As promised during the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association 2021 Virtual Seminar judges' presentation, I have added practice pointers and a few preferred form orders to my chamber's guidelines page. The materials were designed to help lawyers anticipate issues that might prompt questions from chambers, take valuable attorney time for clarification, and/or cause delay in obtaining orders your clients may need. The orders are currently in use in my chambers and, while procedures may change with coming local rules amendments or considering several recently announced decisions by the judges, most will continue to be useful in the context of relief from stay motions and when creditors, insurers, buyers, and other parties in interest want judicial approval or comfort orders in chapter 13 cases. Many relief from stay orders easily generate from CMECF events but the forms available through the chambers guideline page can be adapted for use when it is necessary to manually generate the proposed order. The exhibits are in Word format. Please replace any existing proposed order forms you may regularly use with these that I have made available.The material and forms are applicable only to bankruptcy cases assigned to me.
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Miranda B. Nelson has joined Judge Duncan's chambers as a law clerk. Miranda is a 2020 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law and comes to chambers after a one-year clerkship with Senior United States District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr.
Lucas Fautua's last day in Judge Duncan's chambers is today, August 13, 2021. He will be joining Riley Pope & Laney. Lucas came to chambers from a small Virginia consumer debtor practice in April 2020. Arriving in the early days of the Covid pandemic, Lucas provided a steady hand, continuity, and a good work ethic. His contribution to the Court and chambers is much appreciated.
Dawn Hardesty, Judge Duncan’s career law clerk, will leave the Court today, August 6, 2021, to begin service as a staff attorney to chapter 13 trustee Pamela Simmons-Beasley. Dawn served as a term clerk 2010-2012, then engaged in private practice, and returned as a career clerk in 2016. She has managed and organized chambers, provided outstanding research and writing, dealt professionally and courteously with the bar, worked with others across the court, district, circuit, and Administrative Office during much of my term as Chief Judge, and been a wonderful counsellor, sounding board, friend, and advisor. I wish her much success and enjoyment in the next phase of her professional life and am pleased that Dawn will remain a part of the bankruptcy bar.
C. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Weston has joined Judge Duncan's chambers as a law clerk. Lizzie is a 2017 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law and comes to chambers from Haynsworth, Sinker, Boyd.
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.
Judge Duncan is accepting applications for a term law clerk. The vacancy announcement can be reviewed here.
Due to the Local Rule changes effective December 1, 2020, Judge Duncan has made minor revisions to his Chambers Guidelines. The changes are as follows:
1. The section regarding chapter 13 attorney fee procedures has been simplified due to recent changes to the procedure for requesting supplemental fees and the Court's creation of new events.
2. A section has been added entitled, "Supplement to Exhibits A and B to SC LBR 9013-4." This section provides information regarding scheduling of applications for allowance of administrative claims or interests under section 503 and sets the response deadline for motions to reopen under section 350. This section also clarifies that the procedure and deadline for objecting to a chapter 13 plan and embedded motions remains the same in Judge Duncan cases.
3. Some exhibits have been reorganized due to the removal of the form previously used to request supplemental fees for loss mitigation work in a chapter 13 case.
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.
Judge Duncan is pleased to welcome his new law clerk, Lucas Fautua. Lucas joined Judge Duncan's chambers on April 13. A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Lucas is a 2016 graduate of North Carolina State University and a 2019 graduate of University of South Carolina School of Law. Prior to joining Judge Duncan's chambers, Lucas worked at a small firm in Norfolk, Virginia representing debtors in chapter 7, 11, and 13 cases.