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  • Writer's pictureWilliam C. Fanning, Jr.

Maryland Courts and Your Case During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Soon after Governor Larry Hogan declared Maryland to be in a state of emergency, Administrative Orders did close Maryland Courts to the public.

During this time, where the latest Administrative Order from the Court of Appeals of Maryland, dated April 3, 2020, has expanded statewide Judiciary restrictions on operations due to the COVID-19 emergency, and have restricted the essential personnel and Courts to emergency operations only, with limited exceptions, to keep the Courts closed to the public through May 1, 2020, monitoring for updates and waiting for a ruling on your legal matter are, basically, the only options available at this time.

This means that your Court Case may have been impacted by the Administrative Orders during this difficult time.

According to this latest Administrative Order, “...matters scheduled to be heard beginning March 16, 2020, through the end of the COVID-19 emergency are hereby postponed or suspended, unless participants are notified that the matter(s) will proceed or as otherwise ordered by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals…”

Staying informed, and following your Case on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search system website, to which you can find by visiting this link here, or contacting the specific court your Case was filed in will certainly keep you in the loop.

Do You Have a Court Date Already Scheduled?

Your case may be reset, or continued, which means that it will be rescheduled to a different day.

Checking online to see if your court date has been moved, daily, is important so that you do not miss any events in your case. You may receive in the mail a Notice to inform you of the continuance. You may receive in the mail a Notice for a new date at a later time.

Which Types of Cases Are Still Being Heard?

Presently, most court cases will not be heard at this time.

While Maryland Courts are closed to the public, this does not necessarily mean that the Courts are not active. The Courts are still continuing to hear the following types of cases:

In the Circuit Courts:

  • bail reviews

  • bench warrants

  • arraignments for detained defendants

  • juvenile detention hearings

  • peace order petitions (juvenile respondents)

  • emergency evaluation petitions

  • quarantine and isolation petitions

  • extradition cases

  • body attachments

  • extreme risk protective order appeals

In the District Court:

  • bail reviews

  • bench warrants

  • emergency evaluation petitions

  • quarantine and isolation violations

  • body attachments

In cases to provide Domestic Violence  and Peace Orders, District Court Commissioners will hear your request, and may issue an interim order. District Court Commissioners will hear the following cases:

  • new extreme risk protective order petitions

  • new domestic violence protective petitions (adult respondents)

  • new peace order petitions (adult respondents)

  • initial appearances

  • applications for statement of charges

  • acceptance of bail bonds

  • bench warrant satisfactions

If you are not sure about your Case, you should call the Circuit Court or District Court that your Case was filed in. All other emergency matters will be handled by a judge reviewing the petition. And then determining whether it must be heard by these options: (1) in person; (2) with remote electronic participation; (3) scheduled after the emergency period has ended; or (4) resolved without a hearing.

Emergency matters to be handled in this manner are listed below:

  • shelter care hearings and related CINA matters

  • emergency delinquency hearings

  • emergency Habeas Corpus petitions

  • emergency issues in guardianship matters

  • domestic violence protective orders

  • appeals from peace orders

  • family law emergencies

  • temporary restraining orders

  • criminal competency matters

  • motions regarding:

    • extreme risk protective orders

    • domestic violence protective orders

    • peace orders

  • contempt hearings related to peace or protective orders

  • matters involving locally incarcerated defendants

Need to File Court Documents in Your Case?

The Court will still accept documents filed electronically through MDEC, by mail, and in person. If you are trying to file court documents in regards to your case in person, while the courts are closed to the public, they have a drop box.

Contact the individual court for more information on how to use their drop box, and where it is located.

If you have been in the middle of your case at this time, your case may be ‘in limbo’ and on a hold until this state of emergency is lifted. Decisions on if your Case is heard is not determined by you, but by the judicial official at the District Court or Circuit Court your case was filed in. It is the Court that will review and notify you and the other party or parties about whether or not the Court deems the matter to be urgent, or whether the matter will be scheduled for a court date upon the opening of the Court.

While we wait for new revisions to the Administrative Orders, Executive Orders, and for this state of emergency to pass, know that you are not alone in this matter. Waiting for your Case to finally be closed, or for your legal matter to be resolved may be generating anxiety for you, but you do have the option to discuss your legal matters with an attorney. You can take this forced time at home to strategize for an amicable resolution, so that you are prepared for when the Courts reopen.

If you would like to discuss any of these matters, or have questions about the process of a pending case, to figure out where you may be heading in your legal matters, please contact us at Fanning Law, LLC, to schedule your telephone consultation today!

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