The Sacramento Bankruptcy Court is a big place with multiple floors, departments and functions. I’m going to briefly describe the Court from top to bottom for folks who have never been there before.
The first thing that you need to know is that the Sacramento Bankruptcy Court is not a stand-alone court. The Bankruptcy Court is located at 501 I Street in Sacramento, also known as the Robert T. Matsui Federal Courthouse. The courthouse houses the Federal District court, the Bankruptcy Court, and various other governmental offices.
To get into the courthouse, you first must go through security. The security setup at the courthouse is very similar to the airport. They have two lines for metal detectors, and everyone entering the courthouse must first go through security. Some types of shoes and belts will set off the metal detectors, so be prepared to remove shoes, belts, and large items of jewelry.
Besides the obvious stuff, the security will not allow cameras into the courthouse. So leave your cameras behind. Cell phones and smart phones are fine, but you should make sure that you silence them before entering the courthouse.
The Bankruptcy Clerk’s Office is located on the Third Floor of the courthouse. This is where you may file paper documents with the court, obtain information regarding the status of your bankruptcy, or pay your bankruptcy filing fee. The Clerk’s Office is not allowed to give you legal advice. That is what your attorney is for.
Tip: if you are paying the bankruptcy filing fee with installments, make sure that you bring exact change to the court. The Clerk will not issue change, and they only accept cash.
Bankruptcy Help Desk
Also located on the Third Floor is the Bankruptcy Help Desk. Volunteer attorneys (including me) are available each Friday from 9 am to 12 pm. The volunteer attorneys are allowed to answer general questions regarding the bankruptcy process. They also allowed to provide assistance with the bankruptcy forms. While specific legal advice cannot be provided, many attendees find a visit to the help desk to be very productive.
In every bankruptcy case, there is a “meeting of creditors.” Each debtor is required to appear to the meeting of creditors to answer basic questions about their bankruptcy. The meeting of creditors is administered by the Bankruptcy Trustee. As the name implies, this is also an opportunity for your creditors to appear and ask questions of you.
Meetings of creditors occur in hearing rooms located at on the 7th Floor of the courthouse. There are three separate hearing rooms, and hearings could be going on simultaneously in all three rooms — depending on how busy the court is at a given time.
The hearing rooms are less formal than the actual courtrooms, and the meeting of creditors is generally less formal than an actual court session as well.
The Sacramento Bankruptcy Court has five courtrooms dedicated to bankruptcy proceedings. The courtrooms are located on the Sixth and Seventh floor. These courtrooms look just like you would expect a federal courtroom to look like, and the proceedings here are very formal. In most consumer bankruptcy cases, you as the debtor aren’t required to appear before a judge. Most cases are administered from start to finish by the Bankruptcy Trustee.
If you have any questions about declaring bankruptcy in Sacramento, please call my office at (916) 333-2222.