Local Rules

BLR 1001-1 Title

These are the Local Rules of Practice for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia. They may be cited as BLR.

A debtor filing a motion to redeem property pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 722 and Bankruptcy Rule 6008 or to avoid a lien on exempt property pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 522 and Bankruptcy Rule 4003(d) shall attach thereto:

(a) a notice substantially complying with the forms attached at the conclusion of these Rules as Forms 6008-1(A) or 6008-1(B), as appropriate; and

(b) a Certificate of Service signed by the party or the party's attorney that the respondent has been served with copies of the motion and of the aforesaid notice in the manner provided by Bankruptcy Rule 9014. The Certificate of Service shall include the name and address of all persons who have been served.

The respondent shall file a response to a motion under BLR 6008-1 within 21 days of the date of service and serve a copy of same on movant. If no response is timely filed and served, the motion will be deemed unopposed and the Bankruptcy Court may enter an order granting the relief sought. If the motion is timely controverted, the Bankruptcy Court may schedule a hearing on notice to the movant and respondent or order such other proceedings as may be appropriate.

(a) Omission of Response Date on Summons. Failure of a party or attorney for a party to state the correct response time on a summons or notice of lawsuit and request for waiver of service of summons attached to a complaint, third-party complaint, or any other pleading that requires a summons shall constitute grounds for dismissal of the action without prejudice.

(b) Failure to Effectuate Service of Process. In accordance with Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Bankruptcy Court may, with notice to the party on whose behalf service was required, dismiss the action without prejudice as to any defendant not served within 120 days after the filing of the complaint.

(c) Failure to Update Office Address and Number. The failure of counsel for a party or of a party appearing pro se to keep the Bankruptcy Clerk's office informed of any change in address or telephone number which causes a delay or otherwise adversely affects the management of the case shall constitute grounds either for dismissal of the action without prejudice or for entry of a default judgment.

The person serving process in an adversary proceeding or serving a motion initiating a contested matter with regard to which service on an opposing party is required shall make proof of service thereof promptly to the Bankruptcy Court in accordance with the Bankruptcy Rules. The Certificate of Service must include the name and address of all persons and parties served.

This Rule applies only in adversary proceedings and whenever the Bankruptcy Court makes Part VII of the Bankruptcy Rules applicable in a contested matter.

(a) Briefs; Affidavits. Every motion presented to the Bankruptcy Clerk for filing shall be accompanied by a memorandum of law that cites supporting authority. If allegations of fact not otherwise in the record are relied upon, supporting affidavits must be attached to the memorandum of law.

(b) Motions Pending on Removal. See BLR 9027-1.

(c) Response to Motion. Any party opposing a motion shall file and serve the party's response, responsive memorandum, affidavits, and any other responsive material not later than 14 days after service of the motion, except that the time to respond to a motion for summary judgment shall be 21 days. Failure to file a response shall indicate no opposition to the motion.

(d) Reply. A reply by the movant shall be permitted, but it is not necessary for the movant to file a reply as a routine practice. When the movant deems it necessary to file a reply, the reply must be filed and served not later than 14 days after service of the responsive pleading.

(e) Page and Type Limitations. Absent prior permission of the Bankruptcy Court, briefs filed in support of a motion or in response to a motion are limited in length to 25 pages. If the movant files a reply, the reply brief may not exceed 15 pages.

(f) Hearings. Motions will be decided by the Bankruptcy Court without a hearing, unless a hearing is ordered by the Bankruptcy Court.

(g) Expedited Hearings on Motions. Upon written motion and for good cause shown, the Bankruptcy Court may shorten the time requirements of this Rule or grant an immediate hearing on any matter requiring such expedited procedure. The motion shall set forth in detail the necessity for such expedited procedure.

(h) Effect of Noncompliance. The Bankruptcy Court, in its discretion, may decline to consider any motion or brief that fails to conform to the requirements of these Rules.

This Rule applies (i) in adversary proceedings, unless otherwise ordered by the Bankruptcy Court, and (ii) whenever the Bankruptcy Court makes Part VII of the Bankruptcy Rules applicable in a contested matter, except in categories of proceedings exempt from initial disclosure under Rule 26(a)(1)(E) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

(a) Rule 26(f) Conference and Report.

(1) Within 21 days after the later of the appearance of the first defendant by answer or motion or the removal of a proceeding to the Bankruptcy Court, all unrepresented parties and counsel for all represented parties shall confer as required by, and for the purposes of, Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and to discuss scheduling matters as set forth in Rule 16(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

(2) All unrepresented parties and counsel for all represented parties are jointly responsible for submitting, within 14 days after the Rule 26(f) conference, a written report outlining the discovery plan, addressing any scheduling matters of concern to the parties as set forth in Rule 16(b), and proposing a scheduling order in accordance with Rule 16(b) for consideration by the Bankruptcy Court. Form 7016 may be used for the proposed scheduling order.

