Revised and effective August 15, 2014

 The following procedures are specific to Judge Agresti's cases and are mandatory unless otherwise ordered.

These procedures and the hearing dates posted are subject to change at any time. Parties and Counsel are responsible for reviewing the procedures and using only the posted hearing dates.

These procedures supplement and do not replace the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Local Rules, and General Orders of this Court.

  (1)       Filing Pleadings and Proposed Orders: (Revised 09/20/11)

All pleadings are to be electronically filed with the Clerk's Office. All pleadings requesting relief must include, as a separate attachment, a proposed order which details the specific relief to be granted. All pleadings and other documents, including orders and certificates of service, regarding a matter that is already filed shall contain the caption, case number and docket number of the matter to which they relate.

(b)       All matters filed with the Clerk's Office should include the filer's current email address as well as all other required identifying information.
  (2)       No Courtesy Copies:   (Revised 09/20/11)   No courtesy paper copies of electronically filed pleadings shall be delivered directly to Judge Agresti unless specifically ordered. Except in regard to emergency matters (see below), no pleadings or correspondence are to be faxed or e-mailed to Chambers unless authorized by Judge Agresti or his staff.
  (3)       Emergency Hearings:   (Revised 08/15/14)

In regard to all emergency matters, immediately upon filing, Counsel is required to telephonically or electronically notify the appropriate Courtroom Deputy of the filing of any pleading requesting emergency treatment.  For Pittsburgh Division cases contact Laurel McWilliams at 412-355-3261. For Erie Division cases contact Victoria Sontheimer at 814-464-9744.


In all cases, the movant shall serve a copy of the completed scheduling Order and the Motion by hand delivery, direct email (separate from CM/ECF) and/or fax, to the extent possible, on the Respondent(s), Trustee, Debtor, Debtor's Counsel, all secured creditors whose interests may be affected by the relief requested, U.S. Trustee and counsel for any committee.  Service must also be via U.S. Mail.  Movant shall immediately file a certificate of service indicating such service.

  (4)       Motion Court for Chapter 12 and 13 cases:   (Revised 08/15/14)   Judge Agresti usually conducts Motion Court for all Chapter 12 and 13 cases on Wednesdays on approximately 18 separate dates over the course of a year.  Wednesday mornings are reserved for his Erie Division matters at times and dates periodically announced and posted on his website throughout the year.  Wednesday afternoons are likewise reserved and announced for all of Judge Agresti's Pittsburgh Division Chapter 12 and 13 matters.
  (5)       Motion Court for Chapter 7, 11 and 15 cases:   (Revised 08/15/14)   Judge Agresti usually conducts Motion Court for all Chapter 7, 11 and 15 cases on Thursdays on approximately the second and fourth Thursday of each month.  Thursday mornings are reserved for his Erie Division Chapter 7, 11 and 15 matters at times and dates periodically announced and posted on his website throughout the year.  Thursday afternoons are likewise reserved for all of Judge Agresti's Pittsburgh Division Chapter 7, 11 and 15 matters.
  (6)       Continued, Rescheduled, Cancelled Hearings:   (Revised 08/15/14)   Hearings will not be continued, rescheduled, or cancelled, even if the matter has been settled, unless an appropriate motion and proposed order have been electronically filed with the Clerk's Office at least 3 (three) full business days before the scheduled hearing date. If time does not allow filing 3 days before the scheduled hearing date, a representative of a Party must appear at the scheduled hearing to provide a status report to the Court. Calling Chambers or the Courtroom Deputies will not continue, reschedule, or cancel the hearing.

Witnesses:   (Revised 08/15/14)

No witnesses will be heard and no exhibits received on motion days unless the Court specifically orders otherwise in a particular case. All Evidentiary Hearings will be specially scheduled.

