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Judges' Corner Archive

Wed, 3/25/2015 - 5:00 am

Judge Waites has amended his Chambers Guidelines regarding Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification Procedures based upon comments from the Trustees and members of the Bar. Click here for a copy of the changes.

The primary changes, which shall be effective April 10, 2015, include requiring the use of the Portal as the exclusive means of seeking loss mitigation/mortgage modification in his cases (absent order otherwise) and setting forth several methods of payment of attorney’s fees for counsel assisting in loss mitigation/mortgage modification efforts.

Judge Waites invites comments or suggestions to be directed to Sarah Kistler by email to on or before April 6, 2015.

A further training session on the use of the Portal has been arranged by members of the Debtors’ Bar for March 30, 2015 in Columbia. Interested parties should contact Michael Cox by email to

Thu, 1/22/2015 - 4:00 am

Please welcome Lauren Maxwell back to the Court. Lauren is a graduate of the University of North Carolina (JD 2010) and Clemson University (BA 2007). After law school, Lauren clerked for Judge Burris and then practiced law in Greenville with a focus on bankruptcy and litigation. This week, she returns to Spartanburg as Judge Burris' permanent law clerk, joining law clerk Kate Hendricks. Kate is a graduate of Charleston School of Law (JD 2013) and Wofford College (BA 2010). Kate previously clerked in the state circuit court for the Honorable J.C. Nicholson, Jr., in Charleston. Kate joined Judge Burris' chambers staff in August of 2014. Kate can be reached at (864) 591-5315 and Lauren at (864) 591-5324.

Thu, 1/15/2015 - 4:00 am

The Court has appointed new members to the Advisory Committee on Local Rules and Practice and the Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee. Please see the provided administrative orders for the list of new members. Joe Mitchell will serve as chair of the Local Rules Committee and Gretchen Holland will serve as chair of the Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee. Thank you to all who volunteered to participate on these committees.

With these new appointments, the Court thanks the outgoing members of these committees for their dedication and service.

Local Rules Committee:
Lex Rogerson
Bill Short
Daniel Reynolds
Elisabetta Gasparini
Janet Haigler

Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee:
Lydia Eloff
Daniel Stone
Jane Downey
Colleen Brunson
Keith Poston

Thu, 1/15/2015 - 4:00 am

Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification
An amendment to Judge Waites' Chambers Guidelines regarding Loss Mitigation/Mortgage Modification is attached here. These Guidelines are effective immediately as an order of the Court and should be used in Judge Waites’ cases only. Nevertheless, suggestions or comments by the Bar may be submitted on or before January 28, 2015 by e-mail to

Motions for Continued Administration of Bankruptcy Case
Also attached here is a Guide to be consulted in connection with Motions for Continued Administration of a Bankruptcy Case (due to death of debtor) in Judge Waites’ cases only. Reference to this Guide may expedite consideration of such motions and relieve parties’ obligation to attend the hearing.

Thu, 1/15/2015 - 4:00 am

The Court has appointed new members to the Advisory Committee on Local Rules and Practice and the Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee. Please see the attached administrative orders for the list of new members. Joe Mitchell will serve as chair of the Local Rules Committee and Gretchen Holland will serve as chair of the Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee. Thank you to all who volunteered to participate on these committees.

With these new appointments, the Court thanks the outgoing members of these committees for their dedication and service.

Local Rules Committee:

Lex Rogerson
Bill Short

Daniel Reynolds

Elisabetta Gasparini

Janet Haigler

Chapter 13 Interest Rate Committee:

Lydia Eloff

Daniel Stone

Jane Downey

Colleen Brunson

Keith Poston
Thu, 12/11/2014 - 4:00 am

The Court seeks members of the bar to serve on the following committees beginning January 1, 2015:

Interest Rate in Chapter 13 Cases Committee

This Committee researches and recommends the current market rate of interest to be used in Chapter 13 cases. Its membership reflects a balance of attorneys representing creditor and debtor interests and a Trustee. Committee members generally serve a two year term.

Advisory Committee on Local Rules & Practice

This Committee reviews and recommends to the Court rules of practice and internal operating procedures. Committee members generally serve a two year term.

Members of the bar interested in serving on either of these committees shall advise the Clerk of Court via email at by December 19, 2014. Those selected to serve will be contacted on or before December 31, 2014

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 4:00 am

The Court thanks Kate Saleeby for more than two years of distinguished service as law clerk in the chambers of Judge Beth Burris. Kate leaves the Court to join the law firm of King & Spalding in its Charlotte office.

As a result of Kate's departure, there is a position open for a second law clerk in Spartanburg. Please see the announcement here.

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 4:00 am

Why should members of the Bankruptcy Bar volunteer for the S.C. Law Answers program sponsored by the South Carolina Bar? It is a great public service effort that provides real time, anonymous answers to bankruptcy and debt-related questions from the public. Here are comments on the program from one of its first bankruptcy volunteers and one of its most recent volunteers.

