As a reminder, if you attended the SBRA training on February 11, 2020 by WebEx and would like to obtain CLE credit, please send your completed certificate of attendance to Dawn Hardesty at email@example.com by Monday, February 17, 2020. A copy of the certificate of attendance form is available here.
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On Behalf of the Court
As a reminder, if you plan to attend the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 training on February 11, 2020 at 3:00 p.m., please rsvp by today, February 7 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate whether you plan to attend in person and in which location, or whether you plan to attend via WebEx. If attending by WebEx, please provide the email address to which you would like the log-in instructions sent. If you have questions about the training, please contact Dawn Hardesty at email@example.com or at (803) 765-5659.
As previously noticed, the United States trustee program will host a training session to discuss the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 on February 11, 2020 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. The training session will be held at the United States Bankruptcy Courthouse, 1100 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC. The training will also be available by video from the Charleston and Spartanburg courthouses and via WebEx from your personal computer. It is anticipated that the training will be approved for 1.5 hours of CLE credit.
If you would like to attend the February 11 training, please RSVP by Friday, February 7 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate whether you plan to attend in person and in which location, or whether you plan to attend via WebEx. If attending by WebEx, please provide the email address to which you would like the log-in instructions sent. Instructions for logging in to the training via WebEx will be sent out the day prior to the training to those that have RSVPed. Written materials for the training will be posted on the Court's website and sent by email to those that have RSVPed prior to the event.
If you have questions about the training, please contact Dawn Hardesty at email@example.com or at (803) 765-5659.
To facilitate uniformity in the implementation of the changes mandated by the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019, the Court has adopted Local Rule 2081-3, which incorporates Interim Amendments to Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 1007, 1020, 2009, 2012, 2015, 3010, 3011, 3014, 3016, 3017.1, 3017.2, 3018, and 3019. Local Rule 2081-3 is effective February 19, 2020. The Operating Order adopting the Local Rule is available here. A redline showing the changes made to the Local Rules by the Interim Rules is available here.
The United States trustee program will host a training session to educate the bankruptcy bar on the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 on the afternoon of February 11, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. The training session will be held at the United States Bankruptcy Courthouse, 1100 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC 29201 and will also be available for viewing from the Charleston and Spartanburg courthouses or from your personal computer. The session should be approved for CLE credit. Please save this date and make plans to attend. More information will be available soon.
The Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee has met and recommended that the presumptive interest rate in chapter 13 cases be decreased from 6.25% to 5.75%. The Court has considered and adopted this recommendation. The presumptive interest rate in chapter 13 cases to be applied to secured claims will become 5.75% effective for cases filed on or after January 9, 2020. Operating Order 20-01 adopting the new interest rate is available here. The Court thanks the members of the Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee for their work and recommendation.
Upon agreement of the Judges, local rule changes will become effective December 1, 2019. The changes are summarized as follows:
1. Local Rule 3011-1 has been amended to implement and conform to Director's Form 1340.
2. Local Rule 3015-8 is new. It establishes procedures for chapter 13 debtors obtaining post-petition credit.
3. Local Rule 5005-4 was amended to update the email address and fax number to be used for emergency filings in the event electronic filing is not possible.
4. Local Rule 5075-1 was amended to reflect that the Court now uses Director's Form 1340.
5. Local Rule 9013-4 was updated to add chapter 13 debtors' motions to obtain post-petition credit under new Local Rule 3015-8(b) to the passive notice list with a 14-day objection period.
The Judges thank the following members of the Local Rules committee for their efforts:
William K. Stephenson, Jr.
John Timothy Stack
Ann Urquhart Bell
Gina Rossi McMaster
Joseph Kershaw Spong
J. Ronald Jones, Jr.
During January and February 2020, Judge Waites’ Charleston court dockets will be, in most instances, conducted at the scheduled time by video conference capability with the trustees, attorneys, parties, and witnesses appearing in the Charleston courtroom and the Judge appearing by video from Columbia.
During this period, it is imperative that counsel observe Judge Waites’ Chambers Guidelines and timely submit continuance requests, withdrawals, settlements and joint statements of dispute. Joint statements of dispute are due in all contested matters, including objections to confirmation and objections to motions for relief from stay.
Testimony and documentary evidence shall be presented in Charleston. For all exhibits, to the extent counsel wants the Judge to have a copy for review during the hearing, an additional copy shall be provided to the Columbia Chambers by email (Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov) no later than 12:00 PM, one business day prior to the scheduled hearing.
Contested matters or trials which are expected to require significant court time may be rescheduled by the Court to be heard on a separate day.