(3) If one or more parties or their counsel fails or refuses to cooperate in the scheduling of the Rule 26(f) conference and in the preparation and filing of the report as set forth above, the other parties shall file appropriate joint or separate reports.

(4) In lieu of submitting the Rule 26(f) report and proposed scheduling order, the parties may submit a written stipulation stating that the parties have agreed to waive initial disclosures otherwise required by Rule 26(a)(1), that no departures from the standard discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and these Rules are required in the proceeding, that discovery shall begin on the day after the last day for the Rule 26(f) conference specified above, and that the parties agree to a scheduling order in accordance with paragraph (b) of this Rule. The failure of the parties to timely comply with the provisions of this Rule shall be deemed to be such a stipulation, unless the Bankruptcy Court orders otherwise for cause shown.

(b) Scheduling Order.

(1) Following receipt of the report required by paragraph (a), the Bankruptcy Court will enter an appropriate scheduling order. A conference will be held only if directed by the Bankruptcy Court.

(2) If the parties submit a written stipulation as set forth in paragraph (a)(4) of this Rule or fail to timely comply with the provisions of paragraph (a)(4), then, unless the Bankruptcy Court orders otherwise, no separate scheduling order shall be entered and:

(A) Discovery shall commence on the 21st day after the later of the appearance of the first defendant by answer or motion or the removal of a proceeding to the Bankruptcy Court ;

(B) Motions to join other parties or to amend the pleadings must be filed within 30 days of the beginning of discovery;

(C) Discovery must be completed within 90 days after the later of the appearance of the first defendant by answer or motion or the removal of a proceeding to the Bankruptcy Court, unless the Bankruptcy Court orders otherwise in accordance with BLR 7026-2; and

(D) BLR 7026-2(c) applies with regard to expert witnesses.

This schedule shall not be modified except upon a showing of good cause and by leave of the Bankruptcy Court.

In all adversary proceedings other than those covered in BLR 7016-2 and whenever the Bankruptcy Court makes Part VII of the Bankruptcy Rules applicable in contested matters, the parties shall file a proposed pretrial order in accordance with this Rule, unless the Bankruptcy Judge to whom the proceeding is assigned directs that a proposed pre-trial order not be filed or directs that it be prepared in a different manner.

(a) Procedure. The parties shall prepare and sign a proposed consolidated pretrial order to be filed with the Bankruptcy Clerk no later than 30 days after the close of discovery. It shall be the responsibility of plaintiff's counsel to contact defense counsel to arrange a date for the conference necessary to prepare the pretrial order. If issues arise on which counsel for the parties cannot agree, the areas of disagreement must be set forth in the proposed pretrial order. In those cases in which a pending motion for summary judgment exists, the time for filing the pretrial order shall automatically be suspended until 30 days after the Bankruptcy Court has ruled on the motion for summary judgment, unless otherwise ordered by the Bankruptcy Court. If counsel desire a pretrial conference, a request must be indicated on the proposed pretrial order immediately below the adversary proceeding number. Counsel will be notified if the Bankruptcy Judge determines that a pretrial conference is necessary. A case shall be presumed ready for trial after the pretrial order is entered unless another time is specifically set by the Bankruptcy Court.

(b) Content. Each proposed consolidated pretrial order shall contain the information outlined below. No modifications or deletions shall be made without the prior permission of the Bankruptcy Judge. The proposed order shall contain:

(1) A statement of any pending motions or other matters.

(2) A statement that, unless otherwise noted, discovery has been completed. Counsel will not be permitted to file any further motions to compel discovery. The parties shall, however, be permitted to take the depositions of any persons for the preservation of evidence and for use at trial if doing so will not delay the trial.

(3) A statement as to the correctness of the names of the parties and their capacity and as to any issue of misjoinder or non-joinder of parties.

(4) A statement as to any question of the Bankruptcy Court's jurisdiction and the statutory basis of jurisdiction.

(5) The individual names, addresses, and telephone numbers of lead counsel for each party.

(6) A brief description, including style and case number of any pending related litigation, including any related pending adversary proceedings.

(7) An outline of plaintiff's case, which shall include:

(A) A succinct factual statement of plaintiff's cause of action which shall neither be argumentative nor recite evidence.

(B) A separate listing of all Bankruptcy Rules and statutes as well as any other Rules, regulations, statutes, ordinances, and illustrative case law relied upon by plaintiff.

