Seeking Nominations For the 2019 Bankruptcy Pro Bono Award

By Rebecca F. Redwine

Bankruptcy attorneys bring renewed hope and greater stability to our NC communities through skillful pro bono work. Excellence in this vital task deserves to be acknowledged, and the North Carolina Bar Association Bankruptcy Law Section will be celebrating the exemplary pro bono efforts of at least one of its own on Nov. 22 at the 42nd Annual Bankruptcy Institute in Wilmington.

To that end, the Bankruptcy Law Section is now seeking third-party and self nominations for the 2019 Pro Bono Award. This will be the fifth year that the Section will honor one of its members with this distinction. Prior recipients include Michael Martinez (2018), Matt Crow (2017), Jennifer Bennington (2016) and Ciara Rogers (2015).

For more information about the award, and to make a nomination, please see the official nomination form.

 

Message From the Chair Of the NCBA Bankruptcy Section

By John Small

Dear Members of the Bankruptcy Section:

It is my privilege to serve as chair of the Bankruptcy Section during this fiscal year. The Section leadership is looking forward to a great year. You can find the officers, council members and committee chairs for the Bankruptcy Section by going to its webpage on the NCBA website.

I am excited that there are three new committees working for the Bankruptcy Section this year.

The Networking Committee led by Cindy Oliver, Samantha Bumbaugh and Andy Houston will have more networking events outside the Annual Bankruptcy Institute and Council meetings. This committee is the result of the members’ interests indicated by the survey conducted at the end of 2018. I encourage you to look for announcements of additional networking events this year.

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Campbell Law’s Bankruptcy Clinic Helps Clients In Need While Developing the Practitioners Of Tomorrow

By Ciara L. Rogers

The Stubbs Bankruptcy Clinic, a clinical program provided by Campbell University’s Norman A. Wiggins School of Law, began in the fall of 2014. The clinic was created to assist low-income individuals who would otherwise not have access to legal representation during the bankruptcy process. In the nine semesters that it has been in operation, the clinic has filed thirty-seven bankruptcy cases, including chapter 7 and 13 cases, and even a chapter 11 case. Additionally, the clinic has represented one creditor in an adversary proceeding and provided an additional twenty-five people with legal advice about the bankruptcy process and referrals to bankruptcy practitioners. In some instances, the demand for the clinic’s services exceeds its ability to provide services.

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Protecting Your Practice: Tech and Security Tips for Small and Solo Firms

By Francisco Morales and Chris Michalec

The ever-evolving world of technology and cybersecurity present a unique set of challenges to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Security breaches are so commonplace these days that it’s no longer about “if” you will be hacked, but “when.” In an address at a major information security conference in 2012, then-FBI director Robert Mueller told the crowd: “I am convinced that there are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be. And they are even converging into one category: companies that have been hacked and will be hacked again.” Remarks by Robert S. Mueller III at RSA Cyber Security Conference, San Francisco, CA, March 1, 2012.

Law firms are often viewed as “one-stop shops” for hackers given the enormous quantity of sensitive and confidential information stored in firms’ systems. Even more concerning, in general, law firms have lagged behind in adapting to the rapid changes in technology and cybersecurity, and many law firms (big and small) have been subject to well-documented cyber attacks in the last few years. For example, in 2015, a Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca was the subject of a high-profile cyber attack, in which 11.5 million documents were exposed by an anonymous source.

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Settling Debts: A Cautionary Tale

By William E. Brewer Jr.

He Began to Cry

My dental hygienist recently brought her father to consult with me to discuss filing bankruptcy. We will call him Steve. Steve had approximately $75,000.00 of credit card debt. He had retired from the State of North Carolina, at age 58, after working as a school teacher for thirty years. He had health issues that prevented him from working more than a part-time job. His wife did not work due to health reasons and had no income. He was supporting himself and his wife on his $3,500.00 State pension and $750.00 of take-home pay from his part-time job. He had accumulated $50,000.00 in the State’s optional 401-K plan. He and his wife had $50,000.00 equity in their jointly-owned residence.

