View Chief Judge Gorman's Opinions
Chief Judge Gorman and her staff may be
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Central District of Illinois
600 E. Monroe Street
Springfield IL 62701
Initially posted March 1, 2009
Revised May 1, 2009
Revised March 19, 2013
Revised August 26, 2013
Revised September 26, 2013
Revised June 4, 2015
Revised June 16, 2016
Revised July 21, 2017
Revised November 28, 2017
Every petition, pleading, written motion, and other paper except a list, schedule, or statement (and amendments thereto) must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney’s individual name. See Fed.R.Bankr.P. 9011. Petitions, lists, schedules, statements and all amendments thereto must be verified or contain an unsworn declaration by the debtor. See Fed.R.Bankr.P. 1008. Documents containing signatures may be filed as scanned images which show the actual signatures or may be filed with signatures represented by a "/s/" and the name typed in the space where a signature would otherwise appear as follows: /s/ First Name Last Name. Unsigned pleadings or pleadings where the above requirements are not strictly complied with are subject to being stricken without further notice.
Reference should also be made to paragraph 10 of the Third Amended General Order Authorizing Electronic Case Filing entered by the Bankruptcy Judges of the Central District of Illinois on January 10, 2007, for additional requirements regarding signatures and the retention of documents containing original signatures.
To be "of record" and authorized to sign pleadings, documents, or agreed orders on behalf of a party, every attorney, other than the attorney who filed the initial bankruptcy petition or the complaint in an adversary proceeding, must enter his or her appearance for the party. The Court will no longer process documents filed by attorneys who purport to represent a party but who have not formally appeared for that party. Further, every attorney who appears for a debtor must file a fee disclosure even if the attorney is not receiving or requesting additional fees. See 11 U.S.C. §329(a); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 2016(b).
Except as provided elsewhere in these Procedures, all pleadings should contain a certificate of service evidencing that the pleading has been served electronically, by mail, or by some other disclosed method on the parties and attorneys entitled to receive notice of the pleading. The fact that the Clerk of Court schedules and sends notice of all hearings and objection dates does not relieve the filer of a pleading of the obligation to serve the pleading as otherwise required.
For all contested matters as defined by Bankruptcy Rule 9014, the motion or request must be served in compliance with Bankruptcy Rule 7004. Corporations must be served as required under Rule 7004(b)(3) on an officer, managing or general agent, or on any agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process. Insured depository institutions must be served as required under Rule 7004(h).
When service must be made on an agent authorized to accept service, service on an attorney for a creditor is sufficient only if the attorney is, in fact, the creditor's registered agent or, in the case of an insured depository institution, if the attorney has entered an appearance in the case. Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7004(h)(1). Service on an attorney who represented a creditor in a different case in a different court is not sufficient to comply with the Bankruptcy Rules.
A signed certificate of service should be filed with each pleading and should include the full name of each person served electronically and the full name and address of each person served by mail or otherwise. A certificate of service must state the precise manner of the service made on each party or entity. A certificate of service which states that service was made by one of several possible methods without specifying the actual method used is unacceptable and will be stricken. Any certificate of service which is docketed separately from the pleading served must also specifically identify the pleading served.
Failure to properly serve a pleading may result in the pleading being stricken without further notice.
The Clerk will no longer add new creditors, registered agents, or other persons or entities to the mailing matrix and will not change addresses or add alternate addresses to the mailing matrix based on certificates of service filed with motions or other documents. When a motion, notice, or other document must be served on a person or entity not previously included on the mailing matrix, the debtor may file an amended schedule and pay the requisite filing fee, if any, to update the mailing matrix. If the debtor does not update the mailing matrix, then the movant -- whether the debtor or some other party in interest -- must serve the motion, notice, or other documents directly and file a certificate of service evidencing compliance with the Bankruptcy Rules. Further, for many motions, service by the Clerk is not made on the entire mailing matrix but only upon the parties who appear to have an interest in the motion. Accordingly, registered agents, corporate officers and other similar persons added to the mailing matrix should be clearly identified as the agent of a particular creditor.
The Court strictly enforces the requirements set forth in the Bankruptcy Code and Rules regarding applications for an award of professional fees and expenses. See 11 U.S.C. §330; Fed.R.Bankr.P. 2016; In re Vancil Contracting, Inc., 2008 WL 207533 (Bankr. C.D. Ill. Jan. 25, 2008); In re Minich, 386 B.R. 723 (Bankr. C.D. Ill. 2008).
