Family Law Town Hall Meeting

TO:                  Members of the Bar

FROM:            Catherine F. Woods, Esquire

RE:                   Developments covered at the Family Law Town Hall Meeting

DATE:             September 9, 2014

 

The Honorable Kathleen G. Cox, the Honorable Timothy J. Martin and the Honorable Ruth A. Jakubowski presided over the most recent Family Law Town Hall Meeting held at the Courthouse September 9, 2014. For those members of the Bar not in attendance, the following topics were covered:

Statistics have been kept regarding standby/postponement of family law cases:On September 25, 2014 a meeting of the “DCMCcommittee” will be held to look at several issues, including whether it will be more effective to have your trial date already set before settlement court is held. It is anticipated that the trial date would be 30-45 days after settlement court.

 January            11 cases on standby; 8 not reached;
February           17 cases on standby; 9 not reached;
March                27 cases on standby; 19 not reached;
April                   11 cases not reached;
May                    2 cases not reached;
June                    4 cases not reached;
July                     0 cases not reached;
August               2 cases not reached.
 
Judges Martin, Jakubowski and Cox are considering whether to implement a program similar to the one in Baltimore City, whereby volunteer attorneys meet with the parties/counsel prior to settlement court to attempt to assist the parties in reaching settlement. It was suggested that attorneys would be more willing to volunteer their time if they are scheduled in the morning and for three-hour blocks of time.  Please be aware that a letter soliciting volunteers for this program will be sent out shortly.

The Office of Family Mediation is addressing support issues with parties at mediation, if both parties are not represented.

The Office of Family Mediation is now handling pre-hearing contempt mediation as well, although Wendy, Abby and Emmett are the only ones handling these matters at this juncture.

Judges Martin and Jakubowski have been assigned to handle all inter-state jurisdiction custody cases. Judge Cavanaugh will take over for Judge Martin at his retirement.

Judge Ballou-Watts and Martin are sharing the responsibility of addressing all requests for Best Interest Attorneys/Waiver Attorneys.

 Judge Glass has begun to hear some family law matters.

 More storage space for files is being procured. Shortly, the old 911 Center will be utilized.

If there is a flurry of activity on a file before trial, consider bringing copies of all the pleadings with you to court. There is a good chance that the pleadings will not have made it to the court file. Specifically, Judge Cox recommended that courtesy copies of all pleadings filed within thirty days of the hearing date be sent directly to chambers either via hand-delivery or email to the judge’s law clerk, if permitted.

 Orders are now being docketed by the Clerk’s Office within 48 hours.

 The Bosley Avenue entrance will be closed permanently in October for security and staffing reasons.

Third-party consent custody cases are being put on the hearing docket before Master Dawson. Master Dawson may require the child’s appearance. Additionally, the court does notify the School Board of the matter so that the Board may do its own investigation, if warranted.

Lastly, Master’s Settlement/Scheduling Conferences are permitted to be scheduled following receipt of an Answer to Complaint/Petition. It is not necessary to wait for an Answer to Counter-Complaint or Amended Complaint if the issue is ripe with the initial filing/answer.