UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
United States Courthouse
299 E. Broward Blvd.
Courtroom: 301 / Chambers: Room 303
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Catherine D. Kretzschmar
The Court does not engage in any kind of communication with parties before the Court except on the record and through documents filed with the Clerk and orders entered by the Court. Bankruptcy Rule 9003 prohibits such ex parte communication by any party in interest regarding any matter affecting a case. Failure to comply with this rule may result in sanctions.
DO NOT write letters to, e-mail, or call the Court, law clerks, the Courtroom Deputy (except as otherwise provided by applicable local rules and guidelines), or any member of the Clerk’s office. Each letter, e-mail, or other communication addressed to the Court or his law clerks or otherwise sent to the Court and relating to a particular case or proceeding, may at the Court’s discretion be placed on the relevant docket and made part of the public record. Any such communication may be set for hearing.
Regardless of whether the Judge is presiding, while at the courthouse or engaged in any court proceeding, whether in-person or remotely (including during meetings of creditors under section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code), counsel and other persons should conduct themselves professionally, with appropriate respect for the Court, members of the Clerk’s Office, trustees, counsel to the United States Trustee, courthouse staff, opposing counsel, litigants, and witnesses. The Court’s Guidelines for Courtroom Decorum, which are posted on the Court’s website, will be strictly enforced.
Mobile phones may not be used to make phone calls in the courtroom at any time when court is in session. Court is in session at any time the proceedings are being recorded even if the Judge is not presiding.
Personal conversations are to be conducted outside the courtroom when court is in session. Mobile phones and any other device that makes noise must be turned off, or placed in silent mode, while court is in session.
The Local Rules, Administrative Orders, and Local Forms are posted on the Court’s website. All counsel and pro se parties appearing before the Court shall be familiar with these documents as updated and amended from time to time.
If you are an individual appearing without a lawyer (pro se), you should review the Court’s Pro Se web page. Pro se parties must comply with the Bankruptcy Code, the Bankruptcy Rules, the Federal Rules of Evidence, and the Local Rules, Administrative Orders, and Local Forms of this Court. Copies of the Local Rules are available on the Court’s website.
The Judge, the Judge’s law clerks, and members of the Clerk’s Office are not permitted to provide legal advice of any kind. DO NOT contact the Judge, the Judge’s law clerks, or any person in the Clerk’s Office other than the Courtroom Deputy for any purpose. You may contact the Courtroom Deputy solely to address scheduling concerns.
If you file a complaint, motion, or objection, it must clearly explain what you want the Court to do and why. You must also send a copy of any such document and, if you are the movant, a copy of any notice of hearing issued by the Court, to all entitled to receive them under the applicable rules.
Even if noticed as non-evidentiary hearings, all hearings on orders to show cause and all hearings on motions for (a) authority to use or to prohibit use of cash collateral, (b) approval of post-petition financing, (c) payment of pre-petition wages, (d) payment of pre-petition claims, or (e) confirmation of a plan, are considered evidentiary hearings and in person attendance may be required, as detailed in the “Remote Access” section below. In each case, the movant must be prepared to make an offer of proof consistent with the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code, the Bankruptcy Rules, the Local Rules, and relevant law.
Emergency matters are those where direct, immediate, and substantial harm will occur to the interest of a person or entity, to the bankruptcy estate, or to the debtor’s ability to reorganize, if the parties are not able to obtain immediate relief. The movant must comply with Local Rule 9075-1. The movant must communicate with the Courtroom Deputy to advise the Court that an emergency motion has been filed. Once filed, an emergency motion will be reviewed by the Judge to determine if it should be treated as an emergency. The motion should state with specificity the date by which the movant believes the Court should set the emergency hearing and why. The Courtroom Deputy will set the hearing as directed by the Judge. Upon being informed of the date and time of the hearing, the moving party must immediately provide notice to opposing counsel and other parties in interest by a method or methods sufficient to provide actual notice of the hearing (this may include one or more of telephone, e-mail, and overnight mail), and the moving party must promptly file a certificate of service. Failure to provide immediate notice to opposing counsel and other parties in interest and file a certificate of service may result in denial of the relief requested and/or sanctions.
