Bankruptcy Court Information

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NY Bankruptcy InformationNew York Northern District Bankruptcy Court

Residents of Tioga County must file in the New York Northern District Bankruptcy Court

Counties served by the New York Northern District Bankruptcy Court:

Albany, Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saint Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenctedy, Schoharie, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Warren, Washington


Courthouses

Albany

Phone: (518) 257-1661
Maps: Google; Yahoo

James T. Foley U. S. Court House
445 Broadway, Suite 330
Albany, NY 12207

Serving Counties: Serving Counties of: Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Jefferson, Montgomery, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren, and Washington.


Syracuse

Phone:

Hearings only


Utica

Phone: (315) 793-8101
Maps: Google; Yahoo

Alexander Pirnie U. S. Court House
10 Broad Street, Room 230
Utica, NY 13502

Serving Counties: Serving Counties of: Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, Tioga, and Tompkins.


 

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What's all this about "CM/ECF"?

If you visit any bankruptcy court website, you will see prominent notices about mandatory "CM/ECF" which stands for "Case Management/Electronic Case Files." If you are representing yourself (filing without a lawyer), don't worry about this -- it applies only to lawyers (although most sites fail to mention that important fact).

If you're a lawyer, you must file your client's bankruptcy forms electronically and receive training on how to do it. Electronic filing simply means filing your forms as PDF (Acrobat) files via the internet or CD-ROM. Creating PDF files does not require special software. Any software that can print can also produce PDF files with the proper software add-ons. There are some specialized attorneys' bankruptcy software that will produce PDFs from data you enter.

Most downloadable official forms these days are PDFs with fillable fields and most computers can "print" a filled-in form to a PDF file. (See the Free Bankruptcy Forms page for more info)

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Dealing with "legalese"

Why don't (some) bankruptcy court websites speak plain English?

Courts should serve all taxpayers, not just lawyers. Filing requirements should be clear and accessible to everyone. After all, everyone must follow the law, so why not make the rules clear and in plain English?

Unfortunately, not all courts provide clear, simple instructions for filing bankruptcy forms. It takes some effort to translate legalese into plain English, and some courts just don't bother. In fact, many courts call information for non-lawyers "pro se" (a Latin term) information. They just don't get it.

Fortunately, more and more courts are starting to "get it" and are providing information to help non-attorneys get find relevant information and lay out clear timelines of essential procedures and explain requirements in a clear, easy to follow manner.

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Courts that "get it"

In our first review of 90 bankruptcy court websites nationwide in 2007, LegalConsumer.com found only a handful that provided clear, well-organized filing information for those who don't speak legalese. A few courts showed what could be done if all courts would bother to take the time to help the general public, and so we created a "Hall of Fame" of good government, to show what could be done by a court with taxpayer's money and a little extra effort, organizaion, and plain English. All bankruptcy courts should follow their example.

In more recent reviews, we've discovered a promising trend: many court websites showed significant improvement from 2007 to 2009.

If your court's website isn't helpful, check out one of these sites....

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Bankruptcy courts that do a good job of explaining procedures to non-lawyers

Here are the best of the best. Court websites can and do change -- hopefully for the better, but not always.

Note: Links go directly to the court's info for non-lawyers, rather than the court home page.

Note: As you will see if you look at several of these, most of the information you find is general and applies regardless of which court you're filing in.

However, some procedures are "local" and deadlines and forms can vary from court to court.

Always confirm that you are complying with your own court's local rules and procedures.

Arizona District Bankruptcy Court

One of the best courts in the nation in providing information to non-lawyers. A model that other courts would do well to follow. Some of the information could be better organized, but it is far better than what most courts offer. The court even offers community outreach programs to explain the bankruptcy process to the general public. Reviewed 5/2/2009. Updated March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

California Eastern District Bankruptcy Court

The "Debtor Home Page" link on the home page leads to a menu of filing information for non-lawyers. Forms are fillable. All in all, this court does a good job of providing information to non-lawyers. Reviewed 1/13/08. Revised March 3, 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

California Northern District Bankruptcy Court

Brand new site overhaul has transformed this court's website from one of the worst to one of the best. Essential information is clearly labeled and easy to find from the home page. The "Filing without an attorney" link is the place to start if you're going it alone. What an improvement! Reviewed March 3, 2008. Updated March 3, 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Georgia Middle District Bankruptcy Court

