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a guide for the pro se creditor in a bankruptcy case - District of ...

a guide for the pro se creditor in a bankruptcy case - District of ...

INTRODUCTION The Court

INTRODUCTION The Court has always welcomed those individuals who wish to asset their right without the services of an attorney. The term “pro se” is a Latin adjective meaning "for self", that is applied to someone who represents himself or herself without a lawyer in a court proceeding, whether as a defendant or a plaintiff and whether the matter is civil or criminal. This status is sometimes known as "propria persona" or "pro per". This guide is for individual pro se or self‐represented creditors in bankruptcy cases. The bankruptcy laws are complex and are continuously evolving. Understanding them can prove difficult, and the decisions that must be made are not always as easy as they might appear. For example, there is the decision of whether to challenge a discharge, or to file an adversary proceeding. Many of these questions can best be answered by a competent attorney who understands these complexities. A competent bankruptcy attorney can hear all of the facts about your unique situation and can give you advice and counsel you may rely on. Nevertheless, the Court understands that some individuals will choose to “go it alone.” This manual is prepared for that person: the individual who has made the decision to represent themselves in a bankruptcy case without any legal assistance. While neither the Court nor any employee of the Court can provide legal advice, 1 there are a number of procedural steps in a bankruptcy case that can be complicated. The manual is intended to assist the pro se creditor in navigating those procedural steps. It should not be cited or relied upon as legal authority. The information in this booklet does not substitute the United States Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, or the Local Rules of this Court. In addition, the information in this booklet also does not serve as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel. It is necessarily limited and is intended only as a guide to some basic aspects of bankruptcy law. It does not include all of the controlling law (such as the entire Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, this Court’s Local Bankruptcy Rules, and court decisions). 1 Courts have adopted the policy that employees of the clerk’s office are prohibited from giving legal advice to the public. Courts use 28 U.S.C. § 955 to support this position, reasoning that providing legal advice come within the definition of the “practice” of law prohibited by § 955. ii

Table of Contents Subject Page Number Legal Authority, Statutes and Rules ....................................................................................... 1 Who is a Creditor? .......................................................................................................................... 1 Overview of the Bankruptcy Process from the Creditor’s Perspective ................... 2 A Creditor’s Objections When a Person Files a Bankruptcy Petition ....................... 3 Limited Stay/No Stay ..................................................................................................... 3 Relief from Stay ................................................................................................................ 4 Violations of the Stay ...................................................................................................... 4 Discharge ............................................................................................................................. 4 Working with Professionals ....................................................................................................... 4 Attorneys ............................................................................................................................. 4 Pro se .................................................................................................................................................. 5 Pro se Law Clerk ............................................................................................................................. 6 Getting Started ................................................................................................................................. 7 Filing Documents and Papers.................................................................................................... 7 Case Number ...................................................................................................................... 8 Electronic Filing Access for Creditors ................................................................................... 8 Deadlines ............................................................................................................................................ 9 The Bankruptcy Process .............................................................................................................. 9 Receiving Notices ............................................................................................................. 9 The Trustee ........................................................................................................................ 10 Meeting of Creditors Pursuant to § 341(A) .......................................................... 10 Preparing for the Meeting of Creditors .................................................................. 11 iii

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