The parties, counsel, and applicable case trustee may jointly request to move the location of a Charleston hearing to the Columbia courthouse. Any request to move a Charleston hearing to the Columbia courthouse shall be made to Chambers by email (Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov) no later than 10:00 AM two business days prior to the scheduled hearing. A hearing moved to the Columbia courthouse may be rescheduled depending on the Court’s schedule.
In matters involving only arguments (i.e., no testimony or contested exhibits to be presented) and with the consent of all counsel, pro se parties, and the applicable case trustee, the Court will allow attorneys to appear in Columbia while opposing attorneys appear in Charleston. Such a request and consents shall be presented to the Courtroom Deputy (Nicole Stalvey, Nicole_Stalvey@scb.uscourts.gov) and Chambers (Andrew Powell Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov, Agnes Babb, Agnes_Babb@scb.uscourts.gov) by email no later than the deadline for filing the joint statement of dispute in the contested matter.
In recognition of Pro Bono Week, the Judges of the United States Bankruptcy Court would like to thank the many members of the South Carolina Bar who selflessly volunteer to help the public in matters related to the work of our Court. A list of those volunteers is attached to this announcement.
Below are highlights of some of the bankruptcy-related pro bono programs offered in South Carolina:
Bankruptcy Court’s Ask-A-Lawyer Program: The Court, in partnership with the South Carolina Bar, sponsors a bankruptcy-related Ask-A-Lawyer program, which consists of two monthly opportunities for the public to call and speak with a volunteer attorney on bankruptcy and other debt collection issues. The calls are transferred to the voluntary attorney’s office directly from the Bankruptcy Court during a designated two-hour period. The attorney may remain anonymous in the discussions with the caller. Malpractice insurance is provided at no cost to the volunteer attorney by the South Carolina Bar for the legal guidance provided during the call.
Credit Abuse Resistance Education (C.A.R.E.) Program of South Carolina: C.A.R.E. is a financial literacy education program for students and young adults taught by volunteer attorneys at schools, conferences, churches and other community centers. Volunteer attorneys conduct a one-hour presentation on the use of credit and its related consequences as well as the advantages of budgeting and creating savings. Prior to giving a presentation, volunteer attorneys are provided interactive presentation materials and training.
Bankruptcy Court Bar Clinics (Charleston & Columbia): The Court also sponsors monthly free legal clinics where an individual may discuss bankruptcy or debt related issues with a volunteer attorney for up to one hour. The clinics are conducted at a time and date agreed upon by the volunteer attorney and the individual, and are now held by telephone or, if preferred by the volunteer attorney, at the attorney’s office or the Court. Many of the attendees of the legal clinics are individuals who are considering filing a bankruptcy case, who are creditors, or who seek other general bankruptcy information. Consultations from the legal clinics have led to representation agreements between the volunteer attorney and the individual.
Judge Waites’ Debtor Assistance Program: The Debtor Assistance Program applies only in Judge Waites cases and seeks to encourage representation by referring and matching pro se filers in the early stages of their case with consumer debtor's attorneys who have experience in chapter 13 cases. The referral process considers the attorney's geographic proximity to the debtor and the debtor's income level, but representation and its terms are subject to agreement between the debtor and the attorney. A separate referral program with South Carolina Legal Services is used for debtors with a qualifying low income.
South Carolina Legal Services Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) Program: South Carolina Legal Services Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) Program conducts a separate free monthly bankruptcy clinic for low income individuals who qualify under certain income guidelines.
South Carolina Bar’s Pro Bono Program: In addition to other services, the South Carolina Bar’s Pro Bono Program refers indigent debtors to attorneys for pro bono representation. Attorneys who accept pro bono cases through the program are offered malpractice insurance coverage for the case at no cost.
South Carolina Bar’s Free Legal Answers Program: In coordination with the American Bar Association, the S.C. Bar offers South Carolina Free Legal Answers, an online service in which qualified low income individuals may post legal questions, including those related to bankruptcy law, that are answered by volunteer attorneys. Volunteer attorneys are provided malpractice insurance at no cost for the legal guidance that they provide on the South Carolina Free Legal Answers website.
Volunteers are always needed and appreciated for these programs. If you are interested in volunteering for one of these pro bono programs, please contact Andrew Powell on behalf of Judge Waites at Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov.
Judge Duncan would like to thank his current law clerk, Charles Buist, for his distinguished service. Charles has served as Judge Duncan's law clerk since August 2018. He has accepted an offer to serve in a general counsel role in Jacksonville, Florida. His last day in Judge Duncan's chambers will be Friday, January 3. Judge Duncan extends Charles best wishes as he embarks on this next step in his career.