Honorable John K. Olson



Chamber Location: 299 E. Broward Blvd. Room 303 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Courtroom
Location:
299 E. Broward Blvd. Room 301 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Judicial Assistant Joseph Costanzo (954) 769-5772
Law Clerk Aaron Brownell (954) 769-5773
Courtroom Deputy Christina Romero (954) 769-5774
Special Info/procedures:



No Ex Parte Communications:
Local Rules, Local Forms, Form Orders & Administrative Orders:
Calendar: Obtaining, Continuing, or Cancelling Hearing Dates:
Hearings
Telephone Appearances
Submission of Orders
Adversary Proceedings & Pretrial Conferences
Chapter 13 Tips
Motions for Summary Judgment
Courtroom Decorum:


No Ex Parte Communications:


Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9003 prohibits ex parte communications. Certain "ex parte" motions are permitted by Local Rule 9013-1(C), but these are docketed for all to see. If you wish to communicate with Judge Olson about a pending matter, you should do so in writing and you should expect court staff to docket that communication. Judge Olson's Courtroom Deputy, Judicial Assistant, and Law Clerk are generally prohibited from discussing pending cases and have explicit instructions to report improper communication attempts by parties and attorneys. The Courtroom Deputy is available at 954-769-5774 to discuss scheduling issues. The Judicial Assistant is available at 954-769-5772 to discuss secretarial issues (i.e. to confirm that a proposed order submitted more than two weeks before the call has not been lost). Clerk's deputies are available at 954-769-5700 to discuss clerical issues (i.e. "How do I docket this?" or "What is the fee?" or "Why won't CM/ECF let me do X, Y, or Z?"). Judge Olson permits attorneys to call his Law Clerk at 954-769-5773 to alert chambers that a particular paper was filed. Attempts to solicit legal advice (whether procedural law or substantive law) or to discuss pending matters will be reported to Judge Olson. Such attempts are sanctionable. Examples of improper communication are: "How does the Judge generally rule?"; "What kind of motion?"; "What should my motion say?"; "Why was my motion denied?"; "What is my deadline?" etc. When in doubt, put it in writing, file it, and the Judge will address it.


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Local Rules, Local Forms, Form Orders & Administrative Orders:



  • Administrative orders updating court procedures and the Local Rules are posted on the Court's website and should be reviewed and followed. A paper 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.
  • Relief sought by pro se parties should be made by a motion which clearly states the specific relief requested or what they would like the court to do and why. Pro se parties should be familiar with and will be required to follow the Local Rules.

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Calendar: Obtaining, Continuing, or Cancelling Hearing Dates:



  • With the exception of certain Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 matters that may be self-calendared - see Guidelines for Self-Calendaring , Judge Olson's calendar is set and maintained exclusively by the courtroom deputy. Do not call Judge Olson's law clerk or judicial assistant about calendar matters.
  • No discussion of hearing dates will occur prior to the filing of a motion.
  • Hearing dates for filed motions are assigned by the courtroom deputy. The courtroom deputy will prepare a form notice of hearing and return it to the moving party. Notices of hearing are sent either electronically via a Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) or by mail from the Bankruptcy Noticing Center (BNC), depending on whether or not movant's counsel is a registered user of CM/ECF who has filed an electronic notice of appearance in the case. Per Local Rule 9073-1(D), 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 (15) minutes must be specially set. 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 one another 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. Once an agreement is reached and the Courtroom Deputy has cleared the proposed date and time, counsel must submit either a proposed Order Specially Setting Evidentiary Hearing or proposed Order Specially Setting Non-Evidentiary Hearing. For convenience, counsel may simply fill out the form orders linked above and submit them for Judge Olson's signature.
  • Continuances for hearings on motion calendars may 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 proponent and any opponent of any requested relief set for hearing on an emergency basis shall bring to the hearing a proposed order granting or denying the relief requested. Otherwise, the proposed order shall be uploaded in electronic format using the E-orders program in CM/ECF. A filed emergency motion will be reviewed by Judge Olson to determine if it should be treated as an emergency. The courtroom deputy will call the relevant parties 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 a time and date for the 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 by noon, at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing. In the event that a settlement occurs less than two (2) business days prior to the hearing, counsel shall contact the courtroom deputy, but may also be required to appear before the Court to announce the settlement.


