COVID-19 Courthouse Updates

Maryland Judiciary COVID-19 Updates

October 2, 2020

Maryland Court of Appeals Issued Five Administrative Orders

 



September 30, 2020

Please see a video message from the Hon. Laura Ripken, Administrative Judge for the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County regarding all of the preparations made in order to welcome back jurors on October 5, 2020.  
 
Please also see the 
COVID-19 Response Plan for the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County from Administrative Judge Laura Ripken, originally distributed on June 5, 2020. 

 



September 29, 2020

Notice from the Maryland Judiciary
Jury trials to resume in criminal and civil cases statewide, new video shows court preparations ahead of jurors’ return to service





August 28, 2020

MD Court of Appeals Notice:  Maryland Judiciary enters Phase IV of progressive reopening plan


July 31, 2020

Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge issues an Administrative Order Clarifying COVID-19 Health Measures in Courthouses and Judicial Branch Facilities 


June 5, 2020

NOTICE FROM HON. LAURA RIPKEN, ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE, CIRCUIT COURT FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

COVID-19 Response Plan for the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County for the Progressive Resumption of Full Function of Judiciary Operations  6-5-20



June 1, 2020

NOTICE FROM HON. MICHAEL WACHS, CIRCUIT COURT FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY
Below in YELLOW are some updates to last week’s Status Conference and Guilty Plea email that responds to some questions that have been forwarded. The updates are under the “Miscellaneous Status Conference Information” and “Friday Guilty Plea Procedure” headings.
 
 
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
 
The Anne Arundel County Circuit Court will conduct Status Conferences in all criminal cases that were postponed, re-scheduled, or canceled, between the time frame of March 16th and July 17th as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
 
Miscellaneous Status Conference Information:

  1. Status Conference Dates: June 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, and 18.
  2. Docket Times: 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:00 pm daily.
  3. Courtrooms: Two courtrooms will operate daily utilizing the above staggered docket time slots.
  4. Docket Size: 10 cases will be set in each time slot on a daily basis in each courtroom, for a total of 80 Status Conferences per day. 
  5. Anne Arundel County Detention Center: Cases involving defendants at the detention center will be heard only at 9:00 am and 10:30 am in one of the two Status Conference courtrooms.
  6.  The plan is to conduct these conferences remotely. Call in instructions will be sent out separately.
  7. This was a huge undertaking to schedule all of these cases. As a result, the dates and times you are assigned cannot be changed. 
  8. We are going to run another round of Status Conferences commencing the week of June 29th. The hope is that once this second round of Status Conferences is completed that we will have conducted Status Conferences in every case (including Jury Trial Prayers and Appeals from District Court) that was postponed, canceled, or re-scheduled between the dates of March 16th and July 17th. Thereafter we should be able to revert to having Status Conferences heard only on Friday’s (as we did prior to the COVID-19 crisis).
  9. Jury Trial Prayers and Appeals once District Court is re-opened. The “Next Wednesday” Jury Trial Prayer and Appeal procedure is suspended until further notice. Instead, the Court will issue a notice for a Status Conference to take place at least four weeks in the future from the date a jury trial is requested or an appeal from District Court is noted. ON A WEDNESDAY. 
 
Specific to Defense Attorneys:
  1.  If your client is incarcerated, the Court will make arrangements to have the Defendant appear via video or telephone conference. Counsel will participate by calling the courts conference line.
  2. If your client is not incarcerated or is a house arrest program participant, he/she will be required to personally appear in your respective offices and participate via speaker phone, or other similar arrangement. All defendants will be notified that they must wear a face mask that fully covers their nose and mouth, and that they shall remain a minimum of six feet away from any person in your office. You are obviously free to put in place any other safeguards that you feel are appropriate.
  3. By way of a separate email last week, the State was asked, if they had not already done so,  to promptly and fully comply with all discovery obligations. If you believe that you have not received all required discovery, please immediately email the assigned States Attorney and send a copy of that email to me. 
  4. The State was also instructed to forward written plea offers in every case that is being set in for a Status Conference at least one week prior to the Status Conference. All defense counsel were instructed to fully discuss the plea offer with their respective client(s) sufficiently in advance of the Status Conference so that all of your clients questions could be answered and so that there was sufficient time for the defendant to consider the offer, to make any counter offer (if necessary), and receive any response to said counter-offer. Regardless, all plea discussions are to be fully completed prior to the date of any scheduled Status conference. 
 
