SPECIAL INFORMATION AND PROCEDURES
TIPS FOR APPEARING BEFORE JUDGE HYMAN
- Judge Hyman expects attorneys to conduct themselves professionally in his courtroom in accordance with the Court’s Guidelines for Courtroom Decorum which is posted on the Court’s website. Attorneys should remain wholly detached from any ill feeling between the litigants or witnesses. Oral or written disparaging personal remarks or acrimony toward opposing counsel or opposing parties will not be tolerated.
- As required by Local Rule 9073-1(D), movant’s attorney must certify that he has contacted all adverse parties in an attempt to resolve the matter before filing a motion requiring a hearing.
- Judge Hyman appreciates cogent, logical writing. Whether you appear in person or by paper, you should clearly state to the Court and opposing counsel the specific relief you are requesting.
- If you have a factual dispute, you should be ready to prove your position with full knowledge of evidentiary rules, local rules, and other necessary rules.
- Exhibits should be submitted in accordance with the newly revised Local Rule 9070-1, which provides in part that exhibits should be submitted to the Court in electronic format (either on a USB Flash Drive or a compact disc) and should be accompanied by the Local Form “Exhibit Register“.
- Unless otherwise directed by the court, ALL exhibits shall be submitted in electronic Portable Document Format (PDF) and stored on a USB flash drive or compact disc.
- Each individual PDF file shall be limited to a single exhibit of a file size no greater than 50MB.
- Each PDF file shall be named for the exhibit it contains. Exhibits should be pre-marked (and files should be correspondingly named) numerically for plaintiffs/movants and alphabetically for defendants/respondents.
- The Court will consider motions in limine prior to trial. Such motions should be filed as far in advance as possible and appropriate. You should file the motion at least seven days prior to trial, if you want the Judge to rule on the motion before the first day of trial.
- You should provide your principal cases to the Court and opposing counsel. Concede where you need to, making sure to communicate the law accurately no matter whose side it favors.
- Unless specifically requested, do not fax or e-mail motions or other pleadings to chambers.
- Extensions of the time to file schedules:
- Judge Hyman will not extend time to file schedules beyond 30 days from the date of the filing of the petition absent showing a good cause.
- Good cause includes events such as a death in the family or a natural disaster, but does not include the excuse that the attorney and client did not have time to meet or to devote to the preparation of the schedules.
- The Court uses Electronic Court Report for all hearings.
- If you are on CourtCall, you must state your name every time you speak.
- If you are in the courtroom, you must speak into the microphones.
- If you and your opposing counsel are of the same gender, you must state your name every time you speak.
- Everyone must speak slowly and clearly.
- Failure to comply with these rules will result in an inadequate record.
- Moreover, you should remember that if you wish to have a confidential conversation with anyone, including your client, you must have it away from the microphones so that your conversation is not recorded.
- Failure to do so may result in a waiver of confidentiality and/or attorney-client privilege.
LOCAL RULES, LOCAL FORMS, FORM ORDERS & ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS
- Local Rules for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida govern all procedural aspects of the case. Judge Hyman strictly enforces the Local Rules.
- Administrative orders updating court procedures and the Local Rules are posted on the Court’s website and should be reviewed. A copy of the Local Rules may also be obtained from the Clerk’s office.
- Local forms and form orders are updated periodically and are available on the Court’s website. Be sure you are using current versions of all local forms and orders.
CERTIFICATES OF SERVICE AND NOTICE REQUIREMENTS
- A party who provides notice of any requested relief, proposed action, notice of hearing, or other service must do so in accordance with the Local Rules.
- Additionally, when a motion, notice of hearing, order or any other request for relief is required to be served on all parties and creditors, the movant must attach the Court’s official mailing matrix to the certificate of service and must indicate that all creditors on the official mailing matrix were served. The movant may supplement the official mailing matrix, but must, at a minimum, attach the Court’s official mailing matrix and serve all parties and creditors on that mailing matrix. Use of any other self-prepared matrix or list without the Court’s prior permission may result in denial of the motion.
- Notice to ALL CREDITORS is required for:
- Motions to dismiss or convert;
- Motions to reinstate;
- Motions to shorten prejudice period;
- Motions to extend automatic stay;
- Application for fees;
- Motions to extend exclusivity period
- Motions to use cash collateral;
- Motions to waive requirement of creditor counseling or financial management course;
- Motions to compromise controversy;
- Motions to sell; and
- ANY request for relief that adversely affects other creditors, such as motions to file late claims.
- Judge Hyman will not shorten the notice to less than 10 days for the following motions as less than 10 days’ notice deprives creditors of due process:
- Motions to dismiss or convert;
- Motions to reinstate;
- Motions to shorten prejudice period;
- Motions to extend automatic stay.
