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Elizabeth Prentice
Elizabeth Prentice, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 174
Experience:  Managing Attorney for one of the largest consumer bankruptcy firms in America.
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Hello There, I had filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and had to

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Hello There,
I had filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and had to deal with an adversary which was filed in a civil court which later the plaintiff attorney brought in the bankruptcy court. After having paid to three attorneys and followed through the case over last year and a half, I have exhausted all my savings, family loans and credit. The trial is scheduled for September last week and my attorney just filed a motion to withdraw as I havent been able to pay him for last one month. That being said, I am considering representing myself in the adversary as I have a great defense and alibi. I am able to train myself and educate how well to maintain the requirements of being in the court, My questions are:
1.Will my case look in poor light if my attorney has filed to withdraw (de didnt mention in the motion about the past dues)? 2.Will the judge allot me counsel from the court? 3.Will the plaintiff get any advantage if I dont have an attorney? 4.Will I get any special consideration in the trial If I am representing myself? 5.What ususally happens in an adversary proceeding Trial? Your valuable answers are much appreciated.
I am a bankruptcy attorney and I would be happy to assist you! I am sorry top hear about your difficult situation. To answer your questions:
1) No, you will not be viewed poorly by the Judge if you represent yourself. Many debtors represent themselves in Court. Also, the judge may actually be more lenient towards you, since you may not be as knowledgeable about the nuances involved.
2) The Judge is not permitted to a lot you counsel from Court if you do not have attorney. They will; however, recommend you seek a pro bono attorney at your local legal aid center. You should look online or call the state bar office to see if there is pro bono/legal aid center in your area, where you may be able to get a wonderful attorney who can assist you and will volunteer to represent you for free!
3) The Plaintiff will not receive any more of an advantage than you, other than they will have an attorney. Attorneys spend years of their life learning the law; whereas, you will need to learn about the proceeding procedures in a month.
4) The Judge is not permitted to give you any unfair advantage by allowing you special rules in trial if you represent yourself. Each party must conduct themselves per the Court rules and procedures. However, typically the Judge will give you nudges or reminders if you make a mistake. Judges try and be slightly more lenient to pro se litigants.
5) At the adversary proceeding trial, you will go through a mini-trial. You may call witnesses, introduce evidence and make your case for why you should not have to repay the debt. A major difference is that a third party will be present, the Trustee assigned to your case. The Trustee is there to represent not you and not the creditor, but the estate. So, they will typically be neutral.

3 Tips I can offer you:
1) Read through the Adversary Proceeding Rules (particularly 7016)
2) Read the local rules on the local bankruptcy court website
3) Contact your local legal aid society

I hope my answer has assisted you and that you will leave me a positive rating!
Elizabeth Prentice and other Bankruptcy Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Elizabeth, Thank you for the detailed answers. Very helpful and ressuring. I have few more follow up questions, if you be kind enough to answer.

1.Will I need to educate myself about everything related to my bankruptcy file and my knowledge of teh adversary matter? since I assume the plaintiff attorney may use info randomly to trick me into an answer which I may fumble upon?

2.Am I allowed to say I have no knowledge of that matter at the moment and will be able to look and follow up? What if I cant recall every single detail of my file or of the lengthy documentation exchanged in the adversary process?

3.What really may happen If I make a mistake?

4.Will this also mean I can bring in evidence and witness to the best of my knowledge?

5.Is the oppsition allowed to ask for a jury trial? They have been trying to create bad press for me earlier in this case and I am afraid their motive all along was to get a jury trial which I understand does not happen in a bankruptcy court.


This though is an adversary matter, and my discharge was already granted last year, I am unsure of few things. Where will I be able to see videos of actual such or similar case proceedings, and where can I see common mistakes people do and tips for better and well prepared representation. I ask of you as I think you may have seen better resources that what I can google online.


Thank you for your help here.




Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I missed out another question.

The court had asked for mediation and while there was an attorney recommended, the mediation is scheduled for Aug29.

Now that I might not have an attorney and that I cant afford to pay the mediator, what are my available options.

I can ask if the attorney can mediate for no cost, but what happens if he declines? Will I have to give him notice about this? Will that mediation get pushed? The emergency motion to withdraw hearing is tomorrow.

1. Yes, you should know everything in your file. Make sure to bring it with you court, along with copies of anything you will want to show as evidence and give to the Judge or opposing counsel.

2. If you can't recall something, simply state "I can not recall." That is an acceptable answer. If they ask regarding a specific document, state that "the document speaks for itself and I refer you to examine it."

3. This depends on the mistake. If you try and introduce evidence not previously every discussed or produced in discovery, the Judge will merely keep the evidence out. There is no Jury. The judge will already understand the case and will merely be looking at you during trial to see if there is something he is unaware of. This is your time to plead your case to the Judge. Be sincere, honest and explain your position clearly. Practice what you plan to tell the Judge (your mini speech) to a friend or family member. You may only get 30 seconds for your opening or closing statements, so make it short and to the point. Write it out and bring it with you, as well.

