Contact Information and Procedural Requirements for Matters before the Honorable Maria Ellena Chavez-Ruark
Copies of Papers: Courtesy copies of filings made through mandatory e-filing should be sent to Chambers only when the exhibits number more than 100 pages or upon request of the Court.
Deliveries to Chambers: Any deliveries to chambers must be made during normal business hours.
Contested Matters: Parties should comply with Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(2) in contested matters.
Communication for Proposed Orders: Counsel should send a courtesy email to the Courtroom Deputy to alert Chambers that a proposed order (whether new or amended) has been uploaded or filed after a hearing.
Communication for Emergencies: Counsel should send a courtesy email to the Courtroom Deputy when filing a motion to shorten time to respond and/or request for an immediate hearing.
Local Rules Govern: The Local Rules for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland will govern all procedural aspects of the case. To access the Local Rules, click here.
Attorney Inquiry Regarding Appearances: Attorney appearance is required unless expressly excused. All inquiries from attorneys regarding excused absences from any proceeding must be made at least three business days prior to the scheduled appearance. Requests for excused appearances for proceedings on Monday must be made by noon on Friday.
Judge Ruark is amendable to telephonic appearances. Requests for telephonic appearance are to be made by contacting the Courtroom Deputy at least two business days in advance of a hearing. Counsel appearing by telephone assume the risk of disconnection or miscommunication and are strongly encouraged to use a land line and not a cellular phone, speaker phone or hands-free device. Counsel may not make a proffer, examine witnesses or introduce evidence when appearing by telephone.
Courtroom 3C in Greenbelt does not have any installed presentation technology. However, with at least three business days’ advance notice and the approval of the Judge, a projector and screen can be set up for electronic presentation. Please contact the Judge's Courtroom Deputy by email or phone to ask for approval.
Hearings on Self-Docketed Matters: Click here for available hearing dates on self-docketed motions. Motions for relief from stay and other self-docketed matters that will take more than 20 minutes must be specially set. Please contact the Courtroom Deputy for a hearing date and time as soon as it becomes apparent that the matter will exceed the 20-minute limit.
Motions to Approve Short Sales in Chapter 13 Cases: In the absence of unusual circumstances, the movant must file with the motion a proposed order approving the sale and providing that all liens must be paid at closing unless any lien holder otherwise consents in writing.
Motions to Avoid Liens: Provided the motion complies with the Local Rules, Judge Ruark does not require counsel to appear at the scheduled hearing if no response has been filed to the motion.
Motions for Relief from the Automatic Stay: Judge Ruark hears motions for relief from the automatic stay on Thursdays. Movant’s counsel must send an email message to the Courtroom Deputy by the immediately preceding Wednesday (or, if Wednesday is a federal holiday, the immediately preceding business day) at 12:00 p.m. to alert the Court that the matter has been resolved by consent, has been continued or should be taken off the calendar as a “no response.” In the absence of notification to the Courtroom Deputy, the motion will be called at the scheduled date and time even if no response has been filed. If the motion includes a request for an equitable servitude against the property, the relief will not be granted by default and a hearing must be held.
First Day Motions in Business Chapter 11 Cases: Counsel should send a courtesy email to the Courtroom Deputy to alert Chambers of the filing of first day motions and to schedule all first day matters. In a Complex Chapter 11 Case, the Courtroom Deputy will schedule a first day hearing as soon as practicable upon at least 24 hours’ notice; counsel seeking a first day hearing on less than 24 hours’ notice must file an emergency motion for expedited hearing in accordance with the Court’s Administrative Order No. 02-03 and Local Bankruptcy Rule 9013-7. In all other business Chapter 11 cases, upon the filing of a motion for expedited hearing, the Courtroom Deputy will schedule a first day hearing no sooner than 24 hours after receipt of the first day motions. Debtor’s counsel is encouraged to file an affidavit or declaration of the debtor’s authorized representative in support of any first day motions.
Initial Cash Collateral Hearings: Counsel should send a courtesy email to the Courtroom Deputy to request an emergency cash collateral hearing.
Orders Submitted to Chambers: All proposed orders uploaded for consideration shall conform to Local Bankruptcy Rule 9004-1(b) and shall reference the motion and docket number of the motion. If an order is not submitted promptly after a hearing, there may be a delay in entry of the order. Counsel is encouraged to use any applicable form order in Appendix A of the Local Bankruptcy Rules.
Service: Many companies do not have a registered agent listed with Maryland SDAT, particularly if they are not domiciled in Maryland. An easy way to comply with Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 7004(b) is to serve a named officer of the company, such as the President or CEO, which can often be found by doing a simple internet search.
Objections to Claims: Objections to proofs of claim can often be sustained by the court without need for a hearing if accompanied by an affidavit or declaration in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1746 (that is, sworn or made under the penalties of perjury) by the debtor. See, e.g., In re Gates, 214 B.R. 467 (Bankr. D. Md. 1997).
Pre-Trial Procedures When All Parties Represented by Counsel: Judge Ruark generally will not require appearance at a pre-trial conference if the parties conduct a conference as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f)(1), made applicable by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 7026, and the parties then file a joint report pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f)(2) that includes suggested deadlines for (i) completion of discovery, (ii) identification of any experts and filing of reports, (iii) filing of any dispositive motions and (iv) any other actions requested by the parties. Any such joint report must be filed at least three business days prior to the scheduled pre-trial conference. Counsel for one of the parties should send an e-mail to the Courtroom Deputy advising that such a report has been filed by the parties, and the parties will be notified if their appearances have been excused. Judge Ruark encourages the parties to use the form joint Rule 26(f) report available here.
Pre-Trial Procedures When at Least One Party Not Represented by Counsel: Judge Ruark requires a pre-trial conference if at least one party is a pro se individual even if no response has been timely filed to the complaint.
Trial Procedures: Each party should deliver to Chambers three copies of its exhibits, and the exhibits should be pre-filed, bound and labeled. Double sided copies of exhibits are strongly encouraged. Binder size should not exceed four inches in width (use additional binders if necessary and avoid overstuffing binder so pages can turn easily). Each exhibit binder should begin with an exhibit list identifying each exhibit by number, and each exhibit should be tabbed with an exhibit number. If exhibits are not pre-filed as required, they may be excluded from evidence.
Counsel are not excused from participating at reaffirmation hearings but may appear by telephone. Requests for telephonic appearance are to be made by contacting the Courtroom Deputy at least two business days in advance of a hearing. Counsel appearing by telephone assumes the risk of disconnection or miscommunication and are strongly encouraged to use a land line and not a cellular phone, speaker phone or hands-free device.