You are here

Judges' Corner Archive

Thu, 5/05/2016 - 5:00 am

Best Practices – foreclosure and the automatic stay -


The judges recently received correspondence from a state court judicial officer asking our court to encourage counsel for debtors to ensure that a courtesy notice of a bankruptcy filing or intent to file is given to creditor attorneys when a foreclosure proceeding is nearing a sale. Providing prompt notice of bankruptcy helps avoid wasted effort by counsel and the state court and serves to limit the unnecessary costs and attorney fees that may be taxed to the debtor when notice is not given in a timely fashion. Equally important, ensuring that opposing counsel and the state court knows of the bankruptcy filing before unnecessary effort is expended is consistent with civility in the practice of law and the collegiality for which the bankruptcy bar is known. Likewise, counsel for the foreclosing party has on-line tools available to monitor bankruptcy filings and the best practice is to always check for a bankruptcy filing shortly before the sale is to occur. Because the stay arises by virtue of the filing of the bankruptcy petition, regardless of notice, an attentive creditor counsel can avoid wasting judicial resources by monitoring filings. We believe that most bankruptcy counsel are faithful in communicating with creditor counsel and that most creditor counsel engage in the practice of monitoring on-line case filing information before proceeding to a sale; nevertheless, and in cooperation with state judicial officials, we remind you of these best practices.

Annual Seminar –

The judges and clerk of the Bankruptcy Court thank the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association and its members for the hospitality shown us at the Hilton Head meeting this past weekend. The speakers and materials were superb. Even more important, the opportunity for social interaction was unsurpassed. There were over two hundred in attendance and all who missed the annual event should begin planning now for next year.
The Association recognized two outstanding individuals with awards.

The annual William E. S. (Billy) Robinson Public Service Award was presented to Janet Haigler. This honor is awarded to an Association member selected by the Public Service Committee, with the approval of the Board of Directors, for “distinguished public service to the legal profession and the community as was exemplified by Billy Robinson during his life.” Janet was nominated by her fellow members of the CARE Steering Committee, a joint initiative of the Court, Association, and S. C. Legal Services. She is the chair of the Outreach Committee and is “the face of CARE in speaking to community organizations about the benefits of using CARE presenters.”  Janet is herself a regular presenter and she recently helped establish a relationship for CARE with high school teachers state-wide through the South Carolina Finance Forum.

The J. Bratton Davis Professionalism Award was presented to George Cauthen. The award criteria provides: “This award is named in honor of J. Bratton Davis, this district’s first bankruptcy judge . . . . Judge Davis always epitomized the best of the legal profession: academic scholarship and perfection in his written opinions; considerate and polite to all who appeared before him; and the consummate gentleman in all that he did.” George was nominated by a group of ten of his fellows at the bar. The nomination noted his scholarship, public service, collegiality, expertise, age and youthful exuberance, and many other characteristics. It was noted, “He co-founded the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program, the South Carolina Death Penalty Resource Center, and the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission. He has received the Van Breisen Award from the National Legal Aid Association, the Robinson Public Service Award from Bankla, the Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award from the South Carolina Bar, the Distinguished Service Award from the South Carolina Bar, the Compleat Lawyer Award from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and the Grassroots Advocacy Award from the American Bar Association.”  The nomination concluded: “An ornament to the bar, a shining example of how lawyers ought to act, a beacon of professionalism, and a constant example of civility. . . .”

Congratulations to Janet and George. 

Wed, 4/27/2016 - 5:00 am

Student Loan Debt No-Look Fee
The Court being aware that student loan debt issues are arising more and more in Chapter 13 cases and that the resolution of such issues is critical to the Debtor(s)' fresh start, issues the following guidelines to establish a procedure for compensation for counsel who provide services to Debtor(s) in addressing student loan debt in Chapter 13 cases assigned to Judge Waites. Click here to view the Student Loan Debt guidelines.