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Civil Contempt in Bankruptcy: Exploring the Limits of the Bankruptcy Courts’ Subject Matter Jurisdiction

By Landon G. Van Winkle

Introduction

Many of us are familiar with the famous, albeit purportedly apocryphal, quote by former president Andrew Jackson, who, upon hearing of the Court’s decision in Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. 515 (1832), is supposed to have famously declared of Chief Justice John Marshall: “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” See, e.g., Edwin A. Miles, After John Marshall’s Decision: Worcester v. Georgia and the Nullification Crisis, 39 J. Southern Hist. 519, 519 (1973). But See Paul F. Boller, Jr. & John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions 53 (1989).

Regardless of whether these words were ever uttered, the sentiment is clear: absent cooperation from the coordinate branches of the federal government, even the U.S. Supreme Court would be forced to rely on its contempt powers to enforce its rulings. What is perhaps less well-known about Andrew Jackson is that he was, at one time, on the receiving end of a federal court’s civil contempt power, a mark on his record he regretted until his dying days. Eberhard P. Deutsch, The United States Versus Major General Andrew Jackson, 46 A.B.A. J. 966, 971–72 (1960).

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41st Annual Bankruptcy Institute Awards Recognize Recipients for Outstanding Achievement and Service

Every year, the Bankruptcy Section Lifetime Achievement Award Committee and the Bankruptcy Section Pro Bono Committee are tasked with the privilege of selecting an attorney to receive their respective awards. The awards are presented at the Annual Bankruptcy Institute, so the recipients may be recognized by their peers for their outstanding commitment and service to the profession.

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Eviction Diversion Programs and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

By Edward C. Boltz

With the publication of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, author Matthew Desmond has brought increasing attention both nationwide and in North Carolina to the growing eviction crisis. See Evicted, www.evictedbook.com (last visited Dec. 7, 2018). With increasing housing prices and gentrification, stagnant incomes, and slashed budgets for public housing, this problem is especially acute in North Carolina. Among large cities in the United States — those with populations greater than 100,000 — there were eight North Carolina cities in the worst 100 cities by eviction rate in 2016. Eviction Rankings, Eviction Lab, https://evictionlab.org/rankings/#/evictions?r=United%20States&a=0&d=evictionRate&lang=en (last visited Dec. 7, 2018). In Greensboro, which had the 7th highest eviction rate among large cities in the nation, 8.4 percent of renters were evicted in 2016, with nearly 1,400 Summary Ejectment filings every month. Stephen J. Sills, Greensboro’s Eviction Crisis, UNC Greensboro Ctr for Housing & Cmty. Stud., https://chcs.uncg.edu/4357-2/ (Aug. 15, 2018). Winston-Salem and Fayetteville were among the worst twenty large cities; Charlotte, High Point and Durham in the worst fifty; and Wilmington and Raleigh in the worst 100.

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41st Annual Bankruptcy Institute Recap

By Brian R. Anderson

As Co-Chair for the Bankruptcy Section’s CLE Committee, I wanted to say a few words about the 41st Annual Bankruptcy Institute before we set our sights on next year.

First, I want to say thank you to all of the speakers who volunteered their time and expertise to make the Institute a success.  As many of you know, researching an issue, drafting a manuscript, and preparing a presentation that is both timely and interesting is a time-consuming process.  Collectively, our speakers prepared program materials totaling over 1000 pages! These materials are a tremendous resource for a plethora of issues.  All of our speakers did a tremendous job.

 

The 41st Annual Bankruptcy Institute CLE programs are available via video replay or on demand through the NCBA website at this link.

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Insolvency Clients and a Potential IRS Trust Fund Penalty Interview

By Kenneth B. Dantinne

You have a client that calls you in a panic. She owns a small business that is currently in a chapter 11 case. Things have been going well for the client as you proceed towards confirmation of a plan. The automatic stay has helped tremendously in keeping company creditors at bay while increasing revenue and reducing expenses. So why the panic-stricken call?

I received one such call not long ago: the client had an IRS Revenue Officer (“RO”) appear at her business — unannounced — and demand an interview due to unpaid taxes. According to the RO, it did not matter that my client was in bankruptcy; the automatic stay did not apply, and the IRS had asked the RO to go to my client’s office. The RO was there to conduct a “Trust Fund Interview,” and there was nothing to prevent her from moving forward. After a brief discussion, the RO agreed to move the interview back a few days so I could attend the interview with my client. I had two days to figure out what, exactly, a Trust Fund Interview entailed.

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