Reference should also be made to this Court’s Standing Order Re: Attorney Fees for Debtor’s Counsel in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Cases - Springfield Division, for further guidance on when fee applications must be filed by debtors’ attorneys in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases.
The Court conducts a significant number of its non-evidentiary hearings via conference call. The Court considers conference call hearings to be of the same importance as hearings scheduled in court, and attorneys should prepare and conduct themselves accordingly.
Conference calls are conducted through the use of a conference call line. All notices of scheduled conference calls will contain the toll-free call-in number and an access code to be used for the call. Attorneys must place the call—neither chambers’ nor clerk’s office staff will place any calls in an effort to locate expected participants.
Cases will be called in the order they appear on the Court’s calendar available on the ILCB website. Related cases may be called together. Cases will not be recalled for attorneys who fail to join the conference call in time to be heard on their matter. Failure to appear for a conference call may result in an adverse ruling for the non-appearing party.
Only attorneys licensed to practice in the Central District of Illinois may appear for conference calls. The appearance by an unlicensed attorney constitutes the unauthorized practice of law and will not be allowed. When a party is represented by multiple attorneys, only one attorney may appear at a telephonic hearing for the party.
The conference call line will generally remain open throughout the entire conference call calendar. This means attorneys may join the conference call at any time but, again, attorneys must be on the call prior to their case being called. In deciding when to call in, attorneys should not assume that every case set at the same time as their case will actually be called. Motions may be withdrawn or settled and removed from the calendar. Accordingly, attorneys who do not call in prior to the time their case is set, risk that they will miss their hearing.
Having an open conference call line also means that once the conference calls start, everything said by any person on the line will be amplified throughout the courtroom and recorded. Attorneys SHOULD NOT announce their appearance when they join the call except as prompted to do so by the automated system before connection to the open line. Attorneys SHOULD treat conference call waiting time the same as they would if they were sitting in the courtroom waiting for their case to be called. Attorneys SHOULD mute their own phone line until their case is called so that background noises do not interfere with the court proceedings. Attorneys SHOULD NOT place the call on hold after joining; placing a call on hold can result in music, automated messages, ring backs, or other noises that will interfere with the proceedings. Callers who violate these rules may be dropped from the conference call line.
When a case is called, all participants in that particular matter will be asked to state their appearance for the record. Please speak up if you wish to appear on a particular matter. Once a matter is concluded, attorneys may simply hang up and they will be disconnected from the call.
Attorneys may appear using a cell phone but it is the responsibility of the attorney to have a properly operating (fully-charged) cell phone and to be at a location where cell phone service is available. All conference calls are recorded and attorneys must appear using telephonic equipment of sufficient quality that the recording equipment is able to make a clear audio record of the call.
The Court rarely permits appearance by telephone by an attorney for an in-court hearing. Such requests must be made by motion and electronically filed at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing. The motion must state specific reasons why the attorney is unable to personally appear for the in-court hearing. If permission to appear telephonically is granted, the attorney’s participation will generally be limited to making an appearance on the record and listening to the proceedings; the attorney appearing telephonically will not be allowed to present evidence, question witnesses, or make arguments.
Hearings that involve a pro se party will rarely be held via conference call.
Because the Clerk of Court sets all hearing and objection dates without attorneys being able to self-select available dates, the Court does consider motions for continuances, rescheduling, and extensions of time in chambers. The Court also considers some routine and uncontested matters in chambers.
Motions to continue specially set matters may also be considered in chambers. Motions to continue set matters must contain a specific reason for the request and state whether opposing counsel has been contacted regarding the request and consents to the request.
If the Court rules on a motion in chambers, a minute order or text order will be entered and attorneys will receive prompt electronic notification of the ruling. See Fed.R.Bankr.P. 9022(a). In the absence of an order from the Court, no party or attorney should assume that a matter has been or will be ruled on in chambers.
In the past, it has been the general practice of this Court to routinely grant extensions of time to file schedules, statements, and other documents required by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 1007-I(b) or the plan in a Chapter 13 case without a hearing. The practice of routinely granting such extensions has been discontinued. If parties are unable to comply with statutory or court-ordered deadlines for filing a Chapter 13 plan or schedules, statements, and other documents required by Rule 1007-I(b), then they must affirmatively seek an extension of time to do so in the form of an emergency motion.
