UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
C. Clyde Atkins United States Courthouse
301 N. Miami AvenueCourtroom: 8 / Chambers: Room 817
Miami, FL 33128
Practice Tips from Judge Isicoff
I LIKE THAT YOU AND YOUR STAFF REVIEW LOCAL RULES AND MY PROCEDURES RATHER THAN CALL MY JUDICIAL ASSISTANT OR LAW CLERK TO FIND OUT THE PROPER WAY TO DO SOMETHING, OR TO FIND OUT WHAT I DO AND DO NOT EXPECT OR ALLOW WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN MOTIONS OR HEARINGS.
All the judges have taken the time to write and post procedural preferences and guidelines on their individual webpages. Moreover, the judges and the clerk have spent a great deal of time putting together local rules and local forms with a detailed index to make it easy for you to find information. You need to make sure your staff are aware of these resources and uses them.
I LIKE THAT, IF YOU ARE NOT OPPOSING A MOTION, YOU PICK UP THE PHONE OR SEND AN EMAIL, ADVISING OPPOSING COUNSEL THAT YOU ARE NOT OPPOSING, RATHER THAN JUST NOT SHOWING UP FOR A HEARING.
If you are not opposing a motion, or you are agreeing to relief, let the movant know so that the movant can come up at the beginning of motion calendar, OR even avoid coming to court. Don’t just NOT show up. That will mean that you have caused opposing counsel unnecessary time and expense and second, that you have used up valuable court time on a motion that could have been resolved easily. Moreover, if you don’t show up, I will assume you missed the hearing by accident or carelessness, and I will issue an order to show cause requiring you to respond, and, perhaps, show up and explain to me in person why you missed the hearing.
I LIKE THAT YOU REMEMBER TO REACH OUT TO OPPOSING COUNSEL BEFORE YOU FILE A MOTION IN ORDER TO SAVE TIME AND COST.
Local Rule 9073-1(D) states “Conference With Opposing Attorneys Required. If a motion seeks relief involving a debtor that is represented by an attorney, the trustee, or another particular adverse party that is represented by an attorney, the certificate of service for the notice of hearing shall include a certification that movant’s attorney has contacted counsel for all adverse parties to attempt to resolve the matter without hearing.” (NOTE: This is in addition to the meet and confer requirements of Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7037 relating to discovery disputes.) Meet and confer does not apply if any of the parties involved in a discovery dispute is self represented. If possible you must try to resolve matters without filing a motion. This will save you and your client time and money. It will also save court time.
I LIKE THAT YOU DO NOT FILE AN EX PARTE MOTION TO CONTINUE A HEARING OR A DEADLINE WITHOUT GETTING AGREEMENT FROM THE OTHER SIDE AND REPRESENTING IN THE MOTION THAT THE EXTENSION OR CONTINUANCE IS AGREED.
In the absence of a true emergency that does not allow time to confer with the other side (and long planned family vacations, or hearings or trials in other courts that have been previously set are NOT emergencies), I will not continue a matter without a hearing, unless 1) the basis for the continuance is set out in the motion; 2) it is not requested at the last minute; and 3) the motion reflects that you have conferred with the other side before filing a motion that is not agreed. If the matter IS agreed, please call the Courtroom Deputy to get the new hearing date and include that date in the proposed order (uploaded with the motion).
I LIKE THAT THE MOTIONS AND ORDERS YOU SUBMIT HAVE BEEN REVIEWED FOR ACCURACY, TYPOS, GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION ERRORS, PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION AND COMPLETENESS.
Please read everything you submit. Please make sure all of your motions have the required exhibits, the proper titles, the proper party names, are in English (as opposed to incomplete sentences that sound like gibberish), and otherwise look professional. If the motions are ex-parte motions, please make sure that you submit orders with the motions and that the orders match the motions.
Please make sure you upload orders that include any exhibits that are referred to in the order, and also contain full sentences, make sense, match the relief requested in the motion, and otherwise look professional. If the orders stem from ex-parte motions make sure that you file the CNR before uploading the order and make sure the word “Proposed” or “Exhibit __” has been taken off the order you want me to sign. If there is a form order – USE IT (but modify it if necessary).
I LIKE IT WHEN YOU MAKE SURE THAT YOU PROPERLY SERVE ANY MOTION OR COMPLAINT THAT YOU FILE (COMPLYING WITH RULE 7004 SERVICE WHEN NECESSARY, SERVING OBJECTIONS TO CLAIM IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ADDRESS INDICATED ON THE PROOF OF CLAIM, AND SERVING ALL THE PARTIES REQUIRED BY RULE 2002 TO BE SERVED WITH A PARTICULAR PLEADING). I ALSO LIKE IT WHEN YOU TIMELY FILE A CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE THAT SHOWS THAT THE PLEADING AND NOTICE OF HEARING, IF APPLICABLE, WERE PROPERLY SERVED.
Service of motions is governed primarily by Bankruptcy Rules 2002 and 7004. Make sure you serve everyone who needs to be served in the manner that they are required to be served in the timeframe they are required to be served. If you don’t have enough time, then file a motion seeking to shorten the required time periods. Our Local Rules require that you serve any order or notice of hearing within two days after receiving the order or notice of hearing from the court, and that you immediately file a certificate of service reflecting who you served and how you served them.
I LIKE THAT YOU AND YOUR STAFF TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE EMAIL FROM CM/ECF (WHICH IS ACTUALLY SENT BY CHAMBER’S STAFF) EXPLAINING WHY AN ORDER HAS BEEN RETURNED TO YOU.
