TNWB :: Judge Barnett

Honorable Denise E. Barnett

Announcements / News

    Welcome to Judge Barnett’s Chamber’s Web Page. This web page is intended to provide "best practices" guidance for practitioners. The web page will be updated periodically, and so you are encouraged to check here for updates, announcements, and news alerts.

  • Judge Denise E. Barnett: Changes and Reminders for Hearings. Updated: May 1, 2024.[5/1/2024]
  • Please review the newly-created Style Guide under "Contested Matters and Adversary Proceedings." It has a lot of useful information as to proper citation and formatting of orders.[11/16/2023]

Chambers Information

Honorable Denise E. Barnett, 200 Jefferson Avenue, Courtroom 630
United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Memphis, Tennessee 38103
Western District of Tennessee 901-328-3524

Courtroom Deputy: Tonya Lepone    901-328-3572
Judicial Law Clerk: Aileen Kim    901-328-3524
Judicial Law Clerk: Kristen Evans    901-328-3522

  1. Role of Chambers Staff. For inquiries regarding procedures, including Judge Barnett’s preferences, please contact one of the Judge’s Judicial Law Clerks.

    Please keep in mind that Chambers staff are prohibited from engaging in unilateral or ex parte communications with creditors, debtors, and attorneys. Also, staff are prohibited from providing legal advice.
  2. Correspondence. Written communication to the Judge regarding pending cases are discouraged; written communication ordinarily should be through pleadings. Letters to the Judge from pro se litigants may, at the Judge's discretion, be treated as pleadings and docketed as such. Judge Barnett does not conduct ex parte meetings in her chambers.
  3. Scheduling. Inquiries regarding scheduling or hearing matters, please contact Tonya Lepone, Courtroom Deputy.

  1. Hearings.
    Judge Barnett's Chapters 7 and 11 matters are generally set at 9:30 (7’s) and 11:00 a.m. (11’s) every other Tuesday. Chapter 13 matters are set Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. Matters requiring additional time may be specially set upon request or at the Court’s discretion.

    Any Chapter 13 matters set at 9:00 a.m. are with the Chapter 13 Trustee’s office. Please do not appear before the Court for any matter set on the 9:00 a.m. Chapter 13 trustee’s docket.
  2. Continuances and Resolved Matters.
    In chapter 13 cases, counsel should communicate settlements and requests for continuances to the chapter 13 trustee no later than noon on Thursday (the week prior to your Tuesday hearing).

    In chapter 7 and chapter 11 cases, counsel should communicate settlements and requests for continuances to Courtroom Deputy by no later than noon on Thursday (the week prior to your Tuesday hearing).

    If there is NOT full agreement about a continuance, you should file a motion in advance of the scheduled hearing and contact Courtroom Deputy Tonya Lepone to receive an expedited setting on the request for continuance. See L.B.R. 5071-1.
  3. In-Person and Virtual Hearings.
    Judge Barnett’s hearing are conducted in-person for all calendar matters. However, Judge Barnett will allow attorneys to appear virtually, unless the matter requires trial, evidentiary hearing, or more in-depth arguments. If you would like to appear virtually, simply notify Courtroom Deputy Tonya Lepone no later than Thursday by noon (the week prior to your hearing).

    If on the date of a scheduled matter, you will be unavoidably delayed beyond the time a matter is set, please call Chambers staff.
  4. Courtroom Decorum.
    For purposes of the record, please state your name and your client’s name, even if you appear regularly in the bankruptcy court and are appearing on more than one case on the same day.

