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Chambers' Bulletins

Judge Waites

Mon, 4/27/2020 - 2:49 pm

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).


Fri, 3/27/2020 - 12:22 pm

After consultation with Chapter 13 Trustee Jimmy Wyman, the chapter 13 hearings scheduled for April 2, 2020 and April 16, 2020 in cases assigned to Judge Waites in the Charleston Division have been continued to April 30, 2020 (with confirmation matters scheduled for 10:00 AM and section 362 motions scheduled for 11:00 AM that day).  A copy of this global order of continuance is attached to this announcement.  

This continuance order applies only to chapter 13 cases before Judge Waites in the Charleston Division.  This continuance order does not apply to hearings: (1) before the other Bankruptcy Judges (including Judge Duncan’s chapter 13 hearings scheduled in the Charleston Division), (2) in chapter 13 cases assigned to Judge Waites in the Columbia Division, or (3) in cases assigned to Judge Waites in all other chapters of the Bankruptcy Code (including those matters in the Charleston Division).

Any questions regarding this continuance order should be sent to Andrew Powell (Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov) and Sarah Kistler (Sarah_Kistler@scb.uscourts.gov) by email.


Fri, 3/20/2020 - 10:58 am

Please be reminded that Judge Waites’ hearings for next week (scheduled for March 24, 25, and 26, 2020) remain on the docket as scheduled. Judge Waites will be liberally granting requests to appear by telephone/video conference at these hearings.

Pursuant to Judge Waites’ announcement on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, which is available here, those seeking to appear by telephone/video conference at next week’s hearing should, after consulting with opposing counsel/parties, contact the following people to make this request:

When requesting to appear by telephone/video conference, please advise of the following information:

  • That you have consulted with the opposing parties/counsel and that there is no objection to appearing by telephone/video conference;
  • That the matter is not contested or is contested but requires only argument and/or stipulated exhibits; and
  • That you will not be examining/cross-examining any witnesses or presenting any unstipulated exhibits at the hearing.

In contested matters involving the presentation of testimony and/or unstipulated exhibits, counsel/parties should contact the following people well in advance of the hearing in order to determine any possible changes in the scheduling or manner of the contested hearing:

Any questions by counsel should be addressed to Andrew Powell (Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov) and Sarah Kistler (Sarah_Kistler@scb.uscourts.gov).


Wed, 3/18/2020 - 12:43 pm

In an effort to preserve parties’ rights, for the present time, Judge Waites’ court hearings will remain scheduled as previously noticed. However, the goal will be to limit in-person attendance at hearings through the use of telephone and video conference appearances.

  • In Chapter 13 cases, Trustees Stephenson and Wyman currently expect to appear in person or by telephone to make announcements and recommendations at their scheduled hearings and may address other matters, so please continue to timely work with their offices to resolve any scheduled hearings on these dockets.
  • In chapter 7 or 11 cases, counsel should contact chambers directly for any hearing related matters or changes.
  • Pro se parties in all chapters should contact the Courtroom Deputy, Nicole Stalvey (Nicole_Stalvey@scb.uscourts.gov, 803-765-5436), regarding upcoming hearings.

Currently, all chamber guideline requirements remain in force, including the timely filing of requests for continuances, withdrawals, and reports of settlement and the need for filing joint statements of disputes.

  • Upon timely request, Judge Waites intends to liberally grant continuances (through the timely filing of a Request for Continuance event in CM/ECF) or appearances by telephone or video conference (requested by timely email correspondence sent to Chambers) in uncontested matters or contested matters with argument only.
  • For lengthy hearings or contested matters in which a party intends to offer testimony or unstipulated exhibits, counsel should consult with each other and contact chambers well in advance of the scheduled hearing to request a continuance or to determine any changes in the scheduling or the manner of hearing.   

Please also be aware that individuals who display virus symptoms or who report contact with others displaying symptoms or those who have travelled to high volume virus areas will not be allowed entry to the courthouse or courtroom by court security officers pursuant to the standing order of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Therefore, for in person hearings at which, parties and witnesses would ordinarily be expected to attend in person, counsel should contact their clients and witnesses in advance to inquire whether each person meets the entry requirements of the courthouse and certify that neither counsel nor any other necessary attendee has a condition prohibiting entry to the courthouse to chambers by email correspondence no later than 10:00 AM one business day before the hearing.

