HEARING IMPARED: If you need assistance, please call (305) 714-1824.
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 JA 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 use 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.) 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 order stems from an ex-parte motion 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 OR AS OTHERWISE REQUIRED BY THE RULES OF BANKRUPTCY PROCEDURE, AND SERVING ALL THE PARTIES REQUIRED BY RULE 2002 TO BE SERVED WITH A PARTICULAR PLEADING). I ALSO LIKE IT WHEN YOU TIMELY FILE ANY REQUIRED 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. Services of notices of hearing is governed by Local Rule 9073-1. 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, for any party in interest who is not an e-filer, any order or notice of hearing must be served 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 JA 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)].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, TIMELY FILE WITNESS LISTS AND EXHIBITS WITH THE CORRECT FORM OF EXHIBIT REGISTER, THAT YOU BRING ENOUGH COPIES TO COURT, AND THAT YOUR WITNESSES KNOW WAY IN ADVANCE THEY NEED TO BE AT A HEARING.
Our local rules set out the Court’s requirements for filing exhibits in advance on CM/ECF. Also, 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 your client, witnesses, and appraisers know the hearing or trial date as soon as you do. 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.
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. Meet and confer requires face to face meetings or telephonic discussions. Exchanges of emails or texts do not satisfy the meet and confer requirements.Any motion that fails to represent that the parties have attempted to meet and confer will be denied without hearing.
a. Information for debtors without lawyers/no abogado/pa gen okenn avoka
If you do not speak English you must bring an interpreter with you to court, or, if you are participating by phone, the interpreter must be on the phone with you.
Si usted no habla inglés, tiene que venir a la corte con un traductor o alguna persona que le sirva de intérprete. O, si participa por teléfono, el intérprete debe estar con usted por teléfono. Este Servicio no es provisto por este tribunal.
Si w pa pale angle, sepou w vini ak on entèprèt nan tribinal la, epitou, si w ap patisipe pa telefòn, sepou entèprèt la nan telefòn nan avèk ou.
b. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CLERK’S OFFICE, THE JUDGE, AND THE JUDGE’S STAFF ARE NOT PERMITTED TO GIVE LEGAL ADVICE.
c. Zoom or CourtSolutions is used for all telephonic hearings. Zoom links will appear in the Notice of Hearing or Order Setting Hearing. To register for CourtSolutions go to www.court-solutions.com/SignUp or by telephone at (917) 746-7476. *If requested not later than two (2) business days prior to the hearing and approved by Judge Isicoff, the CourtSolutions conference call service fee may be waived for pro se parties who are unable to pay the fee, parties represented on a pro bono basis, and certain governmental entities.
d. Official transcripts: Instructions to obtain official transcripts can be found at https://www.flsb.uscourts.gov/obtaining transcript or audio recording court proceedings.
e. NO EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS - Judge Isicoff does not allow any oral or written ex parte communications. Do not write letters, email 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.
INDIVIDUAL DEBTORS APPEARING WITHOUT LAWYERS (PRO SE DEBTORS)
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 video on the pro se page before filing your bankruptcy petition [video]. Clinics staffed by lawyers are available. Click here for the clinic schedule and information on how to sign up.
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 required to receive them under the relevant rules.
Pro Se Debtors’ Telephonic Appearances at Reaffirmation Hearings
Pro se debtors may appear at reaffirmation hearings by telephone or by video. Appearances by telephone or video link must be arranged with Noemi Sanabria, Courtroom Deputy at (305) 714-1877, AT LEAST TWO (2) BUSINESS DAYS 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.
Under no circumstances may any participant record or broadcast by any means the proceedings conducted by the Bankruptcy Court. The audio recording created and maintained by the Bankruptcy Court shall be the sole basis for creation of a transcript that constitutes the official record of the hearing.
Telephonic hearings before Judge Isicoff will be through CourtSolutions, an independent, fee-based conference call service or through Zoom. READ THE NOTICE OF HEARING OR ORDER SETTING HEARING CAREFULLY to confirm how to appear telephonically. When the telephone access is by Zoom, register using the link that appears on the Notice of Hearing or Order Setting Hearing. To appear by telephone through CourtSolutions, you must establish an account with CourtSolutions by registering at the following website: www.court-solutions.com/SignUp. The Court strongly encourages you to establish an account well ahead of an initial telephonic appearance. If you are unable to register online, you may register by telephone at (917) 746-7476.
