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Chambers' Bulletins

Tue, 5/31/2016 - 5:00 am

Judge Waites and the staff of the United States Bankruptcy Court would like to thank Sarah Kistler for her service as a career law clerk in Columbia since November 2006. Her last day in chambers will be Friday, June 3, 2016.

Sarah has not only been an outstanding law clerk and adviser, but she has managed chambers with a steady hand and positive spirit that has endeared her to her colleagues and the bar. Her professionalism, friendship and support will be sorely missed.

We all wish Sarah and her family great happiness and the very best in the future.

Wed, 5/11/2016 - 5:00 am

Due to construction work taking place in the Charleston courtroom, Judge Waites' hearings scheduled for Thursday, May 12, 2016 will be conducted in Courtroom 5 on the 4th floor of the United States District Court, 85 Broad Street in Charleston at their previously scheduled time. Attorneys scheduled to appear are asked to notify their clients of the change in the location and to suggest an early arrival time to avoid unnecessary delay.

Tue, 5/10/2016 - 5:00 am

It is with great sadness that the Judges have learned of the passing of retired bankruptcy attorney John R. Lester.  John filed thousands of consumer bankruptcy cases from his Midlands office before “retiring” to the coast, where he also practiced real estate law. He started his bankruptcy practice when a tenant in his office building was disbarred and hundreds of chapter 13 debtors were left without representation, but for John’s stepping up and assuming responsibility for the cases. He served as President of the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association, was a William E. S. Robinson Public Service Award winner, and was twice recognized by the South Carolina Bar for his pro bono work. John was dedicated to his clients, a friend to his fellow attorneys, and always a model of collegiality.

Thu, 5/05/2016 - 5:00 am

Student Loan Debt Project: Recent Updates from the Department of Education

As part of the Student Loan Debt Program, Judge Waites and the Student Loan Workshop Committee would like to pass along recent updates from the Department of Education that may be helpful to counsel in assisting clients with student loan issues.

Recently, the Department of Education reported that one in four student loans are either in default or are at risk of imminent default. The Department also reports that 70% of borrowers qualify for an income driven repayment plan but that few borrowers seek alternative repayment options. Therefore, the Department of Education, in coordination with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Treasury, have announced an initiative to increase awareness of these alternative repayment options and to improve the customer service provided to student loan borrowers.  Summaries of the recent developments made as part of this initiative are attached here, including:

(1)   The new Department of Education website for alternative student loan repayment plans

(2)   The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Payback Playbook

(3)   The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Servicemember  Student Loan Action Guide

(4)   The Department of Education’s solicitation for Total and Permanent Disability Discharge.


Thu, 5/05/2016 - 5:00 am

Best Practices – foreclosure and the automatic stay -


The judges recently received correspondence from a state court judicial officer asking our court to encourage counsel for debtors to ensure that a courtesy notice of a bankruptcy filing or intent to file is given to creditor attorneys when a foreclosure proceeding is nearing a sale. Providing prompt notice of bankruptcy helps avoid wasted effort by counsel and the state court and serves to limit the unnecessary costs and attorney fees that may be taxed to the debtor when notice is not given in a timely fashion. Equally important, ensuring that opposing counsel and the state court knows of the bankruptcy filing before unnecessary effort is expended is consistent with civility in the practice of law and the collegiality for which the bankruptcy bar is known. Likewise, counsel for the foreclosing party has on-line tools available to monitor bankruptcy filings and the best practice is to always check for a bankruptcy filing shortly before the sale is to occur. Because the stay arises by virtue of the filing of the bankruptcy petition, regardless of notice, an attentive creditor counsel can avoid wasting judicial resources by monitoring filings. We believe that most bankruptcy counsel are faithful in communicating with creditor counsel and that most creditor counsel engage in the practice of monitoring on-line case filing information before proceeding to a sale; nevertheless, and in cooperation with state judicial officials, we remind you of these best practices.

Annual Seminar –

The judges and clerk of the Bankruptcy Court thank the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association and its members for the hospitality shown us at the Hilton Head meeting this past weekend. The speakers and materials were superb. Even more important, the opportunity for social interaction was unsurpassed. There were over two hundred in attendance and all who missed the annual event should begin planning now for next year.
The Association recognized two outstanding individuals with awards.

The annual William E. S. (Billy) Robinson Public Service Award was presented to Janet Haigler. This honor is awarded to an Association member selected by the Public Service Committee, with the approval of the Board of Directors, for “distinguished public service to the legal profession and the community as was exemplified by Billy Robinson during his life.” Janet was nominated by her fellow members of the CARE Steering Committee, a joint initiative of the Court, Association, and S. C. Legal Services. She is the chair of the Outreach Committee and is “the face of CARE in speaking to community organizations about the benefits of using CARE presenters.”  Janet is herself a regular presenter and she recently helped establish a relationship for CARE with high school teachers state-wide through the South Carolina Finance Forum.

The J. Bratton Davis Professionalism Award was presented to George Cauthen. The award criteria provides: “This award is named in honor of J. Bratton Davis, this district’s first bankruptcy judge . . . . Judge Davis always epitomized the best of the legal profession: academic scholarship and perfection in his written opinions; considerate and polite to all who appeared before him; and the consummate gentleman in all that he did.” George was nominated by a group of ten of his fellows at the bar. The nomination noted his scholarship, public service, collegiality, expertise, age and youthful exuberance, and many other characteristics. It was noted, “He co-founded the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program, the South Carolina Death Penalty Resource Center, and the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission. He has received the Van Breisen Award from the National Legal Aid Association, the Robinson Public Service Award from Bankla, the Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award from the South Carolina Bar, the Distinguished Service Award from the South Carolina Bar, the Compleat Lawyer Award from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and the Grassroots Advocacy Award from the American Bar Association.”  The nomination concluded: “An ornament to the bar, a shining example of how lawyers ought to act, a beacon of professionalism, and a constant example of civility. . . .”

Congratulations to Janet and George. 

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