Articles from The Massachusetts Focus
Newsletter of Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Massachusetts Offices
Fall 2003, Volume 2, Number 4
by Donald Brown, Paralegal
We have had a lot of questions lately regarding bankruptcy situations in titles. The following is an informative session to answer some of the more commonly posed questions we get when dealing with these issues:
Question: How do I get information on a bankruptcy in my title?
Answer: There are three different ways to search for bankruptcy information. They are as follows: the Bankruptcy Automated System, PACER, and even physically going to either the Bankruptcy Court or to the National Archives to pull the physical file.
Question: How do I use the Bankruptcy Automated System?
Answer: The Bankruptcy Automated System is a voice case information system designed to allow you to search any open or closed bankruptcy matter. You may reach it by dialing 888-201-3571 or 617-565-6025. You are allowed five searches a call, and you will need a touchtone phone to use the system. There are three ways in which you may search for a case: case number, participant name, or participant social security number or Tax I.D. number. When you find the case that you are looking for, the recording will give you the case number, type of bankruptcy filed, the trustee, name of the judge, parties in the case, their attorney, and a brief status of the case (for example, whether the case is open, discharged, or closed).
Question: How do I use PACER?
Answer: The first thing is to locate the website, which is as follows: http://pacer.mab.uscourts.gov. The second thing I usually stress when we use PACER is that it is a pay service with an access fee of $.07 per page when printing out docket entries. You can register online or call their service center at 800-676-6856. Once you are set up and are able to look up bankruptcy information they will give a prompt to enter a client code so you can track any activity by client being made under your code and password. This is a very informative and good system, and you can search a bankruptcy with a broad array of information, case number, participant name, or participant social security number or Tax I.D. number. Once you find the case that you are looking for, you may look at the docket entries, which is the information and status of the case. From the docket you can access almost all of the motions filed by the parties, and more importantly, any orders filed by the court.
Question: How do I physically research and pull a bankruptcy file?
Answer: There are two districts of the Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts. There is one located in Boston for cases filed in Boston and in the outlying areas, and one located in Worcester for cases filed in Western Massachusetts. For your information, the Bankruptcy Courts are set up to use the PACER system, as described above. Before going to the actual clerk's office at the Bankruptcy Court, I would call first to confirm whether or not the clerk's office has record of the particular case your are looking for, and if it is an open or closed case. If the case is closed, you may be directed to the National Archives Center in Waltham.
Question: What is the National Archives Center in Waltham, and what is its purpose?
Answer: The National Archive Center is a federal repository for closed bankruptcy files. You may reach them at 866-329-6465. In order to examine files in Waltham you will need to make an appointment. When you get to their offices at 380 Trapelo Road, in Waltham, they will have your case waiting for you. You may not take anything but a pen and paper into the room with the file. Spend as much or as little time with the file as your need. They will make copies of anything your need, but you must pay cash for the copies. Alternatively, you may send a request for a document and they will pull it, and send it to you. This latter method takes longer.