Judge Hopkins Policies and Procedures

JEFFERY P. HOPKINS, CHIEF JUDGE
221 East Fourth Street, Atrium Two Suite 800
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(513) 684-2852

 

NOTICE REGARDING E-MAIL NOTIFICATIONS

The procedures outlined herein are subject to changes and/or updates at anytime.

Ex parte Communications
Counsel is reminded that Court staff are unable, both legally and ethically, to engage in
unilateral, or ex parte, communications with creditors or debtors, and/or provide advice
to parties regarding their rights, with respect to a bankruptcy case or proceeding. 
It is inappropriate and considered highly unethical. 
 
The Court does not accept, for filing, documents sent to chambers via either fax or e-mail or letter.  Documents must be filed through the ECF system.
 
Motion Practice
Matters requiring hearing are set, in ordinary course, by the Courtroom Deputy.  When a response, objection or answer, etc. needs to be filed beyond the time frame or required date, it is necessary to file a motion for leave to file out of time.  Follow the motion practice outlined in Local Bankruptcy Rule 9013-1 (available on the Court's website – www.ohsb.uscourts.gov). 
 
Refer to General Order #12 for a list of motions/applications not requiring the 21-day notice.
 
Generally
Trials are set on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Relief from stay dockets are usually set on Monday mornings and Friday mornings.  Chapter 13 Confirmation dockets are usually set on the fourth Tuesday of the month.  Chapter 13 Mega dockets (consisting of hearings on motions to dismiss, motions to suspend/modify, objections to claims, relief from stay, etc.) are usually set on the fourth Wednesday of the month.  Other matters are scheduled as the Court's calendar permits.
 
Motions for Expedited Hearings or to Reduce Response Times - Local Bankruptcy Rule 9073-1 
 
Preferred Procedure for Filing and Notice of Underlying Substantive Motion or Application 
This Court prefers that the underlying substantive motion or application (i) be filed and served as a separate filing at the same time as the motion for expedited hearing or disposition and (ii) in lieu of a twenty-one (21) day notice, contain a conspicuous statement that a motion has been filed requesting an expedited hearing and/or to reduce the response time regarding the underlying substantive motion or application. The time period in which to respond to the underlying substantive motion or application will be set forth in the Court’s order on the motion for expedited hearing or disposition and shall be served as required by Local Bankruptcy Rule 9073-1(b) or as otherwise ordered by the Court. 
 
Obtaining a Hearing Date 
If an expedited hearing is requested, counsel must notify the Courtroom Deputy that a motion has been filed. The Court will review the motion and, if it is granted, the Courtroom Deputy will notify counsel of the date and time of the expedited hearing. Counsel will then submit an order containing the specified hearing date and time. 
 
Service 
Motions for expedited hearing or disposition and any notice and orders relating thereto, together with any underlying substantive filing or other paper, MUST be promptly served as outlined by Local Bankruptcy Rule 9073-1(b) upon all parties affected by the relief. Movant shall file a certificate of service evidencing compliance with Local Bankruptcy Rule 9073-1(b). 
 
Motions to continue automatic stay pursuant to § 362(c)(3)(B)
If the motion to continue automatic stay is filed within five (5) days of the petition filing date, no motion for expedited hearing needs to be filed.  See Local Bankruptcy Rule 4001-1(b). If the motion to continue automatic stay is filed after five days of the petition filing date, then a motion to expedite the hearing and/or shorten notice period must be filed.  The Court issues its own order setting the appropriate dates and requiring service, by the attorney for the debtor, of the order setting the expedited hearing. After the filing of the appropriate certificate of service of the order setting expedited hearing and the expiration of the objection period, the Court will review the matter and may grant the motion without hearing.
 
Continuances
If it becomes necessary to request a continuance, counsel should first contact opposing counsel and solicit his/her agreement.  A motion for continuance should be filed, even if the parties agree,  and should indicate whether or not opposing counsel has agreed to the requested continuance and should state the reason for the continuance.  Upload an order (preferably an agreed order) granting the continuance leaving blanks for the date of the continued hearing.  Counsel should keep in mind, however, that agreement of opposing counsel does not guarantee that a continuance will be granted.  Regarding hearings on motions for relief from stay, no continuances will be granted at the debtor's request without an agreed order.
 
Motions for relief from automatic stay
An order is issued in Chapter 11, 12 and 13 cases which sets the final hearing and sets the last day to file a response.  If no responses are filed by the date specified in the order, the final hearing is AUTOMATICALLY vacated.  If a response is filed beyond the date set out in the order without a motion for leave to file out of time, the creditor may upload an order granting the motion for relief from stay and setting forth that the response was filed untimely.
 
Telephonic Appearances
Telephonic appearances are NOT permitted in evidentiary matters.  Requests to appear at a hearing by telephone should be made by motion and proposed order at least two business days prior to the hearing.  Cell phone usage will NOT be permitted.  Since telephonic appearances are connected to the courtroom's speaker system and the electronic recording equipment, it is necessary that attorneys identify themselves for the record every time he/she speaks.
 
Settlements and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Counsel should not wait until the hearing date to begin settlement negotiations.  If a matter is settled, withdrawn, etc., parties should notify the Court promptly by e-mail at J_Hopkins_Orders@ohsb.uscourts.gov.  This Court maintains an active policy of referring matters that have the potential to settle to one of the other judges on the Court as a mechanism of alternative dispute resolution.  When this occurs, the Court generally issues an order requiring that parties be in attendance at conferences and that the attorneys submit memoranda.  See Local Bankruptcy Rule 9019-2.
 
Chapter 13 Dockets
For Chapter 13 Confirmation dockets as well as the Chapter 13 Mega Dockets, the docket will be posted to the website.  Once posted, counsel for all parties must appear at the hearing even if the matter has been resolved.  This does NOT pertain to any motion for relief from stay hearing.  Relief from stay hearings may be removed from the docket at any time.  It is counsel's responsibility to check the website.
 
Reaffirmations
The Court reviews reaffirmations in conjunction with Schedules I and J.  Make sure the numbers are consistent. If not, provide an explanation for the difference.  If there is a presumption of hardship, make sure a reasonable explanation is provided.  If the Court is not satisfied with the reaffirmation agreement, an order will be issued which will require an amended reaffirmation or which will set a hearing on the matter.
 
Adversaries
Pretrial statements are required in every adversary proceeding after the answer has been filed.  The pretrial statement form is located in the Local Bankruptcy Rules located on the court's website (www.ohsb.uscourts.gov).  Pretrial conferences are conducted in every case after the pretrial statements are filed.  These pretrial conferences are usually conducted by telephone.  Attorneys should make sure that the proper summons has been issued and served and that the certificate of service is docketed.  The Court prefers to wait twenty-one (21) days for objections on motions for default judgment.
 
Discovery
At the pretrial conference, the court sets a cutoff date for discovery. After the cutoff date, the court will not involve itself in discovery disputes. However, the parties are free to continue with discovery beyond the cutoff date on a voluntary basis. The determination of the cutoff date is usually left to the reasonable discretion of the attorneys at the pretrial conference.
 
Trial
After conclusion of the pretrial conference, the court issues an order outlining what needs to be filed and the procedures to do so before the trial date. In general, attorneys should read and follow the orders. Attorneys should pay particular attention in certain cases such as suits to discharge debt under § 523(a)(15).
 
Exhibits
Any exhibits used during the electronic presentation of the exhibit, if admitted into evidence, are to be given to the Courtroom Deputy.