There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to call my judicial assistant or law clerk and ask WHY an order was returned. Every order returned includes an email WHY the order was returned. READ IT. This is one of the many reasons why it is important that your email is correct on any order you submit.
You should, by the way, always remember to keep current in the court's case management system (CM/ECF), your primary and secondary email addresses. Additionally, if you are changing your U.S. Mail address you must also file a Notice of Change of Address in each case or proceeding in which the change is to be effected [See Local Rule 2002- 1(G)(1)]. (We had one lawyer who failed to provide a notice of change of address and he had to respond to an order of contempt for failing to appear at several hearings that he didn’t know about because he forgot to update his information with the clerk.)
I LIKE THAT YOU MAKE SURE YOUR CLIENTS KNOW WELL IN ADVANCE WHEN THEY DO OR DO NOT NEED TO SHOW UP FOR SOMETHING AND WHEN A MATTER HAS BEEN RESOLVED.
Something special about our bar is that so many disputes can be resolved amicably. However, many times clients show up for a hearing (a) which hearing the debtor did not need to attend even if there was no agreement or (b) that has been resolved by agreement ahead of time but without the client knowing the hearing has been canceled. Your client’s time is as valuable as your time. Please make sure your client always understands when he or she needs to show up and if you do resolve something in advance of a hearing let your client know so he or she doesn’t have to come to court for nothing.
I LIKE THAT YOU PROPERLY PREPARE FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS AND BRING THE APPRORIATE EXHIBITS, PROPERLY TABBED AND MARKED WITH THE CORRECT FORM OF EXHIBIT REGISTER, AND THAT YOU BRING ENOUGH COPIES, AND THAT YOUR WITNESSES KNOW WAY IN ADVANCE THEY NEED TO BE AT A HEARING.
Every adversary proceeding and evidentiary hearing has a procedures order that sets forth what the parties must do prior to the scheduled trial or hearing and what must be brought to the trial or hearing. Calendar these deadlines as soon as you get the order! And make sure any witnesses you need, including your client, know the hearing or trial date as soon as you do. That includes appraisers. YOU may know that something has been scheduled and put it on your calendar. Everyone else needs to get it on their calendar as well. In this way, if a necessary witness or your client will be unavailable on a scheduled trial or hearing date, you will know well in advance and can file a motion to reschedule, giving opposing counsel, and the court, plenty of time to adjust their schedules as well. And whatever you do, DON’T show up for a trial or evidentiary hearing unprepared.
I LIKE THE FACT THAT YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT LAW IS A PROFESSION, NOT A JOB. EVERYTHING I LIKE ABOUT YOU REFLECTS YOUR RECOGNITION OF THAT IMPORTANT DISTINCTION.
If you are an individual debtor appearing without a lawyer, you are a pro se, or self-represented, debtor. You should review the Court’s pro se web page. It is STRONGLY recommended that you watch the Bankruptcy Basics video on the pro se page before filing your bankruptcy petition. Clinics staffed by lawyers are scheduled at the courthouses on a rotating schedule. Click here for the free bankruptcy clinic schedule.
Anything you want to ask the Judge must be in writing and is called a motion. 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.
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.
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 Courtcall www.courtcall.com and by telephone at (888) 882-6878.
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.
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 (unless you are merely listening to the proceeding):
Evidentiary matters will not 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. Nonetheless, the Judge may consider evidence at a non-evidentiary hearing at her discretion. The Court has equipment that allows evidence to be presented electronically. Please contact the courtroom deputy for more information on this facility.
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. Consequently, all rules regarding courtroom decorum, including dress code, use of the podium and microphone, and use of cell phones, apply.
The Court strictly enforces Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7037. Counsel who fail to comply with the meet and confer requirements of the rules should expect to pay the costs of the other parties attending any discovery motion calendar.
Judge Isicoff’s calendar is set and maintained exclusively by the courtroom deputy with the exception of certain matters that may be self-calendared. Do not call Judge Isicoff’s law clerk or judicial assistant about calendar matters.
Evidentiary hearings, or motions that will take in excess of ten minutes, must be specially set and will usually 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 hearings 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. Any request to continue a pre-trial conference must be accompanied by a completed scheduling order that includes a pre-trial date and trial week that has been provided by the courtroom deputy. Use the Court’s form Scheduling Order.
Emergency matters are those where the requested relief requires immediate action. All emergency motions must comply with Local Rule 9075-1. No hearing will be scheduled until the motion is filed and reviewed by the Judge.
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 judicial 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 hand-delivered to chambers instead. It is counsel’s responsibility to confirm that the Judge has received emergency or urgent documents.
All parties are expected to be familiar with, and prepare all orders consistent with, the Court’s Guidelines for Preparing, Submitting and Serving Orders.
FAILURE TO TIMELY SUBMIT AN ORDER MAY RESULT IN DENIAL OF THE RELIEF SOUGHT.
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”.
The Court will not sign a paper order unless (1) the order must be signed at the hearing or (2) the person submitting the order is not an e-filer.
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.
Do NOT submit disputed orders through e-orders. Disputed orders must be sent to the Judge’s chambers mail box (firstname.lastname@example.org) and all other parties must be included in any email sent to the judge unless the judge orders otherwise.
In addition to the local form orders provided by the Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s office Judge Isicoff uses the following forms to be submitted by counsel:
a. Scheduling order for adversary proceedings
b. Reaffirmation Agreement approved after hearing on undue hardship
c. Order Specially Setting Evidentiary Hearing (rev. 03-2018) Non Adversary Proceeding
d. Order Specially Setting Evidentiary Hearing (Ch 13 - Short)
If you submit an order on a matter not heard by the Judge do NOT state in the preamble that the Judge heard the matter or state “for the reasons stated on the record.”