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FAQs: General

  • How do I find who the trustee is in a case?

    There are several ways in which to obtain trustee information on a case:

    Court Documents

    For Chapter 7, 12, or 13 bankruptcy cases, this information can be found on the Notice of Chapter X Bankruptcy Case (where X indicates the bankruptcy chapter number) that is sent when a case commences.

    Voice Case Information System (VCIS)

    The Voice Case Information System (VCIS) allows callers to access case information from any touch-tone telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no charge to use VCIS. Call (866) 222-8029.

    Visit or Contact the Clerk's Office

    You are welcome to call or to visit Clerk's Office during the court's hours of operation: Monday through Friday from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, except on federal holidays.

    Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse
    325 West F Street
    San Diego, California 92101 

     (619) 557-5620

  • How do I obtain case information (such as debtor’s name, attorney, case number, assigned judge, and case status)?

    Voice Case Information System (VCIS)

    The Voice Case Information System (VCIS) allows callers to access case information free of charge from any touch-tone telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Voice Case Information System (VCIS): (866) 222-8029

    Computer / Internet Access via Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)

    Electronic case summaries and docket information may be retrieved using a computer via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Please click here for PACER registration information or call (800) 676-6856.

    All registered agencies or individuals will be charged $0.10 per page with a maximum charge of $2.40 (with no charge up to the first $10.00 for each calendar year for a registered user). Transcripts of federal court proceedings are not subject to the 30-page fee limit. Scanned images of documents shown on docket entries in cases filed on or after January 1, 1998 also are available through this Web site. However, there may be instances in which not all docket entries will have attached images of documents.

    In Person

    For more detailed information, bankruptcy documents may be viewed in person or retrieved for copying from the Clerk's Office at which the case was filed. To determine if a case has been archived, contact the Clerk's Office in San Diego: (619) 557-5620. To view or retrieve bankruptcy documents, you must have the bankruptcy case number or debtor's name.

  • How do I obtain certified copies of documents?

    In Person

    Visit the Clerk’s Office. A certification fee of $11.00 per document is required, plus a copy fee of $0.50 cents per page. Payment may be in the form of cash, a bank cashier's check, or a U.S. Postal money order made payable to: Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court.

    If payment is by cash, exact change is required. Personal checks will not be accepted from debtors or debtors in possession.

    Certified Copies by Mail

    To obtain copies by mail, provide a written request which contains the following information:

     - Case number

     - Debtor’s name

     - Precisely which documents are to be copied and certified

    Include a $31.00 search fee per item, a $11.00 certification fee per item to be certified, and a copy fee of $0.50 cents per page. Payment may be in the form of a bank cashier's check, or a U.S. Postal money order made payable to: Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court. Personal checks will not be accepted from debtors or debtors in possession.

  • How do I obtain copies of documents?

    PACER

    PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is a Web-based system that allows users with Internet access and a PACER login to access court records.

    Beginning in 1998, dockets may include images of documents filed. These documents may be viewed, downloaded, and printed from your computer.

    Copies by Mail

    To obtain copies by mail, provide a written request which contains the following:

    - Case number

    - Debtor’s name

    - Precisely which documents are to be copied

    Include a $31.00 search fee per item to be searched and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Payment may be in the form of a bank cashier's check, or a U.S. Postal money order made payable to: Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court. Personal checks will not be accepted from debtors or debtors in possession.

    Upon receipt of request, we will advise you of the number of pages to be copied and the total copy fee; copy fee per page: $0.50. Once the copy fees are received, copies will be made and mailed.

    For more information, visit our Records / Case Information page.

  • Is there a court document that provides procedural information?

    The Local Bankruptcy Rules (LBRs) and Administrative Procedures are a set of procedures and mandatory requirements for bankruptcy cases and proceedings at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California. They are in PDF format, and a complete set can be downloaded from this page: Local Rules. The Administrative Procedures also can be viewed and downloaded as a separate document.

  • What are the federal holidays?

    The U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California is closed on all federal holidays. Visit the Court Holidays page to see the dates on which the court is closed for the current year.

  • What does the case number tell me?

    A bankruptcy case number consists of the filing year (along with five additional digits), the initials of the judge assigned to the case, and the bankruptcy chapter number. For example, for this case number

    16-90131 - LT7

    - The number 16 refers to the year 2016

    - The number 90131 is a sequential number assigned to the case in the order it was filed

    - The letters LT refers to Judge Laura Taylor

    - The 7 refers to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy

    Other common bankruptcy chapters are 11 and 13.

    The other current judges' iniitials are LA (Louise Adler), CL (Christopher Latham), and MM (Margaret Mann). Other judges who have served at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California were PB (Peter Bowie), JH (John Hargrove), and JM (James Meyers).

  • What forms of payment are accepted by the court?

    Payment from debtors may be in the form of a bank cashier’s check, a money order, or cash. If payment is by cash, the exact amount is required. Personal checks and credit cards will not be accepted from individual debtors or debtors in possession.

  • What if I don’t agree with an order in the case?

    A Notice of Appeal may be filed after an Order or Judgment has been entered in a case. In a Notice of Appeal, the party filing the appeal (the appellant) wishes to reverse the Order or Judgment granted in favor of the other party (the appellee). When an appeal is filed in the Southern District of California, the matter is referred to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP).

