Central District Bankruptcy General Order 20-2 Covid 19Upon consideration of (a) the state of emergency declared by the President of the United States regarding COVID-19, (b) the directives from federal, state, and local officials regarding safety of the public and the personnel of this court, (c) the suspension of meetings of creditors (11 U.S.C. § 341(a)) by the United States Trustee, Region 16, (d) available guidance from other units of the Judicial Branch, and (e) all other facts and circumstances, and after deliberation at an emergency meeting of the Bankruptcy Court Board Of Judges of this District held on March 18, 2020, and on the court’s own motion (11 U.S.C. § 105(a)), good cause appearing,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows, unless and until otherwise ordered by this court or the presiding judge in any specific case:

1. Telephonic appearances are mandatory, except for trials and other evidentiary hearings through April 30, 2020, unless otherwise ordered by the court. All parties are required to appear by telephone at all hearings that require an appearance, except trials and other evidentiary hearings unless otherwise ordered by the court due to an unusual circumstance. There will be no physical access to any courtroom without the specific permission of the presiding judge. Instructions for telephonic appearances are posted on the Bankruptcy Court’s website (www.cacb.uscourts.gov) and there will be no cost for parties not represented by an attorney. For any evidentiary hearings, including trials, special procedures will be implemented by each presiding judge on a case-by-case basis, and if the evidentiary hearing is continued then notice will be provided to the parties. Parties may make requests for continuances consistent with each presiding judge’s usual requirements.

2. Any person who has shown up at the courtroom but not been able to get in or has attempted to appear by telephone, but has been unable, may seek reconsideration by the presiding judge under Rule 7052, 9023, or 9024 (Fed. R. Bankr. P.) or any other applicable rule. Parties must contact the chambers of the presiding judge within 24 hours after the hearing to notify the judge of the difficulty attending the hearing and state that reconsideration will be sought. There is no change to currently calendared motions or applications except for the above. Other than the above, and unless ordered by the presiding judge, there is no change to other procedures including but not limited to applications for emergency injunctive relief, orders shortening time, and hearings on Chapter 11 “First Day” motions.

3. Chapter 13. The court recommends consulting each individual Chapter 13 Trustee website for any special instructions related to pending Chapter 13 cases. The Chapter 13 calendars will continue to be held under the above procedures but additional procedures are being implemented by each trustee to obtain records and payments without personal contact.

4. Judges’ or courtesy copies. Except for documents over 25 pages, including exhibits, the requirement to deliver judges’ copies of documents to chambers (LBR 5005-2(d)) is temporarily suspended – including delivery via U.S. mail, personal delivery, or any other means. Documents over 25 pages should still be provided either through the mail or in supplied drop boxes. Parties are reminded, however, that the judge and chambers’ staff do not receive electronic notices of filings, and therefore, (a) for documents that are filed late, and (b) for matters that are not either (i) set for hearing, or (ii) the subject of an electronically uploaded order (LOU), parties must contact the chambers of the presiding judge and advise chambers of the filing. Messages will be regularly retrieved from the judge’s chambers phone.

5. Mediations. All mediations conducted by a judge of this court are suspended through April 30, 2020 absent a specific order and agreement by all to proceed telephonically. Mediations with private mediators may be continued upon consultation with the assigned mediator but will be in the discretion of the mediator as to how to proceed.

6. Cash. The Clerk of Court is specifically authorized to decide at any time that no cash will be accepted at any filing window or received in the mail or at any drop box, should one be implemented. Parties may pay any filing fee with a certified cashier’s check or postal money order if they cannot comply with the CM/ECF fee filing requirements.

7. Signatures. Local Bankruptcy Rule 9011-1 does not require in person contact as it permits an attorney to receive a signature page by electronic means. Nothing in the rule precludes the filing of a signature page that has been received by facsimile, pdf, text or photo. This signature can be filed separately in whatever format is reasonably possible so that there is a clear indication that the signer has read and is signing the actual document filed.
a. In light of the difficulty of obtaining any paper files during this emergency, the requirement of LBR 9011-1(d) to maintain a wet signature for 5 years is temporarily suspended and the attorney should maintain the electronic transmission of the client to file the document in whatever format is reasonable at this time.
b. If there is a situation where a client cannot transmit a signature electronically either due to lack of required technology or internet access, etc., the attorney should so explain the circumstances with the filing, verify that permission was obtained from the client to sign the document on their behalf, and obtain the signature as soon as possible after the filing through another means.

8. These provisions are temporary and may be vacated, amended or extended as necessary.