(C) A separate statement for each item of damage claimed containing a brief description of the item of damage, dollar amount claimed, and citation to the law, Rule, regulation, or any decision authorizing a recovery for that particular item of damage. Items of damage not identified in this manner shall not be recoverable.

(8) An outline of defendant's case, which shall include:

(A) A succinct factual summary of defendant's general, special, and affirmative defenses, which shall neither be argumentative nor recite evidence.

(B) A separate listing of all Bankruptcy Rules and statutes as well as any other Rules, regulations, statutes, ordinances; and illustrative case law creating a defense relied upon by defendant.

(C) A separate statement for each item of damage claimed in a counterclaim, which shall contain a brief description of the item of damage, the dollar amount claimed, and citation to the law, Rule, regulation, or any decision which authorizes a recovery for that particular item of damage. Items of damage not identified in this manner shall not be recoverable.

(9) Any objection by the defendant to the outline of the plaintiff's case.

(10) Any objection by the plaintiff to the outline of the defendant's case.

(11) A listing of stipulated facts. It is the duty of counsel to cooperate fully with each other to identify all undisputed facts. A refusal to do so may result in the imposition of sanctions upon the non-cooperating counsel.

(12) A statement of the legal issues to be tried.

(13) A separate listing for each party of the witnesses (and their addresses) whom that party will or may have present at trial, including impeachment and rebuttal witnesses whose use can or should have been reasonably anticipated. A representation that a witness will be called may be relied upon by other parties unless notice is given 14 days prior to trial to permit other parties to subpoena the witness or obtain his testimony by other means. Witnesses not included on the witness list will not be permitted to testify.

(14) Documentary and Physical Evidence:

(A) A separate, typed, serially numbered listing, beginning with 1 and without the inclusion of any alphabetical or numerical subparts, of each party's documentary and physical evidence. Adequate space must be left on the left margin of each list for Bankruptcy Court stamping purposes. A courtesy copy of each party's list must be submitted for use by the Bankruptcy Judge. Learned treatises which counsel expect to use at trial shall not be admitted as exhibits, but must be separately listed on the party's exhibit list.

(B) Prior to trial, counsel shall affix to each exhibit stickers numbered to correspond with the party's exhibit list. Plaintiffs shall use yellow stickers; defendants shall use blue stickers; and white stickers shall be used on joint exhibits. The surname of a party must be shown on the numbered sticker when there are either multiple plaintiffs or multiple defendants.

(C) A separate, typed listing of each party's objections to the exhibits of another party. The objections shall be attached to the exhibit list of the party against whom the objections are raised. Objections as to authenticity, privilege, competency, and, to the extent possible, relevancy of the exhibits shall be included. Any listed document to which an objection is not raised shall be deemed to have been stipulated as to authenticity by the parties, and such documents will be admitted at trial without further proof of authenticity.

(D) A statement of any objections to the use at trial of copies of documentary evidence.

(E) Documentary and physical exhibits may not be submitted by counsel after filing of the pretrial order, except upon consent of all the parties or permission of the Bankruptcy Court. Exhibits so admitted must be numbered, inspected by counsel, and marked with stickers prior to trial.

(F) Counsel shall familiarize themselves with all exhibits (and the numbering thereof) prior to trial. Counsel will not be afforded time during trial to examine exhibits that are or should have been listed herein.

(15) A listing of all persons whose testimony at trial will be given by deposition and designation of the portions of each person's deposition which will be introduced. Objections not filed by the date on which the case is first scheduled for trial shall be deemed waived or abandoned. Extraneous and unnecessary matters, including non-essential colloquy of counsel, shall not be permitted to be read into evidence.

(16) Any trial briefs which counsel may wish to file containing citations to legal authority on evidentiary questions and other legal issues. Briefs must be limited to 25 pages unless leave to exceed the limit is granted by the Bankruptcy Court in advance. No brief will be considered that does not comply. Any brief in excess of 15 pages shall be indexed.

(17) Third-party claimants, crossclaimants and those asserting counterclaims shall furnish the same information with respect to their claims; however, duplication of matters already covered is not required.

(18) Counsel are directed to submit a statement of proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law no later than the opening of trial.

(19) A statement of the date on which counsel met personally to discuss settlement, whether the Bankruptcy Court has discussed settlement with counsel, and the likelihood of settlement of the case at this time.

(20) A statement of each party's estimate in hours of the time required to present that party's evidence and an estimate of the total trial time.

(21) Any request for a pretrial conference prior to trial.

