On behalf of the Judges and Clerk of Court, thank you to the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association for an educational and enjoyable virtual seminar. This year’s plans to meet in Asheville in March were postponed and eventually replaced with a virtual event over three Fridays this month. We would like to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of the Seminar Committee to ensure its members were able to participate in enriching CLE sessions. We hope to meet again in-person next year and continue with the fellowship and traditions of the seminar and SCBLA.
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Jason Ward’s two-year term as law clerk for Judge Burris in the Spartanburg Division comes to an end on Friday, August 21st. He leaves the court to open his new law office in Greenville, S.C. Jason has provided excellent service to the Court over the past two years and we wish him the best as he embarks on this next step in his career.
Direction regarding hearings before Judge Helen E. Burris can be found in the Judge’s Chambers Guidelines TEMPORARY AMENDMENT DUE TO NATIONAL HEALTH EMERGENCY (originally posted March 20, 2020, in redline to highlight changes from prior procedures), available here.
Judge Waites has entered Operating Order 20-13, a copy of which is available here.
Operating Order 20-13 modifies the Conduit Procedure to reflect the COVID-19-related changes in procedure stated in Amended Operating Order 20-07, including permitting, but not requiring, the suspension of Trustee disbursements to the Mortgage Creditor upon the filing of a Motion for LM/MM; allowing additional options for proposing a cure of missed payments resulting from a moratorium order; and removing any dismissal conditions upon the entry of an order granting an exception to the Conduit Procedure. Please note that for cases assigned to Judge Waites, the form Motion to Modify Plan to Allow a Moratorium of Payments (Conduit Plan) and form Order Modifying Plan to Allow a Moratorium of Payments (Conduit Plan) have been modified to reflect this repayment flexibility and are available in Microsoft Word format on the Court’s local forms webpage.
The forms and procedures of Operating Order 20-13 may be used by parties immediately and will be required in all chapter 13 cases assigned to Judge Waites beginning on October 1, 2020.
As the result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Waites has amended Operating Order 20-07 to provide more flexible procedures in Chapter 13 cases. The Amended Order addresses:
- Motions for Moratoriums in both Conduit and Non-Conduit Cases;
- Modification of Plans due to COVID-19;
- LM/MM Procedures in Conduit Cases;
- More Lenient Dismissal Procedures;
- Exceptions from the Mandatory Conduit Procedure.
A copy of the Amended Operating Order 20-07 is available here. Please note that Amended Operating Order 20-07 applies only to the chapter 13 cases assigned to Judge John E. Waites.
Judge Waites’ chambers has produced guidelines to assist counsel in effectively raising objections to claim under the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code, Rules and applicable case law. The guidelines are available here. The guidelines apply only to the cases assigned to Judge Waites.
Guidelines on Post-Petition Payments of Arrearage and Fees in Chapter 13 Cases (Judge Waites)
Judge Waites’ chambers has produced guidelines to assist counsel in considering a debtor’s options in the payment of post-petition arrearage and the payment of post-petition fees, charges and expenses under Fed. R. Bankr. P. 3002.1. The guidelines are available here. The guidelines have been reviewed and approved by Trustees Wyman and Stephenson and apply only to the chapter 13 cases assigned to Judge Waites.
Revised Form 362 Settlement Orders
Due to court-wide sunset of standard language in stay relief orders and due to the recent public health crisis, Judge Waites has updated the form 362 settlement orders which will allow for expedited consideration without a hearing. Copies of the form 362 settlement orders in Microsoft Word format are available here.
During the COVID 19 public health crisis and based on the extension of the provisions limiting in-person hearings provided by Operating Order 20-03, the majority of hearings in cases assigned to Judge Waites will be held by teleconference. Contested hearings that require significant time for the presentation of argument, testimony and documentary evidence will be held by videoconference with all the participating counsel appearing in that fashion.
In order to provide the necessary support for these remote appearances by counsel and parties, the Court must know the status of matters scheduled for hearing as early as possible. Therefore, effective May 1, 2020, the deadline for filing of Joint or Separate Statements of Dispute and requests for continuances, settlements or withdrawals shall be 10:00 am, three (3) business days prior to the date of the hearing unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
Further, in order to avoid delay and complications on the day of the scheduled hearing, matters designated to be held by videoconference will require a test of the videoconference system in advance of the hearing to be attended by all counsel, witnesses and parties intending to appear at the scheduled hearing. The Courtroom Deputy will schedule the videoconference test and will notify counsel of the deadline for the presentation of exhibits at these contested hearings.
Furthermore, counsel and parties planning to attend hearings by telephone shall advise the Courtroom Deputy no later than one (1) business day prior to the hearing and call in ten (10) minutes before the scheduled start of the hearings.
The failure to timely file a joint or separate statement of dispute, to otherwise timely respond to Chambers’ request for a status update, to participate in the videoconference testing, or timely submit exhibits may be considered a failure to prosecute the parties’ positions resulting in the ex parte denial of relief or position requested by that party.
Any questions regarding these matters may be addressed by email to Courtroom Deputy Nicole Stalvey (Nicole_Stalvey@scb.uscourts.gov), and Judge Waites’ law clerks, Andrew Powell (Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov), and Sarah Kistler (Sarah_Kistler@scb.uscourts.gov).
Operating Order 20-12, available here, has been issued and is effective September 17, 2020 in all Judge Duncan cases. Pursuant to the Operating Order, Judge Duncan's procedures for conduit cases remain the same.
On Behalf of the Court
It is with great sadness that the Judges learned of the passing of W. Ryan Hovis, a retired bankruptcy practitioner and chapter 7 trustee from Rock Hill, S.C., on May 26, 2020. A graduate of Clemson University and the University of South Carolina School of Law, Ryan was a Navy veteran, working with early computer programs and systems under the command of Admiral Grace Hopper, the developer of the COBOL programming language. Ryan was a member of the United States Patent Bar and he served as a chapter 7 trustee in cases under the Bankruptcy Act. Judge Davis appointed Ryan as one of the original five members of the panel of chapter 7 trustees at the time of the effective date of the Bankruptcy Code on October 1, 1979. Ryan served on the panel until his retirement in 2014. He was responsible for litigating many precedent setting matters before the Bankruptcy and District Court along with the Court of Appeals. Ryan was awarded the J. Bratton Davis Professionalism Award by the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association in 2015. He was interviewed for the South Carolina Bar oral history project in late 2019 and a transcript of that interview is available here.