Much improved since last review. Now offers a guide to persons filing without an attorney, featured prominently on the front page. Although it features many shrill warnings, it does an admirable job of spelling out the deadlines and procedural requirements for a successful filing. Reviewed May, 2009. Updated March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Iowa Northern District Bankruptcy Court

Straightforward navigation. Clear links, Filing Without at Attorney home page is a good one-stop resource for filing information. One of the best in the nation. (May 2009) Still excellent. March 2012.)
main website     info for non-lawyers

Louisiana Middle District Bankruptcy Court

One of the best courts in the nation for helping people filing without an attorney. A huge improvement since our last review. Reviewed 6/14/2008. Still good. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Maine District Bankruptcy Court

Despite lots of warnings saying they can't help non-attorneys, they do, in fact provide a reasonably helpful menu of links to self-filers, and even say so in English. They do offer a fillable means test form. Reviewed May 2009. Still very good. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Maryland District Bankruptcy Court

Features a new section for "non attorney filers" that collects all relevant information into a single menu. The filing requirements section offers a helpful list of checklists. Even includes instructions for each of the official forms, which the federal courts main site no longer provides. Be sure to check out "top ten filing mistakes". (May 2009) Still great. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Massachusetts District Bankruptcy Court

Lots of warnings about filing without a lawyer, but also lots of good, helpful information about how to avoid screwing up. Reviewed May 2009. Updated March 2012
main website     info for non-lawyers

Minnesota District Bankruptcy Court

This court went from a grade of F to a grade of A- in this most recent review (May 09). Many improvements have been made, to the point where this court does a good job presenting needed information efficiently and clearly. The info is not all that in depth, but the links are well organized. A model for other bankruptcy courts around the nation. You can easily find what they have to offer. Click the "Debtor Help" tab on the main menu to get started. May 2009. Update. Still very good. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Missouri Western District Bankruptcy Court

They get credit for having a page geared to non-attorneys and making the link to the info fairly prominent. The home page is messed up as of this review. Click the link called "General Information" to get a better starting point. (May 2009.) Update: Home page now has prominent "Debtors & Self Assistance" area that makes it easy to find the information you need. Nice improvements move its grade from a B to a A and a spot in the hall of fame. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Nevada District Bankruptcy Court

This court now offers procedural guidance to non-attorneys. Also offers live chat to guide you to helpful resources. One of the only courts to offer that. Their pro se page offers links to helpful manuals from the local legal aid society. You can tell that a lot of thought and effort has gone into helping self-represented debtors. Well done. Reviewed March 2012
main website     info for non-lawyers

New Jersey District Bankruptcy Court

Good revisions to this court recently include a guide specifically designed for debtors filing without an attorney. May 2009. Update: New Jersey has embarked on a cutting edge experiment in pro se filing. They now allow debtors to file electronically, without an attorney. Great idea. Will be interesting to see if this idea spreads. Could be a model for other courts. One caveat. Their link to the federal exemption statutes fails to mention that the statutory amounts are indexed for inflation and are now higher than what appears in the statute. Nevertheless, this court gets and A+ for effort and innovation in attempting to serve consumers. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

New Mexico District Bankruptcy Court

One of the most debtor-friendly sites in the US bankruptcy court system. Home page links in plain English direct non-attorneys to important and helpful information. May 2009. Still excellent. March 2012
main website     info for non-lawyers

New York Eastern District Bankruptcy Court

Information for non-attorneys is easy to find, and quite exetensive. Some branches of the court even have a "Pro Se Law Clerk" specifically assigned to help people who are filing without an attorney. May 2009. Update. Court does an excellent job of organizing info and making it easy to find. Much better than most bankruptcy courts in the county. March 2012
main website     info for non-lawyers

North Dakota District Bankruptcy Court

Offers a dedicated menu to help non-attorneys. Filing requirements are spelled out clearly. (May 2009) Update. Home page does a good job of steering consumers in the right direction to the information they need. Worthy of a "hall of fame" designation for overall quality. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Oklahoma Eastern District Bankruptcy Court

One of the first courts to offer information to non-lawyers. The "Pro Se Debtor Info" links from the home page go directly to a menu that links to information for non-attorneys on how to file, including forms and instructions about procedure. Forms page is clear and helpful. (May 2009) Update> Still good, but home page link is in Latin. Reviewed, March 3, 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Oklahoma Northern District Bankruptcy Court

Not much here, at first glance. Go to the Site Map to find anything. Decent page for filing without an attorney, once you find it. (May 2009) Update: Navigation has gotten better as there is now a direct link from home page for folks filling without an attorney. Information is well organized and clear. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Oklahoma Western District Bankruptcy Court

