Latest Updates from BCBA
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Message from the Court of Appeals:
The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is currently impacting the daily operation of the Maryland Judiciary. Maryland courts are currently closed to the public; however, the courts continue to hear certain types of emergency matters. Most courthouses are operating with essential staff only.
Beginning at 5 p.m., on Friday, June 5, the Maryland courts will begin implementing its reopening plan that guides courts across the state of Maryland as to how they should gradually return to full operations throughout the next several weeks and months.
There are five phases in the plan and each phase will represent an increase in the level of activity within each courthouse and court office. Depending on the current state of COVID-19 throughout Maryland, it may be necessary for a court and/or jurisdiction to adjust phases.
The Judiciary is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and evaluating its ongoing response to this public health emergency. Until further notice, the courts will continue using technology for remote proceedings, either by video or telephone, but please note that this will vary by court location. The general public, members of the media, and attorneys should reference the COVID-19 webpages for the latest information on individual court operations. Court closings related to coronavirus.
The courts are requiring any individual, including employees, seeking access to a courthouse or court office location to:
- Answer a set of screening questions;
- Be subject to temperature checks;
- Wear a facial covering or mask; and
- Practice social distancing.
Revised Administrative Order on the Emergency Tolling or Suspension of Statutes of Limitations and Statutory and Rules Deadlines Related to the initiation of Matters and Certain Statutory and Rules Deadlines in Pending Matters
The following matters are currently being heard in the Circuit Court:
- Criminal Matters
- Bail reviews and habeas petitions are handled daily via video at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 15 or 18. Remote participation can be arranged by contacting Phil Pokorny at Pokorny@mdcourts.gov.
- VOP bench warrant hearings are scheduled the morning after pickup on the video bail docket.
- Pleas are being heard on a limited basis through remote hearings, based upon agreement of the State and the defense. These are only being scheduled for persons who are incarcerated, where the plea is anticipated to result either in a time served disposition, or in release pending sentencing. These can be arranged by contacting Phil Pokorny.
- Family Law Matters
- Requests for emergency hearing are tasked for review daily by Judge Jakubowski, with remote hearings set when appropriate.
- Domestic violence petitions that are pending a final protective order hearing will be set the week courts re-open. Requests for other interim consideration are tasked for review by Judge Jakubowski.
- Requests for extensions of existing domestic violence orders are tasked for review to Judge Cavanaugh.
- Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) matters are being reviewed and set for a remote hearing by Judge Ballou-Watts if the juvenile is approaching his or her 21st
- Uncontested divorce cases are scheduled for remote hearing before a magistrate.
- Family law matters that have been resolved can be scheduled for remote hearing by contacting Abby Cohen at Abigail.Cohen@mdcourts.gov.
- Scheduling conferences are being scheduled remotely by magistrates.
- Settlement conferences are being conducted remotely in cases with counsel.
- Civil Matters
- Settlement conferences are being scheduled remotely.
- Emergency matters are screened daily by the assigned chambers judge and set for remote hearing if appropriate.
- Motions hearings postponed due to court closure are being scheduled for remote hearing at the discretion of the assigned judge.
- Ex Parte Matters
- A Chambers Judge is assigned daily to process routine matters and review any requests for ex parte relief.
- Juvenile Matters
- Detention hearings are scheduled daily with a juvenile judge through WebEx whenever needed.
- CINA shelters are reviewed daily with remote hearings set through Webex with a juvenile judge.
- Requests for emergency hearings in other CINA and delinquency matters are screened daily by a juvenile judge and set for remote hearing as appropriate.
- Guardianship Matters
- Requests for emergency hearings are screened through the Guardianship Case Manager and referred to a guardianship judge for consideration. Remote hearings will be set when appropriate by Jessica Labenberg, who can be contacted at Labenberg@mdcourts.gov.
- Marriage Licenses are not being processed except in emergency circumstances such as imminent deployment, serious illness, etc. Requests for emergency consideration must be made in writing to the licensing department at firstname.lastname@example.org. These are reviewed by the Administrative Judge who will authorize remote issuance of a license in appropriate circumstances.
As the length of this closure extends, we continue to explore additional ways to promote remote resolution of civil and family law matters. Settlement conferences that were initially postponed are being re-scheduled for remote hearing. Questions concerning remote settlement conferencing can be sent to Abby Cohen at Abigail.Cohen@mdcourts.gov. Family law matters that are fully resolved can also be scheduled for remote hearing by contacting Abby Cohen.