Honorable Laurel M. Isicoff



Chamber Location: 51 S. W. 1st Ave. Room 1411 Miami, FL 33130
Courtroom Location: 51 S. W. 1st Ave. Room 1409 Miami, FL 33130
Judicial Assistant Emily Maza (305) 714-1750
Law Clerk Annabelle Torgman (305) 714-1753
Courtroom Deputy Noemi Sanabria (305) 714-1877
Special Info/procedures:



 





             IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING TELEPHONIC APPEARANCES

 

           Effective June 1, 2009, except as noted below, all telephonic appearances before Judge Isicoff will be through the services of CourtCall, an independent conference call company. Counsel wishing to appear by telephone must establish an account with CourtCall and follow its procedures. Judge Isicoff recommends that counsel intending to appear by telephone establish a CourtCall account in advance of their first intended appearance. CourtCall may be contacted on the web at www.courtcall.com and by telephone at (866) 582-6878. Notwithstanding the foregoing, pro se debtors appearing at reaffirmation hearings are not required to use CourtCall and may arrange to be called directly by the Court. Please refer to the court web site, www.flsb.uscourts.gov, under Judge Isicoff's name, for additional information regarding telephonic appearances.


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 at http://www.flsb.uscourts.gov/Pro_Se. It is STRONGLY recommended that you watch the video on the pro se page before filing your bankruptcy petition.


           Pro se debtors must comply with the Local Rules as well as the Bankruptcy Code and Bankruptcy Rules. Copies of the Local Rules are available on the Court's website at http://www.flsb.uscourts.gov or from the Clerk's Office.


           Please note that the Clerk's Office, the Judge, and the Judge's Staff are not permitted to give legal advice.


           If you file a motion with the Court, it must clearly explain what you want the Judge to do and why. You must also send a copy of any motion and a copy of any notice of hearing to all people and companies entitled to receive them under the relevant rules.


           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. Please see below under "Pro Se Debtors' Telephonic Appearances at Reaffirmation Hearings."


COURTROOM DECORUM

 

          The Court's Guidelines for Courtroom Decorum , which can be found at www.flsb.uscourts.gov, 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, except that bottled water may be consumed during a trial or long evidentiary hearing.

 

          Cell phones may not be used in the courtroom at any time when court is in session. Court is in session at any time the court reporter is recording the proceedings even if the Judge is not presiding.

          Personal conversations are to be conducted outside the courtroom when court is in session. Cell phones, beepers and any other device that makes noise must be turned off, or placed on vibrate, while court is in session.

 

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LOCAL RULES AND ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS

 

          Judge Isicoff strictly enforces the Local Rules and all Administrative Orders, all of which are available on the Court's website at www.flsb.uscourts.gov

 

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HEARINGS

 

           Telephone Appearance


           Under no circumstances may any participant record or broadcast the proceedings conducted by the Bankruptcy Court.

 

           Telephonic appearances are NOT permitted for the following matters:


  • Trials and evidentiary hearings - all counsel and witnesses must appear in person.

  • Chapter 11 status conferences and Chapter 11 confirmation hearings.

  • Chapter 13 hearings.

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


  • NOTE: If you are merely listening to an evidentiary hearing or chapter 11 confirmation hearing you may use Courtcall to listen.

     

               Participation of counsel appearing by phone 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.

     

               Counsel must be available beginning when the hearing is scheduled. However sometimes matters start late and there is no guarantee regarding the time you will actually be called.

     

               Counsel appearing telephonically may not use a speakerphone; a handset must be used. Counsel should state his/her name each time he/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 phone on mute, when he/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.

     

               If there is an equipment failure for any reason, the Judge will continue with the hearing without participation of counsel appearing telephonically. Counsel appearing by phone assumes the risk of the prejudice that may result from not being present in person and possibly unable to therefore advance the party’s points in favor of, or in opposition to, the relief requested.