For Evidentiary Hearings and Trials, witnesses and counsel for the parties shall appear in person unless prior arrangements have been made with Chambers, if appropriate cause is shown, by prior court order allowing the witness to appear by video or telephone. The use of depositions, generally, at Evidentiary Hearings and Trials will be governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence, provided however, that Judge Agresti will not allow the use of a deposition that was taken because the witness will be unavailable for the Evidentiary Hearing or Trial unless the party taking such deposition obtained prior approval of the Court.


Video Conference Procedures:

Except for the limited exceptions otherwise noted in these Procedures, Judge Agresti requires Parties and their Counsel to personally appear in any pending matter including Motion Court, provided however, for non-evidentiary hearings only, Judge Agresti does permit Counsel to appear via video conference from either his Pittsburgh or Erie Courtroom for both Pittsburgh and Erie matters.

(Revised 08/15/14)   ADVANCE NOTICE. Parties or Counsel wishing to participate in a hearing by video conference (or by telephone, where permitted) must advise the Court and opposing Parties at least three business days prior to the hearing in which the request to appear by video conference (or telephone) is being made. Arrangements for video conference (or telephone) participation may be made by contacting Judge Agresti's Deputy-in-Charge, Pamela Jewell, at 814-464-9760.

For purposes of efficient video conference hearings, the Moving Party should stand at the podium. The Respondent(s) may be seated, generally, at counsel table closest and to the right of the podium. Counsel must speak clearly into a microphone however when doing so please position yourself at least 4 inches away from the microphone to allow for clear audio.

During hearings in the Erie Courtroom involving 4 or more attorneys, or during trials and evidentiary hearings, the Court staff may supply Counsel with a lapel microphone to facilitate clear recording of the hearing. Counsel are advised that a single button on the front of the lapel microphone will turn the microphone on or mute the microphone. The microphone is on when the light on top of the lapel microphone is flashing green, the microphone is muted when the light on top of the lapel microphone is flashing red. Please ensure that your lapel microphone is on when speaking. Remember to return your lapel microphone at the conclusion of the hearing.

All microphones in the Erie and Pittsburgh Courtrooms are sensitive and Counsel should use discretion when speaking to Clients or other Counsel during or between hearings.

  (9)       Fee Applications:   (Revised 10/11/13) All fee applications for professionals must be signed by an attorney licensed to practice law and admitted to this Court and in a form consistent with W.PA.LBR 2016-1. No fee applications will be accepted, and will be summarily dismissed, if filed by anyone other than an attorney admitted to practice in this Court.
  (10)       Briefs:   (Revised 09/20/11)   Unless Court permission upon proper motion is received prior to filing, no brief by any Party shall be in excess of 20 pages.

Motions generally:   (Revised 09/20/11)   The practice of filing a motion with little more than a sentence or two stating the relief being requested and then directing the Court to an accompanying brief to identify the factual predicate for the motion is strongly disfavored by Judge Agresti. Such motions are subject to summary dismissal without prejudice.

Motions in adversary proceedings and contested matters are required to "state with particularity the grounds therefor." See Fed.R.Bankr.P. 7007, 9013. It is questionable whether the kind of "short form" motion described above meets this standard. Some attorneys file a short form motion along with a brief and attempt to adopt it by reference into the motion by directing the Court to look to the brief to learn more about the basis for the motion. For several reasons this practice is not approved.

As a matter of procedure, the Bankruptcy Rules do not contemplate adoption by reference in contested matters, see Fed.R.Bankr.P 9014. The practice is questionable at best in adversary proceedings because the brief does not qualify as a "pleading" see Fed.R.Bankr.P 7007(a), 7010(c). On a more substantive and practical level, the practice of filing a short form motion with an accompanying brief makes it difficult for the opposing party to respond to the motion, not to mention the difficulty confronted by the Court in determining what is at issue or the basis for the motion. Although the Court appreciates and encourages the practice of filing an accompanying brief with a motion, it is expected by Judge Agresti that the brief should only contain the legal citations in support of the relief requested in the motion and argument concerning the relevant facts. The motion itself should set forth only the necessary, factual allegations to support the motion and a clear statement of the relief being requested. Also, in preparing the allegations of fact in the motion, the Movant should strike a balance between the particularity requirement of Rule 9013 and the general, federal philosophy of short, concise "notice pleading" filings.

