May 13, 2020
After President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020, courts across the United States responded by issuing updated courthouse procedures. The Bankruptcy Courts in the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”), Eastern District of New York (“EDNY”), and District of Delaware were no different. Below is a brief summary of the relevant court procedures for each of these three busy venues.
Southern District of New York
On March 20, 2020, Chief Judge of the SDNY Bankruptcy Courts, Cecelia G. Morris, issued General Order M-543.  Pursuant to this order, the SDNY Bankruptcy Courts announced that “Under the exigent circumstances created by COVID-19,” the Court would: (1) Begin conducting all hearings telephonically across the Manhattan, White Plains, and Poughkeepsie Divisions; (2) Instruct all parties with cases before assigned judges to contact the assigned judge’s chambers to discuss whether the case would proceed as scheduled and what “procedures and technology” were available to conduct evidentiary hearings remotely; and (3) Permit official records to be kept via tools made available by Court Solutions. The order went on to state that “the three Divisions of the Bankruptcy Court will remain open for all other business,” and that the Clerk’s Office personnel would remain available by telephone.
Since General Order M-543, the Court has issued a number of other orders relating to, among other things, debtor appearances, restrictions on visitors to the Courthouses, and the suspension of certain signature requirements. A list of all of the relevant orders concerning the new procedures for the SDNY Bankruptcy Courts, are available at http://www.nysb.uscourts.gov/general-orders-and-guidance-created-covid-19.
Eastern District of New York
The EDNY Bankruptcy Courts have also notified the public that “until further notice, all Bankruptcy Court hearings will be held by telephone or video.”  This Court has also, published “Judge’s Procedures during National Emergency (COVID-19),” which governs all Court procedures during the Pandemic. A full list of the updated court procedures is available at https://www.nyeb.uscourts.gov/sites/nyeb/files/Judges_Uniform_Procedures.pdf.
To note, both telephone and video appearances are available for the Courthouse locations in Brooklyn and Central Islip. Both remote appearance options however, must be requested in advance. Telephone appearances must be requested by email or call to the Courtroom Deputy Clerk, at least two business days prior to the scheduled hearing date. Video appearances must be requested in the same manner, but at least seven days prior to a hearing date, if the party is within the district, and fourteen days prior to the hearing date if the party is outside of the district. The updated Judges Procedures also make clear, that both remote appearance requests, either by telephone or video, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
District of Delaware
Chief Judge of the District of Delaware Bankruptcy Courts, Christopher S. Sontchi, issued a first General Order concerning updated Courthouse procedures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 16, 2020.  Pursuant to that order, all scheduled hearings, which were “not time sensitive,” were continued to on or before April 15, 2020. The Order also stated that each presiding judge would determine whether hearings were time sensitive, on a case by case basis, and that all hearings held prior to April 15, 2020, would be held telephonically and/or by video. Since that Order, two Amended Orders were issued that continued all hearings that are not time sensitive to May 18, 2020, and have extended the availability of telephone and video conferencing to the same date. A list of all the other relevant notices and orders governing the Court’s updated procedures, is available at https://www.deb.uscourts.gov/covid-19.
If you have any questions concerning bankruptcy-related matters, please contact Alan E. Gamza at (212) firstname.lastname@example.org or Jessica K. Bonteque at (212) email@example.com.
The full text of General Order M-543, is available at http://www.nysb.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/m543.pdf.
The full text of the General Order is available at http://www.deb.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/news/General%20Order.pdf.