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 email@example.com. 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.
1. The Maryland Courts issued an administrative order clarifying the emergency tolling or suspension of statutes of limitations and statutory and rules deadlines. The order can be found here.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 2020-41
REQUIRING FACE COVERINGS IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR BALTIMORE COUNTY
CLICK HERE to read the order.
- Click to register for Working Remotely in the Law & Video-Communications During the Time of COVID-19 & Beyond. We will be hosting this free event online on Monday, April 20, 11:00 a.m. Registration is required.
- The BCBA, through donations from its members, donated 40 meals from CVP Towson to healthcare providers at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. If you are interested in donating to next week’s meal delivery to local healthcare workers, contact Rachel Ruocco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- BCBA Bingo – a free, virtual bingo event is in the works for any BCBA member (or their family). Bingo cards will be distributed electronically and numbers will be called using Skype for Business. Gift certificates purchased from local Baltimore County restaurants and businesses will be awarded to the winners. If you are interested in participating, email Michael.W.Siri@gmail.com.
Mental Health During COVID-19
Many of our members feel nervous and concerned about COVID-19. Fear and anxiety about the disease, its effect on your health or the health of a loved one, and the ramifications on your career take both an emotional and physical toll. Additionally, the effects are exacerbated in this new world of social distancing, telecommuting, and self-isolation.
If you or someone you know needs assistance, the Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) can help. Free and confidential support is available for a broad range of personal issues. The BCBA works with the Maryland State Bar Association to assist with providing access to treatment facilities, provide emergency practice management, referrals to professional counselors, and direction to information to assist any lawyer in Maryland. The following volunteers are ready and willing to aid and support:
Jay Miller – JMiller@lawpga.com;
Gary Miles – email@example.com
Joseph Murtha – firstname.lastname@example.org;
Jose Molina – email@example.com;
Karen Pilarski – firstname.lastname@example.org;
Richard Lynas – email@example.com;
Marissa Joelson – MJoelson@lawpga.com;
Mary Chalawsky – firstname.lastname@example.org;
Stuart Axilbund – email@example.com;
Sam Moxley – firstname.lastname@example.org;
William Kerr – email@example.com;
Bill Saltysiak – firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also call 1-888-388-5459
Additionally, several articles and resources are available through the MSBA (www.msba.org/covid-19/wellness), including weekly support groups, tips to manage anxiety, and workout videos to alleviate stress. You do not need to be a member of the BCBA or MSBA to use any of the services provided by the Lawyers Assistance Program. Any lawyer in Maryland has access.
During these difficult times, please remember that you are not alone. The BCBA is here for your both professionally and personally. We will get through this… together.
Circuit Court for Baltimore County Update
Approximately 15 clerks in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County’s Clerk’s Office are performing their duties remotely, leaving approximately 25 clerks working daily at the courthouse. As a result, some telephone calls are not immediately addressed because of the decrease of onsite clerks. To better respond to inquiries from attorneys and parties, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County has established group email addresses for specific departments, including Assignment, Civil, Criminal, Family, Juvenile, and Records. A clerk will be devoted to monitoring all incoming emails to reply and provide any necessary assistance.
The group email addresses are as follows:
- Assignment – email@example.com
- Civil – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Criminal – email@example.com
- Family – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Juvenile – email@example.com
- Records – firstname.lastname@example.org
The first-floor front lobby of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County contains two drop boxes – one for Land Records and one for the Clerk’s office. The drop boxes are checked twice a day for delivery to the appropriate department.
Finally, a public access computer from Land Records may be accessed at the corner Information Desk on the first-floor front lobby of the Circuit Courthouse. Printing of any documents requires a HECON key. If an individual does not have an issued HECON key but wishes to print documents, contact the Land Records Copy Center at 410-887-2657 to obtain a temporary HECON key. The individual must surrender their Driver’s License until payment for the documents have been made.
Maryland Judiciary Using Skype for Business
As previously reported, the Maryland Judiciary approved the use of Skype for Business for video conferencing. To perform video conferencing, the participant must download the Skype for Business app on their mobile device or install Skype for Business on their computer. Further, the computer must be equipped with a camera and microphone. In the event a participant does not have access to a mobile device with app capabilities or a camera-enabled computer, a call-in number from Skype for Business may be provided.
Uncontested Divorces Where Both Parties Are Represented
Uncontested divorce proceedings, where both parties are represented by counsel, are being handled by the Family Law Magistrates. The cases are being scheduled; however, counsel for parties in an uncontested divorce may call to expedite the scheduling of the cases.
Remote Appearance by Attorneys for Bail Reviews
Attorneys wishing to appear telephonically or by video conferencing for bail reviews in District and Circuit Courts of Baltimore County should contact the respective Clerk’s Office as early as practically possible to coordinate the remote appearance.
Meal Delivery to Greater Baltimore Medical Center
Forty individually packaged meals, donated by the BCBA, will be delivered to the healthcare workers at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC), as they treat members of our community affected by COVID-19. The BCBA coordinated with Charles Village Pub & Patio Towson to deliver the meals. Thank you to our BCBA members for their generous donations and making this meal delivery possible. Please contact the Bar Association office at 410-337-9103 or email@example.com if you are interested in being a part of our next meal delivery.
Additional Employment Law Resource
The Women’s Law Center of Maryland has expanded its employment law hotline for the underserved community affected by the CORVID-19 pandemic to the following:
Every Tuesday and Friday, 9:30am-1pm
First Thursday of every month, 5pm-7:30pm