Remote Status Conference Procedure
  1. The State will be asked if it has fully complied with all discovery obligations.
  2. The State will be asked to place the plea offer on the record.
  3. The defendant will decide whether he/she wishes to accept the plea offer.
  4. If the defendant accepts the plea offer, the case will be scheduled for a plea hearing on the Friday immediately following the Status Conference, to be heard by one of the designated Criminal Judges. 
  5. If the Defendant declines the plea offer, defense counsel will be asked if a motions hearing is required. If one is required, defense counsel will then be asked to indicate with particularity what specific issues need to be addressed at the motions hearing and file the appropriate motion with particularity within 10 days. Also, we will not be taking guilty pleas at a date scheduled for motions hearing until further notice. Instead they will have to be scheduled on a separate plea docket. Lastly, it is now more important than ever that you please don’t request a motions hearing if you do not need one.
  6. The Court will schedule a motions hearing prior to October 5, after consultation with counsel.
  7. If the Defendant declines the plea offer, the attorneys and the court will also consult to select a trial date subsequent to October 5 and counsel will be expected to notify the Court if the matter being set for trial was a jury trial prayer, an appeal from the District Court, or a matter for which an Indictment our Information was filed in the Circuit Court.
  8. The trial date and motions hearing date (if needed) will be selected from the courtroom, so all counsel are expected to have their calendars with them.
  9. The Defendant will also have the option of waiving his/her right to a jury trial at the Status Conference which will permit the Court to schedule a trial prior to the week of October 5.
 
Friday Guilty Plea Procedure:
  1. All guilty pleas for incarcerated defendants will be conducted via video or phone conference arranged by the Court. Defense counsel will participate via the Court’s conference call line. Probation Orders will be processed in the courtroom and sent by email to the Detention Center. Detention Center personnel will print the Probation Order and ask the defendant to sign it. Then the Probation Order will be scanned and returned by the Detention Center personnel to the courtroom clerk (with the defendant maintaining the original.
  2. All guilty pleas for non-incarcerated defendants and/or house arrest participants will take place in the courthouse (unless there is a joint recommendation for no active incarceration, or no additional active incarceration, in which case please see number 3 immediately below). Defense counsel and the Defendant must personally appear. The State may personally appear, or appear remotely via conference call, at their discretion. These “in-person” proceedings will be scheduled in such a manner to ensure social distancing requirements. All attorneys and defendants will be required to wear a face mask that covers both their mouth and their nose and remain a minimum of six feet away from all other individuals. No attorneys or defendants shall enter the courtroom until invited to do so by court personnel.
  3. All guilty pleas for non-incarcerated defendants and/or house arrest participants for which there is a joint recommendation for no active incarceration, or no additional active incarceration will take place via conference call from the defendants’ attorney’s office utilizing the same safety precautions referenced above in the Status Conference section of the this email. Probation Orders will be processed in the courtroom and sent by email to the defense attorney. The defense attorney will print the Probation Order and ask the defendant to sign it. Then the Probation Order will be scanned and returned by the defense attorney to the courtroom clerk (with the defendant maintaining the original).
  4. Beginning the week of June 8th we will hear all types of guilty pleas (no restrictions). For Defendants who are currently incarcerated we will proceed immediately to sentencing. For Defendants who are not incarcerated, or who are House Arrest participants, the Judge will use his/her discretion as to whether to immediately proceed to sentencing or defer sentencing to a later date.
  5. Also beginning the week of June 8th we will operate three courtrooms every Friday to hear guilty pleas. Criminal Division Judges (Wachs, Ripken, McCormack, Crooks, Mulford, and/or Alban) will be assigned to hear these dockets by the Assignment Office.
  6. *** If a guilty plea is scheduled, the Status Conference will be canceled. Please continue to email myself and my administrative assistant, Becky, Johnston if you want to schedule a guilty plea. If the State wishes to offer a Stet or enter a Nolle Prosse, that should be done at the time of the Status Conference.
 
Final Comments:
  1. If at any point during a remote Status Conference or remote Guilty Plea a defendant would like to speak privately to his/her attorney, arrangements will be made to accommodate such a request.
  2. Notices from the courthouse for Status Conferences will be generated this week and mailed to counsel and defendants.
  3. If you are counsel in five or more Status Conferences, I am also going to separately email you an excerpt from my master spreadsheet that includes times, dates, and courtroom assignments for your clients’ Status Conferences.
  4. If you are entering the courthouse for a guilty plea or any other matter please note that there is a screening process in place at the front door, including temperature checks.
  5. We are creating new Notices to Appear for all types of hearings, so if you or your client receive a computer generated Notice to Appear that differs from anything set forth above, please know that this email communication will supersede any directions included on said Notice.

 
I know this is a lot to digest, so I want to thank everyone in advance for carefully reviewing this communication.
 
I also want to thank everyone for their continued cooperation.
 
Feel free to contact me should you have any questions.
 
Judge Michael Wachs
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County
8 Church Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
 



May 29, 2020
 
NOTICE FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND
The Court will hold an open meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. via videoconferencing, to consider the 205th Report of the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure.
 