- Finally, pursuant to Local Rule 2002-1(D): “[v]erification that a particular party appears accurately on any service matrix, appearance list or claims register is the responsibility of the party providing notice and the party listed” and “determination as to the appropriate parties to serve shall be the responsibility of the party providing service.” “Omissions of parties on any service list maintained under CM/ECF due to failure by the debtor or other responsible party to provide the clerk with supplemental matrices, or where applicable, notices of change of address, shall be the responsibility of that party to correct.” Local Rule 2002-1(D) (emphasis added).
NO EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS
- Judge Hyman does not entertain any oral or ex parte communications. Do not write letters or call Judge Hyman, his law clerks, or judicial assistant regarding cases. Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9003 prohibits ex parte communications with the Judge by any party in interest regarding any matter affecting a particular case.
INDIVIDUAL DEBTORS APPEARING WITHOUT COUNSEL (PRO SE DEBTORS)
- If you are an individual debtor appearing without a lawyer, you are a pro se debtor. You should review the Court’s Pro Se web page.
- Pro separties should be familiar with and will be required to follow the Local Rules. Please see above “Local Rules, Local Forms, Form Orders and Administrative Order” section.
- Relief sought by pro se parties should be by motion clearly stating the specific relief requested. Please note that the Clerk’s Office, the Judge, and the Judge’s staff are not permitted to give legal advice.
HEARINGS CALENDAR: OBTAINING, CONTINUING, OR CANCELLING HEARING DATES
- Judge Hyman strives to provide timely hearing dates for all matters. Counsel’s cooperation is essential in this regard.
- With the exception of certain motions that may be self-calendared (See Procedures outlined below and Court’s Guidelines: Guidelines for Self-Calendaring Procedure available on the Court’s website), Judge Hyman’s calendar is set and maintained exclusively by the Courtroom Deputy. DO NOT call Judge Hyman’s law clerks about calendar matters.
- Self-Calendaring Non-Emergency Matters. Effective February 1, 2013, non-emergency matters in Chapter 7, 13, 11 and adversary cases assigned to Judge Hyman and Judge Kimball will be scheduled via the Court’s self-calendaring feature in CM/ECF in accordance with the revised Guidelines for Self Calendaring, available on the Court’s website.
- Chapter 7 Or Chapter 13 Matters Requiring A Hearing Within 10 Days. If a matter in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case requires a hearing within 10 days, the party requesting the hearing must file the matter as an “emergency” and comply with Local Rule 9075-1 and the guidelines pertaining to emergency matters outlined below. Inquiries regarding the scheduling of emergency hearings must be directed exclusively to Judge Hyman’s Courtroom Deputy. DO NOT contact Judge Hyman’s law clerks about emergency hearings.
- Hearing Dates for filed motions are assigned by the Courtroom Deputy who will prepare a form notice of hearing and return it to the moving party either electronically via a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) or by mail from the Bankruptcy Noticing Center (BNC), depending on whether movant’s counsel is a registered user who has filed an electronic notice of appearance in the case. It is the responsibility of movant’s counsel to serve the notice of hearing on parties required to be served, the Court does not serve the notice of hearing. The party required to serve the notice of hearing must file local form “Certificate of Service of Notice of Hearing and Compliance with Local Rule 9073-1(D)“.
- Evidentiary Hearings Or Motions That Will Take In Excess Of Fifteen Minutes Must Be Specially Set and will not be heard during a motion calendar. Counsel shall immediately after filing such a motion, inform the Courtroom Deputy that the motion requires a specially set hearing. All counsel shall consult with each other to determine the availability of the parties and the amount of time the hearing will require. The Courtroom Deputy will not act as a middleman to clear dates for parties who do not confer with each other. Failure of counsel to confer with one another before setting hearings may result in sanctions or the hearing not going forward. Judge Hyman will often enter an Order Specially Setting Hearing which sets forth the Court’s procedural requirements for specially set matters. Please read this order carefully. The order can be obtained by clicking on the above link.
- Continuances For Hearings on motion calendars must be requested by filing a motion for continuance. If the parties agree to the continuance, the motion should be designated as agreed and an agreed proposed order may be submitted. If the parties do not agree, the motion for continuance will be set for hearing. Continuances for pretrial conferences or specially set evidentiary matters will generally not be granted ex parte without a hearing, even if agreed.
- Emergency Matters are those where the requested relief requires immediate action. The movant should clearly state the reason for the emergency and the specific date by which the movant believes the matter needs to be heard. See Local Rule 9075-1(D). Upon filing an emergency motion, you may contact the Courtroom Deputy to ensure that the matter is timely processed. A filed emergency motion will be reviewed by Judge Hyman to determine if it should be treated as an emergency. The Courtroom Deputy will call and set the hearing as directed by the Judge. No scheduling will occur until the motion is filed and reviewed by the Judge. Upon receipt of the time and date of hearing, the moving party must immediately provide notice to opposing counsel by phone, fax, and e-mail. Failure to provide immediate notice to opposing counsel may result in the hearing not going forward.
