Bankruptcy Handbook (con’t):
16. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I FILE BANKRUPTCY?
Upon filing the original petition with the Clerk’s Office, the court’s restraining order, called the automatic stay, immediately takes effect and prohibits all creditors from taking any collection action against the debtor or the debtor’s property. Although the stay is automatic, creditors need to be advised of the stay. The court issues a notice to all creditors advising them of the filing of the bankruptcy, the case number, the automatic stay, the name of the trustee assigned to the case (if filed under chapter 7, 12, or 13), the date set for the meeting of creditors, the deadline, if any, set for filing objections to the discharge of the debtor and/or the dischargeability of specific debts, and whether and where to file claims. The exact information in the notice differs depending on the chapter under which the case is filed.
In a Chapter 7 case involving an individual debtor, the creditors generally have sixty (60) days from the first date set for the meeting of creditors to object to the discharge of the debtor and/or the dischargeability of a specific debt. If the deadline passes without any objections to the debtor’s discharge being filed, the court will issue the discharge order. If any objections to the dischargeability of specific debts are filed, they will be heard by the court, but will not delay the granting of a discharge with respect to other debts. An objection to discharge or to the dischargeability of certain debts is considered a separate lawsuit (an adversary proceeding) within the bankruptcy and may result in a trial before the judge assigned to the case. Corporate and partnership chapter 7 debtors do not receive discharges. If there are no assets from which a dividend can be paid, the trustee will prepare a report of no distribution and the case will be closed. If there are assets that are not exempt, funds will be available for distribution to creditors. The court will set claims deadlines and notify all creditors to file their claims. The trustee will proceed to collect the assets, liquidate them and distribute the proceeds to creditors. When the assets have been completely administered, the court will close the case.
In a Chapter 13 case, creditors are given an opportunity to object to the plan. If no objection is filed by creditors or the trustee, the plan may be confirmed as filed. Once the plan is confirmed, the trustee will distribute the proceeds of the debtor’s plan payments to creditors until the debtor completes the plan or the court dismisses or converts the case. Upon completion of the chapter 13 plan, the court will issue a discharge order, the trustee will prepare a final report, and the case will be closed.
In a Chapter 12 case, the confirmation hearing must be concluded within forty-five (45) days of filing the plan. The court may consider dismissal of the case if a plan is not confirmed.
In a Chapter 11 case, a debtor’s conference is held with the United States Trustee’s staff before the creditors’ meeting. At the debtor’s conference, the United States Trustee will go over the responsibilities and restrictions on the debtor-in-possession, explain the quarterly fees and monthly operating reports, and generally discuss the financial situation of the debtor and the scope of the anticipated plan of reorganization. A disclosure statement must be filed with the plan and approved by the court before votes for and against the plan can be solicited. After the estate has been fully administered, the court enters a final decree closing the case. A chapter 11 estate may be considered fully administered and closed before the payments required by the plan have been completed.
17. WHAT IS A BANKRUPTCY TRUSTEE? WHO IS THE UNITED STATES TRUSTEE? WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
In all chapter 7, 12, 13 and in some chapter 11 cases, a case trustee is assigned. In chapter 7 cases they are called “Panel Trustees.” In chapter 12 and 13 cases they are called “Standing Trustees.” The trustee’s job is to administer the bankruptcy estate, to make sure creditors get as much money as possible, and to run the first meeting of creditors, (also called the “Section 341 meeting”, because 11 U.S.C. § 341 of the Bankruptcy Code requires that the meeting be held). The trustee either collects and sells non-exempt estate property, as in the case of a chapter 7, or collects and pays out money on a repayment plan, as in the case of a chapter 13. The trustee can require that you provide, under penalty of perjury, information and documents, either before, after, or at the meeting. You should always cooperate with the trustee, since failure to cooperate with the trustee could be grounds to have your discharge denied. Trustees are not necessarily lawyers, and they are not paid by the court. They are appointed by the United States Trustee. The trustees report to the court, but their fees come out of the bankruptcy filing fees or as a percentage of the money distributed to creditors in the bankruptcy.
