EDKY Trustee Operations: Starting Monday, March 30, only two or three employees will be in my office. The rest of staff will be staying at home. Essential job functions will be performed by a few employees working remotely.
Emails and voicemails to individuals may go unanswered, or there may be a two-week or longer delay in responding. Send case-related inquiries to email@example.com. Send agreed orders to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those email boxes, plus our ECF address of email@example.com, will be monitored regularly.
I am running my month-end disbursement program tomorrow (March 26) so we can mail checks out prior to next week’s closure.
Payroll Deduction Orders: If a debtor contacts my office to request that a payroll deduction be stopped, my customary response is to have them contact their attorney to file a motion. However, for the time being, I will immediately tender a “stop PDO” order to stop the payroll deduction order at the request of a debtor, a debtor’s attorney (or staff), or the employer.
Some employers have said they cannot remit wages withheld because their business is temporarily shut down. I have told those employers to refund the money to the debtor/employee if they cannot pay it to me, and I am stopping the payroll deduction order.
If a payroll deduction order is stopped, I will expect debtors to make plan payments directly unless there is an order suspending plan payments or modifying the plan. See “I Can’t Make My Plan Payments Right Now”: These Policy and Procedure Changes Might Help.
If you want to stop a payroll deduction order temporarily, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com. We will follow up with the debtor’s attorney in about three months to see if we can restart the payroll deduction.
Use E-Signatures on Petitions: Yesterday the EDKY Court revised its Administrative Procedures Manual (APM) to provide as follows:
Electronically filed documents that require original signatures from any person other than the Certified User must be maintained by the Certified User in paper form, bearing the original signatures, until the later of one year after the closing of the case or all time periods for appeals have expired. This requirement does not excuse compliance with other applicable laws or rules governing retention of such documents. Upon the Court’s request, the Certified User must provide the original signed documents for review.
A Certified User required to maintain an original signature under the immediately preceding paragraph may comply by using an image of the signature on the document filed. In addition to any other law or rule, tendering a document with an image of a signature shall act as a representation and certification that the Certified User (i) transmitted the entire document to the signer for review and approval, (ii) communicated with the signer regarding the substance and purpose of the document, (iii) received the entire document back with an image that is believed to be the signature of the signer, and (iv) has express authorization from the signer to file the document. The Certified User must take steps to obtain the original signed copy within 30 days of execution and maintain the copy according to the immediately preceding paragraph.
The authorization for use of an image of a signature is on page 4 of the APM. During this critical period of “social distancing,” I think you can use DocuSign or other trustworthy e-signature service to obtain a debtor’s e-signature on the petition before filing, as long as you satisfy the conditions for review and authorization specified in the APM.