A neat appearance and proper dress in court are important. Try to avoid torn, rumpled, ill-fitted, and/or inappropriate clothing. DO NOT bring food or drink to the courthouse. Smoking is NOT ALLOWED inside the courthouse. Do not wear a hat once you enter the courtroom.
Please try to leave your infant/small children with a babysitter at home. If you absolutely cannot find a sitter for your baby/small child and you must bring him/her to court, PLEASE be sure to keep the child occupied during your testimony. While your hearing will only last a few minutes, you may be required to wait for up to an hour before your case is called and it is important that your testimony goes smoothly. The court usually notifies you almost a month in advance of your hearing, so you have plenty of time to hire a sitter.
Please try to arrive at least TEN (10) minutes early prior to your hearing. If you show up early, you can listen to other cases prior to yours so you can hear how the cases are conducted. If you are unclear as to the date, time or place of your hearing,PLEASE CALL my bankruptcy secretary, for the information or directions. Remember that your hearing is at the Federal Courthouse not the County Courthouse. Bankruptcy Court is only held one or two days per month. It is impossible to have your hearing date or time changed from the schedule by the Clerk of the Court. The Court could dismiss your case for your failure to attend your 341 Hearing/Meeting of Creditors.
You will be going through a metal detector at the entrance of the courthouse. Purse/satchels/bags/briefcases, etc. will go on the conveyer belt and x-rayed. Please leave all items that can be considered a “weapon” at home. Even a pop bottle opener can appear as a knife on the metal detector and you will be asked to take the item back to your car. If you have any medical devices/monitors/pace makers, etc. that you think may cause you problems going through the metal detector, be sure to tell the officer prior to going through the metal detector. He/she will advise you as to whether there will be a problem or he/she will use a hand-held metal detector.
If you have problems climbing stairs and your court hearing/first meeting of creditors is on the second floor, please ask the U.S. Marshals, who supervise the metal detector, about the location of the court’s elevators.
Speak clearly and loudly enough so that everyone can hear you easily.
Don’t nod your head for a “yes” or “no” answer. Speak so that the court reporter (or recording device) can record your answer.
In Iowa, you DO NOT need to bring any financial records with you to the 341 hearing/first meeting of creditors unless you are specifically requested to do so by your attorney. *** Please Note: in Illinois, the Chapter 7 Trustee wants you to bring your most recent pay stub to court and a copy of your bank statement showing how much money you actually had in your bank account on the date you filed bankruptcy.
Avoid distracting mannerisms such as whispering in the audience, chewing gum or smoking, and while taking the oath stand upright, pay attention and speak clearly. Avoid laughing or loud talking in the hallways. Sometimes your voice can be carried into the courtroom and can disturb other hearings being conducted.
Don’t try to memorize what you are going to say. This is unnecessary, but do try to go over and familiarize yourself with the bankruptcy information you put on your bankruptcy schedules so that you don’t contradict your own schedules. If there is an inaccurate statement made on your schedules, please notify my bankruptcy secretary prior to your court hearing so the schedules can be amended. Once your case is called, you will be placed under oath by the Trustee before you testify. The Trustee is not a Judge, and does not wear a robe. He does represent the interest of your creditors. He normally will ask some of the same questions that were asked by your attorney at your initial interview.
If you are questioned by a creditor or their attorney, listen carefully to what the attorney/creditor is asking. No matter how nice the attorney/creditor may seem, he/she may be trying to discredit you. Make sure you understand the question; have it repeated if necessary, then have a thoughtful, considered answer. If you don’t know the answer, there is nothing wrong with stating so. Don’t guess.Do not give a snap answer without thinking. Don’t rush into answering, but neither should there be an unnaturally, long delay to a simple question if you know the answer. Always be courteous, even if the attorney/creditor questioning you may appear discourteous. KEEP YOUR COOL.
Explain your answer if necessary if you cannot give a simple “yes” or “no”.
Answer only the question asked to you. Do not volunteer information not asked for.
If your answer was not correctly stated, correct it immediately. If your answer was not clear, clarify it immediately.
Stop instantly when the judge/trustee interrupts you, or when an attorney objects to a question. You will be told by the judge/trustee or your attorney whether to answer the question or not.
YOU ARE SWORN TO TELL THE TRUTH. TELL IT. Do not stop to figure out whether your answer will help or hurt your case. Just answer the questions to the best of your memory. If a question is inappropriate, your attorney will object to the question.