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Judges' Corner Archive

Thu, 5/19/2005 - 5:00 am

On Tuesday, May 24, 2005, Judge Waites would like to invite interested members of the Bankruptcy Bar to the Court to discuss and receive comments on any topics of interest to the bar. The meeting will be held in the second floor conference room of the Bankruptcy Court at 12:00 noon. You should plan on bringing your own lunch and drink.

Space is limited so please RSVP by calling Cheryl at 253-3751 no later than Monday, May 23 rd at 2:00 p.m.

Tue, 5/10/2005 - 5:00 am

The bankruptcy process is all about a fresh start and new opportunities. Our district is abuzz with the prospects of a fresh start as we implement the new bankruptcy laws and look forward to the appointment of a new Chapter 7 Trustee, Clerk of Court, and a third bankruptcy judge. These appointees will undoubtedly bring a new perspective to our practice.

To that end, I have taken a renewed look at my practices, procedures and schedule and have decided to relax them. We have established as many efficiencies and innovations in our practice as I can think of, and with the upcoming challenges it seems appropriate to reduce, wherever possible, the pressure that is natural in our busy practice.

I hope you will agree with this new approach as we work together toward adapting to the new laws and improving our system as a result. Please provide me with feedback, as well as any suggestions that you may have.

Thu, 4/14/2005 - 5:00 am

The implementation of new local rules on April 15, 2005, causes a degree of adjustment and anxiety to everyone – the judges, the bar, the trustees and the clerk’s office. However, a few recent developments demonstrate that the Court’s approach to rule making, guidelines and decisions has kept our District ahead of the curve in many instances.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Rousey v. Jacoway, ­­___ U.S. ___, 125 S.Ct. 1561, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 2933 (2005) sustained the view of the exemptability of IRAs expressed by the Court in 1998 in In re Outen, 220 B.R. 26 (Bankr. D.S.C. 1998).

The new E-Government Act requires courts to establish a web page with certain information and to make its substantive written opinions available and searchable. These are features which have been available in this Court since 1998.

The proposed Bankruptcy Reform Act provides many new requirements, but many of them have been anticipated by this Court’s prior rules and practices. Examples include procedures to limit serial filings, to ensure the integrity of the reaffirmation process, to require payment of domestic support claims, to provide trustees with necessary information to assist confirmation, such as tax returns, and to require objections to claims to be served upon creditors at the proper address.

In reflection upon the new changes in the law, it seems to me that in many respects we are well ahead of the game. As to other changes, we look forward to a collaborative effort to make necessary adjustments and continue to improve upon our existing practices and procedures in the coming months.
Mon, 3/28/2005 - 4:00 am

In November 2003 the Court, in conjunction with the S.C. Bankruptcy Association, conducted in Columbia a ½ day seminar for young attorneys and attorneys new to the bankruptcy practice in the District. Presentations included practice and advocacy tips from the judges, and sessions on working with the Clerk’s Office, United States Trustee, and Chapter 13 and 7 trustees. There may be a minimal cost to cover the production of materials and refreshments. Attendees will receive CLE credit.

If there is sufficient interest, we would consider conducting a similar seminar during April or May.

If you are interested in attending, please advise Judge Waites by e-mail to or telefax to 803-253-3464 with your name, address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail address on or before April 5, 2005 at 4:00 P.M.

Tue, 3/15/2005 - 4:00 am

On April 7, 2005, at the conclusion of Judge Waites’ Spartanburg docket (approximately 10:30 a.m.), the Chapter 13 Trustee - Beth Burris and Judge Waites would be pleased to meet with the bar in the Spartanburg/Greenville division to discuss issues of interest and procedures related to bankruptcy practice in this District. A brief presentation will also be made regarding the new Local Rules of the Court.

If you have specific substantive questions or suggestions which you would like the judge to address, please forward them in writing on or before March 31 st to telefax (803) 253-3464.

Mon, 2/28/2005 - 4:00 am

In the next few days, revised local rules will be posted for consideration and comment by the bar. It has been the aim of both the Local Rules Advisory Committee and the Court to simplify and streamline the local rules and procedures. To that end, approximately 37 pages of Clerk’s instructions, 7 operating orders, 18 officially required forms and 20 local rules have been eliminated, merged or substantially reduced.