(22) The following paragraph shall be included at the close of each proposed pretrial order above the signature line for the Bankruptcy Judge: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the above constitutes the pretrial order for the above captioned case (__) submitted by stipulation of the parties or (__) approved by the Bankruptcy Court after conference with the parties. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the foregoing, including the attachments thereto, constitutes the pretrial order in the above case and that it supersedes the pleadings which are hereby amended to conform hereto and that this pretrial order shall not be amended except by Order of the Bankruptcy Court, to prevent manifest injustice. IT IS SO ORDERED this _____ day of ____, 20__.

(23) The signatures of lead counsel for each party on the last page below the Bankruptcy Judge's signature.

In all adversary proceedings in which the parties have demanded a jury trial, whether to be tried upon consent in the Bankruptcy Court or in the District Court, each proposed consolidated pretrial order shall contain the information outlined below. No modifications or deletions shall be made without the prior permission of the Bankruptcy Court. A form Pretrial Order prepared by the District Court and which counsel shall be required to use is contained in LR 84.1D, Appendix B, Form III. The proposed order shall contain:

(1) A statement of any pending motions or other matters.

(2) A statement that, unless otherwise noted, discovery has been completed. Counsel will not be permitted to file any further motions to compel discovery. Depositions for the preservation of evidence and for use at trial will be permitted, if doing so will not delay the trial.

(3) A statement as to the correctness of the names of the parties and their capacity and as to any issue of misjoinder or non-joinder of parties.

(4) A statement as to any question of the Court's jurisdiction and the statutory basis of jurisdiction.

(5) The individual names, addresses, and telephone numbers of lead counsel for each party.

(6) A brief description, including style and case number of any pending related litigation, including any related pending adversary proceedings.

(7) A statement as to whether the case is to be tried to a jury, to the Court without a jury, or that the right to trial by jury is disputed.

(8) An expression of the parties' preference, supported by reasons, for a unified or bifurcated trial.

(9) A joint listing of the questions which the parties wish the Court to propound to the jurors concerning their legal qualifications to serve.

(10) A listing by each party of requested general voir dire questions to the jurors. The Court will question prospective jurors as to their address and occupation and as to the occupation of a spouse, if any. Follow-up questions by counsel may be permitted. The determination of whether the Judge or counsel will propound general voir dire questions is a matter of courtroom policy which shall be established by each Judge.

(11) A statement of each party's objections, if any, to another party's general voir dire questions.

(12) A statement of the reasons supporting a party's request, if any, for peremptory challenges in addition to those allowed by 28 U.S.C. § 1870.

(13) A brief description, including style and civil action number, of any pending related litigation.

(14) An outline of plaintiff's case, which shall include:

(A) A succinct factual statement of plaintiff's cause of action, which shall be neither argumentative nor recite evidence.

(B) A separate listing of all Rules, regulations, statutes, ordinances, and illustrative case law creating a specific legal duty relied upon by plaintiff.

(C) A separate listing of each and every act of negligence relied upon in negligence cases.

(D) A separate statement for each item of damage claimed, containing a brief description of the item of damage, dollar amount claimed, and citation to the law, Rule, regulation, or any decision authorizing a recovery for that particular item of damage. Items of damage not identified in this manner shall not be recoverable.

(15) An outline of defendant's case, which shall include:

(A) A succinct factual summary of defendant's general, special, and affirmative defenses which shall be neither argumentative nor recite evidence.

(B) A separate listing of all Rules, regulations, statutes, ordinances, and illustrative case law creating a defense relied upon by defendant.

(C) A separate statement for each item of damage claimed in a counterclaim, which shall contain a brief description of the item of damage, the dollar amount claimed, and citation to the law, Rule, regulation, or any decision which authorizes a recovery for that particular item of damage. Items of damage not identified in this manner shall not be recoverable.

(16) A listing of stipulated facts which may be read into evidence at trial. It is the duty of counsel to cooperate fully with each other to identify all undisputed facts. A refusal to do so may result in the imposition of sanctions upon the non-cooperating counsel.

(17) A statement of the legal issues to be tried.

(18)    (A) A separate listing, by each party, of all witnesses (and their addresses) whom that party will or may have present at trial, including expert (any witness who might express an opinion under Rule 702), impeachment and rebuttal witnesses whose use can or should have been reasonably anticipated. Each party shall also attach to the party's list a reasonably specific summary of the expected testimony of each expert witness.

(B) A representation that a witness will be called may be relied upon by other parties unless notice is given 14 days prior to trial to permit other parties to subpoena the witness or obtain the witness' testimony by other means.

(C) Witnesses not included on the witness list will not be permitted to testify, unless expressly authorized by Court order based upon a showing that the failure to comply was justified. The attorneys may not reserve the right to add witnesses.