New interface is a bit too clever by half. Important info is buried in the menu called "Court" Click the "No Attorney" link. Once you get past that, it's pretty good. Pop up menus work very slowly and may not work on all browsers. On some browsers you may not even see the menus at all! Has a dedicated pro se counter. (May 2009) Update: Court should make website work with all browsers. Important information is missed if the home page menus don't work right. But downloadble PDF guides are good, but were written in 2007. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Oregon District Bankruptcy Court

Vastly improved organziation since last review when this court got a faling grade for organization. Now it's a model. Perhaps they were listening. Once you find the information, it's actually quite good. Many of the FAQs are quite good. (May 2009) Update. Still very good. March 2012
main website     info for non-lawyers

Rhode Island District Bankruptcy Court

Redone website features a link called "SELF HELP / Pro Se" on the menu of the home page. Makes too much use of pop up menus, can be difficult to navigate, but the info is there. (May 2009) Update. Still true. Menus are a bit unwieldy but the info is good once you get there. March 2012
main website     info for non-lawyers

Texas Eastern District Bankruptcy Court

Now features a special menu just for those filing without an attorney. Offers clearly organized guidance as to what to do when. (May 2009) Update. Still excellent. Could be a model for other courts. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Texas Northern District Bankruptcy Court

Offers non-attorneys a handy complete downloadable packet of all required forms, all in fillable PDF format, but little in the way of instructions. In the "Filing Resources" section of the site, they have a special page for non-attorneys, with links to relevant info. Also has an innovative online help desk as an alterative way of getting information. (May 2009) Update. Still a good site. Hasn't changed much in three years. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Texas Western District Bankruptcy Court

The website is quite well organized and important information is easily accessible, and now features a "Filing Without an Attorney?" page which is quite useful. Well done. One of the best in the nation in terms of offering checklists, etc. (May 2009) A few links and link names updated in since last review. Earlier review still stands. March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

Utah District Bankruptcy Court

Really wacky web design and use of color. The home page link to "Unrepresented Debtor Information" takes you to a page that links to relevant pages of the website. The Forms button has a pop up link to a special list of forms just for those who are fililing without an attorney. Nice. (May 2009)(Still true, March 2012.)
main website     info for non-lawyers

Vermont District Bankruptcy Court

Nice clean site design. Much improved since last review. Information for debtors without an attorney are easily found on the home page. Well done. (May 2009) Still true as of March 2012.
main website     info for non-lawyers

West Virginia Northern District Bankruptcy Court

Vastly improved since last review, when we gave the court website an "F for failing to provide much help to non-lawyers. That has changed, thanks to a new link on the home page, featured in both Latin ("Pro Se") and English ("Self Help Filing Information"). This link takes you to a dedicated page of information for self-help filers, which boils down the basics of what you need to file, with links to related resources and forms. (Be sure to download the PDF file of local rules, and especially in the Appendix to the local rules, for important information and forms.) Most of the court's site still primarily caters to attorneys and bankruptcy pros, but now, at least, the new 'pro se' page offers a place for ordinary people to find the information they need. Reviewed 1/29/2008. Still true. (March 2012.)
main website     info for non-lawyers

Wisconsin Western District Bankruptcy Court

Still sets the standard for user-freindly bankruptcy court websites. The source of some first class, well written, crystal clear information for non-lawyers filing for bankruptcy. A model for the rest of the courts in the nation to follow. Provides links to fillable PDF forms. Well done in every respect. Taxpayers are getting their money's worth in from the Western District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court. It got an A+ when it was reviewed a year ago, and still gets that rating this time around. Reviewed 1/16/2008. Still true. (March 2012.)
main website     info for non-lawyers

 

Information You Will Need from the Court

(Note: Court websites change often and links go out of date. If a link does not work, go to the home page for the court and look for the materials from there.)

Official Website of the
New York Northern District Bankruptcy Court

http://www.nynb.uscourts.gov/

* Home page

What you'll find there

If you file for bankruptcy, you'll need to file your papers with one of the courthouses that serve the New York Northern District Bankruptcy Court. You'll have to go there in person at least once to meet with the bankruptcy trustee.

