What are Alabama Bankruptcy Records?
Alabama Bankruptcy records contain information about bankruptcy filings by individuals, couples, groups, and organizations in the state. Bankruptcy laws provide debt relief to organizations and individuals and protect creditors’ interests. Under federal regulations, only federal courts handle bankruptcy cases. The federal bankruptcy courts in Alabama are:
- United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama
- United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Alabama
- United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Alabama
The Northern District Bankruptcy Court handles bankruptcy cases in its jurisdiction, which covers the following counties: Bibb, DeKalb, Blount, Calhoun, Sumter, Cherokee, Lawrence, Clay, Tuscaloosa, Cleburne, Colbert, Cullman, Jefferson, Etowah, Morgan, Fayette, Pickens, Franklin, Talladega, Greene, Saint Claire, Jackson, Lamar, Walker, Lauderdale, Shelby, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, Marion, and Winston. The Northern District bankruptcy court has offices at Aniston, Decatur, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa.
The Middle District Bankruptcy Court handles cases in the court’s jurisdiction, including cases from Autauga, Coosa, Barbour, Crenshaw, Bullock, Elmore, Butler, Macon, Chambers, Russell, Chilton, Coffee, Houston, Covington, Lee, Dale, Lowndes, Geneva, Montgomery, Henry, Randolph, Pike, Tallapoosa. The Middle District Bankruptcy Court has offices in Montgomery, Opelika, and Dothan.
The Southern District Bankruptcy Court handles cases in Baldwin, Monroe, Choctaw, Mobile, Clarke, Washington, Conecuh, Perry, Dallas, WilcoxHale, Escambia, Marengo. The court has offices in Mobile and Selma.
Bankruptcy Clerks manage bankruptcy records and make the records available to the public since the records are public. Interested parties may also obtain bankruptcy records from third-party websites.
What do Alabama Bankruptcy Records Contain?
Bankruptcy records contain documents and information generated in filing for bankruptcy, including motions, court orders, and case dispositions. Typically, bankruptcy cases begin when an individual, a group, or an organization files a petition at the court. The petitioner must submit a list of the petitioner’s liabilities, assets, income, and a list of the creditors owed money. Bankruptcy records typically contain:
- Case number
- Filing date
- Type of petition (voluntary or involuntary, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13)
- Debtor’s names
- Debtor’s attorney’s contact details
- Assets in the case
- Trustee’s name
- Assigned judge
- Case status
- Case disposition
Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information?
Bankruptcy records are public information, as designated by federal law. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that grants the public access to records generated or maintained by federal agencies. Unless the records are exempted, federal agencies must disclose public information and grant access to public records upon request. This means that bankruptcy records, except sealed records or ones otherwise exempted according to the law, are publicly available. Since federal courts handle bankruptcy cases, interested persons may obtain public records from federal courts in Alabama.
How to Get Alabama Bankruptcy Records
Persons interested in obtaining Alabama bankruptcy records may request the Bankruptcy Clerk records in the court that filed or heard the case. Interested parties may also request bankruptcy court records electronically through the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS). It is a text-to-speech based system that is available toll-free. Users may search bankruptcy records using criteria such as case number, tax identification number or social security number, and name. Requesting parties may dial (866) 222–8029 to use the McVCIS; the system instructs users to search case records using a phone. The McVCIS system returns all the results that match the search criteria; however, the procedure only allows users to make five (5) inquiries on each case. McVIS is available at all times, except during maintenance.
Federal Bankruptcy Courts in Alabama also make public case records available through the PACER electronic file access system. PACER users must register for an account to access court records. Requesting parties can find bankruptcy records on locally hosted websites for the bankruptcy courts. Parties who are unsure of the court that heard a bankruptcy case can use the Case Locator to find the court record.
How do I Find Out if My Bankruptcy Case is Closed in Alabama?
In Alabama, federal bankruptcy courts make case information available through case records and other points of information such as Bankruptcy Clerk offices and electronic access systems. Interested parties may inquire about bankruptcy case status by visiting the Bankruptcy Clerk in the court where the case was filed or heard. The clerk will provide case information as permitted by law. While anyone may access public bankruptcy records at no charge, Bankruptcy Clerks may require requestors to present government-issued photo identification as proof of identity.
Interested parties may also inquire about case status using electronic case records access systems such as the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS) and PACER. McVIS is accessible via mobile phone and operates on a speech-to-text system. While McVIS is free to use, PACER requires registration.
Can a Bankruptcy be Expunged in Alabama?
Typically, expungement applies to criminal records. State and federal laws provide for expungement to relieve convicted persons and criminal record subjects of some of the consequences that attend the record. For example, persons convicted of felony crimes lose civil rights. Such persons also become ineligible for some education, housing, and employment benefits. Expungement completely erases or seals the record so that such persons may regain civil rights and become eligible for benefits and opportunities.
If the court erases a record, copies of the record no longer exist on government databases, and it will not show up in background checks. If asked, the record holder may assert that the record does not exist. If the court has sealed it, copies of the record still exist; however, it will be inaccessible to unauthorized persons.
Federal laws do not expressly provide for the expungement of bankruptcy records since the records are not related to criminal offenses or activities. However, in cases of identity theft and other defamatory matters, the court may seal bankruptcy records. Additionally, the court may take some personal identifying information off a bankruptcy record to protect the record holder. If the court determines that it is in the interest of justice that a case record is sealed, the court will seal the record.