American Board of Certification certified specialist Jeffrey P. Norman was sworn in as bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division on August 5, 2014. Judge Norman will also share part of the case load for the Monroe Division of the Western District of Louisiana. His appointment was effective on August 9, 2014. For three years prior to his appointment, he was a Chapter 13 Trustee in Columbus, Ohio, and before his trusteeship, Judge Norman was a partner in the law firm of Gipson and Norman in Houston, Texas, practicing solely bankruptcy.
Judge Norman immigrated to the United States in 1966 and proudly swore in as a naturalized American citizen in 1983. After graduating from Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas, he then received his B.S. in accounting and finance from Houston Baptist University in 1982 and his J.D. from South Texas College of Law in 1985.
Beginning in 1987, Judge Norman, his partner, and associates maintained Gipson and Norman, a law practice that was devoted exclusively to bankruptcy matters. Judge Norman represented a variety of consumer and business debtors and, occasionally, creditors in all aspects of bankruptcy. He successfully handled complex business Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, including oil and gas service companies, maritime shipping companies, restaurants, high net worth individuals, video production companies, and an offshore diving and salvaging company, as well as representing farmers, ranchers, and fishermen in Chapter 12 cases. Judge Norman was privileged to work with his partner, Ronald Gipson, until his unexpected death in 2008. Ron was a Chapter 7 Trustee, a certified specialist in bankruptcy, and a great bankruptcy mentor.
Judge Norman personally filed over 8,000 bankruptcy cases from 1987 to 2011. During private practice, he was named a Texas Superlawyer by Texas Monthly in Bankruptcy on multiple occasions and was AV rated Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 peer review rating by Martindale Hubble. He lectured extensively to bankruptcy lawyers on consumer bankruptcy and was published by the State Bar Press in 2010.
On May 19, 2011, he was appointed a Standing Chapter 13 Trustee in the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division and successfully served three years. Judge Norman was the founding Trustee of the downtown Columbus office, where he smoothly implemented the opening of the new Trustee office and considers this some of his finest work. Within a four month period, he was responsible for all aspects of opening the new office, including hiring a staff of twenty, the drafting of office policy and procedures, and implementation of the transfer of 3,500 cases.
Judge Norman has had the privilege of practicing before ten bankruptcy judges and believes he has learned from them all. “I think as a lawyer you see the good in what a judge does and try to implement that into your courtroom demeanor. I have to say I now have a new appreciation for a judge’s work, given my short time on the bench. I look back on how I practiced law before I became a judge in a different perspective. I am much more aware of the administrative tasks that a judge performs and how the lawyers in front of the court can be of assistance to the court.”
“I wasn’t born in Texas but I got there as quick as I could” is a quote from Sam Houston the first President of the Republic of Texas and like Sam, Judge Norman wasn’t born in Texas but he considered himself a lifelong Texan until his move to Columbus, Ohio. He is happy to be back in the South and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). An ardent Texas A&M fan, he looks forward to his drives to College Station for football games and expects Thanksgiving Day’s annual Louisiana State University (LSU) and Texas A&M football game to be one of the highlights of the season. Judge Norman left many great friends in Columbus, Ohio, and sheepishly admits that he is now also an Ohio State fan. “I would never admit it while I lived in Columbus, but my second favorite college team is now the Ohio Buckeyes. My friends and I have promised that if Texas A&M and The Ohio State University are ever in a bowl game, we will all be present and have a great party.”
Judge Norman feels very fortunate to have become a judge. “As an immigrant from Gateshead, England, I have lived the American dream and have become a federal judge. My parents immigrated to the United States with my brother and me, six suitcases, and the promise of a job that paid my dad four dollars an hour. My only regret is that my mother who died last year did not get to see me take the bench. She would have been so proud.”
Judge Norman has been very happily married to his wife of 27 years, Elizabeth, since 1987 and has two amazing college-age children. Jeff and Elizabeth are currently settling in to their new home in Shreveport.