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Hearings



  • Please contact the courtroom deputy if you have questions regarding hearings or settings.
  • No evidentiary matters will be considered on motion calendars. Matters on the motion calendar that are evidentiary will be treated as a preliminary hearing.
  • Chapter 11 Hearings: Section 105 Conferences will be scheduled within thirty (30) days after any Chapter 11 is filed. The Debtor, the U.S. Trustee, any committee, lender and other party in interest will be invited to attend.
  • Chapter 13 Hearings: Most uncontested Chapter 13 confirmation hearings and some uncontested Chapter 13 motions will be handled by the Chapter 13 Trustee without the Judge's actual presence in the Courtroom. However, even though the Judge is not present, THE COURT IS IN SESSION and the proceedings are being recorded by the court reporter. Consequently, all rules regarding courtroom decorum, including dress code, use of the podium and microphone, and use of cell phones, apply.
  • The Court generally will not consider exceptions to the requirement of a wage deduction order for Chapter 13 plan confirmation.
  • Chapter 13 evidentiary matters will be set on the Chapter 13 evidentiary calendar.


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Telephone Appearances



Like many bankruptcy judges in this district, Judge Olson encourages telephonic appearances for routine, non-evidentiary matters. As long as the appearance is arranged in advance via CourtCall (see below) 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 at any time.

Under no circumstances may any participant record or broadcast the proceedings conducted by the Bankruptcy Court. If such behavior ever comes to light, it will be heavily sanctioned.

Telephonic appearances are allowed in all matters except the following:

   a.   Trials and evidentiary hearings – all counsel and all witnesses must appear in person;

   b.   Chapter 11 status conferences – a representative of the debtor and debtor’s counsel must appear in person, other parties in interest may appear by telephone;

   c.   Chapter 11 confirmation hearings – a representative of the debtor, debtor’s counsel, all objecting parties, and counsel for all objecting parties must appear in person;

   d.   Any matter designated by the Court as one requiring a personal appearance.

Effective August 11, 2010, telephonic appearances for Chapter 13 calendars will be permitted in limited circumstances. Debtors and debtors' attorneys are not permitted to appear telephonically. Only interested parties other than the Debtor may appear telephonically, and the person appearing telephonically must have no more than two matters scheduled for that Chapter 13 day. Any matter with a telephonic appearance WILL NOT PROCEED on the consent calendar, but will be held until the end of the consent calendar for Judge Olson's consideration. There is never a "time certain" for the transition from consent calendar to unresolved matters (when Judge Olson comes out), so counsel will need to wait on the line until your matter is called. As with any telephonic appearance, failure to announce when your matter is called may be treated as a failure to appear (see below). Chapter 13 mornings are dedicated to plan confirmation issues/objections, and all motions are heard in the afternoon. Please read these telephonic appearance procedures carefully before making your CourtCall reservation, as failure to comply with these procedures (or otherwise discourteous telephonic conduct) may result in suspension of telephonic appearance privileges or other sanctions.

Telephonic attendees in any matter may not use cell phones and may not use a speaker phone - a land line handset must be used. The attendee should state his or her name each time he or she is heard so the court reporter can identify who is speaking. The attendee should speak clearly and slowly. Also, the attendee should 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. Consistent failure to mute your line when not speaking, or otherwise disruptive or discourteous telephonic conduct may result in suspension of telephonic appearance privileges or other sanctions.

Participation of counsel appearing by telephone is generally 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 hearing will proceed 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 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

Do not file a motion if you wish to appear by phone. Simply make a timely CourtCall reservation.

Except for pro se debtors appearing at reaffirmation hearings and certain other special matters with prior permission, effective January 1, 2010 all telephonic appearances before Judge Olson are through the services of CourtCall, an independent conference call company. Counsel and parties wishing to appear by telephone must establish an account with CourtCall and follow its procedures. Judge Olson recommends that those intending to appear by telephone establish a CourtCall account well in advance of their first intended appearance. See www.courtcall.com or call (888) 882-6878 or (866) 582-6878.

Absent an emergency, telephonic appearances must be arranged by calling CourtCall Customer Service at (888) 882-6878 or (866) 582-6878 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 approved by contacting Judge Olson’s Courtroom Deputy, Christina Romero, at (954) 769-5774. The Courtroom Deputy has instructions to strictly enforce the 3:00 p.m. deadline, and exceptions will only be granted in emergencies outside of the control of the party requesting the emergency exception.