Any questions by counsel should be addressed to Andrew Powell (Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov) and Sarah Kistler (Sarah_Kistler@scb.uscourts.gov).


Tue, 3/03/2020 - 11:08 am

 ATTORNEY’S FEES FOR DEBTOR’S COUNSEL IN CHAPTER 13 CASES

To reflect the recent changes regarding the removal of a cap on supplemental fees and the increase in the expedite fee amount in cases assigned to Judge Waites effective March 1, 2020, the following is provided as guidance to the bar:

Expedited Fee Amount under SC LBR 2016-1(b)(1) for cases filed on or after March 1, 2020:

  • Consumer Chapter 13 Case: $4,000
  • Business Chapter 13 Case: $4,500

The Expedited Fee is conditionally approved and earned upon confirmation. The expedited fee includes post-confirmation communications, including correspondence with Debtors, Trustee, and the Court regarding case administration, and the creation and filing of a Certification of Plan Completion and Request for Discharge and the Financial Management Certificate or other documents contemplated and necessary for case closing and discharge.

Supplemental Fees- There is no longer a threshold or cap for supplemental fees in any pending case for additional work necessary as a result of unanticipated issues arising pre or post confirmation, matters involving the default under or variance from the terms of a confirmed plan, an adversary proceeding, an appeal, or for other compelling factors not present in a typical chapter 13 case. As a result, the procedures found in SC LBR 2016-1(b)(2)(B) are no longer necessary. Attorneys should continue to follow the procedures for application set for in SC LBR 2016-1(b)(2)(A) regarding an amended Statement and Application.

MEMO ON DISCHARGE AND MISSED MAINTENANCE PAYMENTS

Chambers has produced a memorandum to assist counsel in considering a debtor’s options in addressing a failure to make maintenance payments to a residential creditor under a cure and maintain plan under  § 1322(b)(2) as it pertains to the debtor’s discharge, which is attached to this announcement. This memo only applies to chapter 13 cases assigned to Judge Waites.


Judge Duncan

Mon, 4/27/2020 - 1:04 pm

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.


Mon, 3/02/2020 - 10:12 am

Judge Duncan has revised his Chambers Guidelines.  In addition to making other minor, non-substantive changes, he has revised the chapter 13 attorney fees section to reflect the increase in the expedited fee amount and the elimination of the limitation for supplemental fees for general chapter 13 matters.  The Chambers Guidelines are available here.


Judge Burris

Fri, 3/20/2020 - 12:19 pm

Please see Judge Burris' Chambers Guidelines Temporary Amendment Due to National Health Emergency Effective March 20, 2020.  For your convenience, the document is posted in redline to highlight the changes in procedure.


Thu, 2/27/2020 - 1:44 pm

Pursuant to the bulletin of February 26, 2020, Judge Burris has posted updated Chambers Guidelines that include new Chapter 13 attorney’s fees information as follows:

Chapter 13 Matters

Fees

Expedited fee amount for purposes of SC LBR 2016-1(b)(1) for all cases assigned to Judge Burris:  Consumer $4,000; Business $4,500

Supplemental Fees. The chambers guideline threshold for Judge Burris is eliminated effective March 1, 2020. As a result, the procedures found in SC LBR 2016-1(b)(2)(B) are no longer necessary and attorneys should follow the procedure for application set forth in SC LBR 2016-1(b)(2)(A).

Fees charged must match the complexity and scope of work described in the application.

Form for general bankruptcy matters

Form for loss mitigation or mortgage loan modification work

After confirmation, and to the extent funds are available after deduction of the trustee’s commission, the trustee may disburse up to $1,500.00 to counsel as part of the initial disbursement under the Chapter 13 plan.


On Behalf of the Court

Wed, 2/26/2020 - 11:04 am

To streamline compensation for debtor's attorneys in chapter 13 cases and to provide fair and reasonable compensation, Judges Duncan, Waites and Burris have agreed to certain changes for fee amounts and procedures.  These include a consistent expedited fee amount under SC LBR 2016-1(b)(1) ($4,000.00 consumer; $4,500.00 business) and the elimination of the cap on fees, in most instances, under SC LBR 2016-1(b)(2)(A).  Attorneys are reminded that any fees charged must be fair and reasonable and fees remain subject to review throughout the case.  Please consult updated Chambers Guidelines for each judge, which will be posted soon.  These changes are effective in cases filed on or after March 1, 2020, and to pending cases as provided in a judge's Chambers Guidelines.


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