How do I file for relief from the automatic stay?
Once a debtor files bankruptcy, creditors generally can't continue proceedings against them, see 11 U.S.C. § 362(a). There are certain exceptions to this rule, however. In order for a party to continue a legal proceeding against the debtor that has been stayed because of the filing of bankruptcy, the party must first obtain an order from the Bankruptcy Court granting relief from the automatic stay.
In order to obtain relief from the automatic stay to continue collection action against the debtor, the party must file a Motion for Relief from Stay with the Bankruptcy Court and pay the applicable filing fee. [This fee is not required if the moving party is a creditor seeking to collect child support, and the moving party has also filed Official Form B-281]. The motion must be served on the debtor, debtor(s) attorney, case trustee and other creditors and parties in interest. The legal authority for obtaining relief from stay can be found in section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code [11 U.S.C. § 362(d)].
After a motion for relief from stay has been properly noticed and the deadline for objections has expired:
• If no objections to the motion have been filed, the motion will be reviewed by the court.
• If an objection is filed, a hearing will be held before any order granting or denying relief will be entered.
How do I find out which trustee has been assigned to a particular bankruptcy case?
The face page of the case docket contains the name of the trustee in all Chapter 7and 13 cases. Unless the court specifically appoints a trustee in Chapter 11 cases, the debtor operates as a debtor in possession without a trustee. You may obtain the trustee's name by contacting the Court’s Voice Case Information System, VCIS, at (800) 843-2841 or (401) 626-3076. Another method would be to look up case information via the Internet using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Finally, you may also obtain this information by calling the Clerk's office, or by telephoning the local office of the U.S. Trustee. The Court’s website has a link to Trustee information, which gives addresses and telephone numbers of acting trustees.
Who do I notify about a possible bankruptcy fraud?
If you have information about someone who may be committing fraud in a bankruptcy case, you should notify the local Office of the United States Trustee at 10 Dorrance Street, Providence, R.I. 02903 (401-528-5551).
Your letter should contain the following information:
• The bankruptcy case name and file number, together with copies of any pertinent court filings.
• A chronological summary of the matter.
• A narrative of what occurred.
• Names, addresses and telephone numbers (to the extent available) of the subjects and witnesses known to you.
• Copies of any documentation you have to support your complaint of bankruptcy fraud should be included with your letter.
Upon receipt, your letter will be reviewed promptly. If the information it provides establishes a reasonable belief that a criminal violation has occurred, the matter will be referred to the United States Attorney. The United States Attorney will cause the matter to be investigated further by the appropriate law enforcement agency and then will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the alleged bankruptcy fraud.
Is bankruptcy information public information? Can anyone look at it?
The information contained in documents filed in bankruptcy cases are a matter of public record, and can be reviewed by members of the general public. The documents can be reviewed by members of the public in the Clerk's office during regular business hours or, for attorneys and parties who have access to PACER, over the Internet 24 hours a day.
Access to pleadings and papers filed in bankruptcy cases is not restricted unless there is some good basis for "sealing" information that is contained in them. To have a document filed "Under Seal" or "In Camera," a motion must be filed explaining the need to protect the information in that document from public view.
If you are a debtor, you should be aware that the filing of bankruptcy may affect your credit rating. Several reporting agencies report bankruptcy information and statistics to the public, and credit reporting agencies also regularly collect bankruptcy information.
Because bankruptcy information is public, complete social security or account numbers should never appear on documents in their entirety. Where required, include only the last four digits.
How do I obtain information about a case?
Telephone Access: Basic information, such as the debtor or debtor's attorney's name, case number, or the name of the trustee is available on the telephone by calling the VCIS (Voice Case Information System) at (401) 626-3076 or (800) 843-2841. This information is provided free of charge and is available 24 hours a day from any touchtone phone. See the VCIS link on the Court’s web page for further information.