Lex Rogerson:
I enjoy participating in S.C. Law Answers:

  • > because the most fulfilling part of consumer bankruptcy practice is getting to know clients and helping them tackle seemingly intractable problems. SC Law Answers is an electronic extension of that activity.

  • > because discussing issues in this format makes me devise improved ways to explain the complexities of bankruptcy law in plain language.

  • > because I can control the extent of my commitment, selecting only questions I wish to address and terminating the exchange when I conclude the answer is adequate.

  • > ultimately, because I’m a bankruptcy nerd and enjoy discussing the subject.

Gretchen Holland:
Because I’m no longer in private practice, I don’t get the opportunity to provide direct legal assistance to clients. Volunteering through the S.C. LawAnswers program offers me a chance to help people in a way that is more immediate and more personal than assisting a debtor (who is already represented by his own counsel) with a general question about his bankruptcy case. And helping other people is a huge mood-lifter!
Sometimes we attorneys can become so preoccupied with our own jobs and families and personal “crises” that we forget just how good our lives actually are, and how incredibly blessed we are to have the level of education, experience, freedom, and income that we enjoy. Talking to a person whose problems are so much more pressing than our own, yet who is almost helpless in the face of a legal problem due to a lack of education or income or both, is a valuable reminder of how much we should never take for granted. It helps keep our own lives in perspective. Providing free legal advice and assistance to someone in that position is a small way to “pay it forward,” and I am grateful to be in a position to do so.
I especially like volunteering through S.C. LawAnswers because it’s an online program, so I can access it from anywhere at any time; I can choose which questions to answer; I can research the issue on my own schedule and provide a response within a day or two; I can get immediate notification via email when the client sends a reply or a follow-up question; and my favorite: I can read the “thank you so much – you have greatly eased my mind!” directly from the client, and know that my time has been well-spent.

How do I sign up?
Contact Cindy Coker at 1-877-797-2227 Ext. 142 or Once you sign up, you have 24/7 access to questions and may select one or more for answering at your convenience. As mentioned by our colleagues, it is a great and easy way to serve the public.

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 5:00 am

A free training workshop for attorneys and paralegals regarding Mortgage Modification/Loss Mitigation procedures described in Chambers Guidelines, including use of the DMM portal, for Judge Waites’ cases will be held on the following dates:

November 19, 2014 (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
J. Bratton Davis U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse
1100 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC
(with video conference participation available from Charleston Courtroom)

December 5, 2014 (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
Charleston Courtroom
145 King Street, Room 225, Charleston, SC
(with video conference participation available from Columbia Courthouse)

As recently presented at the SCBLA paralegal seminar, the use of these procedures has been very successful in other districts. For example, in the first year of implementation in Florida, over 2200 homeowners received mortgage modification or other forms of loss mitigation—a success rate of 75%. Many of the largest secured home mortgage creditors use this procedure. Specialized lender review teams have even approved modifications previously denied. Benefits of the Mortgage Modification/Loss Mitigation procedures include:

  • Use of portal to exchange and transmit information in a real time, transparent, and secure format

  • The procedure populates necessary lender forms correctly and without error to avoid delay

  • Court supervised – court requires parties’ participation and sets reasonable deadlines for the conclusion of the process

  • Preferred by many lenders because of efficiency and low cost

  • Significant benefits to debtors in need of reduced mortgage obligations

  • Debtors’ counsel receives increased no-look fee and early distribution via plan payment.

  • Use of procedures does not delay confirmation due to allowed form plan language

An application to seek approval for CLE credit for the workshops will be submitted to the SC Commission on CLE. Those interested in attending may register by sending an e-mail to The e-mail should indicate which session and location you plan to attend and provide your contact information and SC Bar number.

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 5:00 am

1) Student Loan Debt Project

Student loan debt in the United States is the fastest growing debt, now totaling approximately $1.1 trillion, which exceeds credit card and car loan debt and is second only to home mortgage debt. The rate of student loan borrowing has increased from $12 billion in 1990 to $154 billion in 2013, with 45% of Americans having student loan debt. Therefore, the resolution of student loan debt is a significant issue in many bankruptcy cases before this Court.

In order to consider student loan debt issues, Judge Waites has organized a working group whose goals are to (1) develop and make available on the Court's website educational resources helpful to parties and their counsel considering such issues; and (2) establish a procedure for voluntary mediation of disputes regarding such issues in bankruptcy cases.

The members of the initial working group are:

Beth Atkins
Ann Bell
Jimmy Wyman
Susie Ingles
Lex Rogerson
Lisa Sumner

Judge Waites invites other members of the bar interested in working on this topic or contributing helpful resources and ideas to this effort to notify him by e-mail to or contact any other member of the working group.

