Judge Kenneth Meyers, who opened bankruptcy court in Benton, dies

By Erianne Leatherman | Apr 27, 2018

EAST ST. LOUIS – Former federal bankruptcy Judge Kenneth J. Meyers died at his home April 14 at the age of 74.

Meyers, a federal judge for 40 years, retired from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Illinois in 2015, according to a court press release.

He was a 1969 graduate of Indiana University School of Law and worked at Ryan & Heller in Mattoon from 1969 to 1971. After that, he was employed at Dukes, O’Rourke & Stewart in Danville, which was later renamed Dukes, O’Rourke, Stewart & Meyers, the release said.

Meyers was named the first full-time U.S. magistrate judge for the then Eastern District of Illinois from 1975-1986, mainly handling litigation that came from the United States Penitentiary in Marion, which was the only maximum-security federal prison in the country, according to the press release.

Judge Kenneth J. Meyers  

“In 1985, he presided over a case involving the lockdown of the Penitentiary following the murder of two prison guards,” the press release said. “His ruling in that case set the first guidelines for implementing prison lockdowns.”

Meyers held court in East St. Louis, Alton, Mount Vernon and Effingham, according to the release.

Meyers opened the bankruptcy court in Benton and held most hearings in either East St. Louis or Benton, the release said. He was on the Federal Bankruptcy Rules Committee, was a liaison member of the Federal Committee on Evidence Rules, and was part of the Ad Hoc Committee on Time Computation and the Forms Modernization Project. 

“In 2002, under the direction of Judge Meyers, the Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Illinois became one of the first courts to successfully convert from a paper filing system to an electronic one,” the press release said. “Judge Meyers served as Chief Judge until 2010, at which time he was appointed to recall status. When he retired from recall status in 2015, he had served on the federal bench for 40 years.”

A funeral mass was held on April 17 at St. Mary Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Mount Vernon, with Father John Iffert officiating. Entombment was held on April 18 at Keller Cemetery in Lovington.

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