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Chambers' Bulletins

On Behalf of the Court

Wed, 6/20/2018 - 11:43 am

Our court, along with many others around the country and most of those in the 4th Circuit, previously employed a procedure for dismissal of bankruptcy cases upon certification by the Clerk of Court, the United States trustee or a trustee of certain deficiencies. The 4th Circuit, in the recent case of No v. Gorman, 891 F3d. 138 (4th Cir. 2018), noted the notice and opportunity for hearing requirement of sections 707(a), 1112(b), 1208(c), and 1307(c). In light of this decision the Court has adopted the attached operating order revising our local rules and adopting procedures consistent with No v. Gorman.

In short, rather than the certification of dismissal procedure previously permitted under the local rules, dismissal will now be considered upon a Rule to Show Cause or motion. The opportunity for a hearing (self-scheduled by the Clerk, UST or trustee) is thus available, however the case may be dismissed without a hearing, consistent with our general passive notice procedure, unless a timely response is interposed.


Wed, 5/09/2018 - 2:59 pm

On behalf of the Judges and Clerk of Court, thanks to the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association for a most educational and enjoyable weekend at Isle of Palms. The Annual Seminar is open to all and is a must attend event for many in our practice area. The speakers this year included a United States District Judge, The U. S. Attorney nominee for our District, and two Masters in Equity. Several sessions involved an added state law focus with panelists we don’t ordinarily see. There were excellent sessions on lawyer succession planning and wellness. The 2019 seminar has been announced for March 29-31 in Savannah, Ga.

A highlight of the annual meeting is the presentation of the Association’s awards.

The William E.S. Robinson Public Service Award is named for Billy Robinson and is presented annually by the Board of Directors to a member rendering distinguished public service to the legal profession and community. Eddie McDonnell of South Carolina Legal Services was recognized. Eddie practices in the upstate and has been with Legal Services in various capacities since 1977. He is currently Director of Litigation. Among his many contributions over the years, a highlight has been his work in establishing and nurturing the “Foreclosure Friday” partnership between Legal Services and The United States Bankruptcy Court. This program provides last minute help to those facing foreclosure and considering bankruptcy. According to Thomas L. Bruce, the General Counsel Emeritus for S. C. Legal Services, Eddie is the trusted authority on bankruptcy matters for many of the other lawyers at Legal Services, often taking over the more difficult cases around the state to ensure excellent representation for the clients served by Legal Services.

The J. Bratton Davis Professionalism Award is in honor of our first Bankruptcy Judge and is awarded from time to time by the Board of Directors to an individual exhibiting unimpeachable integrity, devotion to legal scholarship, civility to all, unfailing professionalism, and impressive contributions and improvements to the legal profession. William H. Short, Jr. was recognized. Bill is a long time bankruptcy practitioner and was involved with the formation of the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association, having been President of the predecessor Richland County Bar Bankruptcy Section. He was in the first class of specialists certified by the S. C. Supreme Court in Bankruptcy and Debtor – Creditor Law and has been active with the Turnaround Management Association, South Carolina Bankers Association, South Carolina Local Government Attorneys Institute and National Business Institute. Recognized by Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers, Bill also has been active with several Bible studies, Boy Scouts, the board of Jubilee Academy, Ducks Unlimited, and Congaree Land Trust.  The nomination letter noted Bill’s “dedication to others, dogged pursuit of what he believes his friends and others need to hear . . . and his love and compassion for his wife, family and friends is extraordinary. In sum, he comes quite close to epitomizing the very characteristics that made Judge Davis such an amazing person.”  Bill suffered a stroke in the fall of 2017 and it is inspiring to see the recovery he continues to make.


Judge Waites

Wed, 6/20/2018 - 10:42 am

In addition to the new LM/MM Guidelines, Judge Waites and his law clerks will review changes to the Conduit Procedure at the bar meetings scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2018 in the Charleston courtroom and Tuesday, June 26, 2018 in the Columbia courtroom. The meetings will be held after Court concludes each day (approximately 10:30 AM).

If you have not already done so, please sign up for the meetings by contacting Andrew Powell at Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov.


Tue, 6/19/2018 - 3:00 pm

Judges Waites and Duncan have revised the procedure for chapter 13 conduit plans in their cases. A new operating order has been entered to implement the procedures. The new order replaces the amended operating order 16-02 and the interim language for use in section 8.1 of chapter 13 plans posted for use in Judge Duncan’s cases. Any questions regarding language in section 8.1 in Judge Waites’ cases may be directed to Trustees Wyman and Stephenson.

The new procedures are effective in cases filed on and after August 1, 2018. The major differences are that chapter 13 plans containing provisions for post-petition mortgage payments must adopt the conduit payment method when the collateral is a principal residence and if there is a default in payments other than a technical default (for example due to late payment charges or a shortage in payment of less than one monthly payment) that can be cured within 30 days of the petition date. Please consult the operating order in its entirety for other changes and for the small differences in procedure between the two judges (relating to loss mitigation for example).

These changes do not apply to chapter 13 cases assigned to Judge Burris.