The United States Trustee’s Office is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, and is separate from the court. The United States Trustee’s Office is a watchdog agency, charged with monitoring all bankruptcies, appointing and supervising all trustees, and identifying fraud in bankruptcy cases. The United States Trustee’s Office cannot give you legal advice, but they can give you information about the status of a case, and you can contact them if you are having a problem with a trustee, or if you have evidence of any fraudulent activity. In monitoring cases, the United States Trustee reviews all bankruptcy petitions and pleadings filed -in cases, and participates in many proceedings affecting the case, but they do not administer the case themselves. They can bring motions in the bankruptcy, such as ones to dismiss the case, or to deny the debtor’s discharge.
18. WHAT IS THE CREDITORS’ MEETING? WHAT CAN I EXPECT WILL HAPPEN AT IT?
A “meeting of creditors” is the single hearing all debtors must attend in any bankruptcy proceeding. It is held outside the presence of the judge and usually occurs between twenty (20) and forty (40) days from the date the original petition is filed with the court. In chapter 7, chapter 12, and chapter 13 cases, the trustee assigned by the court on behalf of the United States Trustee conducts the hearing. In chapter 11 cases where the debtor is in possession and no trustee is assigned, a representative of the United States Trustee’s office conducts the hearing.
The hearing permits the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office to review the debtor’s petition and schedules with the debtor face-to-face. The debtor is required to answer questions under penalty of perjury concerning the debtor’s acts, conduct, property, liabilities, financial condition and any matter that may affect administration of the estate or the debtor’s right to discharge. This information enables the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office to understand the debtor’s circumstances and facilitates efficient administration of the case. Additionally, the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office will ask questions to ensure that the debtor understand the positive and negative aspects of filing for bankruptcy.
The hearing is referred to as the “meeting of creditors” because creditors are notified that they may attend and question the debtor about the location and disposition of assets and any other matter relevant to the administration of the case. However, creditors rarely attend these hearings and, in general, are not considered to have waived any of their rights by failing to appear. The hearing usually lasts only a few minutes and may be continued if the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Off ice is not satisfied with the infonnation provided by the debtor. If the debtor fails to appear and provide the information requested at the hearing, the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office may request that the bankruptcy case be dismissed or that the debtor be ordered by the court to cooperate or be held in contempt of court for willful failure to cooperate.
19. WHAT IS A DISCHARGE?
The discharge order is issued by the court and permanently prohibits creditors from taking action to collect dischargeable debts against the debtor personally; this does not prevent secured creditors from seizing collateral if payments are not kept up, or other creditors from pursuing property of the estate.
Some debts are not dischargeable, and others may be found to be non-dischargeable depending on particular circumstances.
In a chapter 7 case, the bankruptcy court will order that the debtor be discharged of all dischargeable debts once the time for filing complaints objecting to discharge has expired unless:
- the debtor is not an individual
- a complaint objecting to the debtor’s discharge has been filed
- the debtor has filed a waiver of discharge
In chapter 11 cases, the confirmation of a plan of reorganization discharges the debtor from dischargeable debts that arose before the date of the order of relief unless:
- the plan or order confirming Plan provides otherwise
- the plan is a liquidating plan and the debtor would be denied a discharge in a chapter 7 case under 11 U.S.C. § 727
In chapter 12 and chapter 13 cases, the court will order that the debtor is discharged of dischargeable debts after the debtor has completed all payments under the plan, or prior to plan completion, after notice and hearing, if the requirements of 11 U.S.C. §§ 1228(b) or 1328(b) have been met.
The granting of a discharge does not automatically result in the closing of a case. All contested matters, adversary proceedings, and appeals must be resolved and the appointed trustee or debtorin-possession must file a final report and account and request entry of a final decree before the Clerk’s Office will close the case.
