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Judges' Corner Archive

Mon, 4/12/2004 - 5:00 am

RE: Parties represented by Jacobsen, Conway, Pincus & Long; Jacobsen, Pincus & Long; Jacobsen & Long; and/or Palmetto Law Group, LLC

In regards to the substitution of counsel for debtors formerly represented by the Jacobsen, Conway, Pincus & Long; Jacobsen, Pincus & Long; Jacobsen & Long; and/or Palmetto Law Group, LLC, certain parties have been appointed by the Supreme Court of South Carolina to protect the interest of clients (the “File Custodians”).

As such, the Court will sign an Order substituting counsel (without a separate motion) if the order is signed by new counsel and the debtor(s). The Court does not need the signatures of the File Custodians. If the former attorney takes issue with a substitution Order, that attorney may file a motion to vacate and a hearing will be scheduled. An Order of Substitution should be filed for each case. However, in those instances where one attorney seeks to be substituted as counsel for multiple debtors, the Judges will accept one order which covers multiple cases (with all appropriate debtor consents).

Substitution of counsel in a case does not automatically entitle new counsel to payment under a prior proof of claim filed by former counsel. The proposed Order substituting counsel should not reference claims or any transfer of claims. Prior filed claims are being handled by the Trustees. Substituted counsel may file a new proof of claim relating to their representation. The above-described procedures are applicable only to the affected cases referenced herein.

Wed, 4/07/2004 - 5:00 am

The CM/ECF User’s Committee has raised several issues regarding the future operation of the Administrative Procedures which govern electronic filings, including the inconsistency in instruction regarding service of electronically filed documents, the Clerk’s striking of documents without the “/s/” mark, the necessity of Certificates of Consent and the potential inaccessibility of CM/ECF due to mechanical problems. These matters were presented for discussion to Judge Bishop and the Clerk of Court in mid-March. I am hopeful that some modifications to the Administrative Procedures will be circulated in the near future

On March 8, 2004 , I asked the Clerk’s office to discontinue the striking of documents in my cases due to CM/ECF mistakes (as previously allowed under a delegation of authority in Operating Order 03-02) but instead to work with filers for corrections. For the time being the Clerk of Court staff will continue to call and notify filers of errors or other filing problems. You are encouraged to respond timely in order to avoid these matters being routed to Chambers.

Overall, the bar is to be congratulated for its efforts in adopting CM/ECF. Once they have committed to it, most lawyers have found it easier and more beneficial than expected.

If you have any problems or concerns in this area, please contact me or a member of the User’s Committee.

Thu, 3/11/2004 - 4:00 am

In order to assist me in considering issues arising in connection with CM/ECF, I have organized a User’s Committee. Its members are the President of Bankla, John Lester; a member of the Local Rules Committee, Mike Church; a Trustee, Jimmy Wyman; and a member of the Bar, Brad Richardson.

One of our objectives in the near future is to review the Administrative Procedures upon which the implementation of CM/ECF in this district is based. Frankly, it was a document copied and cobbled together from procedures used by other Courts and appears to have some inconsistencies in critical areas, such as the rules regarding service of pleadings and when documents are to be considered deficient.

If you have any concerns or suggestions on CM/ECF, please let me or a member of this Committee know.

Wed, 1/28/2004 - 4:00 am

In light of the upcoming deadline for the filing of all documents in an electronic format and to encourage the bars participation in establishing deadlines and procedures under CM/ECF, Judge Waites invites lawyers to be members of on a Users Committee to advise him on such issues. If you are interested please advise Judge Waites’ Judicial Assistant, Cheryl Hughes, or the Judge’s Law Clerk, Tammi Hellwig as soon as possible.

Mon, 1/12/2004 - 4:00 am

Due to the large number of daily calls from the public requesting case information, Judge Waites’ Chambers has had to change its telephone number and not publish it. You may reach chambers by calling 765-5436 and identify yourself as an attorney and you will be transferred to chambers.

When dealing with counsel in case matters, we will provide a direct number to counsel, and also provide it to the South Carolina Bankla Association in the near future for publishing to its members. However, counsel should not have paralegals or other assistants call chambers to inquire when an order will be signed or requesting an explanation on court procedures. Such calls should be directed to the clerk’s office. Our telefax number remains the same.

