Kate Laffitte will soon leave her position as law clerk to Judge Burris to join the Commercial Real Estate team at Smith Moore Leatherwood in Greenville. We certainly hate to see Kate go, but congratulate her on this exciting next step in her career. Kate’s departure creates an opening in the Spartanburg chambers for a term law clerk. The vacancy announcement can be viewed here.
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Judges' Corner Archive
Debtor's counsel filing bankruptcy cases in Aiken, Barnwell, Chester, Edgefield, and Lancaster counties should make a hearing location election for cases filed on or after June 27, 2016, and assigned to Judge Burris. This election allows debtor's counsel to choose the hearing location (Spartanburg or Columbia) for all hearings to be held in that case, excluding the 11 U.S.C. § 341 meeting (to conclusion, all chapters) and the INITIAL confirmation hearing in Chapter 13 cases. Thank you to all attorneys that have promptly made the election upon filing. Please note that if no election has been made by debtor's counsel at the time any motion is filed, movants may schedule the hearing at the location of movant's choice (Columbia or Spartanburg).
More information concerning this election and the location of hearings can be found in Judge Burris' chamber guidelines.
To accommodate the recently announced assignment of Columbia cases, changes have been made to chambers guidelines and calendars for Judge Burris.
- Under the heading "Chapter 13 Matters" in Chambers Guidelines regarding chapter 13 fees, the words "in the Spartanburg Division" have been deleted so that the applicable fee applies to all cases assigned to Judge Burris.
- A section titled "Location of Hearings" has been added that states:
Unless ordered otherwise:
for cases in the Spartanburg Division assigned to Judge Burris (all chapters), hearings shall be scheduled at the following location:
Donald S. Russell Courthouse & U.S. Courthouse
201 Magnolia Street
Spartanburg, SC 29306
for cases in the Columbia division assigned to Judge Burris (all chapters) filed on or before June 26, 2016, hearings shall be scheduled in the following location:
J. Bratton Davis U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse
1100 Laurel Street
Columbia, SC 29201
for any bankruptcy case filed on or after June 27, 2016, assigned to Judge Burris that is outside the Spartanburg division, debtor’s counsel must make an election when the case is filed indicating the preferred hearing location (Spartanburg or Columbia) for all hearings to be held in that case, excluding the 11 U.S.C. § 341 meeting (to conclusion, all chapters) and the INITIAL confirmation hearing in Chapter 13 cases. This election will produce a conspicuous docket entry. Any party scheduling a hearing in such a case thereafter must select the hearing location corresponding to this election, absent further order of the Court. Upon request, the Court may consider scheduling some hearings in a different location as necessary to accommodate the parties as efficiently as possible. Any such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and should be directed to courtroom staff or chambers.
- To accommodate future hearings in Columbia
- Monday, July 25 at 10:00 a.m. has been added for "Chapter 13 Consent/Dispute".
- Time slots have been added for August forward of 9:45 a.m. for Chapter 13 Consent, 10:00 a.m. for Chapter 13 Dispute.
Chambers and courtroom will make every effort to accommodate any scheduling conflicts.
Judge Waites is considering allowing a conduit mortgage payment procedure in the Chapter 13 cases assigned to him as a means of improving debtors retention of their homes by ensuring payments of mortgage payments during the bankruptcy case. The procedure is described in the attached explanation and Operating Order (click here to view).
The attached proposed Operating Order is in draft form and will be refined and therefore the Judge invites comments, questions, or suggestions be sent to Andrew_Powell@scb.uscourts.gov on or before July 8, 2016.
This proposal has been shared with Judges Duncan and Burris for comment and suggestions. To the extent a district-wide procedure can be established, these procedures may change.
Similar to the Pro se Debtor Assistance program used in his cases, Judge Waites would like to identify attorneys interested in receiving referrals of pro se parties who have the following type of claims/issues in Chapter 13 cases on his docket: Domestic Support Obligations and Small Business Creditors.
Obtaining counsel is not only better for the pro se claimant but often allows for a more expedited and fair resolution of disputes which also benefits debtors, trustees and the case administration process. Therefore, referring pro se claimants to experienced attorneys assists everyone.
The referral to a participating attorney would be made by a member of the Judge's case team in the order that attorneys sign up. The attorney would agree to an expedited appointment or telephone consultation if necessary and, upon an agreement for representation and the filing of a notice of appearance, the court would consider any necessary continuances.
If you are interested in participating, please advise Nicole Stalvey at Nicole_Stalvey@scb.uscourts.gov by providing your preferred contact information. You may also provide a brief description of your experience in representing parties in these areas.
Judge Waites is pleased to welcome Tara E. Nauful to his Charleston SC chambers as a career law clerk beginning June 27, 2016.
Tara has had more than 20 years of bankruptcy experience and comes to the Court from her position as partner in the law firm of Adams and Reese, LLP. She is a certified specialist in bankruptcy and debtor/creditor law and is certified as a mediator by the S.C. Supreme Court. She is also a past president of the S.C. Bankruptcy Law Association and has been frequently recognized by Best Lawyers in the area of bankruptcy and insolvency law. Tara will join Andrew Powell who works in the Columbia chambers.
Judge Waites and the staff of the United States Bankruptcy Court would like to thank Sarah Kistler for her service as a career law clerk in Columbia since November 2006. Her last day in chambers will be Friday, June 3, 2016.
Due to construction work taking place in the Charleston courtroom, Judge Waites' hearings scheduled for Thursday, May 12, 2016 will be conducted in Courtroom 5 on the 4th floor of the United States District Court, 85 Broad Street in Charleston at their previously scheduled time. Attorneys scheduled to appear are asked to notify their clients of the change in the location and to suggest an early arrival time to avoid unnecessary delay.
It is with great sadness that the Judges have learned of the passing of retired bankruptcy attorney John R. Lester. John filed thousands of consumer bankruptcy cases from his Midlands office before “retiring” to the coast, where he also practiced real estate law. He started his bankruptcy practice when a tenant in his office building was disbarred and hundreds of chapter 13 debtors were left without representation, but for John’s stepping up and assuming responsibility for the cases. He served as President of the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association, was a William E. S. Robinson Public Service Award winner, and was twice recognized by the South Carolina Bar for his pro bono work. John was dedicated to his clients, a friend to his fellow attorneys, and always a model of collegiality.
Student Loan Debt Project: Recent Updates from the Department of Education
As part of the Student Loan Debt Program, Judge Waites and the Student Loan Workshop Committee would like to pass along recent updates from the Department of Education that may be helpful to counsel in assisting clients with student loan issues.
Recently, the Department of Education reported that one in four student loans are either in default or are at risk of imminent default. The Department also reports that 70% of borrowers qualify for an income driven repayment plan but that few borrowers seek alternative repayment options. Therefore, the Department of Education, in coordination with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Treasury, have announced an initiative to increase awareness of these alternative repayment options and to improve the customer service provided to student loan borrowers. Summaries of the recent developments made as part of this initiative are attached here, including:
(1) The new Department of Education website for alternative student loan repayment plans
(2) The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Payback Playbook
(3) The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Servicemember Student Loan Action Guide
(4) The Department of Education’s solicitation for Total and Permanent Disability Discharge.