The Local Rules Committee chaired by Rick Mendoza, including Cynthia Lowery, Beth Reno, Mike Church, Jim Sheedy, Joe Buzhardt and Brenda Argoe, deserve our appreciation for their many hours of work.

An administrative group of Robin Blume, Regina Brown, Peppa Caskey, David Duncan, Lydia Eloff and Tammi Hellwig also worked to streamline the rules and procedures. For the first time in many years, each rule was edited to achieve a common style and presentation. Special thanks to my law clerk, Tammi Hellwig, for serving as the primary scrivener which required considerable weekend work over the last month.

Despite these significant efforts, we expect that there can be improvements, so we look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Mon, 1/31/2005 - 4:00 am

Case statistics for calendar year 2004 show a slight decrease (5%) in overall filings from 16,159 cases in 2003 to 15,411 in 2004. By chapter, the split is approximately 43% chapter 7, 57% chapter 13. In addition, there were 54 chapter 11 cases filed in 2004 compared to 55 in 2003. By division, the split in total filings is approximately 55% Columbia, 25% Spartanburg and 20% Charleston. The number of adversary proceedings dropped from 516 to 418.

The total weighted case statistics (the measurement of work for a judge used by the Administrative Office) indicates that South Carolina still has the 4 th highest workload per judge of the 90 districts nationwide. We handle approximately 5600 weighted case hours. The Administrative Office presently uses the measure of 1500 weighted case hours for a court to qualify for a judgeship. Therefore, our district is close to qualifying for four (4) judge positions. Despite the workload, our Court ranks in the top one or two courts in the Circuit with respect to speed of administering cases.

Finally, it appears that CM/ECF is working well to reduce paperwork and delay. CM/ECF guidelines were revised recently and we are in the midst of a major revision of the local rules with the primary purpose being to update, reduce, and simplify them.

Even in these times of heavy workload and tightening budget we at the Court continue to strive to maintain the fine record this Court has always enjoyed. We appreciate the cooperative efforts of the bar, trustees and United States Trustee’s office to that end.

Mon, 11/15/2004 - 4:00 am

A Consumer Bankruptcy Workshop for Paralegals sponsored by the Court and the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association was held on Friday, November 12, 2004 with approximately 75 attendees. My appreciation goes to John Lester, President of Bankla, who served as moderator and to the following speakers:

Elke Watkins of Robert Anderson’s Office
Lindsay Crawford and Wayne Bellflower
Keenan Stephenson
Tammi Hellwig
Lydia Eloff
Regina Brown, Chris Nichols, Robin Blume, Peppa Caskey, Pam Miranda and other members of the Clerk’s Office. Frank Baker and Chuck Meetze also assisted in the technical presentations. Cheryl Hughes helped me with issues regarding chambers.

However, special thanks goes to Gretchen Holland, Vice President of Bankla, for her organization of the workshop.

Fri, 10/15/2004 - 5:00 am

A Consumer Bankruptcy Workshop for Paralegals will be held on November 12, 2004 from 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the United States Bankruptcy Court building in Columbia. Sessions will include presentations on CM/ECF, Chapter 7 and 13 issues, and working with Chambers.

Registration is being handled by the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association. All paralegals and legal assistants or staff are welcome, whether or not they or their attorneys are members of Bankla, but all must register.

Please see attached announcement and registration form.

Wed, 10/13/2004 - 5:00 am

Guidelines which govern the filing of documents with this Court, including the CM/ECF system, have been revised and are in the final stages of review. These guidelines proposed a number of changes which should be of assistance to the bar. Included in such changes are the elimination of the requirement to file the original Declaration of Electronic Filing and Certification of Consent, establishment of a procedure for filings in the event CM/ECF is not available, and procedures for waiver of duplicate service by mail and by electronic means and other matters.

Thanks to those attorneys including the Chapter 13 and 7 Trustees and United States Trustees who have provided comments and suggestions in these efforts.

Enactment of the new Guidelines will be announced on the Court’s web page.