Supplemental No-Look Fee for Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification
An additional supplemental no-look fee for LM/MM shall be allowed for representation of Debtor(s) and the filing of related pleadings for the following matters:

  1. $500 - Hearing on Debtor(s)' motion to enforce LM/MM guidelines

  2. $500 - Mediation of LM/MM as ordered by the Court

The additional supplemental no-look fees set forth above may be requested at the hearing by oral motion and authorized by the Court, or in the event of mediation, the fees may be authorized upon the mediator's submission of a mediation report indicating that Debtor(s)' attorney actively participated in the mediation.

Announcement of Valuation Dispute Mediation Pilot Program
In an effort to facilitate communication and settlement of contested valuation issues in Chapter 13 cases and in order to reduce costs of contested hearings, mediation will be ordered in certain cases involving valuation of secured claims on real estate and large value personal property, such as manufactured homes, tractor trailers or RVs (but excluding automobiles). The Court shall select and appoint a mediator who will be compensated by a fee of $400, to be equally divided between the debtor(s) and creditor, and who will perform up to 2 hours of service in preparation or mediation sessions. The form mediation order, which provides an opportunity to settle before mediation and thereafter a schedule for mediation, may be viewed by clicking here.

Mon, 4/11/2016 - 5:00 am

Judge Waites is currently accepting applications for a law clerk position in Columbia or Charleston beginning on or about June 6, 2016. Please click here to view the vacancy announcement.

After nine years of service as Judge Waites' career law clerk, Sarah Kistler will be leaving his chambers in June to accompany her husband to Atlanta, Georgia as the result of his acceptance of a new position in that area. We wish her and her family great happiness in Georgia.

Thu, 4/07/2016 - 5:00 am


Amendments to Chambers Guidelines 

New Chambers Guidelines are posted for Judge Burris and Judge Duncan, including changes highlighted below.

Both Judge Burris and Judge Duncan have made the following changes to their Chambers Guidelines:

  • Chapter 13 Fees pursuant to SC LBR 2016-1(b)(2)

      The Judges added supplemental fee amounts for loss mitigation or mortgage loan modification of up to $1,500 and an additional Supplemental Fee Form. A CMECF event to facilitate the filing of this form will be enabled.

  • Requests for Order Regarding Loss Mitigation/Mediation and Notification of Permanent Loan Modifications

            The Judges added new provisions with this title to their Chambers Guidelines as a result of the new CMECF event available for cases assigned to them consistent with the New CMECF Events for Loss Mitigation/Mediation (Loan Modification) Requests announced on 4/1/2016.


Judge Burris has made the additional change to her Chambers Guidelines:

  • Chapter 13 Fees pursuant to SC LBR 2016-1(b)(1)

      Judge Burris has increased the expedited fee amount for the purposes of 2016-1(b)(1) to $4,000 for Consumer and $4,500 for business cases for all cases assigned to her in the Spartanburg division only.


Judge Duncan’s revised Chambers Guidelines are also available on the Court’s website.  Minor changes have been made throughout the Chambers Guidelines.  More significant changes to Judge Duncan’s Chambers Guidelines include:

  • Duty to Consult Concerning Attendance of Witnesses

Judge Duncan added a new section regarding contested matters to clarify that parties have a duty to consult regarding contested matters and must be prepared to go forward at the first scheduled hearing in the matter.  For chapter 13 confirmation hearings, if the matter remains disputed at the time of the first scheduled confirmation hearing, the matter will be rescheduled to an available dispute date, at which witnesses must appear.

  • Section 362 Settlement and Default Orders

Judge Duncan added a new section to address his preference that parties use the available CM/ECF events for section 362 settlement and default orders.





Fri, 4/01/2016 - 5:00 am

New CMECF Events for Loss Mitigation/Mediation (Loan Modification) Requests in Judge Duncan and Judge Burris Cases

The court has made two CMECF events available for use in chapter 13 cases assigned to Judges Burris and Duncan. The "Request for Loss Mitigation/Mediation" event requests stay relief to initiate loss mitigation discussions, including requests for loan modifications. It does not require creditor consent, no separate motion is necessary, and a court appearance is not required. A proposed order lifting the stay so that consensual discussions may take place is generated for the judge. The "Notification of Permanent Loan Modification" event notifies the trustee and court of a consensual, permanent loan modification. The event requires the attachment of the modification agreement. A proposed order authorizing the trustee to cease making mortgage arrearage payments under the plan (if any were called for) is generated for the judge. Once again, no motion or court appearance is required. The instructions for using the events can be found under Participant’s Guides on the court’s webpage. Copies of the proposed orders generated by the events will be added to chambers guidelines.

