appeal to a
single judge. Yet 28 U.S.C. §158(a) entitles Husain to
review by at least one district judge. We therefore remand
the contempt appeal to the district court for assignment to,
and decision by, a single judge. The disbarment issue, by
contrast, is ready for decision by this court.
bankruptcy court found that Husain as a matter of routine:
• Signed clients' names to documents that the
debtors must verify under penalty of perjury. See 28 U.S.C.
§1746; Fed.R.Bankr.P. 1008. The signatures purported to
be the debtors' own; Husain did not indicate that someone
else was signing for the debtors.
• Copied and reused clients' signatures, so that
they appeared to have signed documents they had not seen.
• Applied these forged or copied signatures to documents
that did not reveal all of the debtors' assets, and which
the debtors would not have signed had they seen the documents
before they were submitted to the court.
• Submitted petitions and other documents on behalf of
ineligible debtors (including one Husain knew lives in
Bulgaria rather than Illinois, where Husain's multiple
filings said he lives).
• Submitted documents that through statistical
improbability could not have been honest. For example, in a
sample of 110 of Husain's cases examined by the U.S.
Trustee, schedules in 106 reported that the debtor had
exactly $200 in cash, and in 93 of these 106 the schedules
reported exactly $600 worth of household goods and $200 worth
of clothing. Husain testified that these numbers had been
furnished by his clients without his prompting; Judge Cox
found him not credible.
• Submitted documents that omitted material assets. For
example, the court found that the bankruptcy papers Husain
filed (and signed) for Mirza and Sakeena Baig omitted two
pieces of real property, three motor vehicles, a bank
account, a whole-life insurance policy, and a retirement
account, even though the Baigs had told him about those
assets. 533 B.R. at 670.
• Lied on the stand during the hearing (the judge five
times wrote that Husain was "incredible, " once
that he was "not credible, " and once that he made
a "false statement"). Under oath, Husain denied
many of the facts described above; the judge did not believe
him, and documentary evidence ...