United States Trustee Law and Legal Definition

The United States Trustee Program is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that is responsible for overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases and private trustees. 28 U.S.C. § 586 and 11 U.S.C. § 101, et seq. The United States Trustee has various administrative responsibilities in bankruptcy cases in the region encompassing one or more federal judicial districts to which he or she has been assigned.

The United States Trustee is the federal official charged with enforcing civil bankruptcy laws in the United States. The United States Attorney General appoints a separate United States Trustee for each of twenty-one geographical regions for a five year term. Each United States Trustee is removable from office and works under the general supervision of the Attorney General . 28 U.S.C. § 581 and 28 U.S.C. § 586(c)). Each United States Trustee is responsible for maintaining and supervising a panel of private trustees for Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. 28 U.S.C. § 586(a)(1)). The United States Trustee has other duties including the oversight of administration of most bankruptcy cases and trustees. 28 U.S.C. § 586(a)(3)).

Each of the twenty-one regional U.S. Trustees maintains an office in each judicial district within the trustee's region, except for Alabama and North Carolina, which are not administered by the U.S. Trustee program. The U.S. Trustee does not have prosecution powers, but is required by law to refer information regarding potential criminal violations of bankruptcy laws to the United States Attorney. Each judicial district has one or more Standing Chapter 13 Trustees. The Standing Trustees are responsible for the administration of all Chapter 13 cases filed in their judicial district.

If all panel and/or standing trustees are disqualified or unable to perform, the U.S. Trustee may serve as trustee for a particular case under Chapter 7, 12 or 13. The U.S. Trustee's office conducts the first meeting of creditors in a Chapter 11 case. The U.S. Trustee oversees the appointed trustee's handling of the case and can seek the removal or replacement of the trustee. The U.S. Trustee acts as the primary "watchdog" to ensure compliance with the Bankruptcy Code in cases where no trustee has been appointed.