4. You should already have a list prepared of who you plan to call at trial to ask questions. Have the questions you plan to ask the creditor written out. Bring all the documents with you, and make copies of those you actually plan to use. For example, a copy of bill should be copied 3 times, if you wish to discuss it so you can give a copy to opposing counsel and the trustee and the Judge. You will keep the original to look at yourself. If you wish to show the Judge something, always state first "May I approach the bench, your honor?" Be respectful and never do anything without the Judge's permission. He will tell you when you may speak or he will ask you questions directly.

5. Jury trials are only permitted if both sides agree or if there is some issue of fact that exceeds the bounds of the bankruptcy judge. Therefore, in your situation there will be no jury trial even if the creditor would like one.

6. Watching an adversary proceeding would be a great idea, if you can find one. They are not publicly advertised; however, if you go to the Bankruptcy Court house and go to the area outside the Judge's court rooms they will have a list of all the proceedings happening each day. You can check through the paper list (or the electronic docket - if their court house has upgraded--it is a little computer podium) and see if anyone has an adversary proceeding trial. You may luck out and find that one is happening that day. If you do attend, show up at least 20-30 minutes early and when you go in the court room explain to the court clerk before the judge comes out and ask if it is ok if you observe and that you are merely trying to learn. You may want to ask any lawyers there too, so they don't eject you. Make sure to where a suit, as well. Federal Judges do not like people wearing street clothes in their courtrooms. If they say it is ok, just be polite, quiet, and sit in the back.


Consult with your attorney about the mediation issue. If the mediator has already been paid for and scheduled, you are required to attend. If it was agreed to and scheduled, you will be required to pay for half of the mediator's fees. If it has not be scheduled, explain to the opposing counseling you need to cancel it, or ask if they can cover the full amount of the fees.


I hope my answer has assisted you and that you will leave me a positive rating!

Elizabeth Prentice and other Bankruptcy Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Re: Mediation, It was scheduled but hasnt been paid, I will ask the opposing counsel to pay if they can.


The plaintiff also asked for a second deposition and scheduled it for the 30th. I am not comfortable for a second deposition and I would like to know my options and If I can ask them to get their questions answered during trial?


Now that my attorney is withdrawing, will I also get 30days to find another attorney? WIll that help me avoid second deposition?


I do have further questions, I will follow up on them tomorrow.

Have a good night after this.

If a second deposition is scheduled, you must attend. If you don't attend you will actually be in contempt of court. You do not want to incur the fines and wrath of the Judge. So there is no canceling. However, they can not ask you any questions they already asked you at the first deposition. It would be redundant for them and a waste of time. So if they do, state that you object on the record, but you have to still go ahead and answer after you object.

If your attorney is withdrawing, you will have to attend the hearing tomorrow and request the 30 days if you want. I can't advise on this since I haven't seen what your attorney put in his motion. typically a Judge will grant about 14 days. If the Judge says ok, then make sure to ask the opposing counsel to reschedule the 2nd deposition after whatever time the Judge gives you to find a new attorney.

I hope my answer has assisted you and that you will leave me a positive rating! Please know that you can request me personally in new questions, if you find you have any questions in the future. Just ask for me by name and explain that your questions is for me only, and that other experts should not respond.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Elizabeth, Back with this matter, w few additional Q's

Continuing with the bankruptcy matter, as I told you an adversary was filed in beforeI got my discharge. Initially I responded to it, and later I hired an attorney. The matter had continued through depositions and motions and paperwork back and forth. There is a mediation that was ordered by court (see attachment) which is scheduled for Aug29. I wasnt able to afford keeping my attorney and paying his fees so he filed an emergency motion to withdraw which was granted last week. During my first deposition, I had raised the fifth due to a possible criminal self incrimination. The two year statute for the possible misdemeanor expired in July last month, however I am afraid that during deposition the plaintiff attorney can try to get me in another criminal matter that I am not even aware of. He had asked for a second deposition and that is also granted here in the motion (which my attorney didnt discuss with me) Now here are my questions

1.I am not in a position to pay for mediation. I responded to the mediator and the plaintiffs attorney after my attorney had withdrawn from the case, the plaintiff's attorney has not responded yet and the mediator said he will not continue the mediation without a 50% deposit.I called the judicial assistant and she said as I was ordered for mediation I have to do it, and asked me to consider speaking to mediator of filling some kind of motion or looking up forms for legal assistance. What are my options now? WIth just 3 days in between what is my best option? How can I request the court to ask plaintiffs attorney to pay for mediation?


2.I was advised on this forum to maintain my right to the 5th, how can I assert that right if the court order says NO, Can I still assert it and say there are other criminal self incrimination likelihood? Whats my best option to use the 5th?


3.In the order, it asks for the deposition to be done before Aug20. With the fact that my attorney just withdrew, How can I ask for the deposition to be postponed to give me time to hire an attorney? I dont think the plaintiff attorney will be OK with that, plus trial date is set for Sep29 4.If I have to file any motion or affidavit with the court, what will be the gist of that filling?