Thank you for your assistance.

Wed, 12/31/2003 - 4:00 am

The year 2003 was a year of significant challenges for the Court. Case filings continued to increase to 16,159, a 3% rise over the preceding year. The implementation of the Electronic Case Filing System continued, with approximately 32% of documents being filed electronically last year. Substantial changes to case administration procedures resulted from the Electronic Case Filing system, including the system for order entry and preparation by the Court for hearings. A new Chief Deputy and Administrative Manager were appointed upon Janell Hedgepath’s retirement after 28 years. My Chambers staff changed entirely with Tammi, Cheryl and Brian joining the Court. Judge Bishop also welcomed Lydia and Brian to his staff. A few large Chapter 11 cases, HomeGold, Carolina Investors, Georgetown Steel and Ducane Gas Grills were filed which required many expedited hearings under our complex case procedures. The Local Rules Committee was reestablished and has suggested changes to our form Chapter 13 plan. Two major training seminars, one for new attorneys and one for paralegals/legal assistants, were sponsored by the Court and more than 150 persons attended. New office space and a courtroom were opened in Spartanburg . Regrettably, Congress failed to restore a third judgeship to this District and also severely reduced the budgets for the U.S. Courts for next year.

These factors were among many which made it difficult for the Court to maintain its high standards for speedy and thorough resolution of cases. Nevertheless, our Court met its goals and continues to rank high in the nation in criteria indicating successful operations. I personally have felt, and probably have shown at times, the strain. However, with a new year there is new hope and renewed determination. We hope that you will join us in an effort and dedication to make 2004 one of the best years ever.

Wed, 11/12/2003 - 4:00 am

A Workshop for Paralegals and other Legal Assistants was held on November 6, 2003 with approximately 100 paralegals attending. Many thanks go to the speakers at the seminar including Assistant United States Trustee David Duncan, Chapter 13 Trustee Keenan Stephenson, Attorneys Janet Haigler, John Kelchner, and members of their staff and the staff of the Clerk’s Office. The seminar was jointly sponsored by the Court and South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association. Thanks also goes to Beth Burris for Banklaw’s help.

Fri, 10/24/2003 - 5:00 am

The Workshop for New Attorneys and others interested in learning more about Bankruptcy Court procedures in this District was successfully held yesterday. Fifty two (52) attorneys from around the District attended, including 15 attorneys who have practiced before the Court for less than 1 year. Great thanks goes to the speakers at the Workshop, Regina Brown and Peppa Caskey of the Clerks Office, Assistant United States Trustee Joe Buzhardt, Janet Haigler for Chapter 7 Trustees, Gretchen Holland for Chapter 13 Trustees, law clerks Lydia Eloff and Tammi Hellwig, and Tim Stack of the United States Trustees Office, and to Beth Burris and The South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association for sponsoring the seminar and obtaining 3 CLE hours credit for the participants.

A Workshop for Paralegals and other legal assistants will be held on November 6, 2003.

Wed, 10/08/2003 - 5:00 am

Judge Waites is pleased to announce that Cheryl A. Hughes has accepted appointment as his Judicial Assistant and starts October 8, 2003. Cheryl previously served for 16 years as an Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to the managing partners of both the Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina offices of Deloitte and Touche. In that position, she managed over 70 staff members. Join us in welcoming Cheryl to chambers staff and the Bankruptcy Court.

Mon, 9/29/2003 - 5:00 am

October 23, 2003
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Columbia, South Carolina

The Honorable John E. Waites in cooperation with the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association is sponsoring a workshop for new attorneys which is designated for attorneys who have practiced before the Bankruptcy Court for five years or less or other attorneys who would like to be more familiar with Bankruptcy Court procedures in South Carolina.

Topics will include advice on Advocacy and Preparation for Hearings, Tips for Dealing with Chambers and Courtroom Staff, How to Work with the United States Trustee, Chapter 13 Trustees and Chapter 7 Trustees, How the Clerk’s Office Works and Other Secrets to Improve Your Practice. The Workshop will be followed by a box lunch. CLE credit is being requested and the only charge will be the cost of lunch (approximately $8-$10 per person depending on your order). To register, call Judge Waites’ judicial assistant at 803-253-3462 or telefax 803-253-3464.