For the above reasons, Judge Agresti expects that motions will be in numbered paragraph form and will themselves contain a sufficient factual predicate so as to enable opposing parties and the Court to determine the grounds for the motion without the need to refer to an accompanying brief to identify the required factual predicate for the motion. The same applies to "responses" to motions, which, incidentally, are properly denominated as that - "response to motion" - rather than as an "objection," "answer," or other term.

  (12)       Motions for Summary Judgment:   (Revised: 09/20/11)   Summary judgment motions are sometimes filed in short form i.e., a short paragraph requesting summary judgment incorporating by reference all allegations, references to the record, legal citations and argument contained in an accompanying brief. This approach is inconsistent with Fed.R.Bankr.P. 7007, 9013 and such motions are subject to summary dismissal without prejudice. See Procedure A(11), above, regarding Motions generally. Judge Agresti expects that when a motion for summary judgment is filed, the motion itself contain all allegations of undisputed, material fact along with references to the record and all required exhibits/attachments. Any accompanying brief which is filed should only be for purposes of legal citation and argument with reference to the relevant undisputed facts, similar to the procedure set forth in W.D.PA.LCvR 56.
  (13)       Motions for Temporary Restraining Order:     (Revised 08/15/14) A plaintiff must electronically file a motion for temporary restraining order and a motion for preliminary injunction at the same adversary number as the corresponding complaint for injunctive relief. See Fed.R.Bankr.P. 7065 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 65. As soon as the request for a temporary restraining order is filed, the plaintiff must call the Courtroom Deputy to arrange a hearing. For Pittsburgh Division cases contact Laurel McWilliams at 412-355-3261. For Erie Division cases, contact Victoria Sontheimer at 814-464-9744.

Exhibits:   (Revised 08/24/12)   Unless otherwise directed to do so sooner, Counsel must provide the Court with three (3) copies of the marked exhibits three (3) full business days prior to the date set for the commencement of any proceeding in which exhibits are to be offered. Each Party shall make an additional set of exhibits available for use by witnesses at the time of the taking of evidence in any proceeding. All exhibits must be marked by Counsel using appropriate exhibit labels. The labels must be marked to identify the proponent of the exhibit and the date of the proceeding in which it is used. Plaintiffs/Movants shall identify their exhibits by using letters. Defendants/ Respondents shall use exhibit numbers.

In addition to the other requirements of this Procedure, if any Party's exhibits cumulatively number, in total aggregate, in excess of 20, single-sided, pages (not including an "Exhibit List" cover page index) they shall be bound in some manner, i.e., in loose-leaf notebook or hard binding, at the time of presentation to the Court and for use during any proceeding. The lower right hand corner of each page of the collective exhibit document shall be consecutively numbered (Bates Stamp numbering) from the first page to the last page, independent of exhibit identification numbers previously placed on exhibits. The Party shall also provide the Court with a CD, USB drive or similar electronic medium containing the scanned exhibits in PDF format prior to the start of the proceeding with Bates Stamp numbering that matches the 3 hard copies provided. Counsel should contact the Court's Chambers, if necessary, to ensure that the electronic medium is compatible with the Court"s computer system. Exhibits are NOT to be emailed to Chambers without prior Court approval.


Appraisal Reports:   (Revised 08/15/14)   Through experience the Court has learned that it is much better to have an original appraisal report when determining a valuation matter rather than just a black and white copy. Such reports typically include color photographs of the subject property and comparable properties, and a black and white reproduction leaves much to be desired. Accordingly, if any Party intends to use or rely on an appraisal report in a matter, it shall supply the Court with a color original of the appraisal report at least three business days prior to the final pretrial conference, or at least three business days prior to the evidentiary hearing in matters where there is no final pretrial conference.