- Matters Settled prior to a hearing may be removed from the calendar by calling the Courtroom Deputy not later than noon at least one (1) business day prior to the hearing.
- UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MAY ANY PARTICIPANT RECORD OR BROADCAST THE PROCEEDINGS CONDUCTED BY THE BANKRUPTCY COURT
- Judge Hyman encourages telephonic appearances for routine, non-evidentiary matters. There is no geographic limitation regarding who may appear by telephone. Please note, however, that the ability to appear by telephone is a privilege and not a right and that such privilege may be withdrawn by the Court at any time.
- Telephonic appearances are allowed in all matters before the Court EXCEPT the following:
a. Trials and evidentiary hearings – all counsel and all witnesses must appear in person;
b. Chapter 13 hearings of all kinds; and
c. Any matter designated by the Court as one requiring a personal appearance.
- Counsel appearing by telephone may not use a speaker phone – a handset must be used. Counsel should state his or her name each time he or she is heard so the court reporter can identify who is speaking. Counsel should speak loudly, clearly, and slowly. Also, counsel should cover the telephone handset, or place the telephone on mute, when he or she is not talking, to minimize background noise that is broadcast over the speaker system in the courtroom. Failure to do so may result in the inability of the court reporter to fully and accurately transcribe the statements of counsel.
- During telephonic hearings, counsel present in the courtroom should move as close to the microphones as possible to ensure that all courtroom activity may be heard by those appearing by telephone.
- Participation of counsel appearing by telephone will be limited to a short statement or argument in support of, or in opposition to, the relief requested. Counsel may not engage in extended argument or participate in the introduction of evidence or examination of witnesses. If the Court determines it is appropriate to receive evidence at the scheduled hearing, the hearing will not be continued or rescheduled to accommodate counsel appearing by telephone.
- If there is an equipment failure for any reason, the Judge will proceed with the hearing without participation of counsel appearing telephonically.
- If an individual schedules a telephonic appearance and then fails to respond to the call of a matter on calendar, the court may pass the matter or may treat the failure to respond as a failure to appear.
- Counsel assumes the risk of the prejudice that may result from not being present in person and therefore possibly being unable to advance the party’s points in favor of, or in opposition to, the relief requested.
ARRANGING TELEPHONIC APPEARANCES
- Except for pro se debtors appearing at reaffirmation hearings and certain other matters with prior permission (see below), telephonic appearances before Judge Hyman will be through the services of CourtCall, an independent conference call company. Counsel wishing to appear by telephone should establish an account with CourtCall in advance of their first intended appearance. CourtCall may be contacted on the web at www.courtcall.com and by telephone at (888) 882-6878.
- Absent an emergency, telephone appearances may be arranged by calling CourtCall at (888) 882-6878 not later than 3:00 p.m. prevailing Eastern Time on the court day prior to the hearing date. Any request for a telephonic appearance made after the 3:00 p.m. deadline must be Court approved by contacting Judge Hyman’s Courtroom Deputy, Maria Romaguera-Serfaty, at (561) 514-4109.
- CourtCall will provide counsel with written confirmation of a scheduled telephonic appearance, and give counsel a number to call to make the telephonic appearance. It is counsel’s responsibility to dial into the call not later than 10 minutes prior to the scheduled hearing. CourtCall does not place a call to counsel. As of May 1, 2009, the initial charge per participant for a Court Call appearance is $30.00 for the first 45 minutes, and then $7.00 for each additional 15 minute increment. If you do not timely call and connect with the CourtCall operator, you will be billed for the call and the hearing may proceed in your absence. Please check with CourtCall for current applicable charges and more detailed fee rules.
- Telephonic appearances are connected directly with the sound system in the courtroom. To ensure the quality of the record, the use of mobile telephones, speaker phones, public telephone booths, or phones in other public places is prohibited except in the most extreme emergencies.
- Once placed into the hearing by the CourtCall operator, you will be able to hear all activity before the Court just as if you were in the courtroom. As with appearances made in person, you will need to wait for your matter to be called. The Judge will call the case, request appearances, and direct the manner in which the hearing proceeds. The court’s teleconferencing system allows more than one speaker to be heard, so the Judge can interrupt a speaker to ask a question or redirect the discussion. When the Judge informs the participants that the hearing is completed, you may disconnect and the next case will be called.
- A waiver of the CourtCall fees can be approved for pro se parties who have previously been granted in forma pauperis status, parties represented by Legal Services on a pro bono basis, and certain governmental entities, if requested prior to the hearing and approved by Judge Hyman. If such request is approved, the Court will notify CourtCall prior to the hearing of such waiver of fees.