For further information, contact
Suzanne C. Johnson, Clerk
Phones: 410-260-1500
 
NOTICE FROM HON. MICHAEL WACHS, CIRCUIT COURT FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY
 
Please read carefully
 
The Anne Arundel County Circuit Court will conduct Status Conferences in all criminal cases that were postponed, re-scheduled, or canceled, between the time frame of March 16th and July 17th as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
 
Miscellaneous Status Conference Information:

  1. Status Conference Dates: June 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, and 18.
  2. Docket Times: 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:00 pm daily.
  3. Courtrooms: Two courtrooms will operate daily utilizing the above staggered docket time slots.
  4. Docket Size: 10 cases will be set in each time slot on a daily basis in each courtroom, for a total of 80 Status Conferences per day. 
  5. Anne Arundel County Detention Center: Cases involving defendants at the detention center will be heard only at 9:00 am and 10:30 am in one of the two Status Conference courtrooms.
  6.  The plan is to conduct these conferences remotely. Call in instructions will be sent out separately.
  7. This was a huge undertaking to schedule all of these cases. As a result, the dates and times you are assigned cannot be changed. 
 
Specific to Defense Attorneys:
  1.  If your client is incarcerated, the Court will make arrangements to have the Defendant appear via video or telephone conference. Counsel will participate by calling the courts conference line.
  2. If your client is not incarcerated or is a house arrest program participant, he/she will be required to personally appear in your respective offices and participate via speaker phone, or other similar arrangement. All defendants will be notified that they must wear a face mask that fully covers their nose and mouth, and that they shall remain a minimum of six feet away from any person in your office. You are obviously free to put in place any other safeguards that you feel are appropriate.
  3. By way of a separate email last week, the State was asked, if they had not already done so,  to promptly and fully comply with all discovery obligations. If you believe that you have not received all required discovery, please immediately email the assigned States Attorney and send a copy of that email to me. 
  4. The State was also instructed to forward written plea offers in every case that is being set in for a Status Conference at least one week prior to the Status Conference. All defense counsel were instructed to fully discuss the plea offer with their respective client(s) sufficiently in advance of the Status Conference so that all of your clients questions could be answered and so that there was sufficient time for the defendant to consider the offer, to make any counter offer (if necessary), and receive any response to said counter-offer. Regardless, all plea discussions are to be fully completed prior to the date of any scheduled Status conference. 
 Remote Status Conference Procedure
  1. The State will be asked if it has fully complied with all discovery obligations.
  2. The State will be asked to place the plea offer on the record.
  3. The defendant will decide whether he/she wishes to accept the plea offer.
  4. If the defendant accepts the plea offer, the case will be scheduled for a plea hearing on the Friday immediately following the Status Conference, to be heard by one of the designated Criminal Judges. 
  5. If the Defendant declines the plea offer, defense counsel will be asked if a motions hearing is required. If one is required, defense counsel will then be asked to indicate with particularity what specific issues need to be addressed at the motions hearing and file the appropriate motion with particularity within 10 days. Also, we will not be taking guilty pleas at a date scheduled for motions hearing until further notice. Instead they will have to be scheduled on a separate plea docket. Lastly, it is now more important than ever that you please don’t request a motions hearing if you do not need one.
  6. The Court will schedule a motions hearing prior to October 5, after consultation with counsel.
  7. If the Defendant declines the plea offer, the attorneys and the court will also consult to select a trial date subsequent to October 5 and counsel will be expected to notify the Court if the matter being set for trial was a jury trial prayer, an appeal from the District Court, or a matter for which an Indictment our Information was filed in the Circuit Court.
  8. The trial date and motions hearing date (if needed) will be selected from the courtroom, so all counsel are expected to have their calendars with them.
  9. The Defendant will also have the option of waiving his/her right to a jury trial at the Status Conference which will permit the Court to schedule a trial prior to the week of October 5.
 Friday Guilty Plea Procedure:
  1. All guilty pleas for incarcerated defendants will be conducted via video or phone conference arranged by the Court. Defense counsel will participate via the Court’s conference call line. Probation Orders will be processed in the courtroom and sent by email to the Detention Center. Detention Center personnel will print the Probation Order and ask the defendant to sign it. Then the Probation Order will be scanned and returned by the Detention Center personnel to the courtroom clerk (with the defendant maintaining the original.
  2. All guilty pleas for non-incarcerated defendants and/or house arrest participants will take place in the courthouse (unless there is a joint recommendation for no active incarceration, or no additional active incarceration, in which case please see number 3 immediately below). Defense counsel and the Defendant must personally appear. The State may personally appear, or appear remotely via conference call, at their discretion. These “in-person” proceedings will be scheduled in such a manner to ensure social distancing requirements. All attorneys and defendants will be required to wear a face mask that covers both their mouth and their nose and remain a minimum of six feet away from all other individuals. No attorneys or defendants shall enter the courtroom until invited to do so by court personnel.
  3. All guilty pleas for non-incarcerated defendants and/or house arrest participants for which there is a joint recommendation for no active incarceration, or no additional active incarceration will take place via conference call from the defendants’ attorney’s office utilizing the same safety precautions referenced above in the Status Conference section of the this email. Probation Orders will be processed in the courtroom and sent by email to the defense attorney. The defense attorney will print the Probation Order and ask the defendant to sign it. Then the Probation Order will be scanned and returned by the defense attorney to the courtroom clerk (with the defendant maintaining the original).
 
