The Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee has met and recommended an increase to the presumptive interest rate in chapter 13 cases. After consideration, the Court has adopted the recommendation of the committee. The presumptive interest rate in chapter 13 cases to be applied to secured claims will become 6.25%, effective for cases filed on or after May 1, 2019. Operating Order 19-01 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.
You are here
On Behalf of the Court
Please see the attached order regarding the Court's schedule for the upcoming holiday season and for computing time during that period.
Each year the judges make an effort to coordinate changes to the Local Rules with national rules changes, usually effective December 1. During some cycles the changes are extensive and in others, less so. We are always ablely assisted by the Local Rules Committee in this effort.
This year the Local Rules Committee met, reviewed the national rules changes, and found no Local Rules changes necessitated for December 1. The Committee did suggest one new rule and minor revisions or edits to the District wide chapter 13 plan form. The judges will meet and consider these matters and other suggestions for revision of the chapter 13 plan form (with an opportunity for public comment) in early January. Thus, there are no December 1 local rule changes this year.
The judges take this opportunity to thank the members of the Local Rules Committee for their exemplary service: Kathleen M. Muthig (chair), John Timothy Stack, Katherine L. Rea, Michael Kevin McCarrell, Russell A. DeMott, Michael H. Weaver, and Christine E. Brimm.
As a reminder, the following changes to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure will take effect December 1, 2018:
1. Rule 3002.1(b) is amended to authorize courts to modify its requirements for claims arising from home equity lines of credit. Additionally, (b)(2) is amended to provide that a party in interest has a right to object to a payment change by filing a motion to determine whether the change is required to maintain payments under section 1322(b)(5) and states that if no motion is filed by the day prior to the date the new amount takes effect, the change automatically goes into effect.
2. Rule 5005 is amended to require parties represented by an attorney to file electronically and to allow pro se parties to file electronically under certain circumstances.
3. Rule 7004 is amended to update its reference to FRCP 4(d)(5).
4. Rule 7062 is amended to retain a 14-day period for the automatic stay of a judgment (FRCP 62 now provides for a 30-day stay).
5. Rules 8002 and 8011 are substantially revised, in large part to conform with amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
6. Rule 8006(c) is amended to provide authority for the court to file a statement on the merits of a certification for direct review by the court of appeals, if the certification is made jointly by all of the parties to the appeal.
7. Rules 8007, 8010, 8021, and 9025 are amended to conform with amendments to FRCP 62.
8. Rules 8013, 8015, 8016, 8017, and 8022 are amended to conform with amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
9. Rule 8018.1 was added to provide that if a district court determines that the bankruptcy court did not have authority to enter a final judgment, the district court can treat the order as proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.
The Administrative Office for United States Courts issues an annual report compiled from statistics collected by the Clerks of Court of the Bankruptcy Courts in bankruptcy cases filed around the nation. The report is required by the 2005 Reform Act and it reflects information garnered from consumer cases. You can find the full report and statistical tables at http://www.uscourts.gov/news/2018/08/27/bankruptcy-report-gives-details-2017-filers.
Consumer filings in South Carolina decreased 0.70% in 2017. In South Carolina, the median monthly income reported by individual debtors in chapter 7 cases was $2,407 per month, compared with $2,582 in the Fourth Circuit and $2,488 nationwide. Median expenses in South Carolina chapter 7 cases were $2,574 per month, compared with $2,890 in the Fourth Circuit and $2,659 nationwide. For chapter 13 cases, the median income in South Carolina was $3,288 per month, compared with $3,579 in the Fourth Circuit and $3,287 nationwide. Median expenses in South Carolina chapter 13 cases were $2,450, compared with $2,947 in the Fourth Circuit and $2,616 nationwide.
South Carolina enjoys a slightly higher chapter 13 case completion rate than the rest of the country. Nationwide, the plan completion rate was 48.38% for 2017, and in South Carolina the completion rate was 50.45%. The Fourth Circuit had a slightly higher completion rate, at 50.88%.
A summary of the report and a comparison of South Carolina's data to the rest of the 4th Circuit and the nation can be found here.
Our court, along with many others around the country and most of those in the 4th Circuit, previously employed a procedure for dismissal of bankruptcy cases upon certification by the Clerk of Court, the United States trustee or a trustee of certain deficiencies. The 4th Circuit, in the recent case of No v. Gorman, 891 F3d. 138 (4th Cir. 2018), noted the notice and opportunity for hearing requirement of sections 707(a), 1112(b), 1208(c), and 1307(c). In light of this decision the Court has adopted the attached operating order revising our local rules and adopting procedures consistent with No v. Gorman.
In short, rather than the certification of dismissal procedure previously permitted under the local rules, dismissal will now be considered upon a Rule to Show Cause or motion. The opportunity for a hearing (self-scheduled by the Clerk, UST or trustee) is thus available, however the case may be dismissed without a hearing, consistent with our general passive notice procedure, unless a timely response is interposed.