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Where to start

Before you file, there are three kinds of information you'll need to get from the court's website:

1. Info on
Filing Bankruptcy Without an Attorney

General Information

If you're new to the bankruptcy process, the website of the US Courts Adminstrative Office now offers a basic orentation page for those filing bankruptcy without an attorney. The information inlcudes a Bankruptcy Basics video in English Spanish and Creole. The half hour video is split into chapters so you can go back and review parts that went by too fast the first time.

Information on local procedures for those filing without an attorney

In addition to this general information about the process, you'll need information specifically about your particular court's procedures.

Fortunately, the New York Northern District Bankruptcy Court offers information specifically designed for people filing without an attorney. Virtually all courts link to the generic national information mentioned above. The New York Northern District Bankruptcy Court offers specific guidance about local procedures.

2. Court (Local) Rules

Depending on how poorly they're written, your court's local rules probably won't make much sense to you. Don't worry. You may not be affected by most of the rules.

However, you will need to follow the rules about filing procedure and how to format the creditors' "mailing matrix" (a list of creditor's names and addresses). Each court has its own rules about these things, and they tend to be fussy about it. You must comply with the details of the process, such as filing dates, filing procedures, fees, and a myriad of other bureaucratic wonderfulness.

If your court publishes plain-English instructions for those filing without a lawyer , use that first, rather than trying to read the actual rules.

How to File for BankruptcyChapters 6 and 7 of How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy offer more information on what to look for in local rules and how to ask the court clerk for the information you need as you prepare your paperwork and fill in yourforms.

3. Court Forms

Bankruptcy is a forms-intensive process, kind of like doing a long tax return.

The main forms you use in bankruptcy are federal forms, used nationwide in all bankruptcy courts.

Your bankruptcy court may have additional local forms for dealing with things like the list of creditors.

 

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Other information from the court

Most courts link to a downloadable U.S. Courts publication called "Bankruptcy Basics." This offers a decent overview of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy -- but has no information about how to actually file or fill in the mountain of forms.

Now most courts also link to a new helpful video on the Federal Courts website that explains the bankruptcy process.

 

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CloseWhat is CM/ECF

This term refers to "Case Management/Electronic Case Filing."

This an "electronic filing" procedure that only applies to attorneys.

If you are filing for bankruptcy without an attorney (also known as filing 'pro se'), you can safely ignore all the warnings about "mandatory CM/ECF" -- you are not required to file electronically.

If you are an attorney, don't worry. This procedure is not as complicated as it sounds. In most districts, it basically means that the forms must be saved as PDF files and submitted in a specified manner.Close

CloseAm I required to file electronically?

Many court web sites have prominent references to "mandatory" electronic filing or "mandatory ECF." Do not be alarmed. You are not required to file electronically, unless you are an attorney.

It is true that, in most courts, attorneys must now file all documents and forms electronically, and they must take training on how to file electronically with the court. However, by law, that rule does not apply to individuals filing without the help of an attorney. If a court clerk tells you otherwise, they are incorrect. Ask to talk to their supervisor to clear up the matter.

In most cases filing electronically is not all that technologically challenging. In many districts, it simply means filing the documents in PDF format. Close

CloseWhat does "pro se" mean?

If you're filing for bankruptcy without the help of an attorney, follow all links that use the term "pro se." "Pro se" (pronounced 'pro-SAY') is the Latin term for people handling their own legal matters without a lawyer.

Many courts (as if to make things harder for non-lawyers) provide information for such persons by using this Latin term, rather than plain-English. The more service-oriented courts labeled such information with links like "Filing without an attorney." Courts that aren't as helpful tend to hide such information behind a link called "pro se information" or "pro se filers." Close

CloseWhat does "pro bono" mean

"Pro bono" is a Latin term that refers to lawyers who are willing to provide assistance for free. Bar associations like to talk about the fact that lawyers do 'pro bono' but, in fact, very few actually do, and the need for legal services is far greater than the amount of pro bono help available. Nevertheless, some court websites will direct you to pro bono services instead of simply providing the information you need.

Pro bono services can be uneven. Some can be excellent while others may be done by lawyers with little expertise in bankruptcy law. If you read a good book on how to file for bankruptcy before you meet with your pro bono lawyer, you will be better able to gauge their knowledge of bankruptcy law. Close

CloseWill the court staff explain the filing procedure to me?

To some extent, yes, but it depends on the court.

Some courts are quite willing to help non-attorneys and will give you a packet of information that explains the filing procedure in detail, and in plain English.

Other courts are quite hostile to debtors attempting to represent themselves and will make it a point not to help you at all.

The difference between courts can be dramatic, as evidenced by the wide range of difference between various court websites.