(19)    (A) A separate, typed, serially numbered listing, beginning with 1 and without the inclusion of any alphabetical or numerical subparts, of each party's documentary and physical evidence. Adequate space must be left on the left margin of each list for Bankruptcy Court stamping purposes. A courtesy copy of each party's list must be submitted for use by the Judge. Learned treatises which counsel expect to use at trial shall not be admitted as exhibits, but must be separately listed on the party's exhibit list.

(B) Prior to trial, counsel shall affix to each exhibit stickers numbered to correspond with the party's exhibit list. Plaintiffs shall use yellow stickers; defendants shall use blue stickers; and white stickers shall be used on joint exhibits. The surname of a party must be shown on the numbered sticker when there are either multiple plaintiffs or multiple defendants.

(C) A separate, typed listing of each party's objections to the exhibits of another party. The objections shall be attached to the exhibit list of the party against whom the objections are raised. Objections as to authenticity, privilege, competency, and, to the extent possible, relevancy of the exhibits shall be included. Any listed document to which an objection is not raised shall be deemed to have been stipulated as to authenticity by the parties, and such documents will be admitted at trial without further proof of authenticity.

(D) A statement of any objections to the use at trial of copies of documentary evidence.

(E) Documentary and physical exhibits may not be submitted by counsel after filing of the pretrial order, except upon consent of all the parties or permission of the Court. Exhibits so admitted must be numbered, inspected by counsel, and marked with stickers prior to trial.

(F) Counsel shall familiarize themselves with all exhibits (and the numbering thereof) prior to trial. Counsel will not be afforded time during trial to examine exhibits that are or should have been listed herein.

(20) A listing of all persons whose testimony at trial will be given by deposition and designation of the portions of each person's deposition which will be introduced. Objections not filed by the date on which the case is first scheduled for trial shall be deemed waived or abandoned. Extraneous and unnecessary matters, including non-essential colloquy of counsel, shall not be permitted to be read into evidence. No depositions shall be permitted to go out with the jury.

(21) Any trial briefs which counsel may wish to file containing citations to legal authority on evidentiary questions and other legal issues. Limitations, if any, regarding the format and length of trial briefs is a matter of individual practice which shall be established by each Judge.

(22) Counsel are directed to prepare, in accordance with LR 51.1, a list of all requests to charge in jury trials. These charges shall be filed no later than 9:30 a.m. on the date the case is calendared (or specially set) for trial. A short (one page or less) statement of the party's contentions must be attached to the requests. Requests should be drawn from the latest edition of the Eleventh Circuit District Judges Association's Pattern Jury Instructions and Devitt and Blackmar's Federal Jury Practice and Instructions whenever possible. In other instances, only the applicable legal principle from a cited authority should be requested.

(23) A proposed verdict form if counsel desire that the case be submitted to the jury in a manner other than upon general verdict.

(24) A statement of any requests for time for argument in excess of 30 minutes per side as a group and the reasons for the request.

(25) Counsel are directed to submit a statement of proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in nonjury cases, which must be submitted no later than the opening of trial.

(26) A statement of the date on which lead counsel and persons possessing settlement authority to bind the parties met personally to discuss settlement, whether the Court has discussed settlement with counsel, and the likelihood of settlement of the case at this time.

(27) A statement of any requests for a special setting of the case.

(28) A statement of each party's estimate in hours of the time required to present that party's evidence and an estimate of the total trial time.

(29) The following paragraph shall be included at the close of each proposed pretrial order above the signature line for the Judge.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the above constitutes the pretrial order for the above captioned case (__) submitted by stipulation of the parties or (__) approved by the Court after conference with the parties.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the foregoing, including the attachments thereto, constitutes the pretrial order in the above case and that it supersedes the pleadings which are hereby amended to conform hereto and that this pretrial order shall not be amended except by Order of the Court, to prevent manifest injustice. Any attempt to reserve a right to amend or add to any part of the pretrial order after the pretrial order has been filed shall be invalid and of no effect and shall not be binding upon any party or the Court, unless specifically authorized in writing by the Court.

IT IS SO ORDERED this _____ day of ____, 20__.

(30) The signatures of lead counsel for each party on the last page below the judge's signature.

Failure to comply with the Bankruptcy Court's pretrial instructions may result in the imposition of sanctions, including dismissal of the case or entry of a default judgment.

In adversary proceedings that are not in a category of proceedings exempt from initial disclosure under Rule 26(a)(1)(E) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or unless otherwise ordered by the Bankruptcy Court, the Rule 26(f) conference shall be held in accordance with BLR 7016-1. Further provisions with regard to the Rule 26(f) conference are set forth in BLR 7016-1.

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