Mon, 6/18/2018 - 11:15 am

Judge Waites invites members of the bankruptcy bar and their staff to a meeting to review the new LM/MM Guidelines, which will be effective on July 1, 2018. The Charleston Meeting will be held in the Charleston courtroom on Thursday, June 21, 2018 after Court concludes (approximately 10:30 A.M.). The Columbia Meeting will be held in the Columbia courtroom on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 after Court concludes (approximately 10:30 A.M.). Chambers expects each of these meetings to be no longer than one hour.

If you are planning to attend, please RSVP by email to Andrew Powell (Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov).

Attendance by telephone will be considered for counsel or staff whose offices are located more than 30 miles from the court location, and should be requested by contacting Regina Schmidt (Regina_Schmidt@scb.uscourts.gov) and Agnes Babb (Agnes_Babb@scb.uscourts.gov) no later than 24 hours prior to the scheduled meeting.


Fri, 6/01/2018 - 9:30 am

The Portal LM/MM process continues to be a successful means for debtors and creditors to address mortgage debt as recent statistics suggest that more than 70% of completed reviews result in trial modifications, permanent loan modifications and other arrangements beneficial to the parties.

In an effort to continue to improve the Portal LM/MM process and after input from members of the Bar who are most active in the LM/MM program, Judge Waites has made certain changes to the applicable Chambers Guidelines to be effective July 1, 2018.*

The changes primarily provide more time for the completion of the Debtor’s Prepared Package, and the scheduling of court hearings as backstops to ensure the timely exchange of information. More complete information will allow for a more effective mediation process when needed.

The updated LM/MM guidelines are attached below. Updated forms and orders will be forthcoming. In addition, chambers will be hosting bar meetings in June for the Charleston and Columbia divisions to review these LM/MM changes.

In the meantime, members of the Bar may provide comments or suggestions in writing to Andrew Powell (Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov) no later than June 14, 2018.

* In anticipation of these updated guidelines, the Court has revised and is presently using LM/MM orders that reflect these modified procedures.


Mon, 5/14/2018 - 1:27 pm

At the recent 2018 Annual Seminar of the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association (SCBLA), I, on behalf of the other charter applicants—George Cauthen, Janet Haigler, and Jimmy Wyman—announced the approval of the J. Bratton Davis Bankruptcy American Inn of Court for the District of South Carolina.

One of the missions of the Inn is to promote excellence in legal advocacy and skills as well as emphasize ethics, civility and professionalism through social programs and discussions amongst lawyers, judges, and academics. A primary goal is to mentor young lawyers and students and pass along the ethical and professional values from one generation of legal professionals to the next. We are pleased that Judges Duncan and Burris, and retired Judge Bishop have accepted invitations to join the Inn.

The charter applicants view its formation as a compliment to the outstanding educational programs and activities of SCBLA and a further way to highlight what makes our practice special, including to honor the legacy of J. Bratton Davis, who, as our District’s first and longest serving judge, set a high standard of civility and respect.

The following video of Judge Davis demonstrates in just a few minutes his class and generosity.

Details on the Inn and its membership will be provided soon. We are hopeful that many members of the bankruptcy bar will consider joining.


Judge Duncan

Tue, 6/19/2018 - 3:00 pm

Judges Waites and Duncan have revised the procedure for chapter 13 conduit plans in their cases. A new operating order has been entered to implement the procedures. The new order replaces the amended operating order 16-02 and the interim language for use in section 8.1 of chapter 13 plans posted for use in Judge Duncan’s cases. Any questions regarding language in section 8.1 in Judge Waites’ cases may be directed to Trustees Wyman and Stephenson.

The new procedures are effective in cases filed on and after August 1, 2018. The major differences are that chapter 13 plans containing provisions for post-petition mortgage payments must adopt the conduit payment method when the collateral is a principal residence and if there is a default in payments other than a technical default (for example due to late payment charges or a shortage in payment of less than one monthly payment) that can be cured within 30 days of the petition date. Please consult the operating order in its entirety for other changes and for the small differences in procedure between the two judges (relating to loss mitigation for example).

These changes do not apply to chapter 13 cases assigned to Judge Burris.


Thu, 4/05/2018 - 4:11 pm

At the request of the debtors' bar, the Request for Order Authorizing Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification event is now available for use in chapter 7 cases (Judge Duncan and Judge Burris cases only).  The event may be used one time only, and can only be filed once the chapter 7 trustee has filed a report of no distribution or a report of abandonment of the specific property on which the debtor intends to pursue loss mitigation.  A copy of the resulting order is available here.  Note that the chapter 7 order provides that “the issuance of this order does not extend any time period or deadline in this case.” Additionally, the language of the Request for Order Authorizing Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification in Judge Duncan and Judge Burris chapter 13 cases has changed slightly to conform to the language of the chapter 7 order and to provide clarity.  The title of the Order has changed from "Order Authorizing Loss Mitigation/Mediation" to "Order Authorizing Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification", and the second sentence of the order has been revised to add "at their discretion" after "Debtor(s) and Creditor", reflecting that although the stay is lifted to allow the parties to engage in loss mitigation, doing so  is within the discretion of the parties.  A copy of the revised order is available here.


Judge Burris

Fri, 4/06/2018 - 1:40 pm

Updated Chambers Guidelines for Judge Burris have been posted here to include the chapter 7 Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification event


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