Telephonic Hearings in Bankruptcy Court

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Written by Andrea Wimmer, Esq.  
Updated February 26, 2020

A hearing is an appearance in court where one or more parties to the case show up in the courtroom to present something to the judge. A telephonic hearing is exactly what the name suggests: a court hearing that takes place over the telephone. While the judge usually prefers to have all parties appear in the courtroom in person, there are times when telephonic hearings are scheduled instead. 

Will there be any hearings in my Chapter 7 case?

Typical no-asset Chapter 7 cases generally do not require hearings. If you’ve applied for a fee waiver, the court may require a hearing for it. If you’re reaffirming a car loan, the court may schedule a hearing about your reaffirmation agreement. 

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How do telephonic hearings work? 

They work just like regular hearings. When the case is called, anyone who is in the courtroom for the hearing will walk up to the podium to announce themselves. Those who are participating telephonically will then announce themselves. The judge is on the bench and everyone in the courtroom can hear what is being said by the person calling in. 

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How do I know whether my hearing is telephonic?

When you receive the notice about the hearing from the court it will tell you when and where to appear. If attending the hearing telephonically is an option by default, the notice will tell you. If there is nothing about appearing telephonically on the court notice, you’re not able to appear telephonically without first clearing it with the court. 

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Can I ask to appear telephonically even if the hearing is scheduled as an in person hearing? 

Yes. Each court and often times each judge has a different policy when it comes to telephonic hearings. If personally attending a court hearing scheduled in your case presents a hardship for you, contact the clerk’s office at the court where you filed your case to find out whether and how you can participate in the hearing by calling in, rather than showing up in person. Keep in mind, though, that just because you’ve asked about appearing for the hearing by telephone does not mean it’s automatically allowed. If you’re not sure whether you’re allowed to participate in the hearing telephonically, it’s best to show up in person, just in case. 

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Is there anything else I should know about telephonic hearings? 

Call at the appointed time. It’s important to be on time for all court hearings. This includes hearings that you’re attending telephonically. Unless specifically instructed otherwise (by court staff) when you make the arrangements to appear telephonically, call in a few minutes before the time set for the hearing. 

Mute your phone until it’s your turn to talk. As mentioned above, everyone in the courtroom can hear what the person who is appearing by telephone is saying. This includes any noise that may be going on in the background. If multiple hearings are scheduled for the same time, you may be on the phone for a while until your case is called. Make sure you have your phone on MUTE during this time. Otherwise, anything you do can be heard - loud and clear - in the courtroom. 

Make sure you have a good phone connection. If possible, plan to call in from a landline. If you don’t have access to a landline, call from a spot where you know you have good reception. If your call is interrupted due to a bad connection, you may miss the hearing, which can have negative consequences. 

Remember, it’s still a court hearing. Even though you’re calling in, remember that this is still a hearing before a federal bankruptcy judge. Make sure you’re prepared and have any documents that you may need in front of you when you make the call. 

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Can my 341 meeting be a telephonic hearing?

Generally, no. When we speak of telephonic hearings, or hearings in general, it typically means an appearance before the judge, in the courtroom. While the 341 meeting is sometimes referred to as a hearing, it really isn’t one. It’s a meeting with the bankruptcy trustee and generally requires the filer to appear in person so their identity can be verified. If you have a disability or health issue that makes it hard for you to travel to court for this meeting, contact your trustee directly to see what kind of accommodations are available, if any.

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About the author

Andrea Wimmer, Esq

Andrea practiced exclusively as debtors’ counsel in consumer chapter 7 and 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team full time in August 2019. While in private practice, Andrea handled all ban... read more

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