Interviewer: How are people treated by the trustees, the court, and the judge? Do they treat you pretty well? What’s the atmosphere like in court?
Court: I think in Utah, everybody is treated pretty well. The judges are very good.
They’re very fair and very understanding. The trustees are not always the most cordial people, because they have a job to do, and that job is to make sure that your creditors are protected and to make sure that you’re not committing fraud or something like that.
They’re not always super friendly, but they’re not mean or judgmental. You’re not going to get cross looks or anything like that from them. As long as you do everything you’re supposed to do and take the advice of your attorney, then your experience is going to be fine.
You Can Expect Your Bankruptcy Attorney to Attend All Meetings and Court Hearings with You
Interviewer: You attend all meetings and court hearings with your clients, is that correct?
Court: Yes. Here in Salt Lake, although it might be slightly different depending on where you are, you go on the date and time of your meeting, and basically the trustee is just sitting up at front. He or she has a tape recorder, and will call each case one at a time.
While It Can Be Intimidating to Appear in Court, the Process Is Relatively Stress-Free
There are usually 10 or 15 other cases and everybody is just basically sitting there waiting to go. You go up to the front, and she or he is going to ask you for some form of identification; they will put you under oath, and then record your answers to their questions.
It can be a little intimidating, but the questions are pretty brief and they’re pretty basic. As long as you’ve done everything you are supposed to do, everything your attorney told you to do, then it just takes five or 10 minutes usually and then you are able to leave.
Attorney Koehler Prepares His Clients in Advance for the Court Hearing
Interviewer: It sounds intimidating, but like you said, you’re there with your client?
Court: Yes. That’s one of the benefits about having an attorney there. You’re going to go through this process and it’s going to be a little bit scary because the trustee, as I said, is not necessarily the most outgoing and they’re going to ask you some questions that sound pretty accusatory.
They’re going to ask you if you told the truth when you filed your petitions and they’re going to ask you if you told them about all of your debts and what your taxes were and things like that.
Those are questions they ask everybody, and they’re questions I prepare my clients to answer, but if you’re not prepared for that sort of a thing it can hit you the wrong way and you can really be thrown off-guard and be intimidated by the process.
Having Your Attorney Accompany You to the Court Hearing Helps to Ensure a Smooth and Issue-Free Completion of the Process
Interviewer: Do you perceive that your clients are treated better than other people that go in without an attorney?
Court: I wouldn’t necessarily say that they are treated better just because they have an attorney. But when you go into a meeting with the trustee with an attorney, then a lot of times the trustee is going to be familiar with the attorney and they’re going to have a rapport and a professional understanding of what needs to be done and produced.
If there’s something that’s not ready, there’s a little bit more leeway that you’re going to get. If you go in there and you are not represented by somebody, the trustee is going to not give you that sort of leeway, because he might be nervous that he’s going to have a hard time getting the documents he needs from you or that you’re not going to be able to understand what he needs, or the law.
You are going to have a smoother experience. Not because the trustee is mean or a judgmental or anything like that, but just because bankruptcy attorneys understand the process and their job is to help you through it.
It Is the Attorney’s Job to Make the Bankruptcy Process Easier for His or Her Client
I wouldn’t be doing any service if I didn’t make the process easier.