West Virginia Court Records
What are West Virginia Bankruptcy Records?
All bankruptcies declared in West Virginia are handled by the federal courts as there are no state-owned courts authorized to hear these cases. West Virginia has two federal bankruptcy courts: The United States Bankruptcy Court Southern District of West Virginia and United States Bankruptcy Court Northern District of West Virginia. Together, these courts have divisions located in major cities across the state to hear bankruptcy matters. When insolvent individuals or businesses file for bankruptcy under the US Bankruptcy Code, bankruptcy records are created. A bankruptcy record has a debtor’s personal and financial details and additional details relevant to a case. These records can be accessed by members of the public by mail or in-person requests to the courts or by using publicly available federal electronic databases. Also, courtrecords.us, a third-party site, offers effective record-retrieving services.
What do West Virginia Bankruptcy Records Contain?
The following information can be found in West Virginia bankruptcy records:
- Debtor’s financial information (including monthly living expenses, income sources, assets, liabilities, etc.)
- Debtor’s properties and businesses
- Case number
- Filing date
- General case status
- Chapter filed
- Debtor’s name and address
- Debtor’s attorney’s name and phone number
- Information on the judge and trustee
- Creditor names, addresses, and claims
- Type of debt (business or consumer)
- Case discharge and closing dates
- Court disposition of the case
Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information?
11 USC 107(a) grants the public the statutory right to inspect or copy records of bankruptcy proceedings in the State of West Virginia. However, under section 107(b), the public may be restricted from accessing a record because it has been sealed by court order, or it contains the name/date of birth of a minor child, trade secrets, a debtor’s financial information, a scandalous matter, or a debtor’s unique identifiers as defined in 18 USC § 1028(d).
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary
How to Get West Virginia Bankruptcy Records
Generally, West Virginia bankruptcy records/case information generated by the southern or northern bankruptcy courts can be obtained or reviewed online, in-person, or by telephone.
Online: The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) site provides access to electronic bankruptcy files and audio recordings for a fee. Before these records can be viewed or printed, a person must have a username and password. To create an account, the PACER Service Center may be contacted at (800) 676–6856 within 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m (weekdays only), or by email. Online registration is also possible.
In the northern bankruptcy court, copies of bankruptcy records from 2000 to the present date can also be requested from the Clerk of Court by email with the WVNB Payment Form. The case or document number of a record is required in this form, as well as the requester’s full name, address, city, telephone, state zip code, and email. Payment can be made using a debit or credit card.
Telephone: Members of the public can obtain case information by phone through the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS). The McVCIS is a public information system provided at no charge to a requester and available by calling (866) 222–8029 with a touch-tone phone and following the voice cues. Individuals may access the northern district court by pressing 98 and then 1, and the southern district court by saying “West Virginia Southern” or “West Virginia” when prompted and keying in the number 41. This system is accessible 24 hours, 7 days a week. Information is provided in both English and Spanish. Available case information includes:
- Case status
- Method of case disposition
- Filing date and chapter of the case
- Name of debtor and legal representative
- Type of petition (voluntary or not)
- Name of the presiding judge
- Case trustee
- Closing/discharge, re-termination, original conversion, and reopening dates
- Social security and tax ID numbers (last four digits only)
In-person: Bankruptcy records closed for over a year are viewable for free at public access terminals in the clerk’s offices. The fee to print or copy records from the terminals is 10 cents per page. Also, in the northern district, the clerk may mail copies to requesters for a 50cent/page fee. Listed below are the addresses of the United States Bankruptcy Court Northern District of West Virginia Clerk’s offices in Wheeling and Clarksburg:
United States Bankruptcy Court
1125 Chapline Street
Wheeling, WV 26003
Hours: 8.30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday
United States Bankruptcy Court
324 West Main Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301
Hours: 8.30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday
Robert C. Byrd
United States Courthouse
110 North Heber Street, Room 271
Beckley, West Virginia 25801
Phone: (304) 253–7402
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday
Elizabeth Kee Federal Building
601 Federal Street
Bluefield, West Virginia 24701
Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse
300 Virginia Street East, Room 3200
Charleston, West Virginia 25301
Phone: (304) 347–3003
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday
Sidney L. Christie Federal Building
845 Fifth Avenue, Room 336
Huntington, West Virginia 25701
Phone: (304) 525–0375
It should be noted that the Huntington Clerk’s office hours vary. Individuals may call (304) 347–3003 for information on the clerk’s working hours and days. Furthermore, the southern district’s Parkersburg location is not staffed and used only for creditor meetings and case hearings.
In both courts, archived records can be accessed by completing the NARA Bankruptcy Cases Order Form (NATF Form 90) and submitting by mail/fax/email to the Philadelphia Federal Records Center. However, the respective clerk’s office may be contacted to find out if a case record has been archived. The case, location, box, and transfer numbers are obtainable from the clerk. For a faster processing time, requesters may order these records online. Applicable order fees are outlined in the NARA Reproduction Fee Schedule. Alternatively, the Philadelphia FRC may be contacted on (215) 305–2000 for guidelines on ordering copies. Information on retrieving archived records through the court can be obtained through the southern or northern district Clerk’s offices.
How do I Find Out if My Bankruptcy Case is Closed in West Virginia?
A few options are available to members of the public seeking to make inquiries on the closed status of bankruptcy cases in West Virginia. One option is to call the appropriate clerk’s office with the contact information listed above. Another is to use the McVIS or PACER systems, as detailed earlier. The key difference between these two remote public access databases is that while McVIS has no service charges, PACER does.
Can a Bankruptcy be Expunged in West Virginia?
No, there is no expungement process for bankruptcy cases in West Virginia under federal legislation or the local court rules. A bankruptcy record may only be sealed or redacted upon the filing of a motion with the clerk of the West Virginia southern or northern bankruptcy courts and upon discovery of confidential, defamatory, or sensitive information in a record. This information includes the name or date of birth of minors, social security numbers, financial numbers, and personal identifiers or biometric data. Procedures and forms for filing a motion to redact information may be obtained from the appropriate Clerk of Court. The filing fee is $25 per motion.