In re Hindra v. Dockery, US Trustee & Deutsche Bank, BAP No. CC-18-1132-KuTaF (9th Circuit, Jan 29, 2019) In 2016 the debtor, using an attorney, filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy and everything went downhill from there. There was a general failure to file the proper documents, meet deadlines or pay the amounts necessary in order to cure the arrears owed to the debtor’s mortgage company, plus much more (this blog is too short to list all the problems). Ultimately the court dismissed the chapter 13 case for failure to comply with the chapter 13 process (according to the court – the debtor’s case was dismissed upon Trustee’s request for numerous reasons including, among others, failure to make disclosures and provide information regarding her previous cases). There were two appeals (the 9th Cir. BAP and the Ninth Circuit), but both failed. Later the debtor returned to the Bankruptcy Court to try to reopen the case. According to the court, the debtor filed a motion to vacate the dismissal and reopen the bankruptcy case which is connected to this appeal. The debtor’s motion was based on the following: the debtor’s computer was stolen which prevented timely filing the motion to vacate and reopen sooner (you guessed it – the debtor failed).
What is my point? Know the law before jumping into any process, especially bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy is like complicated surgery. You would not give a scalpel to your three year old and say “do your best”, at least not if you want to live. So, why would anyone think they can walk into one of the most complicated legal processes, either not knowing or ignoring the law and rules; and ignoring advice from those within the process (the judge and the trustee).
But, I cannot afford an attorney to help with bankruptcy.
Believe me – I understand. Having done this work for more than 35 years I have seen people of all walks of life and income levels. There are lots of resources (free and otherwise) there for the asking. Most consumer debtor attorneys offer free consultations (like our office). I started the Self-Help Center at the Arizona Bankruptcy Court in 2005. We have helped thousands learn what to do, and more importantly what not do. Some were able to hire our volunteers or referred to other great attorneys, others were shown how to file their own bankruptcies. Unfortunately, too many visitors to the Center came to us after they filed their own bankruptcy only to find out that they would lose their tax refunds and other non-exempt property.MUSINGS FROM DIANE:
You cannot help those who won’t listen to good advice
Would an experienced bankruptcy attorney be able to help Etta Hindra? Perhaps, but looking over the description of her failures, my guess is that she may not have listened to even the more seasoned and patient bankruptcy lawyer. Ms. Hindra actually started out with an attorney, but after the case was filed the attorney bailed. Why? No clue, perhaps inexperience or just a difficult client.