20. WHAT DEBTS ARE DISCHARGEABLE?
All debts are dischargeable except for those listed in 11 U.S.C. § 523. The non-dischargeable debts listed in § 523 include:
- certain taxes and fines
- debts created through fraudulent conduct or providing false information to a creditor
- debts not listed in your bankruptcy petition
- alimony, child maintenance or support, and certain debts arising out of a divorce decree or separation agreement
- debts from willful and malicious injury to another
- government guaranteed student loans due within seven (7) years before filing your bankruptcy
- debts caused by the death or a personal injury related to the operation of a motor vehicle while you were intoxicated
- post bankruptcy condominium or cooperative owners’ association fees
This list includes many examples of non-dischargeable debts but you should review 11 U.S.C. § 523 for a complete list.
Some debts listed in 11 U.S.C. § 523, such as those based on fraudulent conduct, embezzlement or willful and malicious injury to another, are discharged unless a complaint to deny discharge of that debt is timely filed with the bankruptcy court. Ordinarily, these complaints must be filed within sixty (60) days of the first date set for the meeting of creditors.
Additionally, debts that were not listed on your bankruptcy schedules or that were incurred after you filed bankruptcy are generally not discharged.
21. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DENIAL OF DISCHARGE AND A DEBT BEING NON-DISCHARGEABLE?
A discharge can be denied by the court either for one particular debt or for all debts. For a discharge to be denied, either as to a particular debt or as to all debts, someone must file an adversary proceeding (lawsuit) with the court.
In a lawsuit to deny the discharge as to all debts, the person who brings the action must prove to the court that the debtor did one of the following: (1) transferred, concealed, removed, destroyed or mutilated property of the debtor, (within one year before the bankruptcy was filed) or after the bankruptcy was filed, or (2) concealed, destroyed, mutilated, falsified, or failed to keep and preserve books and records about the debtor’s financial condition or business transactions, or (3) the debtor made a false statement while under oath, (in writing or orally), or (4) failed to turn over books and records, or (5), failed to explain the loss of assets, or (6) had received a previous bankruptcy discharge within six (6) years.
To deny the discharge as to one debt only, the creditor must prove that the debtor (1) got the money or thing by making false representations, false pretenses or actual fraud, or (2) used a materially false statement about his financial condition, the creditor relied on.
22. WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF A CASE IS DISMISSED?
A dismissal order ends the case. Upon dismissal the “automatic stay” ends and creditors may start to collect debts, unless a discharge is entered before the dismissal and is not revoked. An order of dismissal itself will not free the debtor from any debt. Often, a case is dismissed when the debtor fails to do something he/she must do (such as show up for the creditors’ meeting, answer the trustee’s questions honestly, produce books and records the trustee requests), or if it is in the best interests of the creditors. Unless the debtor appeals the order or seeks reconsideration of the order within ten (10) days after entry of the order, the Clerk will automatically close the case.
23. WHAT IS A REAFFIRMATION AGREEMENT?
A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement by which a bankruptcy debtor becomes legally obligated to pay all or a portion of an otherwise dischargeable debt. Such an agreement must generally be filed within sixty (60) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors.
If the reaffirming debtor is represented by an attorney, the agreement is filed with an affidavit of the attorney which complies with 11 U.S.C. § 524(c)(3). No hearing for approval of such an agreement is necessary. If the reaffirming debtor is not represented by an attorney, the debtor or creditor must file an application for approval of the agreement, along with a request for hearing. An order approving the agreement should be brought to the hearing. You must appear in person at the hearing. The judge will ask you questions to determine whether the reaffirmation agreement imposes an undue burden on you or your dependents and whether it is in your best interests. Since reaffirmed debts are not discharged, the bankruptcy court will normally only reaffirm secured debts where the collateral is important to your daily activities.
Reaffirmation agreements are strictly voluntary. They are not required by the Bankruptcy Code or other state or federal law. You can voluntarily repay any debt instead of signing a reaffirmation agreement, but there may be valid reasons for wanting to reaffirm a particular debt.