PRO SE DEBTORS’ TELEPHONIC APPEARANCES AT REAFFIRMATION HEARINGS
- If you have signed a reaffirmation agreement and the Court sets a hearing on your reaffirmation agreement, you may appear at that hearing by telephone. Appearances by telephone must be arranged with the Courtroom Deputy by calling (561) 514-4109 at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing. Unless absolutely necessary, pro se debtors should provide the Courtroom Deputy with a telephone landline number rather than a cell phone number. Telephone hearings may be deferred by the Judge to the end of the hearing calendar, so the pro se debtor must remain available for the Court’s call from the scheduled hearing time until the end of the day’s hearing calendar. If the debt is to be reaffirmed by joint debtors, such as husband and wife, both parties must participate in the telephone hearing.
- Electronic presentation facilities are available in the courtroom. These include: (a) a lectern camera system that allows viewing of documentary evidence by the Court, other counsel, witnesses, and the gallery, without the need for multiple paper copies; (b) the ability to present documentary, video, and audio evidence via laptop plugged directly into the court’s audio-video system; and (c) DVD and VHS video playback capability. The display system includes touch-screen technology that allows counsel and other parties to annotate documents on the display using a finger or stylus to “write” on the screen. Counsel wishing to use these systems should contact the Courtroom Deputy at (561) 514-4109 as far in advance of the scheduled hearing as possible. The Court will make these systems available for testing by counsel prior to a scheduled hearing subject to courtroom and staff availability.
ADVERSARY PROCEEDINGS & PRETRIAL CONFERENCES
- Judge Hyman believes it is important for adversary proceedings to proceed to trial without undue delay. Absent an extraordinary situation, Judge Hyman adheres to a strict one continuance rule for pretrial conferences. Although Judge Hyman will grant only one continuance, the length of that continuance may be for as long as the parties require. Generally continuances will not be granted ex parte without a hearing even if agreed. Judge Hyman will not entertain requests for additional continuances of pretrial conferences after one continuance has been granted absent extraordinary circumstances.
- An Order Dismissing an Adversary Proceeding As Settled should be submitted when such matters are settled. A Stipulation of Settlement is not sufficient to close an adversary case.
- In the event that Judge Hyman grants a continuance of a pretrial conference and instructs an attorney to submit a proposed order continuing the pretrial conference, the form “Order Continuing Pretrial Conference and Certain Deadlines” should be used.
SUBMISSION OF PROPOSED ORDERS
- Proposed Orders should conform with the Court’s Guidelines for Preparing, Submitting and Serving Orders. The title of submitted orders should contain a description of the underlying motion, including the words “Ex Parte” or “Agreed” where applicable, and should reflect the Court’s ruling on the motion.
- Competing Orders may be submitted as directed by the Court or where opposing counsel disagree on a proposed order’s language. Competing orders should be submitted via e-mail in Word format to: PGH_Chambers@flsb.uscourts.gov. The e-mail should identify why the parties found it necessary to submit competing orders. No other orders or communications should be sent to this e-mail address unless specifically instructed to do so.
- Check CM/ECF-PACER to determine the status of an order. For routine matters, you may call Judge Hyman’s Courtroom Deputy to inquire about the status of an order only if ten days have elapsed from the date the order was submitted. For matters taken under advisement, you may call Judge Hyman’s Courtroom Deputy to inquire about the status of the matter only if sixty days have elapsed from the later of the close of the briefing schedule or the date the matter was taken under advisement.
CHAPTER 13 TIPS
- The Court views serial filings with multiple debtors unfavorably, and will often grant creditors prospective in rem relief.
- Motions to Reinstate will not be set for hearing if they do not comply with Local Rule 9013-1(E)(3). The funds required to bring a chapter 13 plan current should be in the attorney’s trust account prior to the hearing. Debtors who are not represented by counsel should: 1) attach a photocopy of a cashier’s check or money order payable to the Chapter 13 in the amount required to bring the chapter 13 plan current to their motion; and 2) bring the cashier’s check or money order to the hearing so that it can be tendered to the chapter 13 trustee if the case is reinstated.
- When granting motions to shorten prejudice period, the Court generally will not permit the plan period to extend beyond sixty months from the original filing date, and the Court will require vesting of the payments for the benefit of the creditors upon the filing of any new case.
- The Court generally will not consider exceptions to the requirement of a wage deduction order for plan confirmation.
MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
- The Court will enter an Order Setting Briefing Schedule after a Motion for Summary Judgment is filed provided the movant has complied with Local Rule 7056-1 in matters where summary judgment is sought adverse to an individual. The Order Setting Briefing Schedule typically provides that responses are due twenty days after the motion for summary judgment and replies are due ten days after the response. Please contact the law clerks if you do not receive the Order Setting Briefing Schedule within ten days after filing a motion for summary judgment. Judge Hyman does not generally set Motions for Summary Judgment for hearing.