UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
United States Bankruptcy Judge
Practices and Procedures
Honorable Charles Novack
Judge Novack’s PRACTICES
AND PROCEDURES are presented as a tool in providing efficient and
effective services by counsel. The hope is that this information will provide
you and your client with an accurate expectation of the processes used in
1. Calendaring Matters. Judge Novack has separate calendars for
relief from stay, adversary motions, case motions, chapter 11 disclosure
statements and plan confirmations, chapter 13 confirmations, final accounts
and fee applications, chapter 11 status conferences, adversary case
management conferences, and trial setting conferences.
The Oakland Division uses an Open Calendar
that allows counsel to self-select an available hearing date. Complete
details regarding the Open Calendar procedure for the division and for Judge
Novack are available at Calendar Procedures
for Oakland Division.
To calendar an emergency matter to be heard on
shortened time, an application for an order shortening time that complies
with Bankruptcy Local Rule 9006-1 is required before a hearing date
will be set. Counsel should include preferred calendar dates and the proposed
notice to affected parties as part of their application and a proposed order.
Requests for temporary restraining orders will only be calendared after an
adversary complaint has been filed. You should include an application for an
expedited hearing with the request for TRO and complaint. Generally, Judge
Novack requires a minimum of four hours notice to affected parties prior to
conducting a hearing on a TRO.
Once Judge Novack has reviewed an application
for shortened time, he will issue an order setting the date and time of the
hearing and specifying any special instructions regarding notice, as
appropriate. Written opposition is generally not required to be filed before
a hearing set on shortened time, and a party may appear at the hearing to
oppose the motion orally.
If you need to contact Judge Novack’s
courtroom deputy to schedule a hearing not subject to the open calendar
procedure, you may call Ruby Bautista at (510) 879-3529. Her email address is
2. Continuing or Withdrawing Calendared
Matters. We receive many
inquiries about how to continue or remove a matter on the court calendar. As
a matter of courtesy to the court and opposing counsel, we suggest the
To withdraw new matter from the calendar, you
may submit a written withdrawal to the court no later than 3 days before the
hearing. If you wish to continue a new matter, the timing depends upon who
has received notice. If the matter has been noticed to all creditors, please
submit a notice of continued hearing and serve it on all creditors at least 7
days before the hearing. If the matter concerns only specific parties in
interest, such as a motion for relief from stay, contact the court and
counsel 24 hours in advance to advise of the continuance.
If you wish to continue a hearing on a matter
that has already been before the court, you have two options. You may submit
a stipulation and order (if the parties agree) or application and order at
least 3 days before the hearing. If the hearing is in less than 3 days,
please contact chambers to advise the court that you will request a
continuance at the hearing. Generally, Judge Novack prefers that appearances
to request a continuance be made telephonically.
3. Calling Chambers. You may call Judge Novack’s law clerks at (510)
879-3525 if you have questions regarding procedural matters. Please keep in
mind that Federal Rule of
Bankruptcy Procedure 9003
prohibits ex parte contacts with the court and is applicable to law
clerks as well as judges. Additionally, you may contact chambers to check on
the status of an order or to inform the court of the following matters:
an objection to a
proposed form of order;
a settlement of a
matter calendared for hearing; or
that the parties will
go forward with a chapter 11 disclosure statement or plan confirmation
Finally, you may contact chambers to obtain
assistance with a discovery dispute. When appropriate under Civil Local Rule
37-1(b), Judge Novack will attempt to resolve discovery disputes through a
telephonic conference with all parties.
4. Submission of Orders After Hearings. Please observe the provisions of Bankruptcy
Local Rule 9021-1(c) and 9022-1.
5. Telephonic Hearings. Counsel may appear telephonically as
described in Telephonic Appearance Policy. Judge Novack encourages counsel to appear
telephonically when appropriate because of the savings in time and cost.
Generally, Judge Novack has two procedures for telephonic appearances.
The first involves case management conferences
in adversary proceedings. This is an “optout” system; that is, Court
Conference will arrange a telephonic appearance unless you advise them you
are going to appear personally. On this calendar, nearly all appearances are
telephonic. Instructions for this telephonic appearance are attached to the order setting
telephonic case management conference. Because the court coordinates a large number of telephonic
conferences, continuances are allowed only with leave of court and must be
sought in writing at least five days before the hearing date.
For the second procedure Judge Novack uses an
“opt-in” system. If you want to appear telephonically on a matter, please
contact Court Conference at 1-866-582-6878 at least 24 hours in advance of a
hearing to insure that arrangements are completed in time for the hearing. An
attorney should use his/her discretion in determining whether to appear
6. Relief From Stay. The Guidelines for
Motions for Relief from Stay explain the factors Judge Novack considers in ruling on a
relief from stay motion. Most stay motions are resolved at the preliminary
hearing. If a final hearing is set, it is generally an evidentiary hearing.
All relief from stay motions are to be
accompanied by a relief from stay coversheet, which is available on-line or at the clerk’s
office. The coversheet is Judge Novack’s most important preparation tool for
the relief from stay calendar. If the relief from stay coversheet is not
accurate and complete, the motion may be denied without prejudice.
Unless an order specifically provides to the
contrary, Judge Novack makes certain assumptions regarding every order
submitted following a motion for relief from stay. These assumptions should
be taken into account when submitting or reviewing proposed orders.
7. Adversary Proceedings. Adversary proceedings progress on written
orders issued by the court. Each confirms dates, times and procedures. The
first is the order setting the
telephonic case management conference which is served with the summons and complaint. Pursuant to
these orders, case management conference statements are generally required at
least 5 days before each conference and continuances must be requested in
writing at least 14 days before the conference date.
Short cause matters may be set for trial after
the first status conference. In more complex cases, Judge Novack may issue a
trial setting order requiring counsel to prepare a joint pre-trial order.
The pre-trial order supersedes all pleadings in the case. The trial setting
orders contain the protocol for courtroom procedures
for trial or evidentiary
Once a matter has been set for trial, Judge
Novack will continue the trial to document a settlement but not because of
ongoing negotiations. Where the settlement documentation (Judgment,
Stipulation For Judgment or Dismissal) has been filed with the court prior to
the trial date no appearance by counsel is necessary. Unless otherwise
ordered, counsel must appear at the calling of the calendar. With prior
approval, counsel may appear by telephone for this purpose.
The Bankruptcy Dispute Resolution Program
(BDRP) established by the district provides opportunities for mediation,
arbitration and settlement. A request for referral may be made at any time
through procedures outlined in the Local Bankruptcy Rules. B.L.R. 9040 et. seq.
8. Chapter 11 cases. Judge Novack calendars regular conferences
on the status of each pending chapter 11 case. The Chapter 11 Status
Conference Checklist describes Judge
Novack’s expectations for both the conferences and the case.
9. Claim Objections. The Claimant and Objector must meet and
confer by telephone at least five days before the initial claim objection
hearing, and make a good faith effort to resolve the objection. Failure to do
so may result in sanctions against the offending party.
10. Forms. Both Northern District and official bankruptcy forms are available on this website.
11. Judge Novack observes the Northern District of California's
guidelines found at the court's website.