Since a reaffirmation agreement takes away some of the effectiveness of your discharge, legal counsel is advisable before agreeing to a reaffirmation. Even if you sign a reaffirmation agreement, you have a minimum of sixty (60) days after the agreement is filed with the court to change your mind. If your discharge date is more than sixty (60) days after the agreement is filed with the court, you have until your discharge date to change your mind. If you reaffirm a debt and fail to make the payments as agreed, the creditor can take action against you to recover any property that was given as security for the loan and you may remain personally liable for any remaining debt.
24. WHAT IS REDEMPTION?
Redemption allows an individual debtor (not a partnership or a corporation) to keep tangible, personal property intended primarily for personal, family, or household use by paying the holder of a lien on the property the amount of the allowed secured claim on the property, which typically means the value of the property. Otherwise, in order to retain the property, the debtor would have to pay the entire amount of the secured creditor’s debt, do a reaffirmation agreement and become legally obligated on the debt again. The property redeemed must be claimed as exempt or abandoned.
With redemption, a debtor can often get hens released on personal household possessions for much less than the underlying debt on those secured possessions. Unless the creditor consents to periodic payments, redemption must generally be made in one lump sum payment to the creditor. If the debtor and creditor agree to the redemption, just a consent order of redemption is required. If the redemption is opposed, a motion for redemption and a request for hearing should be filed.
25. WHAT ARE CLAIMS AND CLAIMS OBJECTIONS? HOW ARE CLAIMS FILED?
- Claims: In the broadest sense, a claim is any right to payment held by a person or company against you and your bankruptcy estate. A claim does not have to be a past due amount but can include an anticipated sum of money which will come due in the future. In filling out your Schedules, you should include any past, present or future debts as potential claims.
- Claims Objections: You are entitled to object to any claim filed in your bankruptcy case if you believe the debt is not owed or if you believe the claim misrepresents the amount or kind of debt (e.g. secured or priority) which you owe. In some circumstances, an objection to claim can be initiated by filing a motion in the bankruptcy court; in other circumstances, it must be initiated by filing an adversary proceeding (like a lawsuit in your bankruptcy case). If you anticipate objecting to claims, you should seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible since the objection process can be complicated and time sensitive.
- Filing of Claims: The written statement filed in a bankruptcy case setting forth a creditor’s claim is called a proof of claim. The proof of claim should include a copy of the obligation giving rise to the claim as well as evidence of the secured status of the debt if the debt is secured. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, with limited exceptions, claims filed by creditors, except governmental units, in chapter 7, 12 and 13 cases must be filed within ninety (90) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. Claims of governmental units must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days of the date the petition was filed. In the Eastern District of California, the ninety (90) day and one hundred eighty (180) day deadlines also apply, by local rule, to the filing of claims by creditors in chapter 11 cases. If a creditor files a claim after the specified deadline, you may object to the claim as being untimely filed.
For purposes of obtaining your discharge, it may be important for you to file a claim on behalf of a creditor if that creditor should fail to do so. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, you (or in chapter 7 and some 11 cases, the trustee) may file a proof of claim on behalf of a creditor within thirty (30) days after the last day for filing claims.
26. WHAT CAN I DO IF A CREDITOR KEEPS TRYING TO COLLECT MONEY AFTER I HAVE FILED BANKRUPTCY?
If a creditor continues to attempt to collect a debt after the bankruptcy is filed in violation of the automatic stay, you should immediately notify the creditor in writing that you have filed bankruptcy, and provide them with either the case name number and filing date, or a copy of the petition that shows it was filed. If the creditor still continues to collect, the debtor may be entitled to take legal action against the creditor to obtain a specific order from the court prohibiting the creditor from taking further collection action and, if the creditor is willfully violating the automatic stay, the court can hold the creditor in contempt of court and punish the creditor by fine or incarceration. Any such legal action brought against the creditor will be complex and will normally require representation by a qualified bankruptcy attorney.
