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COVID-19 Court Operations Update of August 31st, 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida continues to monitor the national response to the respiratory illness caused by the novel Coronavirus Disease known as COVID-19. This is a very fluid situation, and the information provided below will be adjusted accordingly.

Please review this page regularly for updates. Updates are indicated within the table of contents section of this page and may also be accessed via RSS feed and GovDelivery. 

 

Operational Status of the Court

  • Open (Working Remotely)

 

Courthouse Access (UPDATED 8/31/2020)

  • All Northern District of Florida courthouses are open to the public. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth are required to be worn by all people in all public spaces. Bankruptcy Court Intake counters remain closed due to COVID-19 concerns. Court hearings will be conducted remotely unless otherwise noticed. The Clerk’s Office will continue to work and provide service remotely.

 

Operational Status of Clerk’s Office Staff (UPDATED 7/16/2020)

  • Working Remotely with a Skeleton Crew in the Tallahassee Office
  • For assistance, please call 866-639-4615.
  • Email CMECF_HelpDesk@flnb.uscourts.gov or call 866-639-4615 for CM/ECF assistance.
  • Utilize McVCIS at 866-222-8029 for automated case information. Select 1 for English or 2 for Spanish. Select the Court Code 11 for the Florida Northern Bankruptcy Court.

 

Administrative Orders Related to COVID-19 (UPDATED 8/12/2020)

The following Administrative Orders related to COVID-19 have been entered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida (designated “AO”) and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida (designated by case number 4:95mc40111):

  • AO 20-003 Dated 3/16/2020: Implementing Procedures for COVID-19 Outbreak (All hearings held telephonically via CourtCall)
  • AO 20-004 Dated 3/17/2020: Regarding Extension of Deadlines in Connection with Postponement of Section 341 Meetings
  • AO 20-005 Dated 3/20/2020: Temporarily Modifying the Means of Filing Pleadings by Self-Represented Parties
  • Amended AO 20-005 Dated 6/19/2020: Temporarily Modifying the Means of Filing Pleadings by Self-Represented Parties and Addressing Clerk’s Office Intake Availability
  • AO 20-006 Dated 3/20/2020: Temporarily Suspending Requirement for Attorneys to Obtain and Retain Original Signatures from Debtors for Electronic Filings
  • AO 20-007 Dated 4/21/2020: Adopting CARES Act ("Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act") Changes to Interim Bankruptcy Rule 1020
  • District Court Order 4:95mc40111 (Doc. 343) Closing Courthouses to the Public (with some exceptions)
  • District Court Order 4:95mc40111 (Doc. 359) Reopening Courthouses
  • District Court Order 4:95mc40111 (Doc. 362) Requiring Face Coverings to be Worn in All Public Courthouse Space
  • District Court Order 4:95mc40111 (Doc. 363) Closing the Winston E. Arnow Federal Building until further notice. (Note that the Bankruptcy Clerk's Office is still accepting filings via CM/ECF and, for self-represented parties, fax, email, and mail.)
  • District Court Order 4:95mc40111 (Doc. 364) Reopening the Winston E. Arnow Federal Building in Pensacola, Florida.
  • District Court Order 4:95mc40111 (Doc. 365) re taking proactive measures to slow the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of Court staff, litigants, counsel, grand jurors, petit jurors, witnesses, and the public and requiring any occupant or courthouse visitor who tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of entering a courthouse in the Northern District of Florida, to immediately provide notice, directly or through an appropriate representative (e.g., other nonjudiciary federal employer, family member), to the Court so that the Court may follow CDC recommendations.

 

Hearings

All hearings will be conducted using CourtCall pursuant to Administrative Order 20-003, unless otherwise directed by the Court. Attorneys shall advise their clients NOT to appear at the courthouse.

 

CourtCall

  • Rates
    • Temporarily reduced for attorneys.
    • Temporarily free for self-represented parties.
    • Visit www.courtcall.com for more information.

 

  • Contact Numbers
    • 866-582-6878 or 888-882-6878

 

  • Reservations
    • Reserve by phone no later than 3:00 p.m. on the business day preceding the date of the hearing.
    • Future appearances should be scheduled by email at Assist@CourtCall.com.

 

Electronic Filing Options 

                Attorneys

  • Continue to utilize CM/ECF for e-filings and online payments.