The Court requires the parties to use the electronic presentation facilities available in the courtroom which allow viewing of documentary evidence by the Court, other counsel, witnesses, and the gallery, without the need for paper. Counsel are encouraged to contact the Courtroom Deputy in advance of the scheduled hearing to arrange a time to become familiar with the systems subject to courtroom and staff availability.
I. Permitted Remote Access
A. Except as provided herein, the Court conducts all hearings in person.
B. For certain non-evidentiary hearings, the Court provides remote access to hearings through Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (“Zoom”).
C. In accordance with the broadcast policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States for public access to civil and bankruptcy proceedings effective as of September 22, 2023, no member of the press or the public may observe any hearing by video on Zoom, but members of the press and the public may observe certain non-evidentiary hearings by audio only on Zoom.
D. No remote access is permitted for any evidentiary hearing or (starting in February 2024) the Court’s monthly chapter 13 calendar.
E. For all other non-evidentiary hearings, all participating attorneys, parties, and other representatives must attend the hearing in person unless:
1. the notice of hearing or order setting hearing states that the hearing will take place only by video conference;
2. they reasonably believe they have a contagious illness (including COVID);
3. counsel represents the United States Trustee and resides outside of the Southern District of Florida (temporary accommodation due to current staffing issues at the Office of the United States Trustee);
4. they will appear solely to state that they have no objection to the relief sought or are only observing the hearing;
5. the hearing is to consider approval of a reaffirmation agreement;
6. in advance of the hearing, there is clear agreement between all interested parties that all objections to the matter set for hearing have been resolved (note: lack of any filed objections to a motion or application does not necessarily mean there is a clear agreement between all interested parties); or
7. the Court has granted leave to attend remotely for good cause shown by ex parte motion filed not later than (i) two business days before the hearing, or (ii) in emergency or unforeseen circumstances, as soon as reasonably practicable in advance of the hearing.
II. Remote Access Procedures
Unless otherwise ordered, the following procedures apply to permitted remote appearance at hearings:
A. Registration Required in Advance. To participate in a hearing remotely via Zoom, you must register in advance no later than 3:00 p.m., one business day before the date of the hearing, except for hearings set on an emergency basis, in which case participants must register at least one hour before the hearing. Upon registration, Zoom will provide a password-protected link for the Zoom conference. All participants must conduct a pre-hearing test of Zoom using the same equipment that they intend to use during the hearing.
B. Registration Process. To register for a remote appearance via Zoom, click here, or manually enter the following web address into a browser:
Fill out all required information on the registration page. If you have more than one matter set for hearing on the same date and time, you only need to register once for that date, but you must provide all relevant case numbers, case names and client names in the registration process.
C. 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.
D. Media and Public Unauthorized Video Access. If during any hearing the Court determines that a member of the media or the public has logged on to Zoom by video, the Court may (a) request the person to log off (with the option to log back on by audio only), (b) disconnect the person from Zoom, or (c) disable video broadcasting of the hearing for all participants (resulting in only audio access for all remote participants).
E. Conduct During Hearing. To avoid distractions during the hearing, all participants must mute electronic devices and disable all audible alerts. Although conducted using remote conferencing technology, the hearing is a court proceeding and 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. For hearings with multiple matters set at the same time, participants attending by video conference should keep their cameras off until their matter is called, at which time they should turn on their cameras for their particular hearing, and then turn them off again after their matter has concluded.
Persons participating in a hearing remotely also must:
1. ensure that the display name shown on Zoom is their full name;
2. state their name each time they speak;
3. speak audibly, clearly, and slowly; and
4. mute their microphone when they are not talking.
Failure to comply may result in an incomplete or inaccurate record of the proceedings.
Please note that when appearing remotely, you are connected directly with the sound system in the courtroom and will be able to hear all activity before the Court just as if you were in the courtroom. As with appearances in person, you must wait for the Judge to call the case, at which point he will request appearances and direct the manner in which the hearing proceeds. At the conclusion of your matter, you may disconnect from the Zoom meeting without requesting to be excused.