     

               Except for pro se debtors appearing at reaffirmation hearings and certain other matters with prior permission (see below), all telephonic appearances before Judge Isicoff will be through the services of CourtCall, an independent conference call company. Counsel wishing to appear by telephone must establish an account with CourtCall and follow its procedures. Judge Isicoff recommends that counsel intending to appear by telephone establish a CourtCall account in advance of their first intended appearance. CourtCall may be contacted on the web 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 approved by contacting Judge Isicoff's Courtroom Deputy, Noemi Sanabria at (305) 714-1877.

     

               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.

     

               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 ISICOFF. 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


     

               In an effort to avoid the need for pro se debtors to be absent from work during regular working hours, pro se debtors may appear at reaffirmation hearings by telephone. Appearances by telephone must be arranged with Noemi Sanabria, Courtroom Deputy at (305) 714-1877, at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing. The denial of a last-minute request will not be an appropriate basis for requesting a continuance of the hearing.

     

               Pro Se debtors should provide the Courtroom Deputy with a direct telephone line rather than a switchboard number unless absolutely necessary. Cell phone appearances are discouraged except where the pro se debtor is unable to provide another number where he or she will directly answer the telephone. Debtors must be available beginning when the hearing is scheduled until they are called by the Court. Pro se debtors are reminded that a telephonic appearance is an appearance before the Court and that they should conduct themselves as if they were physically present in the courtroom.

     

               Time of Hearings

     

               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 unanticipated traffic 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, file a motion for reconsideration.

     

               Evidentiary Hearings

     

               No evidentiary matters will be considered on motion calendars. Matters on the motion calendar that are evidentiary will be treated as a preliminary hearing. It is counsel's responsibility to advise the courtroom deputy if an evidentiary hearing is needed. The Judge will consider evidence at a non-evidentiary hearing at her discretion.

     

               Chapter 11 Status Conferences

     

               Section 105 Status 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. At the status conference the Judge will consider any committee disclosure issues under 11 U.S.C. §1102 as well as any interest in, or need for fast track confirmation as set forth in this Court's Order regarding Fast Track Scheduling.

     

               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, 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.

     

               Chapter 13 evidentiary matters will be set on the Chapter 13 evidentiary calendar.

     

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    CALENDAR: PROCEDURES FOR OBTAINING AND CANCELING HEARING DATES

     

               Judge Isicoff’s calendar is set and maintained exclusively by the courtroom deputy with the exception of certain Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 matters that may be self-calendared- (see Guidelines for Self-Calendaring). Do not call Judge Isicoff’s law clerk or judicial assistant about calendar matters.

     

               Judge Isicoff strives to provide timely hearing dates for all matters. Counsel’s cooperation is essential in this regard. The Court’s heavy docket requires that parties confer with each other as to the availability of the parties before resetting, or specially setting, hearings.

     

               Hearing dates for filed motions will be set by the Court and the movant will be sent the notice of hearing. The movant must serve the notice of hearing on other parties and file an appropriate certificate of service, including those parties who have received electronic notice from the court noticing service. See Local Rule 2002-1(F)

     

               EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS, OR MOTIONS THAT WILL TAKE IN EXCESS OF TEN MINUTES, MUST BE SPECIALLY SET AND WILL NOT BE HEARD DURING MOTION CALENDAR. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PARTY SETTING THE HEARING TO DETERMINE WHETHER A SPECIAL SETTING IS NECESSARY AND THE AVAILABILITY OF THE PARTIES. 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 HEARING OR REQUESTING THE NECESSARY TIME MAY RESULT IN THE HEARING NOT GOING FORWARD

     

               Continuances for hearings on motion calendars may be requested by an agreed motion for continuance filed with a proposed agreed order, so long as the basis is unavailability of one or both parties. 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. Parties should refer to the Court's Order Setting Filing and Disclosure Requirements for Pretrial and Trial for additional requirements for continuances.

     

               Matters settled prior to a hearing may be removed from the calendar by calling the courtroom deputy by noon at least one business day prior to the hearing.