Final Comments:
  1. If at any point during a remote Status Conference or remote Guilty Plea a defendant would like to speak privately to his/her attorney, arrangements will be made to accommodate such a request.
  2. Notices from the courthouse for Status Conferences will be generated this week and mailed to counsel and defendants.
  3. If you are counsel in five or more Status Conferences, I am also going to separately email you an excerpt from my master spreadsheet that includes times, dates, and courtroom assignments for your clients’ Status Conferences.
  4. If you are entering the courthouse for a guilty plea or any other matter please note that there is a screening process in place at the front door, including temperature checks.
  5. We are creating new Notices to Appear for all types of hearings, so if you or your client receive a computer generated Notice to Appear that differs from anything set forth above, please know that this email communication will supersede any directions included on said Notice.

 
I know this is a lot to digest, so I want to thank everyone in advance for carefully reviewing this communication.
 
I also want to thank everyone for their continued cooperation.
 
Feel free to contact me should you have any questions.
 
 
Thanks,
 
Judge Michael Wachs
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County
8 Church Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401   



May 27, 2020
Maryland Judiciary to brief the Maryland House Judiciary Committee on the courts amid COVID-19
 
Top leadership from the Maryland Judiciary, in addition to criminal justice partners, will participate in a virtual briefing regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the courts and the criminal justice system. The Maryland Judiciary will also discuss its new phased reopening plan for the state’s court system. 
 
This hearing will be conducted virtually and a link to the livestream will be posted here.
 
WHO:           
Hon. Mary Ellen Barbera, Chief Judge, Maryland Court of Appeals
Hon. Laura Ripken, Administrative Judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit and Chair of the Conference of Circuit Judges
Hon. John P. Morrissey, Chief Judge, District Court of Maryland
Pamela Harris, Maryland State Court Administrator
                      
WHAT:           Maryland House Judiciary Committee Briefing
 
WHEN:           Thursday, May 28, 2020, at 3 p.m.
 
WHERE:         Briefing will be livestreamed.
 

Link information:
http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Meetings/Day/05282020?budget=show&cmte=allcommittees&updates=show&ys=2020rs

 



May 22, 2020
Maryland courts announce plan to gradually reopen through phased approach

 
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland court system has released its reopening plan that outlines how courts across the state will gradually return to full operations throughout the next several weeks and months.
 
Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera issued the Administrative Order on the Progressive Resumption of Full Function of Judiciary Operations today, May 22. The administrative order provides direction to the courts across the state as the judicial branch continues to monitor the COVID-19 public health emergency. 
 
“The details in the reopening plan were carefully and deliberately crafted by workgroups composed of Judiciary leadership, with the health and wellbeing of court visitors and employees as the driving force, in our work to increase access to the courts,” said Chief Judge Barbera. “We acknowledge the courts will not be able to immediately return to full operations. This phased return will guide the courts, as we continue to monitor health conditions in each of the twenty-four jurisdictions.”
 
Beginning June 5, at 5 p.m., the Maryland courts will resume functions through a phased approach. Currently in Phase I of a five phased plan, the Maryland Judiciary will move to Phase II on June 5.  During Phase II,  courts will continue to be closed to public except for those who are necessary to the matters being heard. 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 jurisdiction to adjust phases.
 
Regardless of the phase, the administrative order encourages the courts to continue using technology for remote proceedings, either through video or telephonic purposes, as outlined in the Amended Administrative Order on Remote Proceedings Held During the COVID-19 Emergency issued May 1.
 
“Remote proceedings have been useful and effective in facilitating the courts’ ability to carry out core functions during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Judge Laura Ripken, Administrative Judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit and Chair of the Conference of Circuit Judges. “The courts will continue to use technology for remote proceedings so that we can expand the types of matters that can be heard before the court.”
 
As outlined in the administrative order, Phase III, which is expected to begin July 20, will mark the milestone in which the clerks’ offices in both the District Court of Maryland and circuit courts will fully open to the public, if they are able to do so. At this time, a broader range of court matters will also be scheduled.
 