27. HOW DO I CHANGE OR CORRECT INFORMATION IN THE PETITION, SCHEDULES AND STATEMENTS I ALREADY FILED WITH THE CLERK’S OFFICE?
The information contained in your petition, schedules, and statement of affairs is submitted under penalty of perjury.” Therefore, you must be certain that it is correct when you sign these documents. If, however, you later discover that something is inaccurate, the documents may be corrected by the filing of an amendment with the Clerk’s Office. New schedules or statements must be filed showing the corrected information along with an amendment cover sheet which may be obtained from the Clerk’s Office. A fee of $20.00 must be paid to amend schedules of creditors or lists of creditors after notice to creditors. The amendment cover sheet contains certain instructions which must be strictly followed in order for the amendment to be processed properly. All amendments must be served upon the United States Trustee and case trustee, and certain amendments must be served upon the creditors affected by the amendment.
28. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I CANNOT MAKE MY CHAPTER 13 PAYMENT?
If the debtor cannot make a chapter 13 payment on time according to the terms of the confirmed plan, the debtor should contact the trustee by phone and by letter advising the trustee of the problem and whether it is temporary or permanent. If it is a temporary problem and the payments can be made up, the debtor should advise the trustee of the time and manner in which the debtor will make up the payments. Significant changes in the debtor’s circumstances may require that the plan be formally modified. If the problem is permanent and the debtor is no longer able to make payments to the plan, the trustee will request that the case be dismissed or converted to another chapter. The determination of whether to modify, dismiss or convert a case requires the same kind of analysis as is needed for the initial decision whether to file bankruptcy and under what chapter. Therefore, the debtor should seek counsel from a qualified bankruptcy attorney before attempting to make such a decision. If the debtor delays making a voluntary decision and cannot make the plan payments, the court may dismiss the case.
29. MY EX-SPOUSE HAS FILED BANKRUPTCY. HE/SHE HAS LISTED ME AS A CO-SIGNER ON A SCHEDULED DEBT. WHAT CAN I DO? DOES MY DIVORCE DECREE PROTECT ME?
If you are a co-obligor with your ex-spouse on a debt, the creditor can require the entire payment of that debt from your share of the community property even though the divorce decree assigns the debt to your ex-spouse. Depending on the terms of your divorce decree, you may be able to have certain support obligations under it determined to be non-dischargeable by the bankruptcy court or in state court. You should seek legal advice for a thorough explanation of your rights and obligations in this area as soon as you find out that your ex-spouse has filed a bankruptcy.
30. HOW MANY YEARS WILL A BANKRUPTCY SHOW ON MY CREDIT REPORT? HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE BEFORE I CAN GET CREDIT?
The bankruptcy petition, schedules and plan are a public document and are available to the general public at the Clerk’s Office. Credit reporting agencies regularly collect information from the petitions filed and report the information on their credit reporting services. Bankruptcies normally will remain on your credit report for up to ten (10) years and may be taken into consideration by any person reviewing a credit report for the purpose of extending credit in the future. The decision whether to grant you credit in the future is strictly up to the creditor and varies from creditor to creditor depending on the type of credit requested. There is no law which prevents anyone from extending credit to you immediately after the filing of a bankruptcy nor will a creditor be required to extend credit to you. The best way for you to obtain credit in the future is to generate adequate and regular income in the future and pay all of your financial obligations in a timely and responsible manner. Many creditors will not deal with you in the future unless you have already established credit with someone else and demonstrate that you are a reliable debtor. In general it is recommended that, after the filing of a bankruptcy, one learn to live within his/her income and not request credit which is not absolutely necessary.
31. HOW CAN I GET INFORMATION ABOUT A CASE?
Case information may be obtained by telephone, through the mail, or in person at the Clerk’s Office public counters.