On behalf of the Judges and Clerk of Court, thanks to the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association for a most educational and enjoyable weekend at Isle of Palms. The Annual Seminar is open to all and is a must attend event for many in our practice area. The speakers this year included a United States District Judge, The U. S. Attorney nominee for our District, and two Masters in Equity. Several sessions involved an added state law focus with panelists we don’t ordinarily see. There were excellent sessions on lawyer succession planning and wellness. The 2019 seminar has been announced for March 29-31 in Savannah, Ga.
A highlight of the annual meeting is the presentation of the Association’s awards.
The William E.S. Robinson Public Service Award is named for Billy Robinson and is presented annually by the Board of Directors to a member rendering distinguished public service to the legal profession and community. Eddie McDonnell of South Carolina Legal Services was recognized. Eddie practices in the upstate and has been with Legal Services in various capacities since 1977. He is currently Director of Litigation. Among his many contributions over the years, a highlight has been his work in establishing and nurturing the “Foreclosure Friday” partnership between Legal Services and The United States Bankruptcy Court. This program provides last minute help to those facing foreclosure and considering bankruptcy. According to Thomas L. Bruce, the General Counsel Emeritus for S. C. Legal Services, Eddie is the trusted authority on bankruptcy matters for many of the other lawyers at Legal Services, often taking over the more difficult cases around the state to ensure excellent representation for the clients served by Legal Services.
The J. Bratton Davis Professionalism Award is in honor of our first Bankruptcy Judge and is awarded from time to time by the Board of Directors to an individual exhibiting unimpeachable integrity, devotion to legal scholarship, civility to all, unfailing professionalism, and impressive contributions and improvements to the legal profession. William H. Short, Jr. was recognized. Bill is a long time bankruptcy practitioner and was involved with the formation of the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association, having been President of the predecessor Richland County Bar Bankruptcy Section. He was in the first class of specialists certified by the S. C. Supreme Court in Bankruptcy and Debtor – Creditor Law and has been active with the Turnaround Management Association, South Carolina Bankers Association, South Carolina Local Government Attorneys Institute and National Business Institute. Recognized by Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers, Bill also has been active with several Bible studies, Boy Scouts, the board of Jubilee Academy, Ducks Unlimited, and Congaree Land Trust. The nomination letter noted Bill’s “dedication to others, dogged pursuit of what he believes his friends and others need to hear . . . and his love and compassion for his wife, family and friends is extraordinary. In sum, he comes quite close to epitomizing the very characteristics that made Judge Davis such an amazing person.” Bill suffered a stroke in the fall of 2017 and it is inspiring to see the recovery he continues to make.
The judges and staff of the United States Bankruptcy Court extend congratulations and best wishes to Judge John E. Waites on his induction as a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy in a ceremony held today. Judge Waites is the first Bankruptcy Judge in South Carolina to be awarded this honor. The American College of Bankruptcy is an honorary association of bankruptcy and insolvency professionals whose fellows include bankruptcy judges, attorneys, and other practitioners in the bankruptcy and insolvency community. Those selected as Fellows demonstrate the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, character, integrity, professional expertise, leadership, and scholarship contributing to the enhancement of the insolvency field.
Our Court web page has a new feature. Under the "Judges' Information" tab you will find a new link to "Chambers' Bulletins." This link will take you to a new page containing messages and important announcements from one or more of the Judges of the Court. Recent Chambers' Bulletins are available on the opening page of the web site, opposite News & Announcements. News & Announcements will continue to report courtwide news, administrative matters, and news from the Clerk's office. Chambers' Bulletins will contain courtroom and chambers news and information.
If you practice in one division or need to consult the preferences and practices of a particular judge you can restrict your search to that judge (and can even choose to subscribe only to alerts from that judge). Announcements by the Chief Judge and those on behalf of all the Judges will be under the "On Behalf of the Court" heading and all CM/ECF registered users will receive alerts with those messages, along with News & Announcements alerts as in the past. Substantive messages from the old Judges' Corner Archive are still available on the Chambers' Bulletins page.
The Court's web page also has a new Advanced Search Feature. To access the Advanced Search feature, click on the "Go" button in the search feature on the upper right hand side of the web page. A Search page will appear, and below the box for "Enter your keywords", "Advanced search" will appear. If you click on Advanced search, you will have various options for searching. Using this feature, you can search specific keywords and can select options to search only Chambers' Bulletins or News & Announcements.
The Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee has met and recommended an increase to the presumptive interest rate in chapter 13 cases. After consideration, the Court has adopted the recommendation of the committee. The presumptive interest rate in chapter 13 cases to be applied to secured claims will become 6.00%, effective for cases filed on or after March 1, 2018. Operating Order 18-01 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.
Notwithstanding the lapse in appropriations for the federal government, the federal judiciary, including our Bankruptcy Court, remains open and continues to provide all usual services. The Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system is operational.
The Court will provide additional information as necessary.