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 conference call not later than 10 minutes prior to the scheduled hearing. CourtCall does not place a call to counsel. 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 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 emergencies. If your "emergency" is not accepted by the Court, you may be disconnected and the hearing may proceed in your absence.

Once placed into conference 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. Judge Olson will call the case, request appearances, and direct the manner in which the hearing proceeds. The teleconferencing system allows more than one speaker to be heard, so Judge Olson can interrupt a speaker to ask a question or redirect the discussion. When Judge Olson informs the participants that the hearing is completed, you may disconnect and the next case will be called.

A waiver of CourtCall fees may be approved for pro se parties who have previously been granted in forma pauperis status, parties represented by Legal Services or by volunteer counsel on a pro bono basis, and certain governmental entities (if requested prior to the hearing and approved by Judge Olson). If such request is approved, the Court will notify CourtCall prior to the hearing of such waiver of fees.

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Submission of Orders



  • Check CM/ECF-PACER to determine the status of an order. For routine matters, you may call Judge Olson's Judicial Assistant at 954-769-5772, to inquire about the status of an order only if 10 days have elapsed from the date the order was submitted. For matters taken under advisement, you may call Judge Olson's Judicial Assistant to inquire about the status of the matter only if 60 days have elapsed from the later of the close of the briefing schedule or the date the matter was taken under advisement.
  • Proposed orders granting lift-stay motions should generally not include Rule 4001(a)(3) 14-day stay waiver language if the order concerns a parcel of real property. Including such language in a proposed lift-stay order concerning a parcel of real property will almost always result in a resubmit request and merely delay order entry. If your situation justifies a Rule 4001(a)(3) waiver, do not prosecute the motion on negative notice, but contact the Courtroom Deputy at 954-769-5774 to have the motion set for hearing. At the hearing, obtain explicit permission from Judge Olson to include the Rule 4001(a)(3) waiver language in the proposed order. If the lift-stay motion concerns "something that moves or eats" (e.g. a motor vehicle, jewelry, or livestock), Rule 4001(a)(3) waivers will generally be granted without explicit prior permission from Judge Olson.
  • Agreed orders must be submitted at least two business days prior to a scheduled hearing. If agreed orders are submitted after the two-day cutoff, the matter may remain on the calendar and be dismissed for want of prosecution if counsel fails to appear. As a courtesy, please inform the Courtroom Deputy at 954-769-5774 when an agreed proposed order has been submitted. Your voicemail should include the case number, case name, docket entry of the pending motion/objection, date and time it is scheduled for hearing, and the date the agreed proposed order was submitted. If the agreed order has not been docketed by noon on the business day before the scheduled hearing, you should make a Courtcall reservation no later than 3:00 p.m. that day to ensure that your settlement is announced on the record and the matter is not dismissed for want of prosecution.
  • All proposed orders must conform to 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 also reflect the Court's ruling on the motion.
  • If a hearing was held on the motion, the text of the proposed order must include the date that the motion came before the Court.
  • Pursuant to Local Rule 5005-1(G)(1)(c): "The prevailing party in a hearing or trial shall submit a proposed order, in the manner directed by the court, conforming to the decision of the court, not later than 4:30 p.m. on the seventh day following the hearing or trial. At the time of submittal, unless otherwise directed by the court the proponent must provide a copy of the proposed order and any covering memo to all adverse parties unless the order conforms strictly to a local form. If a party fails to timely submit a proposed order, the court may dismiss the underlying matter for failure to prosecute or take other action. If the court requests or permits submittal of competing proposed orders each party submitting a proposed order shall provide a copy of the proposed order and any covering memo to all adverse parties no later than two business days following the last date set for submission to the court." PLEASE NOTE that whenever Judge Olson directs the submission of a proposed order at the conclusion of a hearing without specifying a deadline, the default seven-day rule of Local Rule 5005-1(G)(1)(c) applies, even if the party directed to submit is not the prevailing party. In the event that competing orders are required, please see instructions for competing order submission below. Failure to timely submit proposed orders as directed may also result in an Order to Show Cause.
  • Proposed orders in negative notice matters should not be submitted until the Certificate of No Response has been filed.
  • Many proposed orders require that hearing or other dates be inserted. Please make every effort to ensure there are no blanks in orders to be filled in by the court. This may, for instance, require you to contact the courtroom deputy for hearing dates prior to submission of your proposed order.
  • Failure of the prevailing party to timely submit a proposed order may result in the entry of an order denying the motion.
  • Do not fax or e-mail proposed orders unless specifically asked to do so.
  • Judge Olson has a strong preference that orders be submitted in PDF format via CM/ECF's e-Order function.
  • When using e-Orders, please be careful to submit your proposed orders under the correct header (e.g. Ex Parte, Agreed, Hearing Held, Negative Notice, etc.) and always link your proposed order to the original motion. Judge Olson will not sign and enter an improperly linked order.
  • Please submit your order only once. Do not submit both a paper order and an e-Order on the same motion at the same time.
  • 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 WordPerfect format to: JKO_Chambers@flsb.uscourts.gov. The e-mail should identify why the parties found it necessary to submit competing orders. This address is strictly for competing orders and should not be used under any other circumstances unless specifically instructed to do so. As a courtesy, please contact the judicial assistant to confirm that your competing order e-mail has been received in chambers.
  • Do not submit proposed orders as attachments to motions. On motions for relief from stay and some other matters, CM/ECF may prompt you to include your proposed order as an attachment to the motion. Comply with the CM/ECF prompt, but this does not relieve you of your obligation to separately upload the order using the "Order Upload" link under the "Bankruptcy" tab (or "Adversary" tab if your motion is within an adversary proceeding). Proposed orders attached to motions will not be signed. Only orders uploaded separately via eOrders will be considered for signature.
  • Do not submit proposed orders until they are ripe for entry.