    Address all remarks to the court, not to opposing counsel without leave of the court. Refer to all persons using surnames and not by their first names.
  5. Make a Record.
    Parties are encouraged to summarize the relevant facts, state the applicable Code provision or Rule under which you are seeking relief, and explain why the relief sought should be granted.
  1. Who Drafts the Proposed Order. With few exceptions, Judge Barnett will request that counsel prepare the proposed order on a particular matter when she enters the disposition on the Court’s calendar, whether in advance of the scheduled hearing, or at the conclusion of a hearing.
  2. Chapter 13 Orders. Proposed orders in Chapter 13 cases must be submitted to the Chapter 13 Trustee assigned to the Debtor’s case.
  3. Preparation of Orders – General Guidance.
    1. Use all capital letters for the court and division:
    3. Begin your orders with the following language: This case [or proceeding] came before the Court on [date of hearing], on the [Debtor’s/Creditor’s] [Title of Motion]. (ECF No. ___).
    4. Do not place the ECF number of the motion in the caption or title of the order but include it in the body. Refer to the docket as "ECF No.___" and not "document #," "court doc no.," or other variations.
    5. Include a short explanation of whether there were/were not any objections or responses to the motion.
    6. In matters where there is a response to a motion or an objection, parties shall prepare a single order addressing both the motion/objection and the response, citing to the record (ECF numbers) for the filed documents.
    7. Begin the decretal paragraph with: "Accordingly, it is ORDERED:"
    8. Refrain from using legalese such as "heretofore, theretofore, hereinafter, herein, whereby, therein, be it remembered, etc."
    9. Please review the sample form order here.
  4. Motions and Orders on Amended Bankruptcy Documents.
    Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 1009(a).

    Pursuant to Rule 1009(a), the debtor may amend the schedules as a matter of course, at any time before the case is closed. Such documents may be filed with the Court without a motion.
  1. Contested Matters: Motions, Objections, and Responses.
    Bankruptcy Rules Reference: 2002, 9014, 3008, 7004; L.B.R. 4001-1, 4001-2, 7016-1, 9013-1, 9016-1.
    1. Service of Process. The service requirement is an essential component of bankruptcy practice.

      Bankruptcy Rule 9014(b) requires all contested matters to be served in manner prescribed by Bankruptcy Rule 7004.

      Bankruptcy Rule 3007(a)(2) outlines the manner of service of objection to claims.

      The "Certificate of Service" should reflect all relevant parties are properly served with a copy of the motion.

      Further guidance can be found here.
    2. Drafting Motions and Objections. When drafting your motion remember this is federal court, and notice pleading rules apply. The motion or objection must include sufficient details that describe the facts, issues, and relief being sought.

      Do not combine motions that seek different relief or combine motions with objections. The governing timeframes for notices and hearings may not be consistent.

      When filing a response, include information that will be helpful to the Court in deciding the issues before the Court.