Communication with the Court:   (Revised: 09/01/09)   Outside of scheduling matters, e.g., the setting of an argument/hearing or status conference and matters of an emergency nature, communication with the Court by Counsel related to a pending matter should normally be done only by way of an electronically filed pleading, motion, brief or other document. Furthermore, given the demonstrated effectiveness of the CM/ECF system, unless otherwise directed by the Court, it is not necessary for Counsel to supply the Court with paper "courtesy" copies of filed documents. See also Procedure A(2), above.

Although the use of letters addressed to the Court related to a pending matter is disfavored, there are certain limited circumstances in which it will be acceptable for Counsel to communicate with the Court by letter. These are: (1) for non-substantive scheduling or housekeeping matters, (2) if the Court has directed Counsel to respond to it on a matter by way of letter, and (3) where for some reason (e.g., confidentiality) the Court has directed an item to be sent directly to it, rather than filed electronically, and Counsel includes a cover letter with the submission. In circumstances where communication by letter is acceptable, Counsel should take care to copy others with the letter as necessary to avoid any improper ex parte communication issue, and are advised that it is the Court's normal practice to docket any letters received on a pending matter. Counsel are further advised that the Court may impose a monetary sanction if the letter is docketed and appropriate CM/ECF training qualification has not been obtained by Counsel.

Telephone communication with the Judge's staff on a pending matter is permissible only as to non-substantive scheduling and housekeeping matters.

B.       PROCEDURES REGARDING HEARINGS: (Revised 08/15/14)
  (1)       Scheduling of Hearing: As a general matter, most motions, applications, and other requests for relief filed in Chapter 7, 11, 12, 13 and 15 cases are to be self-scheduled. Parties are directed to the Court's website for dates and times that may be used for self-scheduling hearings.

HEARING PROCEDURES, GENERALLY: The Moving Party shall choose a hearing date from the list provided on the Court’s website and shall complete, file and serve a Notice of Hearing (see ¶B(3), below). ONLY the hearing dates published by the Court shall be used. Any matters scheduled by a Moving Party for a date other than dates provided shall be dismissed without prejudice to being refiled, renoticed, and rescheduled by the Moving Party in a timely manner for an authorized date. If a matter is dismissed for noncompliance, the Moving Party must serve all parties in interest with notice of the dismissal Order and cancellation of its hearing. Certificates of No Objection (CNOs) are required to be timely filed if no answer/response is filed.

No documents filed less than 48 hours before a scheduled hearing will be considered by the Court at the scheduled hearing unless exigent circumstances are demonstrated in the pleading itself.


The Moving Party may schedule a new motion for hearing on a date with a previously scheduled matter or on the plan conciliation date, in front of Judge Agresti, provided appropriate service requirements are met.

  (2)       Self-Scheduling Rule applies in all cases.:

Except with respect to those matters listed in ¶B(2)(b), below, the Moving. Party shall choose a hearing date from the list provided on the Court's website and shall complete, file and serve the Notice of Hearing. (See C(2), below, concerning the Notice of Hearing). Only the hearing dates listed shall be used. Any matters scheduled by a Moving Party for a date other than one listed shall be dismissed without prejudice to being refiled, renoticed, and rescheduled by the Moving Party for an authorized date. If a matter is dismissed for noncompliance, the Moving Party must serve all parties in interest with notice of the dismissal order and cancellation of the hearing.