The courts will require any individual, including employees, seeking access to a courthouse or court office location, to answer a set of COVID-19 screening questions, be subject to temperature checks, wear a facial covering or mask, and practice social distancing. If an individual is denied access to a court building or court office, the individual will be given information on the option to conduct the hearing remotely, in locations where this service is available, or how to have it rescheduled.
 
“We have worked tirelessly to make sure the safeguards necessary to protect, as much as reasonably possible, the health of the public, Judiciary personnel, and justice partners were in place before we open to the public,” said District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John P. Morrissey. “Differences in docket sizes, courtroom and courthouse layouts, and the number of judicial employees will affect the phases for every jurisdiction and court.”
 
At the local level, administrative judges may limit the number of people entering the courthouse or a courtroom. To date, the Maryland Judiciary has made major strides in obtaining various types of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves, face guards, no-contact digital thermometers, hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes, Plexiglas sneeze guards, signage and six-foot separation markers ahead of the courts’ reopening dates.
 
“The Judiciary’s Administrative Office of the Courts has been working closely with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and various vendors throughout the state to secure the tools and equipment necessary to safely reopen to Marylanders,” said State Court Administrator Pamela Harris. “The Judiciary’s ability to gradually resume court operations is, in part, a result of these efforts over the past several weeks and months.”
 
As the phases change and evolve, notices will be placed within a court facility and online at www.mdcourts.gov/coronavirusupdate. In-person and remote court services, such as self-help centers, will vary by court location. Members of the public are encouraged to check the Judiciary’s website for the latest information.
 
“Maryland court operations have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and will require professionalism, courtesy, and cooperation from the public and legal community, while the courts adjust practice and procedures  to help maintain the health and safety of all court employees and visitors,” said Chief Judge Barbera.
 
The Judiciary also issued three other administrative orders regarding grand juries, the tolling or suspension of statutes of limitations and statutory and rules deadlines related to the initiation of matters and pending matters, as well as the suspension of foreclosures, evictions, and other ejectments for residences.
 
The Administrative Order Lifting the Statewide Suspension of Jury Trials and Resuming Grand Juries states, in part, that grand juries may resume at the discretion of an administrative judge and new grand juries may be empaneled, as necessary. Additionally, grand juries that are currently convened may be extended by the administrative judge. All jury trials, both civil and criminal, will resume and trial dates will be scheduled beginning October 5, 2020. Priority will be given to criminal trials and other urgent court matters, such as family law emergencies. Any jury trial previously scheduled between October 5, 2020, and December 31, 2020, will remain, unless otherwise ordered by the court’s administrative judge. Read the full order for more details.
 
The 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 Deadline in Pending Matters states, in part, that the number of days that the courts were closed to the public does not count against the time remaining for the initiation of a court matter. Filing deadlines to initiate matters will be extended by an additional 15 days, depending on the date in which a specific clerk’s office opens. For example, if two days remained for the filing of a new matter on March 15, 2020, then two days would remain upon the reopening of the courts to the public on July 20, 2020. With the additional fifteen days, seventeen days would be left for a timely filing beginning July 20, 2020. Additionally, all statutes and rules deadlines related to pending court proceedings are tolled or suspended by the number of days that the courts are closed to the public. As such, the number of days the courts were closed to the public do not count against the time remaining to conduct judicial proceedings. Read the full order for more details.
 
The Administrative Order on Suspension during the COVID-19 Emergency of Foreclosures, Evictions, and Other Ejectments involving Residences states, in part, that the stay on residential foreclosures and evictions will be lifted effective July 25, 2020. Read the full order for more details.
 
May 7, 2020

The Maryland Judiciary issued new Administrative Orders

Fourth Amended Administrative Order Expanding and Extending Statewide Judiciary Restricted Operations Due to the COVID-19 Emergency (May 4, 2020)
 
Amended Administrative Order Further Clarifying 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 (May 4, 2020)


Revised policy on Interim Orders during the emergency (May 5, 2020)


Communication Regarding Domestic Violence Protective Orders, Peace Orders and Extreme Risk Protective Orders (May 6, 2020)

Statement from the Maryland Judiciary Concerning Guardianships of Adults and Minors (May 4, 2020) 



April 30, 2020


The Maryland Judiciary issued three Administrative Orders on April 30, including:

Amended Administrative Order on Remote Proceedings During the COVID-19 Emergency:  https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/admin-orders/20200501remoteproceedingsheldduringthecovid19emergencyamended.pdf

Administrative Order on Case Time Standards and Related Reports for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 in Light of the COVID-19 Emergency:  https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/admin-orders/20200501casetimestandardsandrelatedreports.pdf

