Bankruptcy Court in Delaware Reopens for In-Person Hearings

Delaware bankruptcy court resumes on-site hearings on a case-by-case basis, while encouraging participants to attend remotely “where possible.”

June 4 from Judge Christopher S. Sontchi order allows the US Delaware District Bankruptcy Court to begin holding hearings that combine in-person appearances and videoconferencing. But such meetings will be held at the discretion of the presiding judge and will be “minimized and limited to critical cases only,” the order says.

In June 2020, the court issued a similar order allowing such hybrid hearings, but none have yet taken place, Sontchi said.

Court proceedings were moved to telephone and video hearings in March 2020 in response to Covid-19. Its reopening stages, although provisional, indicate the start of a return to normal for the most active bankruptcy court in the country.

Anyone can still fully participate in any court hearing through Zoom, according to the order. The presiding judge will consider any request to change a hybrid hearing to a fully remote hearing.

Those in the courtroom will be required to wear a mask, although those seated at the lawyer table can remove it as they wish. Anyone addressing the court from the lawyers’ table or podium, as well as witnesses during their testimony, should remove their masks, Sontchi said.

The second attempt to reopen the court comes as 60% of all Delaware residents 16 years and older have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the state government.

A few other bankruptcy courts are also starting to issue hearing orders on the spot. West Virginia District will hold all initial hearings on Chapter 13 questions in person from mid-July.

The District of South Carolina also ad that effective June 14, hearings “will be held in person, unless otherwise specified.”

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