  • Motions for/to:
    • Contempt
    • Discharge
    • Dismissal or Conversion by the Debtor
    • Extensions of Time
    • Emergency/Expedited Hearing
    • Hardship Discharge
    • Modification of Confirmed Chapter 13 Plan
    • Payment of Unclaimed Funds
    • Reconsider, Vacate, or Modify an Order
    • Reopen
    • Restrict Access/Redact Document
    • Sanctions
    • Status Conference
    • Wage Attachments
  • Adversary Proceedings
  • Amendments to Schedules
  • Application for Appointment of Chapter 7 Trustee as Atty. Pro Se
  • Disclosure Statements for Chapter 11 cases
  • Evidentiary Hearings
  • Loss Mitigation Program Matters
    (excluding Motions to Approve Loan Modification)
  • Objections to Rule 3002.1 Mortgage Payment Changes
  • Objections to Postpetition Mortgage Fees, Expenses, and Charges
  • Plan Confirmation Hearings for Chapter 11, 12, or 13
  • Plan Amendments
  (3)       Notice of Hearing:       Except with respect to matters that require a longer notice period (such as objections to claims) at least 25 calendar days before the chosen authorized hearing date, the Moving Party shall simultaneously electronically file the motion and notice of hearing and serve same on the Chapter 13 Trustee and all other respondents and parties in interest. The motion must be filed in sufficient time to allow the 17 day response time (14 day notice and 3 days for service) required by Local Rule and so that the deadline for filing responses is no later than 7 calendar days before the scheduled hearing date. Objections to claims must be filed at least 30 days before the chosen hearing date.
  (4)       Appearance of Counsel at Hearings: Counsel must appear at the scheduled hearing unless the order scheduling the hearing specifically provides otherwise. Do not contact Chambers, Judge Agresti's Courtroom Deputy or the appropriate Chapter 13 Clerk concerning whether a scheduled hearing has been cancelled. To determine whether a matter remains on the hearing calendar, check the calendar at after 3:00 P.M. the day before the hearing. Orders entered by default will be posted as "removed" at the end of the hearing calendar. To verify whether a default order has been entered, check the docket.
  (5)       Telephone Participation:
(a)       TELEPHONE PARTICIPATION.     For Chapter 11 cases, only in an effort to accommodate the Bar and reduce travel expense, the Court will allow Counsel and Parties located more than one hundred (100) miles away from Pittsburgh (for a Pittsburgh case) and from Pittsburgh or Erie (for an Erie case) Courthouses to appear by telephone for NON-EVIDENTIARY hearings. Regarding Chapter 7 cases, Ch. 7 Trustees from outside Erie County, PA will be permitted to appear by phone in Erie Division cases, only, if they are a Defendant/Respondent in a matter. Appearances, either in person or via video conference from Judge Agresti's Pittsburgh Courtroom, if available, is required in all other instances.
(b)       ADVANCE NOTICE. Parties or counsel wishing to participate in a hearing by telephone, or by video conference, where permitted, must advise the Court and opposing Parties at least three business days prior to the hearing in which the request to appear by phone or video conference is being made. Arrangements for telephone or video conference participation may be made by contacting Judge Agresti's Deputy-in-Charge, Pamela Jewell, at 814- 464-9760.
(i)       If more than one Party is to participate by telephone, the Party initiating the call must arrange to have the other Party(ies) on the line before connecting to the Court line.
(ii)       If more than one Party is to be joined on the call, it is required that a commercial telephone conference service (i.e., Verizon, Sprint, AT&T) be used; otherwise, the transmission is often degraded to an inaudible level.
(iii)       Use of a speaker phone or cell phone by any participant during the conference call is strictly prohibited.

Certificate of No Objection Procedure: As noted in ¶B(1)(a), above, the “Certificate of No Objection” procedure is mandatory in all cases. In the event that no response or answer to a particular matter has been filed, the Parties may check the Court's website ( the afternoon before the hearing to determine if the hearing will go forward or if a default order will be entered.

If a Certificate of No Objection is required in any case and timely filed, the matter may be removed from the calendar by entry of a default order. Matters in which a default order may be entered thereby cancelling the hearing, typically include: relief from stay motions, avoidance of liens motions and objections to claims.


Failure to file Certificate of No Objection: If a Certificate of No Objection is not timely filed, the matter will remain on the calendar and Counsel must appear at the hearing and explain to the Court why a CNO was not timely filed.

The CNO procedure is vital to the efficient operation of Motion Court. Because of the large volume of matters requiring hearing, it is imperative for the CNO process to work effectively and eliminate the need for hearings when possible. As such, it has become necessary for the Court to strictly enforce the Local Rules requiring the use of the CNO process in all matters.

