Hoffman v. Connecticut Department of Income Maintenance Page 2

Hoffman v. Connecticut Department of Income Maintenance general information

Media for Hoffman v. Connecticut Department of Income Maintenance

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 19, 1989 in Hoffman v. Connecticut Department of Income Maintenance

Martin W. Hoffman:

No, they couldn't... they could not do anything unless they filed a voluntary... voluntary proof of claim in accordance with 106(a) and (b).

They couldn't do it.

Antonin Scalia:

But why would you need 106(a) after you have you 106(c)?

What does 106(a) cover that 106(c) wouldn't?

Martin W. Hoffman:

106(a)--

Antonin Scalia:

Assuming you read 106(c) the way you read it?

Martin W. Hoffman:

--The way I read it.

Antonin Scalia:

Um-hum.

Martin W. Hoffman:

Well, 106(a) and (b) cover those situations where... one of the two ways that the state can obviously be brought before the court is one is to waive their jurisdiction and file a proof of claim, which they would do under (a) and (b).

Antonin Scalia:

Right.

Martin W. Hoffman:

But, as I'm here today, they didn't do it under (a) and (b).

That's why (c) was put in, to put in those situations where they don't do it.

Antonin Scalia:

But you wouldn't need a waiver if you have a mandatory elimination of state sovereign immunity.

You wouldn't need a waiver.

I mean, why have a waiver provision when you then go on to say and by the way, whether the state waives or not, the state is liable.

And that's what you tell us (c) means.

Martin W. Hoffman:

I think that what happened was because the way the code section was codified and the way Congress worked at it, they had (a) and (b) and they had worked on it, and then they came to the situation where in the... except where they file a proof of claim, where they don't file a proof of claim and not assuming their... not withstanding their... their... their... they're assuming that they... they have sovereign immunity... not over... I'm sorry... not withstanding any assertion of sovereign immunity that they're... they would still... the trustee would have the opportunity to sue the state as long as it's under those certain situations that they give it to them because--

Antonin Scalia:

Well, I understand what you're saying, but... and... and maybe you give me an explanation for why it's such a strange statute, but it still is a very strange statute that you're... that... the way you're asking us to interpret it.

You're asking us to interpret this as saying first, if the state... if the state files a claim, it can be subject to liability and then, second, even if a state doesn't file a claim, it can be subject to liability.

Martin W. Hoffman:

--Only under certain circumstances, though, Justice Scalia.

Antonin Scalia:

Well, what circumstance is covered by the first part that isn't covered by the second part?

Is there any case that's covered by (a) and (b) that is not covered by (c)?

Just one?

Martin W. Hoffman:

Well, as I have stated in my brief, I've said that there are certain circumstances where there's lien avoidance, post-petition claims that in those particular circumstances that the state would not be bound unless they filed proof of claim.

They would have to file a proof claim.

Byron R. White:

But that... your interpretation of section... of (c) isn't the only interpretation that (c) is subject... is that is not the only way it might be interpreted.

After all, there are a lot of... your obligation as the Trustee was to file a list of creditors, right?

Martin W. Hoffman:

Yes, that is correct.

Byron R. White:

And whether or not they filed claims, if you know from the books that you owe them, you list them, don't you?

Martin W. Hoffman:

If the--