On March 17, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California entered its Order of the Chief Judge No. 18 ("Order 18"), which detailed certain procedures to be followed for cases pending in the District Court based on the judicial emergency resulting from the coronavirus health crisis. Order 18 also noted that the United States Bankruptcy Court remained open to conduct its judicial business. Order 18 did not establish specific procedures to manage the cases pending in the Bankruptcy Court, however.
To advance the objective of Order 18 to protect public safety but address exigent legal needs which arise, the Bankruptcy Court adopted Administrative Order 20-1 on March 18, 2020 which provided for all hearings to be conducted telephonically, unless otherwise ordered by the individual bankruptcy judge to whom the matter is assigned. Administrative Order 20-1 also required compliance with the Mandatory Telephonic Hearing Guidelines posted on the court's website.
Order 18 has been extended by the District Court several times as noted in Order of the Chief Judge No. 33 because the judicial emergency had not sufficiently abated. The extension remains in effect through August 14, 2020. These extensions have in turn extended the applicability of this Court's Administrative Order 20-1.
Because the judicial emergency is still applicable, and public health exigencies preclude fully reopening the Bankruptcy Court at this time, Administrative Order 20-1 will remain in effect indefinitely until further order of this Court.
August 14, 2020 - Please note that Administrative Orders 20-1-A, 20-1, 20-2-A, and 20-3 posted on the court website regarding court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to remain in effect until further order from the Bankruptcy Court.
District Court Chief Judge Orders 18, 18-A, and 25 declaring a state of emergency and requiring the use of face masks, remain in effect until July 15, 2020, which extends the effect of Administrative Orders 20-1 and 20-2-A. The court will continue the use of telephonic hearings and in some instances, video hearings for all court appearances until further notice. Also, the clerk’s office will remain open with limited staffing from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. from Monday through Friday with the exception of federal holidays. All parties must comply with CDC and local guidelines regarding the use of face masks when entering the Weinberger Courthouse.
August 28, 2020 - The U.S. Trustee Program has extended the requirement that section 341 meetings be conducted by telephone or video appearance to all cases filed during the period of the President’s “Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak” issued March 13, 2020, and ending on the date that is 60 days after such declaration terminates. However, the U.S. Trustee may approve a request by a trustee in a particular case to continue the section 341 meeting to an in-person meeting in a manner that complies with local public health guidance, if the U.S. Trustee determines that an in-person examination of the debtor is required to ensure the completeness of the meeting or the protection of estate property. This policy may be revised at the discretion of the Director of the United States Trustee Program.
June 12, 2020 – The U.S. Trustee Program is extending the requirement that section 341 meetings be conducted by telephone or video appearance to all cases filed through October 10, 2020. However, if the responsible U.S. Trustee or case trustee determines that an in-person examination of the debtor is required to ensure the completeness of the meeting or protection of estate property, the U.S. Trustee may approve the continuation of the section 341 meeting to an in-person meeting in a manner that complies with local public health guidance. This justifies extension of applicable deadlines pursuant to Administrative Order 20-3.
The U.S. Trustee Program is extending the requirement that section 341 meetings be conducted only through telephonic or other alternative means not requiring in-person appearance to all cases filed through July 10, 2020. Appropriate notice will be provided to parties in accordance with bankruptcy law and rules.
Pursuant to Administrative Order 20-3, Subsection 6, the court has developed three new doc-type events for the expedited notice of intended action procedure to request an extension of the applicable deadlines for the following matters: 1) Deadline extensions for UST motions to dismiss for abuse under Rule 1017(e); 2) Deadline extensions for Rule 4004(a) objections to a debtor’s discharge; and 3) Deadline extensions for Rule 4007(c) objections to discharge of certain debts. The new doc-type events are located in the Bankruptcy Events Menu in the CM/ECF System under “Notices and Hearings” and “Intended Action re Eligible Matters due to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Notice)” doc-type event.
The United States Trustee Program (“USTP”) has been conducting 341 meetings telephonically during the COVID-19 pandemic. The USTP has provided updated information regarding the conducting of telephonic 341 Meetings.
On March 25, 2020, the court posted Administrative Order 20-2 to temporarily suspend certain signature requirements (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) for documents that cannot be filed timely due to lack of an opportunity for personal contact between attorneys and clients. Since the adoption of this administrative order, the court became aware of the need to further clarify these signature requirements.
In order to protect public safety, and prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Court has implemented the following procedures for telephonic hearings. Unless otherwise directed by the specific Judge, all hearings will be held telephonically. Using this AT&T system is at no cost to the parties or public.
In response to the Region 15 United States Trustee’s ("UST's") Notice RE: Section 341 Meeting of Creditors continuing all § 341 meetings, and the UST's request that certain deadlines contained in the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure ("Rules") and 11 U.S.C. § 1308 be temporarily extended to accommodate logistical challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared a national emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the “social distancing” guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic; good cause exists to temporarily suspend on the conditions specified below the requirement of a “signature” as defined in 28 U.S.C. § 1746, including in regard to the documents specified in Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1008, as implemented in Local Bankruptcy Rule 5005-4(c).
On March 17, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California entered it Order of the Chief Judge No. 18 (“Order 18”), which detailed certain procedures to be followed for cases pending in the District Court based on the judicial emergency resulting from the coronavirus health crisis. Order 18 also noted that the United States Bankruptcy Court remained open to conduct its judicial business. Order 18 did not establish specific procedures to manage the cases pending in the Bankruptcy Court, however.
Because of the developing issues with the COVID-19 virus the national and state declarations of emergency by the President of the United States and the Governor of California, effective immediately, all in-person chapter 7, 11, 12, and 13 section 341 meetings scheduled through April 10, 2020 are hereby continued until a later date to be determined.
The Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc. hosts a no-cost Bankruptcy Self-Help Center for Pro Se Filers at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, 325 West F Street, San Diego every Wednesday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. No appointments are necessary. The Self-Help Center is located on the 2nd floor of the Weinberger Courthouse in the Court Library.
In order to protect the public safety, and prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Court adopts the following visitor restrictions for all courthouses and probation and pretrial services offices in the district.
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California continues to closely monitor the national and local response to the coronavirus virus (COVID-19) in respect for public health concerns. We will be following guidance provided by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), available at www.cdc.gov.