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Detroit bankruptcy judge says he won't expedite appeals

Friday, 20 Dec 2013 | 5:48 PM ET

The judge who authorized Detroit's historic bankruptcy is refusing to allow appeals of his ruling until after the reorganization is complete.

The decision by U.S. Judge Steven Rhodes is a blow to city employee unions and pension funds who say the bankruptcy violates the Michigan and United States constitutions.

A memorial to boxer Joe Lewis stands near the headquarters of General Motors in Detroit.
Justin Solomon | CNBC
A memorial to boxer Joe Lewis stands near the headquarters of General Motors in Detroit.

In a 166-page ruling issued Friday, Rhodes says "there is no good cause" to speed up the process.

(Read more: Detroit faces new speedbump in bankruptcy process)

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