  (1)       Cases Ready for Trustee's Final Account/Report: (New: 6/8/07) In Chapter 13 cases involving a 60 month plan and following completion of the 60th month from Plan Confirmation, the Court routinely schedules Status Conferences to determine the need for entering a schedule for implementation of close out procedures.


In cases involving a plan having duration of less than 60 months (e.g., 36 months, 48 months, etc.), the Court requires Debtor’s Counsel to file a Motion requesting a Status Conference to determine whether Court intervention is needed to close out the case in instances where the case has not been closed within 4 months of the end of the plan term.

In any such Motion for Status Conference, Counsel should advise the Court as to whether: (1) the plan base is met; (2) the date on which the plan duration has run; and (3) within 4 months of either event, whether the Chapter 13 Trustee has filed a final account/report or taken some other action toward closing the case (i.e., notifying Debtors that they are to assume responsibility with the mortgage payments and cease making payments to the Trustee).

Service of the Motion, including any scheduling notice related thereto, shall be made upon the Chapter 13 Trustee. Nothing contained in these procedures should be deemed or construed to eliminate the Chapter 13 Trustee's responsibility to promptly close-out Chapter 13 cases where the plan term has expired and the plan goals (and base) have been met.

  (2)       Unexcused Failure to Attend Hearings: (Revised: 2/15/06)      An additional unduly burden is placed on the system when Debtor's Counsel, without appropriate explanation or prior contact with the Trustee's Office, fails to appear at a Section 341 Meeting or conciliation/confirmation conference conducted by the Ch. 13 Trustee.


Failure of Debtor's Counsel to attend, without either obtaining a prior order continuing a previously scheduled Section 341 Meeting or conciliation/confirmation conference, or, in the event of an emergency, making a timely phone call to the Ch. 13 Trustee advising her of the need to reschedule the same, evidences a lack of professionalism. Failure to afford the proper courtesy due to a fellow member of the Bar in addition to unduly burdening the Ch. 13 process and the system, generally, requiring additional, unnecessary hearings is unacceptable conduct. It is this Court’s policy that such conduct exposes counsel to a $100 sanction, after notice and hearing.

  (3)       Telephone Participation in Johnstown Division Contested Matters:   (Revised 10/11/13)   Parties and their Counsel located in Johnstown may participate in non-evidentiary hearings for a case commenced in the Johnstown Division via telephonic conference call to be arranged by the movant's/plaintiff's attorney. Any Respondent or non-moving Party wishing to participate by phone shall make arrangements with Counsel placing the call. Arrangements for participation may be made by contacting the Courtroom Deputy in Pittsburgh, Laurel McWilliams, at 412-355-3261 at least 3 business days prior to the hearing.

Amendments to Plans Previously Confirmed on a Final Basis:   (Revised 10/11/13)   (See: TPA FORM 203) It is not necessary to file a Motion to Modify when an amendment to a finally confirmed Chapter 12 or 13 Plan is sought. Instead, the proponent must file a "Notice of Proposed Modification to Confirmed Plan Dated (insert date)", which substantially complies with TPA Form 203 found on Judge Agresti's website, and, the proposed Amended Chapter 12 or 13 Plan, as the case may be, together as a single PDF document with the Notice being the first page.

If these two items are correctly filed, the proposed amendment will follow the Court’s standard conciliation/confirmation process. Of course, when Counsel serves the Amended Plan on all creditors, Counsel should also serve the Notice of Proposed Modification as well and file a Certificate of Service.

(Revised: 08/15/14)   If Counsel fails to include the Notice of Proposed Modification to Confirmed Plan as the first page of the PDF, then the Court will issue a text order and allow 10 days to file the documents correctly. Failure to timely make the correction will result in the entry of an Order denying confirmation of the Amended Plan without prejudice for failure to adhere with these procedures.

Note: To avoid duplicate service, debtor(s) should not serve copies of the Notice and Amended Plan until after receiving the Order Scheduling Dates for Hearing on and Objection to Amended Plan.

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