    The filing fee for a Notice of Appeal is $298.00. Under 28 U.S.C. § 158, the circuit court may accept a direct appeal if the appropriate court or party certifies that direct appeal is necessary to resolve a matter of first impression, conflicting decisions, or public importance.

    The official Notice of Appeal forms are available on the Court Forms page.

  • What if the case I'm interested in has been archived?

    Closed Case Files
    Paper files are no longer kept at the court. If a case file is closed, the file is available at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Federal Records Center.
     

    Order Records Online
    You can order court records online. Go to the National Archives Web site, which contains directions on how to order Bankruptcy Court records.
     
    You will need to register with the National Archives to request court records online. Also, you will need additional information about your case. Click here to enter a case number and search for the required information.
     

    Order Records by Mail / Fax / Email
    To order court records via mail / fax / email, use NATF Form 90 - Bankruptcy Cases Order Form, which can be found on the National Archives Web site. Directions for downloading and submitting this form can be found on the National Archives site.
     
    You will need additional information about your case to complete NATF Form 90. Click here to enter a case number and search for the required information.
     

    Help
    Need help with case file information? Call the court at (619) 557-5620.

  • What is a Motion?

    A motion is a written formal statement in which the party who is requesting an action (the movant) sets forth his or her grounds for the action requested. The party against whom the action is requested is the respondent.

    Hiring a competent attorney to assist you in your case is highly recommended.

  • What is a Reaffirmation Agreement?

    A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement by a debtor to continue paying a dischargeable debt (such as an auto loan) after bankruptcy, usually for the purpose of keeping collateral (i.e., the car) that would otherwise be subject to repossession.

  • What is an Adversary Proceeding?

    An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit arising in or related to a bankruptcy case, filed by a party called a “plaintiff” against a party called a “defendant.” Adversary proceedings are initiated by filing a document called a “complaint” with the court to resolve both federal and state law issues. Certain types of disputes cannot be handled by motion in the bankruptcy case, but instead require the commencement of an adversary proceeding. Federal Bankruptcy Rule 7001 lists certain types of actions that require an adversary proceeding. Adversary proceedings are governed for the most part by Part VII of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. See also Adversary Proceeding Filing Requirements.

  • What is the Bankruptcy Code?

    Created in 1979, the Bankruptcy Code provides help for businesses or persons in financial difficulty in the form of bankruptcy chapters. Chapter 7, 11, and 13 bankruptcies are the most commonly filed chapters. The Bankruptcy Code is available at legal libraries.

  • What is the difference between bankruptcy chapters 7, 11, and 13?

    Chapter 7

    Often called the "liquidation chapter," Chapter 7 is used by individuals, partnerships, or corporations who have no hope for repairing their financial situation. In Chapter 7, the debtor's estate is liquidated under the rules of the Bankruptcy Code. Liquidation is the process through which the debtor's non-exempt property is sold for cash by a trustee and the cash is distributed to creditors.

    Chapter 11

    Often called the "reorganization chapter," Chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and individuals to reorganize without having to liquidate all assets. In filing a Chapter 11, the debtor presents a plan to creditors which, if accepted by the creditors and approved by the court, will allow the debtor to reorganize personal, financial, or business affairs and again become a financially productive individual or business.

    Chapter 13

    An individual with a regular income who is overcome by debts, but believes such debt can be repaid within a reasonable period of time, may file under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 13 permits the debtor to file a plan in which the debtor agrees to pay a certain percentage of future income to the Bankruptcy Court for payment to creditors. If the court approves the plan, the debtor will be under the court's protection while repaying such debts.

  • What is the function of the U.S. Trustee?

    The Office of the U.S. Trustee is a federal Executive Branch agency and is part of the Department of Justice.

    Its responsibilities include monitoring the administration of bankruptcy cases and detecting bankruptcy fraud. It also is responsible for appointing interim trustees to administer Chapter 7 cases from a previously appointed panel of private individuals, lending support to and overseeing the Debtor-in-Possession in Chapter 11 cases, and appointing a standing trustee in Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 cases.

    If you wish additional information regarding either the trustee program in general or individual, visit the U.S. Trustee Web site or call the U.S. Trustee Office at (619) 557-5013. You also may visit our Trustees page for a listing of Southern District of California trustees.

  • Whom do I notify about a possible fraudulent filing?

    To expedite the handling of complaints of criminal violations in the bankruptcy system, the United States Trustee requires that your complaint be submitted in a signed letter, bearing your return address and telephone number to:

    For cases filed in San Diego and Imperial counties, send your letter to:

    Office of the United States Trustee
    Schwartz Federal Building
    880 Front Street, Ste. 3230
    San Diego, CA 92101

    Upon receipt, your complaint will be reviewed. If the information furnished establishes a reasonable belief that a criminal violation has occurred, the matter will be referred to the United States Attorney. If the United States Attorney deems the matter to hold prosecutorial merit, it will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation.

    A clearly written statement containing copies of any available documentation will expedite this process. Submit the following information:

    - The bankruptcy case name and file number, together with copies of any pertinent court filings

    - A chronological summary of the matter

    - A narrative of what occurred

    - Names, addresses, and telephone numbers (to the extent available) of the subjects and witnesses known to you

    Once a bankruptcy petition is filed, all information submitted regarding the debtor or entity becomes a matter of public record, no matter what the outcome of the case. This information, which is regularly checked by credit companies, may affect the debtor's or entity's credit rating.