 

    Self-Represented Debtors

  • Payments by Mail
    • Cashier’s checks or money orders only – DO NOT MAIL CASH
    • Mail to: Office of the Clerk of Court 110 East Park Avenue, Suite 100, Tallahassee, Florida 32301. (Payable to Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court)
    • Payments will NOT be processed in the Pensacola Division.
  • How to File Documents Pursuant to Amended Administrative Order 20-005
  • Emailed Documents – Instructions
    • Email Subject Line: Include your Case Number (if assigned) and Name.
    • Email Body Content: In accordance with Amended AO 20-005, the Court will not consider content within the body of the email.
    • Email Attachments: Portable Document Format (PDF) only. Each document emailed for filing must be saved as a separate PDF file. 
    • File Names: Use all or a portion of the document title and the case number (if assigned).  Example: Motion_19-00001.
    • Email Size: The total size of each email to the Court cannot exceed 40 MB, including the email, signature graphics (if applicable), and all attachments. You may send documents to the Clerk’s Office via separate emails if you find that your email size is too large. Be sure to add “Part __ of __” to the email subject line. Example Subject Line: 20-00001 John Doe (Part 1 of 2).
    • Large Files: If a PDF file is very large, you may break the document up into two or more separate PDF files. Please note the part number of the file as part of the file name. Example: Motion_19-00001_Part1of3.pdf.  Files may be sent via multiple emails. See the preceding bullet point for email subject line information.

 

Electronic Record Retrieval Options

The Court provides computer terminals for public use in the lobbies of each courthouse to access filed documents and reports via PACER. If you are unable to access this resource due to courthouse closures, then you are encouraged to register for your own PACER account.  Registration is free, and you can access court records from any type of device with an internet connection. To register:

  • Access PACER at https://www.pacer.gov
  • Click the “Registration” tab at the top of the screen
  • Select the “View” account option
  • Follow onscreen directions

For immediate access to court records through PACER, provide a credit card during the registration process. In the alternative, if you are unable to provide a credit card, an activation code will be sent by U.S. Mail to the address you provide on the registration form. Allow 7-10 business days for mail delivery.

Fees are calculated at a rate of 10 cents per page. For PDF documents, each page of a single PDF document will cost 10 cents until you reach 30 pages ($3.00). Every page after the 30th page for that same document is free. The page count starts over for each PDF document accessed. On-screen reports are charged based on a certain number of lines per page. Refer to the PACER website for details about report and audio recording charges.

No fee is owed for electronic access to court data via PACER until an account holder exceeds a total charge of $30 in a quarterly billing cycle. In addition, access to judicial opinions is always free.

Please Contact Us if you believe you will exceed the $30 per quarter waived (free) PACER fee or need assistance with accessing court records.
 

 

Emergency Filings

Contact the Clerk’s Office in advance of filing at 866-639-4615.

 

U.S. Trustee Program Updates (UPDATED 8/31/2020)

Section 341 Meetings and Chapter 11 Initial Debtor Interviews

The U.S. Trustee Program announced on August 28, 2020 that they have 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.

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.

See the notice located at https://www.justice.gov/ust-regions-r21.

 

U.S. Trustee Program (USTP) Notice Regarding Recovery Rebates Under the CARES Act of 2020 

CLICK HERE to read the USTP Notice re funds received as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
 

 

New Resources (UPDATED 8/31/2020)

LSO-9 Local Sample Order Granting Motion for Chapter 11 Discharge is available on the Forms page as of August 20, 2020.

Form Amendments Due to CARES Act: On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). Section 1113 of that legislation made several changes to the Bankruptcy Code, most of them temporary, to provide financial assistance during the coronavirus crisis.

The enactment of the CARES Act requires one-year amendments to five official forms to account for a new definition of “debtor” applicable to subchapter V of chapter 11 and a new exclusion from the definitions of “current monthly income” and “disposable income.” Because the Act took effect immediately upon enactment and its bankruptcy provisions are of limited duration, the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules has exercised the authority delegated to it by the Judicial Conference to make conforming technical changes to five bankruptcy forms (Official Forms 101, 122A-1, 122B, 122C-1, and 201).

Please note:  The new forms are still located on the “Pending Changes in the Bankruptcy Forms” page on the United States Courts website (www.uscourts.gov). They will be moved to the main Bankruptcy Forms page on the uscourts.gov website shortly, as fillable pdfs. 

 

Existing Resource Reminders 

Electronic Bankruptcy Noticing (EBN):   Save valuable employee time by eliminating a portion of their paper mail processing duties. EBN allows case participants to receive notices and orders issued by the court electronically. Visit https://bankruptcynotices.uscourts.gov/ for more information and to register for the program.

United States Trustee Program: Visit the U.S. Department of Justice United States Trustee Program (USTP) website for Region 21 at https://www.justice.gov/ust-regions-r21 for information about the trustee program in general, how the CARES Act is being interpreted by the USTP, information about telephonic meetings, and COVID-19 updates.

 

Websites Containing COVID-19 Information and Updates   

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

www.CDC.gov

Florida Department of Health

(Use the “Counties” dropdown menu at the top of the page for county-specific information.)

http://www.floridahealth.gov/

National Institutes of Health https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus