What is bankruptcy court like, and do I have to go to court?

It’s nothing like you’ve seen on tv.

bk eagle frank e moss fed courthouse

First off, you probably will never really go to the federal courthouse.  After we file bankruptcy, the court schedules a 341 Meeting of Creditors about a month later.  At this meeting, we meet with a bankruptcy trustee who reviews the paperwork and asks you a series of questions.  Odds are that you will never have to go to any meeting or court appearance after this one.

However, this isn’t really court.  It is held at the Provo Library, or in rented meeting rooms in the Ken Garff building in Salt Lake, or rented rooms in the federal buildings in Ogden and/or St. George.  We will sit on one side of a folding table, and the trustee will sit on the other side with his laptop.  There is no jury, no judge with a gavel, no witnesses, nothing else that might make you feel intimidated.  Even better, the meeting only takes 2-3 minutes.

Now sometimes, I do have to go to the federal courthouse, but is very, very rare that I will have to take clients.  Even if you do go, you’re not allowed to speak.  For instance, if you were beside me in federal court and the judge asked you what color your shirt was, you’d lean over and whisper it to me.  I would then state, “Your honor, if my client were called upon to testify today, I proffer that he would state that his shirt is blue.”  It seems a little silly, but it keeps the court moving.

So a short answer is:  bankruptcy court isn’t bad at all, and yes, you do have to go once, but only to a non-intimidating meeting room while sitting at a folding table.  Even better, I’ll be there with you, and I’ve done this once or twice.

This is not legal advice.  If you need help go to www.robertspaynelaw.com.


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