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Chambers' Bulletins

Judge Waites

Mon, 1/13/2020 - 9:50 am

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 ( 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 ( 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, and Chambers (Andrew Powell, Agnes Babb, by email no later than the deadline for filing the joint statement of dispute in the contested matter.

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 9:03 am

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

Wed, 9/18/2019 - 8:33 am

Judge Waites has recently updated his Chambers Guidelines to increase the no-look fees allowed for Debtor’s counsel who provide services to debtors in addressing student loan debt in the chapter 13 cases assigned to him.  Counsel is now allowed a no-look fee of $1,250 (increased from $1,000) for assisting a debtor with the confirmation of a plan providing for the debtor’s enrollment in or maintenance of an Income Driven Repayment Plan with the U.S. Department of Education. Further, counsel is now allowed a no-look fee of $1,500 (increased from $1,000) for participating in a court ordered mediation regarding student loan debt in lieu of a contested hearing.

The updated guidelines are attached to this message.

On Behalf of the Court

Wed, 1/08/2020 - 11:23 am

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.

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 9:22 am

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:

Kristen Nichols

William K. Stephenson, Jr.

John Timothy Stack

Ann Urquhart Bell

Gina Rossi McMaster

Joseph Kershaw Spong

J. Ronald Jones, Jr.

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 12:01 am

 The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 took effect on October 1, 1979, forty years ago today. The new law repealed the Bankruptcy Act of 1898 and modernized the law with a new Title 11, the Bankruptcy Code. Although amended several times in the ensuing years, the Code continues to provide relief for debtors and an avenue for recovery by creditors. The basic framework of the Code was set in place by the Commission on Bankruptcy Laws, which had reported the need for a modern bankruptcy law in a two-part report to Congress in 1973.

The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 also made changes to Title 28 and established the United States Bankruptcy Courts as separate courts within the federal judiciary.

Read the entire article in the attached PDF.

Thu, 8/15/2019 - 9:28 am

The Judges remind the bar that SC LBR 5075-1 delegates the service of a variety of orders, including, for example, orders confirming plans, orders on motions to reconsider dismissal, and orders on motions to extend stay.  The docket text generated upon entry of the order reflects, and should remind you, whether the order is a delegated service order.  SC LBR 9013-3 requires filing certificates of service.  It appears that many attorneys either are not serving delegated orders or are serving orders but not filing certificates of service.  Failure to comply with the Local Rules may affect the enforceability of these orders.  Please review your internal office procedures to ensure that you are in compliance with the Local Rules.

Judge Duncan

Thu, 1/02/2020 - 11:09 am

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.

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 2:29 pm

Judge Duncan has made minor revisions to his Chambers Guidelines consistent with the chapter 13 trustee's intention to begin filing formal objections to confirmation and to make other minor updates.  The changes are as follows:

1.  The section regarding the trustee's notes concerning confirmation has been revised to remove references to the trustee's intent to request dismissal at the confirmation hearing but to retain the requirement that previously requested documents be filed with the Court or submitted to the trustee overnight.

2.  The section regarding joint statements of dispute has been revised to clarify that parties are not required to file joint statements of dispute in the event of a chapter 13 trustee objection.

3. The section regarding electronic exhibits has been revised to state that counsel should meet with the courtroom deputy at least two business days in advance of trial to ensure compatibility of electronic devices to be used at hearing or trial.

4. Exhibit A has been revised to reflect recent changes to Judge Duncan's form scheduling order for adversary proceedings.

Judge Burris

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 1:40 pm

A revised Operating Order for conduit plans in cases assigned to Judge Burris is available here.  The only revision is the removal of a footnote that prohibited modified conduit plans from retroactively changing past plan payments.  Please note that this change is only applicable to cases assigned to Judge Burris.


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