Third Amended Administrative Order Expanding and Extending Statewide Judiciary Restricted Operations Due to the COVID-19 Emergency: https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/admin-orders/20200501thirdamendedexpandingandextendingjudiciaryrestrictedoperations.pdf

Chief Judge Morrisey issued the following communication regarding evictions. Communication Regarding Moratorium on Evictions Under the Federal Cares Act: https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/import/coronavirus/caresactevictions.pdf  

The IRS reminds VA and SSI recipients with eligible children to act by May 5 to quickly add money to their automatic Economic Impact Payment: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/va-ssi-recipients-with-eligible-children-need-to-act-by-may-5-to-quickly-add-money-to-their-automatic-economic-impact-payment-plus-500-push-continues


NEW April 21, 2020
 
Please see the most recent message from Administrative Judge Laura S. Ripken, Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.  The new change, referenced in paragraph 2, states that by agreement, consent hearings can be requested in family law matters. 

 *********
 
Earlier this month, I reached out to provide a summary of what our courthouse is doing to keep matters moving during this time of restricted operations. The Circuit Court has now updated that summary, which can be found on our website.
 
By agreement, consent hearings can now be requested in family law matters. Please visit our website for the specifics on how to request a remote consent hearing.
 
Laura S. Ripken
Administrative Judge
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County
Fifth Judicial Circuit
 

NEW April 16, 2020

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER REGARDING WEARING OF FACE MASKS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING IN ANNE ARUNEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

 
 
The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County continues to closely monitor state and local responses to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and follow guidance provided by state and local public health agencies and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC having advised people to take precautions, and having noted that the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to the virus, and for good cause found, it is this 15th day of April 2020, by the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Maryland
 
ORDERED, that effective on April 20, 2020, all persons entering the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County shall wear a face mask, scarf, or other device covering their nose and mouth, and it is further
 
ORDERED, that such mask, scarf or device must be continuously worn by those persons during the time they are in the courthouse, and it is further
 
ORDERED, that all courthouse employees as well as others working in the courthouse to include but not limited to contractors, must wear a mask and latex gloves when delivering files, mail, or other documents or transacting other business throughout the courthouse, and it is further
 
ORDERED, that all courthouse employees who are asymptomatic and not sharing an individual office space with another person, or who can maintain a distance of 6 feet from co-employees or others, even though sharing an office, may remove their mask or face covering or latex gloves when necessary, while in such office, and it is further
 
ORDERED, that no person may ride on an elevator containing other persons, unless all persons are wearing a face mask, scarf, or other device, and it is further
 
ORDERED, that Sheriff’s security staff conducting security related business may remove their mask or face covering or latex gloves when necessary to conduct such security related business, and it is further
 
ORDERED, that all persons admitted to the building shall consent to a thermal thermometer check conducted by a Sheriff, and are barred from entry if he or she declines to consent, or a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more is detected, and it is further
 
ORDERED, that the Anne Arundel County Sheriff’s Office is authorized to deny admission or remove any person from the courthouse who is not in compliance with any of the terms of this Order.
 
LAURA S. RIPKEN Administrative Judge of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Maryland
  

NEW April 14, 2020
Maryland Courts
New administrative orders guide trial courts on the release of incarcerated and imprisoned individuals, extend court closures through June 5

On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera issued two new administrative orders regarding COVID-19.

The first order guides the response of the trial courts in Maryland as it relates to those individuals that are incarcerated or imprisoned. Read the full order here.
 
The second order amends the administrative order expanding and extending statewide Judiciary restrictions on court operations due to COVID-19 and closes the courts to the public with limited exceptions for certain emergency court matters through June 5, 2020. Read the full order here.  
 
 
Federal Court
 
Last Friday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued two Administrative Orders. 
 
Standing Order 2020-07 extends court closures through June 5, 2020 (previously April 24), and orders the following:
  • Postpones and continues all civil and criminal petit jury selections, jury trials, and all other civil, criminal, and bankruptcy proceedings through June 5, 2020, unless another date is established by the presiding judge or other order.
  • Extends all filing deadlines for cases scheduled between March 16 - June 5, 2020 by 84 days unless otherwise ordered by a presiding judge or further order. 
  • The 30 day period for filing an indictment or information is tolled from March 16 through June 5, 2020. 
  • Courts will remain open for emergency proceedings related to public safety, health, welfare, and individual liberty. 
The second Order addresses discovery issues in pending matters. While filing deadlines have been suspended, that does not include the conduct of discovery in civil cases, provided that all parties agree to continue with discovery and that discovery would not oppose public health orders related to COVID-19. If parties are unable to agree as to whether discovery should be conducted, they shall meet and try to resolve the disagreement. If unable to reach resolution, they shall file a joint letter setting forth the nature of the dispute and each party's position.
 