F. Remote Witness Testimony. In accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 43(a) (made applicable by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9017), upon approval by the Court for good cause in compelling circumstances and with appropriate safeguards, a witness may be permitted to testify by contemporaneous transmission from a location other than the courtroom.
1. Rule 43(a) Motion Requirements. The party seeking relief under Rule 43(a) must file a timely motion. In the absence of an unanticipated emergency, any last-minute motion will be denied without a hearing. Any motion under Rule 43(a) must include the following information:
(a) The name, and title (if applicable) of the witness;
(b) The reason why the witness requests to appear remotely;
(c) The matter(s) on which the witness is anticipated to provide testimony;
(d) The city, state, and country from which the remote witness will be testifying;
(e) The type of place (i.e., home, office, hospital, airport, etc.) from which the remote witness will be testifying;
(f) Whether anyone will be in the room or able to communicate with the remote witness during the testimony and, if so, for each such person, the person’s name, title, relationship to the remote witness, and purpose for being present or able to communicate with the witness; and
(g) Whether the remote witness will have access to any documents other than exhibits that have been provided to the Court and the parties and, if so, the identity of each such document.
2. Remote Testimony Procedures and Requirements. If a witness is authorized to testify remotely, the Court will administer the oath to the remote witness by video conference, and the witness’s testimony will have the same effect and be binding upon the remote witness in the same manner as if the remote witness was sworn in by the Court in person in open court. As appropriate safeguards required by Rule 43(a), the Court also requires that:
(a) if requested, the 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 the remote witness unless specifically authorized by the Court;
(c) the remote witness may 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.
3. Responsibility for Remote Witnesses. The party sponsoring the remote witness is responsible for ensuring that the remote witness has registered with Zoom and obtained the link to the video conference, the remote witness has obtained all exhibits before the hearing, and the remote witness has the technological capability to participate in the hearing via Zoom.
About the Judge
Judge Russin graduated from George Washington University Law School (J.D. 1988) having won the Jacob Burns Prize for outstanding appellate advocacy and the Van Vleck Advanced Moot Court Competition. Judge Russin also interned for the Honorable Lawrence S. Margolis, United States Court of Federal Claims, during law school. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University where he majored in History and graduated with departmental honors (B.A., 1985). Judge Russin practiced in the areas of Bankruptcy and Commercial Litigation from 1988 to 2020, when the Eleventh Circuit appointed him to serve as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of Florida.
Judge Russin co-founded Meland Russin & Budwick, P.A. in 1993. He routinely represented corporate debtors, secured lenders, creditors’ committees, and trustees in insolvency proceedings as well as asset purchasers in bankruptcy. He also counseled clients through out-of-court workouts and private debt restructuring. Judge Russin was also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator. Throughout his career, he has written and lectured extensively on insolvency and commercial litigation topics. Judge Russin is also a past president of the Bankruptcy Bar Association of the Southern District of Florida.
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 description indicating the purpose of the amendment. For example, if there is a change to paragraph 1 of the order, state in the footnote “Revisions made to paragraph 1.”
Titles of orders must specify whether the order grants, denies, or grants in part and denies in part the relief sought in the underlying motion.
Competing orders may be submitted as directed by the Court, or where opposing counsel disagree on a proposed order’s language. Competing orders must be submitted via email in Word format to Chambers email address. This email address is strictly for competing orders and must not be used under any other circumstances, unless specifically instructed to do so. The email accompanying a competing order must identify the material differences between the competing orders and, to the extent reasonably practicable, include a separate redline comparison showing the differences between the competing orders.
Orders setting matters for hearing should state that:
The hearing will be conducted at the United States Bankruptcy Court, 299 East Broward Blvd., Courtroom 301, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. Although the Court will conduct the hearing in person, the Court’s webpage (https://www.flsb.uscourts.gov/judges/judge-peter-d-russin) has specific guidelines regarding requirements and procedures for appearing remotely.