News from the Bankruptcy Court — District of Arizona

News from the Bankruptcy Court — District of Arizona
By Michael R. Temple, Chief Deputy Clerk

Those members of the FBA who practice in the bankruptcy court have seen some major changes in the past year. We have moved from paper filings to the electronic filing of documents using the CM/ECF system. The filing of documents electronically became mandatory in the district on June 20. While attorneys are not able to file a bankruptcy petition online at this time, we hope to have that feature available by the first of the year along with the capability of paying petition filing fees and other filing fees on-line with a credit card as part of the filing process.

A new feature to CM/ECF that is available now is the ability to submit proposed orders electronically using CM/ECF. The order can then be electronically signed by the judge and then docketed and filed without the need to print any paper at all. Below is the recent announcement concerning this new feature.

Another new matter effective Dec. 1 are the revisions to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure that concern the use of social security numbers. The amendments allow the court to collect a debtor's full Social Security number (SSN), but display only the last four digits. Official Form 1 (petition) has been revised to contain only the last four digits of an individual debtor's SSN (Business Tax ID numbers are not affected and will continue to be fully displayed). An individual debtor will be required to submit a verified statement containing the debtor's full nine digit SSN. This statement will neither be filed in the case nor become part of the case file available to the public either at the court or over the Internet. This statement will be maintained be the clerk's office separately from the case file.

The debtor's full SSN will be included in the 341 Meeting of Creditors notice mailed to creditors, but the copy filed in the case file will show only the last four digits of the SSN. Subsequent notices in the case will contain only the last four digits.

Other personal identifiers such as dates of birth, financial account numbers and names and SSN's of minor children should also not be included in documents filed with the bankruptcy court. It is the filing party who is responsible for redacting this information before the document is filed. The clerk's office is not required to remove the information if it is included by the filer.

Also, after Dec.1, in all cases, creditors should not include the full SSN of the debtor or any other individual in a proof of claim or any other document filed with the bankruptcy court. This requirement of the judiciary's privacy policy applies to cases filed prior to Dec. 1. Filing parties must ensure they are in compliance with this policy.

Announcement Regarding Submission of Orders Electronically Using the ECF System

A new feature is now available in the ECF system. This feature is the ability to upload, in pdf format, proposed orders directly into ECF. Orders uploaded into ECF can then be electronically routed to and signed by the judge, without the need to print any paper. This new feature is called E-Orders and it is now available to all attorney and trustee ECF filers who may start using it immediately. The attached instructions provide step-by-step guidance on how to upload orders into ECF.

Uploading proposed orders into the ECF system is intended to replace the current process by which proposed orders are e-mailed to the court using the special ecforders e-mail addresses. These e-mail addresses will continue to be available only until the end of October 2003, (to allow users sufficient time to transition to the new ECF Order Upload) at which time the e-mail addresses will be disabled. Please submit an order through either the ECF Order Upload or the e-mail address, but do not use both to submit the same order. After Oct. 31 to submit a proposed order electronically, you will be required to use the Order Upload option in ECF. Submission of proposed orders on paper in lieu of electronic submission remains an acceptable alternative. Please do not submit the same order both electronically and on paper. The special ecfhearing e-mail addresses for each chambers will not be affected and you can continue to use those e-mail addresses to obtain hearing dates and times.

While the national application of CM/ECF is certified to work with Netscape 4.6x, Netscape 4.7x and Internet Explorer 5.5., the Order Upload feature is only fully functional using Internet Explorer 5.5 (one of the upload options does not work properly in Netscape and this has been reported to the court that locally developed this module).