 

NEW April 10, 2020

Message from Hon. Laura Ripken, Administrative Judge, Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, April 10, 2020 re:  Remote Hearing Procedures

Thank you to the wonderful members of the bar, our courthouse staff and citizens of Anne Arundel County for your dedication to your community and patience during this challenging time.  We in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County are doing our part to safely serve the public in this time of restricted operations.  Click here for a summary of what we are doing to keep matters moving. 
 
Please be safe and be well.
 
Hon. Laura S. Ripken
Administrative Judge
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County
Fifth Judicial Circuit
 


Maryland Judiciary COVID-19 Updates   Latest statements and advisories from the Judiciary, including recent Administrative Orders.


NEW March 27, 2020
 
 
Update from Judge Laura Ripken, Administrative Judge, Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County regarding Civil Pre-Trial Settlement Conferences
 
The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County is addressing the emergency resulting from the COVID-19 disruption to individual cases as well as the judiciary as a whole with new and innovative methods.
 
We are pleased to announce that we will be conducting civil, non-domestic pre-trials remotely beginning Thursday, April 9, 2020. If your pre-trial settlement conference was scheduled on after April 9th, your hearing will proceed as scheduled, however, you will participate remotely. If the court resumes normal operations on or before the date of your pre-trial, you will appear in person.
 
For the remote hearings that occur while the courthouse is in restricted operations, the Office of Case Management will send an email to you prior to the hearing that details the process.
 
If extenuating circumstances prevent you from participating in the scheduled hearing, it will be necessary for you to file a motion to postpone in the ordinary course.
 
We appreciate your efforts during this time.

Circuit Court for AA County JUDICIARY ALERT: All criminal matters to be heard remotely effective 3/24/20
 
In an effort to keep all litigants, attorneys, and court staff as safe as possible, effective Tuesday 3/24/20, and until further notice, all criminal matters will be conducted remotely.
 
We will utilize “Conference Now” to conduct teleconference hearings. 
 
The way it will work, is that:
 
  1. Each defense attorney and prosecutor (or if they like, one prosecutor may handle all matters) will call the main number, 410-222-2100 (or just 2100 from a county phone line) five minutes prior to the designated time for which the criminal matter is scheduled.
  2. Next you will be prompted to enter the “Meeting Number” which is 3502 followed by the # sign for criminal matters (there will be separate numbers for civil and juvenile matters).
  3. You will next be asked, if you are the Host, to enter your “Host Number”. You are not the Host, so please hit the # sign one more time.
  4. Then you will be prompted to enter the “Attendee Access Code” which is 2223502 followed by the # sign for criminal matters.
  5. If the “Host” (i.e., the Judge) has not called in yet you will hear very soothing music while on hold. Once the “Host” has dialed in, all parties on the call will hear a single tone and the conference call will be fully connected.
  6. You should “mute” your call until you hear your case called.
  7. When you hear your case called, “un-mute” your phone.
  8. Once your case is completed, simply drop off of the conference call.
 
The vast majority of these hearings will involve incarcerated individuals who will appear via separate video conference. They will be able to hear you and you will be able to hear them.  For any cases in which Defendants are not incarcerated, defense counsel shall conference his/her client in on their end prior to calling the “main number” referenced above in Step 1.
 
This process may feel a little awkward, however it is really no different than being in Court while waiting for your case to be called.
 
Please also note that it is possible that you may be asked to personally appear in Court in an unforeseen and/or emergency situation, and also that you may make a request to personally appear if you believe a valid reason to do so exists.
 
Thanks to everyone for their continued cooperation.
 
Hon. Mike Wachs
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County 


Foreclosure and eviction cases will not move through the courts
amid COVID-19
 
ANNAPOLIS, Md.  – Effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020, a new administrative order puts a hold on the foreclosures of residential properties and the rights of redemption of tax sales of residential properties pending in the circuit courts during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
 
Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera also ordered Wednesday that residential evictions pending in the District Court of Maryland and all pending eviction orders of residences be put on hold until further notice.
 
New residential foreclosures, foreclosures of right of redemption after a tax sale, and evictions may be filed, but those new filings will not be processed until the courts resume normal operations or unless otherwise notified.
 
As of 5:00 p.m., on March 18, 2020, Maryland state courts and court offices will continue to be staffed with essential employees from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
 
To read the full Administrative Order on Suspension of Foreclosures and Evictions During the COVID-19 Emergency, go to: https://www.courts.state.md.us/sites/default/files/admin-orders/20200318suspensionofforeclosuresevictions.pdf.
 
Please continue to monitor the dedicated COVID-19 webpage on mdcourts.gov for more updates.
 
