Within minutes of his ruling on Dec. 3, the city's largest employee union served notice that it planned to appeal, and asked to appeal directly to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—bypassing the U.S. District Court—before the months-long process of reorganizing the city's finances.
In his ruling, the judge said the parties could appeal directly to the court of appeals, but not until after he approves a reorganization plan, likely early next year.
The city is proposing sweeping cuts in employee pensions, and the unions fear an appeal after a plan is approved would be too late. Rhodes acknowledges that the case involves "a matter of public importance," but says appeals now are premature.
—By CNBC's Scott Cohn