     

               EMERGENCY matters are those where the requested relief requires immediate action. You may call Judge Isicoff’s courtroom deputy to advise her you will be filing an emergency matter, but no matter will be set for hearing unless and until the pleading is filed. When the pleading is e-filed you must call chambers and speak to either the judicial assistant, the law clerk or the courtroom deputy. A voicemail will not be an acceptable form of communication. A filed emergency motion will be reviewed by Judge Isicoff to determine if it should be treated as an emergency. All emergency motions must comply with Local Rule 9075-1. 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 time and date of hearing, the party setting the hearing must immediately provide notice to opposing counsel by phone, fax, and e-mail and file a certificate of service. Failure to provide immediate notice to opposing counsel may result in the hearing not going forward.

     

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    PAPERS FILED WITHIN TWO (2) BUSINESS DAYS PRIOR TO HEARING.

     

               Counsel seeking to file papers within forty-eight (48) hours of a hearing must comply with Local Rule 5005-1(F). When submitting emergencies or urgent documents that need to be reviewed by Judge Isicoff within two (2) business days prior to the scheduled hearing, you must call chambers and speak to either the judical assistant, the law clerk or the courtroom deputy if the pleading was e-filed. Alternatively a copy of the FILED pleading (if not e-filed) may be faxed to chambers. If it is a lengthy document the copy must be hand-delivered to chambers instead. It is counsel's responsibility to confirm the Judge has received emergency or urgent documents.

     

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    ORDERS

     

               All parties are expected to be familiar with, and prepare all orders consistent with, the Court's Guidelines for preparing, submitting and serving orders which can be found at www.flsb.uscourts.gov/Local Rules/Guidelines.

     

               All orders must indicate:

               a)       the date and time of any hearing to which the order relates;

               b)       whether the order is agreed;

               c)       the court paper number of all docketed papers referenced in order;

               d)       whether the underlying motion was ex parte; and

               e)       in the title of the order, the Court’s decision and the name and court paper number of the underlying motion (see Local Rules 9004-1, 9004-2, 9072-1).

     

               All orders must indicate to whom the order is being served and direct an attorney or party to serve the order and file a certificate of service. See Local Rule 9072-1(F).

     

               Check CM/ECF-PACER to determine the status of an order. For routine matters, you may call Judge Isicoff's Judicial Assistant to inquire about the status of an order only if ten (10) days have elapsed from the date the order was submitted. For matters taken under advisement, you may call Judge Isicoff'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.

     

               Amended Orders

     

               When submitting amended orders please add a footnote after the word "amended" and provide a brief sentence indicating what the amendment is. For example, if there is a change to paragraph 1 of the order state in the footnote "Revisions made to paragraph 1".

     

               Paper Orders

     

               The Judge will not sign a paper order unless (1) the order must be signed at the hearing or (2) the person submitting is not an e-filer..

     

               E-Orders ( via CM/ECF)

     

               Do not submit orders prior to the hearing, if the matter is set for hearing, or prior to filing of the certificate of no response, when negative notice procedures are used. Do not file orders on ex parte matters prior to having filed, and where applicable, having served, the related motion. Premature orders will be trashed.

     

               Use the proper category when submitting e-orders. For example, do not use “Ch. 13 Trustee Orders” when submitting an order unless you are the Chapter 13 Trustee.

     

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    SUBSTITUTE COUNSEL

     

               Any counsel appearing on behalf of other counsel at a hearing must be familiar with the facts and law of the case for which they are appearing. Do NOT send substitute counsel without preparation.

     

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    NO EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS

     

               Judge Isicoff does not entertain any oral or ex parte communications. Do not write letters or call Judge Isicoff, her law clerk 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.

     

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    PRO SE DEBTORS

     

               Pro Se Debtors should review the Court's pro se web page, especially the video. Pro Se Debtors must comply with the Local Rules. A copy of the Local Rules are available on the Court’s website ( www.flsb.uscourts.gov) or from the clerk’s office. Pro Se Debtors must make sure their motion clearly explains what they want the Judge to do and why. Pro Se Debtors must also make sure they send a copy of any motion and any notice of hearing for the motion to those people or companies that are required to get a copy.

     

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