In June 2021, Judge Duncan will begin holding in person hearings in contested matters, including contested chapter 13 confirmation hearings, motions for relief from stay, and matters in chapter 7, 11, and 12 cases. These hearings will ordinarily be scheduled in person; however, if extenuating circumstances exist and all parties agree, the hearing may be held virtually. Parties should advise the Court as soon as possible if they wish for a hearing to be held remotely. Masks will still be required for all parties attending in person hearings, and social distancing guidelines will still be observed.
In order to facilitate the Court's scheduling, parties should be diligent about settling matters and reporting any settlements to the Court. Additionally, parties may not attend in person hearings if displaying any symptoms of Covid-19 or if quarantining due to possible exposure to Covid-19. Chief United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell's standing order restricting entry to federal courthouses by certain persons remains in effect. If any party is unable to attend a hearing due to illness or exposure, the Court must be notified as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made to continue the matter to a later date.
For chapter 13 matters, Judge Duncan will continue his current practice of reviewing and disposing of all matters scheduled for 10 a.m. in advance of the hearing date. If any party believes that a matter scheduled for 10 a.m. should be heard on the hearing date, chambers should be contacted as soon as possible. To reduce the number of people in the courtroom, Judge Duncan will also continue his current practice of rescheduling matters scheduled for 10:30 a.m. for different times throughout the morning. Chambers will provide parties with the time of their hearing by email.