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Adversary Proceedings & Pretrial Conferences



  • An Order Dismissing Adversary Proceeding as Settled should be submitted when such matters are settled. A Stipulation of Settlement is not sufficient to close an adversary case.


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Chapter 13 Tips



  • The Court views serial filings with multiple debtors unfavorably, and may 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). 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 cashiers check or money order payable to the Chapter 13 Trustee in the amount required to bring the chapter 13 plan current to their motion; and 2) bring the cashiers 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.


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Motions for Summary Judgment



  • The Court will enter an Order Setting Briefing Schedule after a motion for summary judgment is filed. Responses are generally due twenty days after the motion for summary judgment and replies are generally due ten days after the response. Please contact the law clerk if you do not receive the Order Setting Briefing Schedule within ten days after filing a motion for summary judgment.


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Courtroom Decorum:



  • The Guidelines for Courtroom Decorum, which can be found on the Court's website, will be strictly enforced at all times, whether or not the Judge is presiding.
  • Neither food nor drink may be consumed in the courtroom at any time.
  • Court is in session at any time that the court reporter is recording the proceedings. Cellular phones, beepers, and other devices that make noise, must be turned off (or placed on a silent mode) while the court is in session. Cellular telephones may not be used in the courtroom at any time when court is in session, even if the Judge is not presiding.
  • 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.
  • Personal conversations are to be conducted outside the courtroom when court is in session.
  • Hearings will start at the scheduled time. Counsel and their clients and witnesses are required to appear in court at the scheduled time of a hearing. Tardiness will be excused only in the event of an unanticipated emergency or occurrence. Traffic does not qualify as an unanticipated event other than unusual traffic caused by accident or other unanticpated event. If you are late and your case is called before you arrive, it is likely the motion will either be denied for failure to prosecute or granted without opposition. If you have good grounds for your failure to appear at the scheduled time, you should file a motion to reconsider.
  • 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 prior to filing a motion that requires a hearing.
  • Judge Olson will normally not sign proposed orders brought to hearings unless they concern emergency matters. Pursuant to Local Rule 5005-1(G)(1) and this court's "Guidelines for Preparing, Submitting and Serving Orders" (CG-5), proposed orders on non-emergency matters set for hearing should be uploaded via eOrders following the hearing unless the judge directs otherwise.
  • Judge Olson 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 and other necessary rules. Exhibits should be pre-marked numerically for plaintiffs/movants and alphabetically for defendants/respondents and accompanied by the Local Form "Exhibit Register."
  • 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 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, pleadings, or other case related documents to chambers.


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