- Obtaining Case Information By Telephone to permit you around-the-clock access to case information, the Clerk’s Office has installed two automated case information systems. The Voice Case Information System, or VCIS, uses a computer-generated synthesized voice device to read case summary information directly from the court’s computer in response to touch-tone telephone inquiries. VCIS is provided free of charge. Local calls within the Sacramento area may be placed by dialing (916) 930-4400. Long distance callers may access VCIS toll-free by dialing 1-800-736-0158.
The Public Access to Court Electronic Records, or PACER, information system permits the use of any terminal or computer, a modem, and communications software to dial the court’s computer and access lists of newly filed cases, case summary information, and docket entries made during the past six (6) months. Users must obtain a login-id and password from the San Antonio billing center by calling 1-800-676-6856 and pay $1.00 per minute to access the PACER system. Additional information concerning VCIS and PACER is available from any divisional Clerk’s Office.
Basic case information that you are unable to access using an automated case information system may be obtained free of charge by calling the divisional Clerk’s Office in which the case is pending during the hours indicated below.
- Sacramento Division8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 916) 930-4400.
- Modesto Division
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Fresno Division
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
As a general rule, all information other than basic case information requires a physical search of the court’s records. If a physical search of the court’s records is required, you must pay a $15-00 search fee for every name or item to be searched before the Clerk’s Office will provide the requested information. Requests for information subject to the search fee should be made in writing. You may, however, obtain the information free of charge in most cases by coming to the Clerk’s Office and conducting your own search.
- Obtaining Case Information By Mail: To obtain case information by mail, send a written request containing the case number, the case name, the information you request, your name, address, a telephone number where you can be reached during business hours and the best time to call, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Written requests for information requiring a physical search of the court’s records should be accompanied by a cashier’s check, certified check, or money order sufficient to cover the applicable search fee.
- Obtaining Case Information In Person: As a general rule, all documents in the court’s case files and all court dockets are public record and available to the public for inspection. Files and dockets may be reviewed at the Clerk’s Office public counters during business hours.
Not all papers are placed in the main, or “parent,” case file. Adversary proceedings, chapter 11 monthly operating reports, motions for relief from automatic stay filed in chapter 11 cases, and proofs of claim filed in chapter 11 are kept in separate files. In chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases, proofs of claim are generally found on the left side of the first volume of the parent case file. However, due to their number, they are at times kept in separate files.
Documents are placed in files from the bottom up in chronological order. In other words, the document initiating the case will be the one on the bottom of the first volume. Documents are listed on court dockets from the top down in chronological order. The document initiating the case will be the first one listed below the names and addresses on the first page of the docket.
The court docket is a list of brief entries made to record the activity in a case. It contains information concerning the parties involved, filing fees paid, deadlines set, hearings held, and documents filed in the case. For each order and judgment filed, the date the order or judgment was recorded, or entered, on the docket is indicated.
In order to review a case file or docket, you will need the case number. Nficrofiche lists of names, alphabetic case locators, and a computer terminals are available at the public counter for your use. To have a file or “hard copy” docket pulled for viewing, you will need to complete a request form and present it with a driver’s license or other appropriate form of identification. Unless the file or docket you wish to view has been archived or is otherwise unavailable, it will be pulled for your review.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MAY YOU REMOVE FILES FROM THE FILE REVIEW AREA OR REMOVE DOCUMENTS FROM FILES.
All files must be returned in proper order. The Clerk’s Office is the keeper of the court’s records and is responsible for maintaining their accuracy and integrity. Removal of files from the file review area, removal of documents from files or failure to return files in proper order will be deemed sufficient grounds to refuse to provide you with additional files.
Electronic court dockets may be viewed and printed using the computer terminals in the file review area. There is a $.50 per page charge for printed dockets. Printed dockets may be picked up at the public counter. Partial dockets may be viewed and printed by entering beginning and ending dates when requesting the docket.
The electronic dockets for cases filed prior to August 20, 1990 list only the events docketed on or after January 4, 1993. All events docketed prior to January 4, 1993 are listed on a paper, or “hard copy”, docket for the case. In order to review the complete docket in one of these cases, you will need to request that it be pulled.