All requests for an extension of time to file documents required as part of the original case filing will be treated as emergency motions and set for hearing in the short term on an expedited basis. Although hearings on emergency motions may be held by telephone or video conference in some instances, parties—from any distance—should assume that all such matters will be set for hearing at the United States Courthouse in Springfield, Illinois, and should be prepared to appear in person at such hearing. Parties unable or unwilling to appear in Springfield for an expedited hearing should not file bankruptcy petitions unless they are prepared to comply with the statutory deadlines for filing schedules, statements, and other documents required by Rule 1007-I(b) or the plan in a Chapter 13 case. A short extension of time to file schedules, statements, and other documents required by Rule 1007-I(b) or a Chapter 13 plan may be granted upon showing of cause at the hearing on an emergency motion. Very rarely will the Court be inclined to grant more than one extension of time.
The reasons for this change in procedure are two-fold. First, effective December 1, 2017, creditors in Chapter 12 and 13 cases will generally have only 70 days from the date a case is filed to file a claim. It is therefore imperative that the mailing matrix required to be filed with the petition is complete and that accurate schedules be filed with the petition or as soon thereafter as possible to ensure that creditors receive timely notice of the claims deadline. Because the deadlines for creditors to file claims have been dramatically shortened, the deadlines for debtors to file the documents required to give notice to creditors must also be monitored closely. Although the change in deadlines generally will not impact Chapter 7 cases because claims bar dates are not set when such cases are filed, the new procedure will apply in Chapter 7 cases also. The Court does not want to encourage the filing of Chapter 7 cases with the intent of seeking extensions of time and later converting to Chapter 13 after such extensions have been granted.
The second reason for the change is that a number of attorneys routinely seek multiple extensions of time and often mischaracterize initial case filings as emergencies when no emergency exists. In many such cases, no lawsuit, garnishment, or foreclosure is pending, and the debtor may have initially met with the attorney many months before the filing. For whatever reason, a decision is made to file the case at a particular time, but the debtor and the attorney are unwilling to put in the time to promptly complete the required documents. Currently, the most frequent reasons given for requests for extensions of time are that a debtor has not provided required information or that the debtor and the attorney have not found a convenient time to meet to review and sign the documents. Neither reason will now be sufficient to justify the granting of additional time.
All proposed Chapter 13 plans must be clearly labeled as Chapter 13 Plan or as First, Second, Third (and so forth) Amended Plan. Every proposed plan must be signed and dated. See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 3015(c), 9011. Plans and amended plans which do not meet these basic requirements may be stricken without further notice.
The Clerk of Court will send a copy of the original plan to all creditors and parties in interest with a notice scheduling an objection or hearing date. Accordingly, debtors do not need to include a certificate of service when filing the original plan.
The practice of the Clerk of Court sending copies of amended plans is discontinued as of December 1, 2017. Beginning December 1, 2017, debtors must serve all amended plans in accordance with the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure themselves and file a certificate of service. The Clerk will send a notice scheduling an objection or hearing date to all creditors and parties in interest.
Chapter 13 plans may contain provisions which resolve contested matters. If the creditor subject to such a plan provision is a corporation or insured depository institution, the plan and any notice setting an objection or hearing date regarding confirmation of the plan must be served in accordance with Bankruptcy Rule 7004. See Service of Pleadings above. Because the Clerk sends the original plan and notices for original and amended plans to creditors, debtors and their attorneys are responsible for including the proper addresses for such creditors on the mailing matrix. If service must be made on a person or entity not on the mailing matrix, debtors and their attorneys must serve both the plan (original or amended) and objection or hearing date notice on the creditor themselves and file a certificate of service evidencing compliance with Bankruptcy Rule 7004. The Clerk never sends notices by certified mail and, accordingly, to the extent service by that method is required, debtors and their attorneys will always be required to make that service themselves and file a certificate of service.
After a plan has been confirmed, it may be modified by motion. See 11 U.S.C. §1329. Motions to Modify must also be signed and dated. See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 3015(c), 9011. Motions to Modify which do not meet these basic requirements may be stricken without further notice.
The Clerk of Court will send a copy of the Motion to Modify to all creditors and parties in interest with a notice scheduling an objection or hearing date. Accordingly, debtors do not need to include a certificate of service when filing a Motion to Modify. Again, the Clerk serves only the mailing matrix and, accordingly, to the extent a Motion to Modify seeks relief as to a corporation or insured depository institution, debtors and their attorneys are required to make sure that service of the Motion and notice of the objection or hearing date is properly effectuated and must file a certificate of service evidencing compliance with Bankruptcy Rule 7004.
Motions and other pleadings which are deficient in that they fail to meet the minimum requirements of the Bankruptcy Code and Rules or this Court’s standing orders may be stricken. Likewise, as set forth herein, motions and other pleadings which are not properly served may be stricken.