      Attorneys should review papers in final form before the document is filed with the court.
      1. Relief from the Automatic Stay and Other Stay Motions. State the specific subsections of 362 of the Code and Bankruptcy Rule that provide a basis for relief. Rule that provide a basis for relief.
        • Explain movant’s relationship to the debtor (e.g., mortgagee, landlord, etc.).
        • The motion should include a description of the real or personal property.
          • Real Estate: Provide a description of the real property that is the subject of the motion including the address and legal description.
          • Automobiles: Description of the automobile, including year, make, model, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
        • The motion should describe the debt and the lending instrument giving rise to the obligation and lien.
          • Describe the mortgage, note, deed of trust, retail installment contract, and other lien documents including the date of the instrument, the original parties to the instrument (if not the debtor or the movant), and the applicable recording information.
          • The total pre-petition and post-petition indebtedness at the time of the filing of the motion allegedly owed by debtor to the movant.
          • The movant’s estimated market value of the real property or automobile, and the source of that estimated value.
        • Provide a short and plain statement of the facts upon which the requested relief is based. Describe how the requirements of the specific subsection of 362 are met in the present case.
        • If a chapter 7 individual case, a statement whether the property is claimed exempt by the debtor or abandoned by the trustee.
        • If the motion seeks relief from stay regarding a lease, the motion must include:
          • Terms of the lease (monthly payment amount, payment due date, late date, cost of late payment, length of lease, whether the expired, due date of month, etc.).
          • Pre-petition arrearage.
          • Whether the chapter 13 plan provides assumption or rejection of the lease.
          • Whether the chapter 13 plan provides for payment of pre-petition arrears.
          • Amount (if any) of post-petition defaults at the time the motion is filed.
      2. Motion to Sell Property.
        • State the appropriate section of the Bankruptcy Code and Rule under which the motion is being filed.
        • For real estate:
          • Describe the real property to be sold (motion must contain the address, and if available, the short legal description of the real property)
          • The sale price.
          • Value of the property.
          • Outstanding amounts owed to lien holders (mortgagees, property taxes, and other lien holders).
          • Closing costs to be paid by the debtor, if any.
          • State of the real property is the debtors homestead, and state amount of claim exemption.
          • State the net proceeds after all deductions (mortgages, liens, taxes, closing costs, exemptions).
          • If the some or all the sales proceeds will be used to fund the chapter 13 plan, state whether the estimated amount to be paid may pay off the chapter 13 plan.
          • Anticipate date of sale (closing date).
        • For personal property (non-real estate):
          For a vehicle, state the year, make, model, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
        • For other personal property, provide a clear description of the property.
        • State the sale price and the value of property.
          • State whether the property is claimed as exempt, and amount of claimed exemption.
          • Net proceeds after all deductions (liens, taxes, closing costs, exemptions)
          • Anticipated date of sale.
          • Reason for the sale and how the proceeds will be used.
      3. Motions to Incur Post-petition Debt:
        • The amount of the debt that the debtor is seeking to incur.
        • State the reason for the debt—e.g., vehicle purchase, mortgage, education.
        • If seeking to incur a mortgage debt, the motion should state the amount of the mortgage, include interest rate, any closing costs or fees, mortgage term (15-year or 30-year), estimated monthly mortgage payment (including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance).
        • Describe the debtor’s ability to pay the installment payments Debtor’s (summarize current budget, or state whether an amended Schedules I and J will be or have been filed).
        • State how the debtor will be making the new loan payments (directly to lender or through the chapter 13 plan).
        • State the status of the chapter 13 plan payments (is the debtor current on plan payments).
        • Short and clear statement regarding the reasonableness and necessity of incurring this post-petition debt.
      4. Motion to Modify Confirmed Chapter 13 Plan Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 1329:
        • Short and clear statement that describes why the debtor wants to modify the confirmed chapter 13 plan. For example, "Debtor seeks to modify the confirmed chapter 13 plan pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 1329 because [describe reason(s) for modification]."
        • A brief description of the procedural history of all the case, outlining all critical dates—petition date, date of confirmation order, any other orders granting motions to modify plan, and include the ECF/document number for each critical event.
        • Short and clear statement that explains that the legal requirements for modifying a confirmed plan are met.
      5. Applications to Employ Non-Bankruptcy Professionals:
        Applications to employ professionals in a non-bankruptcy related matter (such as a personal injury action) should be filed with this Court as soon as the Debtor is aware of the action.
      6. Objections to Claims:
        • State the claim number.
        • Complete name of creditor as listed on the proof claim.
        • Explain the factual and legal reasons for the objection.
        • State whether claim should be disallowed in its entirety, in part, or some other relief.
    3. Motions to Extend the Automatic Stay and/or to Reimpose the Stay.
      Bankruptcy Code Reference: 11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(3) and (4).