Due to limited storage space, closed case files and “hard copy” dockets are archived by periodically shipping them to the Federal Records Center in San Bruno, California for storage. Files and dockets stored at the Federal Records Center may be recalled to the Clerk’s Off-ice and reviewed in the Clerk’s Office file review area. A $25.00 fee will be charged for each record retrieved from the Federal Records Center by the Clerk’s Office. This fee must be paid before the Clerk’s Office will recall a record.
Alternatively, you may travel to the Federal Records Center in San Bruno to review the archived file or docket. All personal visits to the Federal Records Center are by appointment only. Appointments are scheduled 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and must be requested by telephone at least 24 hours in advance. You must obtain the file or docket location, box, and accession numbers from the Clerk’s Office and provide it to the Federal Records Center in order to review the file there. For more information concerning reviewing files at the Federal Records Center, please see Attachment 4.
- Getting Copies of Papers from Locally Stored Case Files: Open case files and recently closed case files are locally stored. -Copies of papers in locally stored case files may be obtained by mail or in person at the Clerk’s Office public counter. To obtain copies by mail, a written request containing the case number, the case name, the title of the documents you wish copied, your name, address, a telephone number where you can be reached during business hours and the best time to call, must be sent to the Clerk’s Office with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a cashier’s check, certified check or money order for the appropriate fee payable to “Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” Unless certification is needed, a $15.00 per name or item search fee plus a $.50 per page photocopy fee will be charged to obtain copies by mail. An additional fee of $5.00 per document will be charged if certified copies are needed.
To obtain copies in person at the Clerk’s Office, you may use the coin operated, $.15 per page, photocopy machines located in each divisional Clerk’s Office file review area unless certified copies are needed. DO NOT REMOVE DOCUMENTS FROM FILES TO PHOTOCOPY –FOLD THEM OVER INSTEAD.
The Clerk’s Office will not certify copies made by you. To obtain certified copies in person, you will be charged a $.50 per page photocopy fee plus a $5.00 per document certification fee provided that you paper-clip together the right side of the pages you would like copied and certified. If you don’t paper clip the pages together, the $15.00 per name or item search fee, the $.50 per page photocopy fee and the $5.00 per document certification fee must be paid to obtain certified copies in person.
- Getting Copies of Papers from Archived Files: Copies of papers in archived files may be obtained from the Clerk’s Office in the same manner as copies of papers in locally stored case files. Unless certification is needed, a $25.00 per record archive retrieval fee plus a $.50 per page photocopy fee will be charged for copy work requested by mail. An additional $5.00 per document fee will be charged for certified copies. Likewise, you may use the coin-operated, public lobby photocopy machines to copy papers in case files recalled to the Clerk’s Office from the Federal Records Center unless certified copies are needed. Certified copies of documents in these files will be subject to the same $.50 per page photocopy and $5.00 per document certification fees as papers in locally stored cases.
Alternatively, you may obtain copies of papers in archived files by visiting the Federal Records Center in San Bruno. The cost for copy work at the Federal Records Center is $.50 per page. An additional fee of $5.00 per document will be charged if certified copies are needed. You must obtain the same information concerning the file from the Clerk’s Office that you would need to view the file, and contact the Federal Records Center to schedule all appointment. See Attachment 4.
The Federal Records Center will also accept mail requests for photocopies of archived personal chapter 7 bankruptcy case files and forward them to the requestor or, with sufficient notice, make them available for pick-up at the Federal Records Center. Photocopies of either the entire contents of an archived personal chapter 7 bankruptcy case file or a package of commonly requested documents may be requested. Copies of papers in archived chapter 7 business cases, cases under all other chapters, and adversary proceedings may only be obtained by visiting the Federal Records Center or requesting that the Clerk’s Office retrieve the file. For more information concerning requests by mail for copies of papers from personal chapter 7 bankruptcy case files, please see Attachment 5.