The striking of a pleading based on such defects is without prejudice to the refiling of a new motion or pleading seeking the same relief requested in the stricken pleading. The filing of a deficient pleading which is stricken, however, does not extend deadlines previously set by the Code, Rules, or court order. Filing fees paid for stricken pleadings are not refundable.
Debtors (or debtors-in-possession) who want to sell property of the estate must file a detailed motion pursuant to §363(b). If a sale is to be free and clear of liens, the motion must comply with the requirements of §363(f). The specific liens subject to the motion and the basis for selling free and clear as to each particular lien, i.e. the applicable subsection of §363(f), must be identified. A Notice of Intent to Sell must also be submitted which complies with the requirements of Bankruptcy Rule 2002(c)(1). A sample Notice of Intent can be found in the Forms section of this website. Motions to Sell with the accompanying Notice of Intent must be filed not less than 30 days before an intended sale to ensure that sufficient notice can be provided to all parties in interest. Motions filed on weekends or late in the day will not be processed until the next business day, so movants should plan accordingly. Motions to shorten notice may be filed but generally are not favored.
Debtors must obtain authority to employ brokers or auctioneers before a sale can be authorized. No order authorizing a sale will be signed unless all professionals involved in the sale have been properly employed. After a sale, applications for compensation of the professionals involved should be filed. Applications for compensation must be served on the entire mailing matrix. Applications for compensation may not be combined with Reports of Sale.
A Report of Sale per Bankruptcy Rule 6004(f)(1) must be filed for every sale. Service must be made on the U.S. Trustee and standing or case trustee. Orders are not required and will not be entered approving Reports of Sale. Because the Clerk traces for Reports of Sale to be filed, if a previously authorized sale does not close, a report of “no sale” should be filed.
Motion to Extend or Impose the Stay
Motions to extend the stay are filed pursuant to §362(c)(3). Generally, when a debtor has had one prior case dismissed within the one year period before the filing of the current case, the automatic stay terminates thirty days after the case filing. The stay may be extended by the filing of a motion by a party in interest and upon a demonstration that the current case was filed in good faith. See 11 U.S.C. §362(c)(3).
Motions to impose the stay are filed pursuant to §362(c)(4). Generally, when a debtor has had two or more cases dismissed within one year before the filing of the current case, the automatic stay does not come into effect upon the case filing. The stay may be imposed by the filing of a motion by a party in interest and upon a demonstration that the current case was filed in good faith. See 11 U.S.C. §362(c)(4).
Every motion filed to extend or to impose the stay must contain the case number and date of dismissal of the debtor’s prior case or cases dismissed within one year. And every motion must contain a detailed statement of the facts demonstrating that the current case was filed in good faith. Statutory presumptions exist that subsequent filings are not filed in good faith and particular attention should be paid to the factors that give rise to the presumptions. See 11 U.S.C. §362(c)(3)(C), (4)(D).
Every motion to extend or impose the stay must be served on the entire mailing matrix. A motion to extend or to impose the stay will not be processed until a complete certificate of service has been filed.
Motions to extend the stay must be heard within thirty days of the case filing. See 11 U.S.C. §362(c)(3)(B). A motion to extend the stay should be filed on the same day as the case is filed in order to allow time to serve the motion and a notice of objection date or hearing date on all creditors and parties in interest. When motions to extend the stay are timely filed and contain all of the relevant information described above, every effort will be made to set an objection date and a contingent hearing date to be used only in the event objections to the motion are actually filed. In most cases, however, in order to meet the thirty-day deadline, motions to extend the stay will be set for hearing without an objection date also being set. And due to the limited number of available hearing dates in Urbana, some Urbana motions will be set in Springfield. Debtors must attend the hearing on a motion to extend the stay.
Motions to impose the stay must be filed within thirty days of the filing of the current case but the hearing may occur at a later date. See 11 U.S.C. §362(c)(4)(B). All motions to impose the stay will be set for hearing. Debtors must attend the hearing on a motion to impose the stay.
Chapter 7 Case Trustees Notice of Compromise
Chapter 7 Case Trustees Interim and Supplemental Distribution
Chapter 7 Case Trustees Notice of Intent to Sell
Chapter 7 Case Trustees Self Noticing Events
Chapter 7 Case Trustees Noticing Clarification
Chapter 7 Case Trustees Self Noticing Events Additions
Memo re: Chapter 7 Trustee Procedures
Attachment re: proposed rule amendments
Change in Procedures for Filing Applications for Compensation of Professionals - Springfield and Urbana Chapter 7 cases