See the "court ratings" section on this page. The list of courts that "get it" provide helpful information to non attorneys.

If the staff at your court tells you that they can't offer you any help, you may wish to refer them to the websites of these other bankruptcy courts that manage to provide ample help the general public.

Wisconsin Western District Court - "Filing Without an Attorney"

Maryland District Court - "Non-Attorney Filers

North Carolina Eastern District Court - "Helping you Help Yourself" (does not load properly on a Mac).

Oklahoma Eastern District Court - "Filing Without an Attorney"

California Eastern District Court "Self Service Center"

Close

CloseWhat is a 341 Hearing?

A 341 hearing is the so-called "creditors meeting" that every bankruptcy filer must attend shortly after you file your bankruptcy papers.

For many filers, this will be your only trip to the courthouse. This is when you meet with the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case, and are asked questions about the information you have entered on your forms.

Most court websites post schedules of 341 hearings, and when you file, you will be notified of your hearing date. When you show up for your hearing, you will find that many other people have hearings set for the same day. You sit wait for your name to be called.

This is also the time when creditors can ask questions about your papers, and objections to your filing may be raised by creditors.

See the Products & Services page for a podcast about what happens at a 341 meeting. Also, the book How to File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy has information about what to expect at your 341 hearing.

Close

CloseGlossary of Important Terms You're Likely to find in Court Websites

341 Hearing
Your meeting with trustee and any creditors who choose to attend. At this meeting the trustee will ask you questions about the papers you have filed and creditors can ask questions and raise objections. For most debtors, this is the only time you have to go to the courthouse.
BAPCPA
The new anti-consumer bankruptcy law passed by the Republican congress (with help from many Democrats) in 2005. BAPCPA imposes many new procedural requirements ('gotchas') on debtors filing for bankruptcy and can result in dismissal of a bankruptcy case on for failure to meet technical filing requirements.
CM/ECF
Case Management/Electronic Case Filing - Attorneys are required to file documents electronically. Links with this descriptor deal with the procedures for electronic filing of documents. Debtors representing themselves (pro se) do not have to do this (except perhaps, in Virginia.)
Fee waiver
If your income is less than 150% of the poverty level income for a family your size in your state, you don't have to pay the bankruptcy filing fee and may also not have to pay the fees for mandatory credit counseling and debtor education courses. The relevant income levels can be found at http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/14poverty.cfm.
2014 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES
AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,060 for each additional person.
1 $11,670
2 15,730
3 19,790
4 23,850
5 27,910
6 31,970
7 36,030
8 40,090

 

2014 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR ALASKA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,080 for each additional person.
1 $14,580
2 19,660
3 24,740
4 29,820
5 34,900
6 39,980
7 45,060
8 50,140

 

2014 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR HAWAII
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,670 for each additional person.
1 $13,420
2 18,090
3 22,760
4 27,430
5 32,100
6 36,770
7 41,440
8 46,110

 

 
In Forma Pauperis
A debtor too poor to pay the filing fee. (See "Fee waiver")
Payment Advices
Pay stubs, etc. Local rules may have a requirement to supply "payment advices"
Pro bono
Legal services provided for free. Some court websites have listings of organizations that provide free legal assistance to debtors who cannot afford a lawyer.
Pro se (pro SAY)
A Latin phrase meaning "for himself/herself" or "in one's own behalf." This term denotes a person who represents himself/herself in court. A person who files for bankruptcy without a lawyer is said to be a 'pro se' filer.
Pro Hac Vice (pro-hack-VEE-chay)
Filing as an attorney but from outside the district. (example "Motion to Proceed Pro Hac Vice")
Close

How well does your court's website serve the public?

Usability Report Card for the

New York Northern District Bankruptcy Court

How well does its website serve the general public?

http://www.nynb.uscourts.gov/  

5 features all court websites should offer

1 A dedicated main menu for non lawyers
2 Filing instructions for non-lawyers
3 Home-page links to this information
4 Links worded in plain English, not Latin
5 Downloadable forms that are "fillable"
Provides non-lawyers information they need

B

Information is easy to find

B-

Summary

Offers a downloadable "pro se petitioners packet" for non-attorneys. It can be found under the "General Information" link from the home page. May 2009. Update: This site could use an upgrade. the information is there but a minimal amount of attention paid to design and organization would help quite a bit. Pro se materials are still from 2009 and the attachments contain old forms. Review March 2012.

 

See: Courts that "get it".

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