UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
United States Courthouse
299 E. Broward Blvd.
Courtroom: 308 / Chambers: Room 306
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Judge Grossman does not engage in any kind of communication with parties before the Court except on the record in the courtroom and through documents filed with the Clerk and orders entered by the court. Bankruptcy Rule 9003 prohibits such ex parte communication with the Judge 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 Judge Grossman or his law clerks regarding cases. Except in unusual circumstances, each letter or e-mail addressed to Judge Grossman or his law clerks or otherwise sent to the Court and identifying a particular case or proceeding, will be placed on the relevant docket and made part of the public record. Any such letter or e-mail may be set for hearing.
Local Rule 5005-1(F) Emergency Submittals. Any party filing an emergency submittal under Local Rule 5005-1(F) must promptly notify the Courtroom Deputy that a Local Rule 5005-1(F) emergency submittal has been filed.
Judge Grossman believes in promptly addressing discovery disputes, and in strictly enforcing Rule 37(a)(5). With certain exceptions, Rule 37(a)(5) requires the Court to award attorneys’ fees and costs if a discovery motion is granted, or if a disclosure or requested discovery was provided after a motion was filed.
If a discovery dispute occurs, the parties must first, as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1) (incorporated by Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7037), confer in a good faith attempt to resolve the issues. If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute, any party may file a short (not to exceed five pages) motion briefly summarizing the discovery dispute and requesting an expedited hearing. Immediately after filing the motion, the filing party must promptly contact the Courtroom Deputy to schedule an expedited hearing on the motion.
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.
Whether or not noticed as evidentiary hearings, 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, or (d) payment of pre-petition claims, are considered evidentiary hearings. 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.
Matters settled before a hearing may be removed from the calendar by contacting the Courtroom Deputy not later than noon at least one business day before the hearing.