Changes to Bankruptcy Court rules examined

 By Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News
Norm C. Witte and Matthew Stephens spoke on the rule changes of the Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District, for the Ingham County Bar Association Bankruptcy Section meeting. The event took place at Cooley Law School last month.
Looking at the rules from a “What does it do to me perspective,” Stephens concluded that many of the changes “related to requirements for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in particular,” while others added new material.
Local Bankruptcy Rule (LBR) 1007-2, for example, added a list of documents that must be submitted to the trustee such as federal and state tax returns for the most recent tax year, divorce judgment if divorce occurred within 10 years or information regarding a Domestic Support Obligation.
And, under the rule LBR 1008, it is now required that “original signed documents or authorizations for electronic signature must be retained for five years.”
Other rule changes, Stephens noted, include:
• LBR 2004—In an effort to get parties talking to each other, the rule now states that the parties contact each other to set up an examination of a party in Interest and if they fail to agree, they must notify the court of the efforts made.
• LBR 2016-1—Fees beyond the “no look” fee will not be approved unless the attorney files a formal fee application and submits an itemized statement. In general, no stipulations to the amounts are allowed, however, some courts allow a stipulation for an amount less than $1,000.
• LBR 2030—Interim expenses to preserve assets such as lock changes, insurance, advertisement of sale, etc., if under $1,000, can be paid by the trustee.
• LBR 9013-1—Professional persons employed by the bankruptcy estate must be approved by the court.
Witte established his solo practice of law in Lansing in 1995. His primary areas of practice are bankruptcy, telecommunications law and commercial litigation. Witte graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University. He graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School in 1987.
Stephens joined the firm as an attorney in 2010. Matt is a May 2010 graduate of the Michigan State University College of Law. He earned his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Michigan with highest honors in 2007.