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In re Saxon

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 31, 2019

IN RE LORI A. SAXON, Debtor.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TANYA S. CHUTKAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court is pro se debtor Lori A. Saxon's Application to Proceed Without Prepaying Fees or Costs. ECF Nos. 5, 6. For the reasons set forth below, the court will deny Saxon's application.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Saxon sought Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in November 2017, but did not pay the court filing fee or comply with the statutory requirement that she obtain credit counseling within 180 days prior to filing the petition.[1] See In re Saxon, 17-bk-611 (Bankr. D.D.C.), ECF Nos. 5, 6; 11 U.S.C. § 109(h)(1). Instead, she successfully sought leave to pay her filing fee in installments, but remitted only one of the three payments to which she had agreed. In re Saxon, 17-bk-611, ECF Nos. 4-5, 13, 17.

         Saxon also sought an extension of time in which to seek credit counseling. Id., ECF No. 6. In her motion for the extension, Saxon explained that she had not met the deadline because when she called the credit counseling entities, “she was put on hold and was not quite sure which credit counseling would be permitted in the [D]istrict of Columbia.” Id.

         Finding that Saxon had failed to meet the requirements for obtaining exemption from the 180-day credit counseling obligation, the bankruptcy court Judge denied her request. In re Saxon, 17-bk-611, ECF No. 14. The applicable bankruptcy statute provides that the credit counseling deadline:

         shall not apply with respect to a debtor who submits to the court a certification that-

(i) describes exigent circumstances that merit a waiver of the [180 day credit counseling] requirements . . .;
(ii) states that the debtor requested credit counseling services from an approved nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency, but was unable to obtain the services referred to in paragraph (1) during the 7-day period beginning on the date on which the debtor made that request; and
(iii) is satisfactory to the court.

11 U.S.C. § 109(h)(3)(A). The judge held that Saxon's explanation did not constitute “exigent circumstances” sufficient to merit waiver of the 180-day requirement, nor was her explanation “satisfactory to the court.” In re Saxon, 17-bk-611, ECF No. 14. Consequently, the court dismissed Saxon's bankruptcy case. Id.

         On November 2, 2017, the bankruptcy court sent Saxon an order explaining that her obligation to pay the remaining portion of the filing fee had not been discharged by dismissal of the case and she was required to pay the fee, but she could arrange to do so in installments. Id., ECF No. 17. The record does not indicate that Saxon made any additional payments or agreed to another installment plan.

         Saxon filed a motion seeking relief from the dismissal order, explaining that her home had been scheduled for auction at 11:30 a.m. and she filed for bankruptcy that day hoping to halt the foreclosure. Id., ECF No. 25. The bankruptcy court denied Saxon's motion because she had not explained, inter alia, why she could not have obtained credit counseling before the foreclosure, nor had she explained the circumstances surrounding the foreclosure. Id., ECF No. 28.

         Saxon filed a Notice of Appeal without paying the fee to appeal or the fees she still owed the bankruptcy court, and without filing an application in the bankruptcy court for leave to appeal in forma pauperis (“IFP”). Id., ECF Nos. 34, 36. The Bankruptcy Court treated the Notice of Appeal as an application to proceed ...


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