New York bankruptcy requires significant attention to detail, ensuring all the paperwork is complete and filed on time, attending the 341 meeting, scheduling adversary proceedings, etc. Before the World Wide Web, debtors could keep track of their bankruptcies by staying in touch with their bankruptcy lawyers or contacting the clerks of the bankruptcy court. Nowadays, there are more options for debtors to keep track of what’s going on. It’s especially important for debtors with complex cases.
The Internet’s great contribution for debtors is RSS feeds, which stands for “rich site summary,” meaning they create a digest of blog posts and other articles for users to read. The bankruptcy courts in all four federal districts in New York allow debtors (and anyone else) to subscribe to the RSS feeds for their cases via PACER (Public Access to Electronic Records). The links to all four district courts are here.
Debtors can sign up for email alerts when anything happens in their cases. It’s usually not exciting: The court will diligently document every filing as it comes in. This can be useful for tracking anything from creditors submitting proofs of claim to motion briefs for adversary proceedings. PACER requires user account log-ins and passwords. There’s a fee for accessing most case documents, 10¢ per page up to 30 pages. Parties in a case, including pro se litigants, and their attorneys receive one free electronic copy of all electronic filings in their cases. Users must accrue $15 in charges per quarter before they will be charged.
Consequently, even for most bankruptcy debtors, viewing the documents relating to a bankruptcy case is very easy and cheap. It’s probably best to arrange for your bankruptcy attorney to email you filings as they come in, but certainly for smaller cases it’s cheap to track a case.
It might be appropriate now to digress into a separate but related issue debtors might be thinking about when they consider how easy it is to monitor a bankruptcy case: security. Because bankruptcy is a public event, non-parties can easily find out about a case. Reporters use PACER all the time for this sort of thing. However, most people wouldn’t think to look for specific, non-famous debtors, so that’s unlikely to be an issue. As for private information going out, debtors can rest assured that the federal courts redact the filings before placing them on the Internet to prevent disclosures of Social Security numbers and other financial information. Bankruptcy cases prior to 2003 are not available.
The digital age has increased the courts’ accessibility for debtors and creditors. It can be something worth taking advantage of.
For answers to more questions about bankruptcy, the automatic stay, effective strategies for dealing with foreclosure, and protecting your assets in bankruptcy please feel free to contact experienced bankruptcy lawyer Brooklyn Bruce Weiner for a free initial consultation.