CourtSolutions charges a flat fee of $50.00 for each daily telephonic appearance. If you are not represented by an attorney, you must still establish an account with CourtSolutions, but CourtSolutions will allow you to register without paying a fee. The conference call service fee may be waived for pro se parties who are unable to pay the fee, parties represented on a pro bono basis, and certain governmental entities. There is no charge when using Zoom.
Absent an emergency, telephone appearances may be arranged by calling CourtSolutions no later than 4:00 p.m. prevailing Eastern Time on the business day prior to the hearing date or, if by Zoom, by registering through the link by the deadline included in the Notice of Hearing or Order Setting Hearing. Any request for a telephonic appearance made after the 4:00 p.m. deadline must be approved by contacting Judge Isicoff’s Courtroom Deputy, Noemi Sanabria at (305) 714-1877, but such request will normally not be granted in the absence of an emergency.
Pro se debtors appearing at reaffirmation hearings and certain other matters with prior permission may appear by telephone. The request must be made no later than two (2) business days prior to the hearing and approved by Judge Isicoff.
Telephonic appearances are NOT permitted for the following matters (unless you are merely listening to the proceeding) unless otherwise ordered by the Court:
Unless ordered otherwise, the following procedures apply to all hearings scheduled as video conferences:
1. VIDEO CONFERENCE. Most hearings will allow attorneys to appear in person or by video. Some hearings will be conducted only by video. If the hearing is only by video, attorneys must advise their clients and witnesses not to appear at the courthouse. The video conference will be conducted using the services of Zoom Video Communications, Inc. Zoom will provide a password-protected link for the appropriate Zoom video conference to those who register to participate in accordance with paragraph 2 below and who have been approved by the Court. All participants must conduct a pre-hearing test of Zoom using the same equipment that they intend to use during the hearing. If the participant intends to use the “screen share” function, the participant must know how to use that function, and will have practiced using that function, prior to the actual hearing.
2. REGISTRATION FOR VIDEO CONFERENCE. Each person wishing to participate in the hearing by video conference must register for the video conference using the web address provided in the notice of hearing or in the order scheduling the hearing. Participants must register no later than 4:00 p.m. the business day prior to the hearing, except for hearings set on an emergency basis, in which case participants must register at least one hour prior to the hearing. If the Court sets more than one matter for hearing by video conference at the same date and time, participants must register for the video conference only once for each case (including jointly administered cases) and may be heard on all matters set during the video conference.
3. LIMIT ON PARTICIPATION BY VIDEO; ALTERNATIVE TELEPHONE PARTICIPATION. Parties should limit video conference participation to those persons necessary to present the matter(s) set for hearing. If the number of persons wishing to participate in the video conference, in the Court’s view, exceeds the number that would permit the efficient and reliable transmission of the hearing by video conference, the Court may require certain persons to participate in the hearing only by audio.
4. PUBLIC ACCESS. If the hearing is only being conducted remotely, then the general public is invited to listen to the hearing by telephone. Any person wishing to listen to the hearing by telephone may e-mail Judge Isicoff’s Courtroom Deputy to obtain dial-in instructions. If the hearing is taking place in the courthouse, the public may only observe in the courtroom. Remote access will not be allowed.
5. RECORDING PROHIBITED; OFFICIAL RECORD. No person may record the proceedings from any location by any means. The audio recording created and maintained by the Court will be the sole basis for creation of a transcript that constitutes the official record of the hearing.
6. REMOTE WITNESS TESTIMONY. In accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 43(a) (made applicable by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9017), for good cause and in compelling circumstances, a witness may be permitted to testify by contemporaneous transmission from a location other than the courtroom. Unless ordered otherwise, the Court will permit examination and/or cross-examination of witnesses in all evidentiary hearings conducted solely by video conference. The Court will administer the oath to each remote witness during the video conference and witness testimony will have the same effect and be binding upon each remote witness in the same manner as if such remote witness was sworn in by the Court in person in open court. As additional safeguards, the Court requires as follows: (a) if requested, each remote witness must disclose the city, state and country, and the type of place (such as home or office), where she or he is located while testifying; (b) no other person is permitted to be in the same room with any remote witness unless specifically authorized by the Court; (c) each remote witness shall have with her or him only those documents also provided to the Court for consideration in connection with the matter(s) set for hearing and no other documents or data unless specifically authorized by the Court; and (d) no person may communicate with a witness during his or her testimony, except by direct examination or cross-examination on the record, unless specifically authorized by the Court.