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CONTACT:
 
Nadine Maeser
Public Information Officer
nadine.maeser@mdcourts.gov
410-260-1488
Circuit courts in Maryland will process land record filings
amid COVID-19
 
ANNAPOLIS, Md.  – Effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020, a new administrative order allows land record filings to be recorded in the Maryland state circuit courts’ clerk’s offices during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
 
Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera ordered Wednesday that any instruments required to be recorded shall be recorded in the land records office of the applicable circuit court until further notice.
 
Instruments can be recorded electronically. In addition, drop boxes are located in every circuit court throughout the state for land record instruments and other filings.
 
Title searchers may conduct title searches online through the Maryland Land Records at MdLandRec.net. The website provides online access to Maryland land record documents and is provided by the Maryland Judiciary and the Maryland State Archives.
 
Additionally, Plats.net is a digital image reference system provided by the Maryland Judiciary and the Maryland State Archives for Land Survey, Subdivision, and Condominium Plats. It preserves and makes accessible all plats filed with the Land Office and Maryland’s circuit courts.
 
As of 3:30 p.m., on March 18, 2020, Maryland state courts and court offices are staffed with essential employees between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
 
To read the full Administrative Order on Statewide Judiciary Operations That Must Be Maintained During the COVID-19 Emergency: Land Records, go to: https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/admin-orders/20200318operationslandrecords.pdf.
 
Please continue to monitor the dedicated COVID-19 webpage on mdcourts.gov for more updates.
 
# # #
 
CONTACT:
 
Nadine Maeser
Public Information Officer
nadine.maeser@mdcourts.gov
410-260-1488
 

Maryland state courts reduce staffing in courthouses, continue to hear emergency court matters

ANNAPOLIS, Md.  – Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Maryland state courts will require only essential employees to report to courthouse locations and court offices. Court locations and offices will be minimally staffed to hear emergency court matters and to answer calls between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. All other employees able to work from home will do so at the direction of their supervisor.
 
Emergency matters include, but are not limited to, domestic violence petitions, family law emergencies, extreme risk protective orders, bail reviews, juvenile detention hearings, and search warrants. These matters will continue to be processed by the courts and its reduced workforce until Friday, April 3, 2020, or further notice.
 
All other non-emergency matters scheduled for a court hearing or proceeding will be postponed, and courthouses across the state will remain closed to members of the general public until April 3, 2020, or further notice.
 
The new administrative order issued today, Monday, March 16, 2020, allows administrative judges, court administrators, clerks of court, administrative clerks, and administrative heads, to identify “essential personnel.”
 
“In response to COVID-19, the Maryland Judiciary is taking further action to protect court visitors and Judiciary personnel,” said Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera. “The health and well-being of all Marylanders continue to be a top priority as we ensure that essential court operations continue during this public health emergency.”
 
The Maryland Judiciary’s electronic filing system, referred to as MDEC, remains available and is required to be used in all MDEC counties. In non-MDEC counties or for self-represented litigants, filings can be mailed to your local clerk’s office or can be dropped off in a drop box.
 
Monday’s order replaces the administrative order issued Friday, March 13, 2020. You can read the new Administrative Order on Statewide Judiciary Restricted Operations Due to the COVID-19 Emergency issued March 16, 2020, here: https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/admin-orders/20200316restrictedoperationsduetocovid19.pdf.
 
The Maryland Judiciary’s online portal CaseSearch will be updated as clerk’s offices across the state process filings during this public health emergency. 
 
Members of the media will be permitted inside courthouses while the Administrative Order on Statewide Judiciary Restricted Operations Due to the COVID-19 Emergency is in effect. If you are a member of the media and intend on entering a courthouse in the near future, the Judiciary strongly urges you to speak with your management teams and take the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Maryland Department of Health into consideration. The Maryland Judiciary is taking these steps to reduce the number of people in its courthouses to mitigate the potential for spreading the virus. Lastly, the Judiciary asks that you present a valid media credential when you enter the courthouse and pass through security. A media credential should include your first and last name, a picture, and the name of the media organization you are representing.
 
# # #
 
CONTACT:
 
Nadine Maeser
Public Information Officer
nadine.maeser@mdcourts.gov
410-260-1488
 
The Circuit Court Law Library is able to help with legal research remotely by email as listed below.

Joan M. Bellistri
Law Library Director
Anne Arundel County Public Law Library
joan.bellistri@mdcourts.gov
 
Information from the Clerk’s Office Regarding Land Records Instruments

The Circuit Court is currently closed to the public and therefore we are unable to accept any land record instruments in-person. However, there are still two avenues to process land records instruments. Hard copy recordings may be brought to the courthouse and placed in a drop box that has been set up near the entrance to the courthouse. Or electronic filings through SimpliFile are still being processed. Thank you for your understanding during this national crisis.
Scott Poyer
Clerk of the Circuit Court
Anne Arundel County