      Motions to extend or reimpose the automatic stay should be timely filed. A good practice is to place this motion on a checklist of "things to do" when the petition is filed. To extend the automatic stay, the motion must be filed and heard within 30 days of the filing of the petition. A motion to reimpose the stay must be filed within 30 days of the filing of the petition and is affective upon entry of the order. Sufficient facts should be alleged supporting requirements under relevant subsection of 362(c)(3) and (4).
  2. Adversary Proceedings

    Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 7001, 7004; LBR 7016-1
    Rule 7001 outlines matters that require an adversary proceeding. Rule 7004 outlines the requirements for service of a summons and complaint.
    1. Complaint Seeking Turnover of Property.
      The complaint must include basic information such as:
      • Description of the property (for example, type of vehicle, including the make, model, year, and VIN).
      • Date creditor took possession of the property.
      • Date and time of request made to the creditor for turnover (return of property).
      • Whether the creditor has responded to the request for turnover, if any.
      • Use of the property (e.g., Debtor used the vehicle for work).
      • Statement/discussion regarding need for expedited or emergency hearing.
      • Information regarding service how creditor was served with complaint.
    2. Complaints (Other than Request for Turnover).
      1. Complaint.
        The complaint must be sufficiently pled pursuant to Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 7008 and 7009.
      2. Service of Complaint and Summons.
        The Summons and Notice of Pretrial Conference will be issued. Plaintiff must serve the summons and complaint pursuant Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 7004.
      3. Proof of Service.
        On the back of the summons is a certificate of service to be completed regarding the service of the summons and complaint. This certificate should be filed with the Court in the adversary proceeding, as proof of service of the summons and complaint. See here.
      4. Pretrial Conference.
        At the pretrial conference, the Court will address any responsive pleadings or answers filed in response to the complaint.

        If a response was filed and the complaint has not been resolved the Court will continue the pretrial conference or enter a trial order.

        If neither a responsive pleading nor answer is filed, the Court will review service of the complaint. If appropriate, in proceedings where there is no response to the complaint, plaintiff may be entitled to an entry of a default and a possible default judgment.

        Obtaining a Clerk’s Entry of Default and Default Judgment. Default and default judgments are governed by the Federal Bankruptcy Rules of Procedure 7055(b)(1) and (b)(2). If there is no answer filed to properly served complaint, the plaintiff may move for the entry of a Clerk’s Default. After the entry of default by the Clerk of Court, the plaintiff may then move for entry of an order granting default judgment and submit the default judgment for entry by the Court.
        • Service of Summons and Complaint made consistent with Bankruptcy Rule 7004.
        • Plaintiff Files Proof of Service or Certificate of Service in the Adversary Proceeding.
        • Motion for Entry of Default by the Clerk of Court.
        • Clerk’s Entry of Default.
        • Motion for Default Judgment.
        • Affidavit regarding allegations in the complaint.
        • Order Granting Judgment by Default.
        • Default Judgment.
        Please find sample pleadings here.
  3. Style Guide – Suggested Guidance for Legal Drafting.
  1. Appearances. Trials and evidentiary hearings require that attorneys and witnesses appear in person. Virtual appearances are not allowed except in special circumstances.
  2. Exhibits. For trials and evidentiary hearings in contested matters and adversary proceedings, parties must comply with the Court’s Scheduling Order which provides specific instructions regarding trial exhibits. Please do not file trial exhibits in the case or with the Clerk's office. Information regarding exhibits will be provided in the Trial Order. After the final determination of any contested matter or adversary proceeding, counsel will be notified that they have thirty days to retrieve any original or hard copy exhibits introduced into evidence. See L.B.R. 9072-1.
  3. Electronic Court Recording. All hearings before the Bankruptcy Court are recorded. Please speak clearly, spell difficult names, and do not speak while someone else is speaking.
  4. Transcripts. Information for obtaining transcripts and recordings of proceedings is found at the Transcripts link on the court’s website at Instructions for ordering transcripts are provided. See L.B.R. 5077.
  5. Transcripts Filed with the Court. Transcripts of court proceedings may only be electronically filed by the court reporter or transcriber and docketed by the Clerk's office. The availability of an electronically filed transcript is limited by and subject to the policy set forth in Standing Order 08-0006, entered on October 6, 2008, and available on the court's website under "Standing Orders".
  1. Approval of Settlement. The procedure for approval of a settlement is governed by the Federal Rules and Local Bankruptcy Rule 5070-1(b) which provides:

    Whenever a contested matter or adversary proceeding is settled or otherwise disposed of outside of a hearing, counsel shall immediately notify the Courtroom Deputy and any trustee appointed in the case and shall promptly submit a proposed consent order for approval and entry. In addition, to obtain approval of a compromise or settlement in an adversary proceeding, a motion must be filed in the main bankruptcy case pursuant to Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9019 and served as directed in Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 2002(a)(3).
  2. Settlement Conferences. The parties may request a settlement conference in a case or proceeding over which Judge Barnett presides. Arrangements can be made for one of the other bankruptcy judges to conduct the settlement conference at no cost to the parties. See Local Bankruptcy Rule 9019-1.
Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 1007, 2014, 2016; L.B.R. 2081-1
  1. Initial Status Conference. Upon filing of a Voluntary Chapter 11 Petition (commencing a Chapter 11 case), the Court will review the case and enter an order scheduling an Initial Status Conference. At the initial status conference, debtor’s counsel should be prepared to discuss the status of the case, reasons for the bankruptcy case, pending motions and/or applications, deadlines for filing a plan and disclosure statement (if appropriate), special noticing issues, the need for scheduling regular status conferences, and any other matters has the Court or parties may deem appropriate.

    From the initial status conference, the Court will set a deadline for the filing of a Plan and Disclosure Statement in the standard chapter 11 case, or for the filing of a Plan in the Subchapter V chapter 11 case.
  2. Disclosure Statement, Plan, and Deadlines. Upon filing of the Plan and Disclosure Statement in the standard Chapter 11 case (or the Plan in a Subchapter V Chapter 11 case), the Court will enter an order scheduling confirmation hearing and setting pre-confirmation deadlines.

    In non-subchapter V chapter 11 cases, the Court will review the case to determine whether a separate disclosure statement hearing should be scheduled, and if appropriate, enter an order scheduling a disclosure statement hearing. If a separate disclosure statement is not needed, the Court will enter an order conditionally approving disclosure statement, fixing time to file objections to the final approval of the disclosure statement, fixing time to file applications for administrative expenses, setting hearing on confirmation of the plan and final approval of the disclosure statement, and setting deadlines with respect to confirmation hearing.
  3. Post Confirmation. Post-confirmation, the Court will schedule periodic status conferences until the entry of an order administratively closing the case or the entry of the Final Decree.
  4. Compliance with Requirements of the United States Trustee. Chapter 11 debtors should comply with requirements of the United States Trustee, including timely filing monthly financial reports due on the 21st. day of the month, following the calendar month for which the debtor is reporting.
  5. Involuntary Case Opening and General Processing – Chapter 7 and 11

    Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 1010, 7004; L.B.R. 1003-1

    An involuntary case is initiated with the filing of an involuntary petition. The Petitioning Creditors must serve the involuntary petition on the purported debtor along with a summons. The Certificate of Service must be filed with the Court within seven (7) days of the issuance of summons.

    Filing Checklist:

    Confirm use of the correct and most recent Official Form for all papers.
    1. Review the involuntary petition to determine if:
      • Involuntary Debtor’s name is spelled correctly, and all aliases are listed.
      • Involuntary Debtor’s mailing address is complete and accurate.
      • The correct type of bankruptcy is selected.
      • Individual debtor’s social security number is correct and redacted on the involuntary petition.
      • Non-individual debtor's employer identification number (EIN) is complete on the involuntary petition; and
      • All petitioning creditors have signed the involuntary petition.
    2. File Corporate Ownership Statement for all corporate petitioning creditors.
    3. Pay filing fee.
    4. Serve Involuntary Petition and Summons on involuntary debtor and file a certificate of service with the Court within seven (7) days of issuance.

      Note: If petitioning creditor cannot properly serve the summons and involuntary petition pursuant to Bankruptcy Rules 1010 and 7004, then an alias summons should be requested from the Clerk.