Computer Access: Electronic case summaries, docket information, and viewable copies of all pleadings filed since 1998, may be retrieved via the Internet through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system (PACER). This system requires that you be a registered participant, and there is a fee for access ($0.10 per page, with a page being approximately 50 lines of text). This charge is limited to the first thirty pages of a document or report screen you are running, but is charged each time you open a new document.. For PACER registration information, please see the PACER link on the website. Cases filed prior to 1998, which have been closed, may be archived at the Federal Records Center in Waltham, MA. To determine if a case has been archived, contact the Clerk's office. Records may be obtained directly from the Federal Records Center, but you will need to obtain certain archiving information from the Clerk's office prior to requesting information from the Federal Records Center.
Copies of documents: Court records and documents filed after 1998 have been imaged and can be obtained from the Clerk's office via e-mail or fax at no cost, or through the PACER system. Paper copies may also be obtained for a fee from the Clerk’s office.
What if the case I'm interested in has been archived?
If a case has been archived, there may be some information that is still available through the Clerk's office. You should first check to see what information is available there. If the Clerk's office doesn't have the records you need, the Clerk will provide you with certain archive information, such as accession record retrieval numbers (PACER users may access this information through the PACER system using the query search field, case summary information screen, and can also be found at the website link to FRC information. With this access information, you may call the Federal Records Center at 866-329-6465. Please check the Federal Records Center for information.
For requests sent to the FRC, there is a per document search fee You must be specific about documents you would like provided. Alternatively, you can ask the Clerk's office to have the entire case file returned to Providence for you to review. There is a retrieval fee for this service. The file is sent to the Clerk's office by the FRC and it takes about three (3) to five (5) business days for the file to arrive. The Clerk's office will hold the retrieved case file for 30 days unless a longer period of time is requested. The file can only be reviewed in the Clerk's office; it cannot be removed for copying or viewing at another location.
How do I get certified copies of documents?
You may come to the Clerk's office and request certified copies. There is a printing fee and a certification fee for each document to be certified. Alternatively, if you know the documents you are looking for, you can mail a request to the Clerk's office. Your request must specifically identify the documents you want certified. Be sure to include the case name, case number, filing date and the title of the specific documents which you wish to have certified. In addition, please include your name, address and daytime contact number, so the Clerk can reach you if he/she has any questions about your request.
If you request certified documents by mail, you must include payment for the Clerk's search fee and certification with your request. The payment must be in the form of either a bank cashiers check or a U.S. Postal money order made payable to the Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court. The fees that apply when requesting a certified document by mail include: a per document search fee, a certification fee per document, and a per page photocopy fee. Contact the Clerk’s office if you are unsure of what the total charge for certifying the document will be.
How can I obtain a Transcript or CD of a hearing?
You can visit the Clerk’s office or call to order a transcript. The Clerk will process a transcript order with the approved transcription agencies. You must decide if the transcript will be received by you in the ordinary course of business or on an expedited basis. The court will estimate the cost; however, you must pay the transcription agency directly. For a fee, the court will provide a CD of a hearing.
Does the Bankruptcy Court hold jury trials?
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §157(e), a bankruptcy judge may conduct jury trial in bankruptcy proceedings where the right to a jury trial applies and all parties have consented.
I am a creditor in a Chapter 7 Asset or Chapter 13 case. When can I expect payment?
There is no single answer to this question. Each case is unique and the length of time before you receive a dividend depends on the circumstances of the individual case. After the deadline for filing claims has expired, you should contact the case trustee and inquire as to the time frame for distribution of claim payments to creditors.
I am a creditor in a converted case. Do I need to file another Proof of Claim?
No, once you have filed a proof of claim form with the court, you need not refile the claim after conversion.
I am a child support creditor. How can I determine whether my child support debt is non-dischargeable?
Certain child support debts are excepted from discharge. If you and the debtor disagree, you may, by filing an appropriate Adversary Proceeding Complaint, ask the Court to determine whether your debt is non-dischargeable. It is strongly suggested that you obtain legal assistance to do this.
How do I get admitted to practice before the Rhode Island Bankruptcy Court?
Attorneys admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island are also admitted to practice in the Bankruptcy Court. Contact the United States District Court at (401) 752-7220 for its admission policies.