7. RESPONSIBILITY FOR REMOTE WITNESSES: The party sponsoring each remote witness shall be responsible for ensuring that the remote witness has registered with Zoom and obtained the password-protected link to the video conference, the remote witness has obtained all exhibits prior to the hearing, and the remote witness has the technological capability to participate in the video conference hearing via Zoom.
8. CONDUCT DURING HEARING. To avoid distractions during the hearing, all participants must mute electronic devices and disable all audible alerts. Although conducted using video conferencing technology, the hearing is a Court proceeding. The formalities of the courtroom must be observed. Counsel and witnesses must dress appropriately, exercise civility, and otherwise conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the dignity of the Court.
Most uncontested Chapter 13 confirmation hearings and many uncontested Chapter 13 motions are handled by the Chapter 13 Trustee without the Judge present in the courtroom. These matters are presented to the Court by agreed or uncontested proposed orders. However, even if the Judge is not present, Court is in session and the proceedings are recorded. All rules regarding courtroom decorum apply, including dress code and use of mobile phones.
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. The Order must state that the matter “came before the Court on the Chapter 13 Consent Calendar.” See Local Rule 5005-1(G)(1)(d).
Evidentiary matters will generally 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.
Submission of evidence is governed by Local Rule 9070-1, which requires all parties to upload exhibits through CM/ECF, with some exceptions where a party is not represented by counsel.
The Court has equipment that allows evidence to be presented electronically in the courtroom. Parties are strongly encouraged to use this equipment. Please contact the Courtroom Deputy for more information on this facility, including how to make an appointment to be trained on its use.
Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §1129, the Court is required to make certain findings in order to confirm a chapter 11 plan. Findings require the presentation of evidence. Even when a plan is agreed upon by all parties, the Court must still make findings of fact. When confirmation is uncontested, the facts may be presented by proffer. The individual who signed the confirmation affidavit must be present to testify, unless excused by Court order. Obviously, if other witness testimony is required, any other necessary witnesses must be present to testify at the confirmation hearing, unless otherwise ordered by the Court. Make sure that all confirmation exhibits are filed prior to the hearing in accordance with Local Rule 9070-1 and that the exhibits include copies of the actual plan and the actual disclosure statement, if applicable, that were mailed with the solicitation packages.
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 set on motion calendars may be requested by an agreed motion for continuance filed with a proposed agreed order. If the parties do not agree, the motion for continuance will be set for hearing. Continuances for status conferences or pretrial conferences or hearings on case dispositive motions will not be granted without a hearing, even if agreed, and will be denied without hearing if the motion to continue does not comply with the requirements set forth in the order setting those matters.
Continuances for trials or specially set evidentiary hearings will not be continued without a hearing on the motion to continue.
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.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Court will consider an ex parte request to continue based on extraordinary circumstances such as a medical or family emergency.
Counsel seeking to file papers within two business days 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 email the Judicial Assistant, the Law Clerk and the Courtroom Deputy when the document is e-filed.
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. The Judicial Assistant, Law Clerk, and Courtroom Deputy need to be emailed when an emergency motion is filed.
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” in the title of the order and in the footnote 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” and briefly describe the change or attition.
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 expiration of the response deadline, 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 (email@example.com) 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. Order Approving Reaffirmation Agreement (after hearing)
b. Order Denying Approval of Reaffirmation Agreement
c. Order Dismissing Adversary Proceeding After Settlement
d. Order Specially Setting Evidentiary Hearing - Non Adversary Proceeding
e. Order Specially Setting Evidentiary Hearing (Ch 13 - Short Form)
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. The Order must state that the matter “came before the Court on the Chapter 13 Consent Calendar.” See Local Rule 5005-1(G)(1)(d).