2) Pro Bono/ Pro Se Service Initiatives

As a follow up to this week's Pro Bono celebration and to encourage new volunteers to select a service, I wanted to provide you with a list, including contact information, of service opportunities in the programs of the Bankruptcy Court and the SC Bar. If you are interested in more information or wish to volunteer for one of the Bankruptcy Court's programs, you may contact me via Sarah Kistler at If you are interested in more information regarding SC Bar sponsored volunteer opportunities, please contact Cindy Coker at 1-877-797-2227 Ext. 142 or the specific contact provided on the attachment.

Programs of the US Bankruptcy Court, District of South Carolina:

1. CARE Program is a financial education outreach program which is primarily designed for teenagers or young adults, often presented in school settings. The CARE program was initiated in SC in 2007 and is now nationally sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI). Volunteers work with the Court in organizing presentations or educational resources helpful in teaching money management skills and good financial habits. Recently, the Court has partnered with SC Legal Services, which, with funding from the American Bankruptcy College, has produced videos and made CARE presentations on Student Loan Debt at both Clemson and the University of South Carolina.

While interested parties often contact the court, it would be helpful to have a bar committee or working group to coordinate these efforts.

2. Bankruptcy Ask-a-Lawyer program offers the public an opportunity to speak to a lawyer anonymously about legal issues. The bankruptcy court's program, established in 2007, is offered in partnership with the SC Bar's program and offers specialized advice on bankruptcy or debt related issues. It is offered once a month and members of the public are allowed to sign up with the court in advance of the session. For a two-hour time period, the lawyer volunteer is referred calls in his or her office via the court's toll free line and provides counsel and advice. The lawyer is covered under the SC Bar's malpractice policy and receives credit toward certificates for complimentary registration at CLE seminars. Additional volunteers may allow the court to provide more sessions.

3. Debtor Assistance Program is a case referral initiative in Judge Waites Chapter 13 pro se filed cases. The volunteer lawyer is matched with a debtor who has filed without an attorney and agrees to meet with the debtor on an expedited basis to determine if a representation agreement can be agreed upon. The lawyer is not appointed by the court or expected to take the case pro bono. The matching is done early in the case, generally before schedules and statements are due, thus minimizing corrective work for the accepting lawyer. In 2014 to date, 35% of the referred debtors have retained attorneys and 40% of those cases have been confirmed. Under the form Chapter 13 plan, the attorney receives the initial $1000 distributed by the Trustee.

The program has also matched attorneys in Chapter 11 pro se filed cases or in pro se cases converted to Chapter 11 from Chapter 13.

If there is an indication of interest from volunteer attorneys, the court may expand the program to include referrals for creditors who appear pro se.

4. Legal Clinics which specialize in bankruptcy or debt related problems (either as debtor or creditor) are sponsored by the bankruptcy court on a monthly basis, usually the week before foreclosure hearing dates. The clinics are presently staffed by attorneys with SC Legal Services and conducted in Columbia at the bankruptcy court, in Charleston at SC Legal Services' N. Charleston office, and in Greenville/Spartanburg at the Oconee County Courthouse. Debtors sign up with the court and attorney volunteers provide counseling and advice for parties before and after bankruptcy filings, including alternatives to bankruptcy. If attorneys are interested in volunteering for Legal Clinics, the court may expand this initiative by increasing the number and location of clinics.

5. Consumer Mediation pilot program provides mediation in consumer cases, mortgage modification/loss mitigation and on student loan debt issues in cases on Judge Waites docket. Mediation sessions are generally 1 hour in length and mediators are paid on a reduced rate basis or at a flat fee rate. This program coincides with the new Mortgage Modification/Loss Mitigation procedures detailed in Judge Waites Chambers Guidelines and will be used in a new Student Loan Debt Project soon to be announced. Attorneys interested in this service should contact chambers.

6. Other Access to Justice Pilot Projects:

a. In Chapter 13 cases filed in the Charleston division, pro se filers are allowed to commence a bankruptcy case by filing a petition by email or fax under procedures detailed in an operating order available on the court's website. The Charleston court location has recently announced public service hours on a periodic basis to allow the public to view and copy case records, take credit counseling and financial management courses and receive other bankruptcy information.

b. Information helpful to the public and pro se filers regarding bankruptcy has been enhanced and is available on the court's web site.

c. Debtor Education Pilot Program in the Spartanburg Division: Beginning on November 24, 2014, SC Legal Services, with assistance from students of Wofford College, will pilot a program which offers low income debtors the opportunity to complete the financial management course required before discharge in a group setting after 341 meetings. If successful, the program may be expanded to other divisions.

South Carolina Bar Programs:

Cindy Coker has provided a concise attachment which lists the Bar's programs and contact numbers. Please click here to view the attachment. The bankruptcy court works closely with the South Carolina Pro Bono program, which seeks volunteers to take Chapter 7 cases for qualifying debtors, and the bar referral program, and commends SC Law Answers, which allows volunteer attorneys to answered emailed legal questions from members of the public, including bankruptcy and debt related questions on a 24/7 basis. Please consider participation in the Bar's programs. If you volunteer for a Bar program, please let us know.