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Bankruptcy Court Operations during COVID-19

 

Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s Office access

The Bankruptcy Court is committed to serving parties and the public during the COVID-19 outbreak, but is taking the following actions to protect its employees and visitors to the Clerk’s Offices in Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul from transmission of the virus:

Until further notice, the lobbies of the clerk’s offices will be closed to the public

  • Customers are encouraged to contact the Clerk’s Offices by phone for assistance.  Most inquiries and requests for documents can be handled over the phone, and copies and certificates mailed or emailed to the requestor.
  • Pro se parties and members of the public may drop off payments and documents for filing as directed outside each clerk’s office, but are STRONGLY encouraged to mail payments and documents to the appropriate clerk’s office.  NOTE THAT THE DROP BOXES IN THE MAIN FLOOR LOBBIES OF THE TWIN CITIES COURTHOUSES ARE FOR FILINGS FOR THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT ONLY, AND NOT FOR BANKRUPTCY COURT FILINGS.
  • Filing fees may be paid by a cashiers’ check or money order ONLY.  The clerk’s office will NOT accept cash payments at this time.
  • All clerk’s offices will be staffed, the areas for drop offs closely monitored, and documents and payments promptly processed.  Confirmation of filing or receipt of funds will be sent by mail or email.
  • Forms and instructions for filing are available outside the clerk’s offices and on the court’s website
  • Creditors are encouraged to file proofs of claim, amended claims, and withdrawals of claims online using ePOC.
  • Notice to Public Access Terminal Users: Parties or members of the public needing assistance with accessing court documents and who are not able or cannot afford to use PACER.gov should contact any of the Clerk's Offices for assistance.

To minimize the numbers of staff in the clerk’s office during the outbreak, phone requests for documents requiring pre-payment by credit card will be processed only one day each week BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 8:00 AM AND 4:00 PM, as follows:

Wednesday, July 8

Wednesday, July 15

Wednesday, July 22

Thursday, July 30

Requests received after 4:00 pm on the above days will be processed the following week. 

In light of this schedule, those with a request for documents —- particularly if such requests are time-sensitive —- are strongly encouraged to mail the request, together with a check or money order, to the clerk’s office. Requests received through the mail will be processed the day they are received.

March 30, 2020; updated June 15, 2020

Courthouse entrance protocols in the District of Minnesota

Administrative Order requiring masks or face coverings for all persons entering any U.S. Courthouse in the District of Minnesota

May 15, 2020

Hearings and Trials

All judges except Judge Sanberg will handle hearings, trials, continuances and requests for telephonic appearances on a case-by-case basis.  Until further notice, all of Judge Kathleen Sanberg’s hearings will be held telephonically. Further information will be posted in the dockets in affected individual cases. Notification of defaults will continue as before.

March 16, 2020

Procedural changes during COVID-19

  • Orders on partial case filing and Orders on partial conversion entered between March 23, 2020 and May 29, 2020 require filing of the completion within 30 days rather than 14 days.  

    Orders on partial case filing and Orders on partial conversion entered on and after June 1, 2020 will require filing of the completion within 14 days.  Debtors may file an application to extend time to file any completion, if needed.

  • For all documents that require a debtor's signature, the requirement in Local Rule 9011-1(d) that an attorney secure the debtor's original, physical signature prior to electronically filing such documents is suspended, on condition that, prior to filing, the attorney has:

March 23, 2020; updated May 28, 2020

Notices of Mortgage Forbearance under the CARES Act

A Notice of mortgage forbearance filing event has been added to CM/ECF to allow attorneys and parties to file such a notice, per section 4022 of the CARES Act.

The event prompts the filer to enter the number of days of forbearance and to indicate whether a certificate of service is included with the notice.

The filing event is located on two menus:

Bankruptcy/Post-Petition Events/Notices/Notice of mortgage forbearance

AND

Claim Events/3002.1 Rule Supplements/Notice of mortgage forbearance

Those with limited filer privileges to CM/ECF will have access to the event ONLY through the Claim Events menu.

April 23, 2020

Amendments to Official Forms 101, 201, 122A-1, 122B and 122C-1 effective April 3, 2020

Effective April 3, 2020, Official Forms 101, 201, 122A-1, 122B and 122C-1 were amended to reflect provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act") increasing the debt limit for small businesses filing under subchapter V of chapter 11 and excluding certain CARES Act payments from current monthly income or disposable income.  Fillable versions of these forms will be available on www.uscourts.gov in the near future.

In addition, amendments to Interim Bankruptcy Rule 1020, part of the Interim Bankruptcy Rules implementing the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019, were adopted on April 21, 2020.  See the Small Business Reorganization Act Interim Rules for details. 

Information for parties without an attorney

See information under the Filing Without an Attorney tab.

Bankruptcy Advice Clinic

Due to health concerns related to COVID-19, the Bankruptcy Advice Clinics in the Twin Cities are temporarily suspended.  As an alternative to the in-person clinic, VLN is offering free legal advice over the phone by appointment only. 

To sign up for an appointment to speak with an attorney, please call the VLN Intake Line at 612-752-6677 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. 

March 16, 2020

341 meetings

On June 12, 2020, the Executive Office of the United States Trustee announced it is extending the requirement that 341s be conducted by phone or video conference to all cases filed through October 10, 2020.  

Notices of Chapter 7, 12 or 13 Bankruptcy Case commencement will, in place of the usual physical location of the meeting of creditors, direct parties to contact the trustee for instructions and information on attending 341 meetings by telephone or video conference.  

Notices of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case commencement will, in place of the usual physical location of the meeting of creditors, include the phone number and access code parties should use to participate in the 341 meeting by telephone.  

March 26, 2020; updated June 15, 2020

US Trustee audits

Due to ongoing public health concerns associated with COVID-19, the United States Trustee Program (USTP) announced it has suspended the assignment of new individual chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases subject to audit for an indefinite period.  The suspension limits the need for in-person contact by debtors with their counsel and others who may have been required to assist them in compiling documentation required by the auditors.  The USTP will lift the suspension at an appropriate time based upon public health conditions. 

For additional information, see https://www.justice.gov/ust/debtor-audit-information

March 25, 2020