Judicial Opinions

An update has been posted to the Court's Judicial Opinions webpage. For the "10 Most Recently Posted" Opinions please click on this link.

Mon, 3/28/2016 - 5:00 am

The Court thanks Katherine Rea for her distinguished service as law clerk in the chambers of Chief Judge David R. Duncan. Katherine leaves the court to join the office of Pamela Simmons-Beasley, Chapter 13 Trustee as of April 4, 2016.

Mon, 2/22/2016 - 4:00 am

Today is the final day to sign up for the free Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification training to be held on February 25, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. The live presentation will be held in Columbia with video broadcast to the Charleston courtroom. For more details, please see the February 17, 2016 Judges Corner Announcement.

We have more than 30 attendees signed up so far. Don't miss out on this great opportunity to learn more about the Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification process! Sign up TODAY by 5 p.m. by sending an email to

Thu, 2/18/2016 - 4:00 am

When filing a Notice and Motion for Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification and self scheduling a possible hearing date for such motion, Debtor(s)' counsel should select a 362 hearing date from the self scheduling calendar published on the Court's web site and must also ensure that the date selected allows for a 14-day objection period and otherwise complies with SC LBR 9013-4. Motions for Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modifications that are incorrectly scheduled for a Chapter 13 consent/dispute date may be stricken, rescheduled, and/or require renoticing.

Wed, 2/17/2016 - 4:00 am

A free Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification training workshop for paralegals and new attorneys will be held at the J. Bratton Davis U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 1:30 p.m., with broadcast by video to the Charleston courthouse for attendees in the Charleston division. A limited number of spots to attend by telephone will be offered for those located too far to travel to the Columbia or Charleston courthouses.

The one-hour program will cover best practices and tips and will be hosted by Judge Waites and presented by paralegals with experience in the loss mitigation/mortgage modification process, who have achieved a 70% success rate for their bankruptcy clients.

Those interested in attending should sign up on or before 5 p.m. on Monday, February 22, 2016, by sending an e-mail to Questions regarding the loss mitigation/mortgage modification process and use of the DMM Portal may be submitted in advance to the same email address by the same deadline. Those who are unfamiliar with the DMM Portal may view a training video in advance at Much effort has been made to make this session as informative as possible, and Judge Waites encourages those who are interested in learning more about the loss mitigation/mortgage modification process in his cases to attend.

Mon, 2/01/2016 - 4:00 am

Judge Waites would like to announce the initiation of a Student Loan Debt Project II and solicit the participation of interested members of the SC Bankruptcy Bar.

In an effort to educate debtors, members of the Bar and the public in general on non bankruptcy programs related to student loan debt,  in the first phase of the Student Loan Debt Project last year, the Bankruptcy Court published a Student Loan Primer on its website and formed a partnership with SC Legal Services and American Student Assistance to provide ongoing access to student loan advisers.

The second phase of the project has three goals:

1. To expand training on non-bankruptcy administrative programs for use in managing student loan debt and to learn how these programs affect a debtor who has already filed a bankruptcy case;

2. To develop a library of non-standard plan provisions and contacts helpful to a debtor in Chapter 13 or 11 who seeks to manage student loan debt via a reorganization case; and

3. To identify volunteer attorneys available to represent low income debtors who are unable to afford representation in undue hardships cases and, with the assistance of student loan creditors' counsel, develop forms, protocols, and procedures which would be helpful in resolving such cases. (This may be especially helpful to young attorneys who are interested in gaining trial experience on a pro bono or low bono basis.)

Attorneys or paralegals interested in working on this project during 2016 should advise Sarah Kistler at