United States District Court for the District of Maryland
The public is no longer permitted to enter the courthouse except for litigants with scheduled proceedings, counsel, investigators or employees of counsel, and the press. All persons will be screened for flu-like symptoms.
On March 31, 2020, the Court limited in-court proceedings to Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays. The Court remains open for emergency criminal, civil, and bankruptcy matters related to public safety, public health and welfare, and individual liberty.
The Clerk’s Office remains open to the public through telephone and via drop boxes located. Electronic filing through CM/ECF remains available.
- Extension of Proceedings and Filing Deadlines.
All civil, criminal, and bankruptcy proceedings scheduled to occur from March 16, 2020 through June 5, 2020 are postponed unless otherwise ordered.
All filing deadlines between March 16, 2020 and June 5, 2020 are extended by 84 days, unless otherwise ordered.
Certain discovery in civil cases may proceed as scheduled, provided it does not conflict with public health guidance.
The Court has issued Standing Order 2020-11 concerning court operations under the exigent circumstances created by COVID-19. This Order supersedes Standing Order 2020-07, effective June 6, 2020.
On May 22, 2020, the Court issued an order regarding its transition plan, which provided, in relevant part as follows:
- All civil and criminal petit jury selections and jury trials scheduled to commence through June 30, 2020, before any district or magistrate judge in any courthouse in the District of Maryland are POSTPONED and CONTINUED.
- With the exception of the jury trials identified above, all civil and criminal hearings, trials, and proceedings in the Court shall continue as presently scheduled, unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge;
- Some civil jury trials may commence on or after July 1, 2020;
- Some criminal jury trials may commence on or after August 1, 2020.
On June 17, 2020, the Court issued an order regarding Phase Two of its recovery plan, effective June 22, 2020.
The Recovery Plan is as follows:
Effective July 20, 2020 the Judiciary entered Phase III of the Return to Full Operations.
District Six will begin processing civil matters in Phase III. This will include:
- Affidavit judgments with trial dates prior to March 16. 2020
- Consent Judgments
- Confessed Judgments
- Civil motions and proceedings that are ripe and do not require a hearing
- Uncontested matters ripe prior to March 16, 2020
The following civil matters may be heard during Phase III:
- Wrongful detainer actions (emergency and non-emergency)
- Breach of lease actions
- Tenant holding over actions
- Rent escrow actions (subject to local code inspectors’ ability to provide inspections)
- Warrants of restitution related to judgments in said matters
The following matters will proceed after July 25, 2020 (subject to any future legislation/action, Executive Order/action, Court of Appeals Order/action):
- Processing of previously stayed warrants of restitution for failure to pay rent action
All State Courts
On April 3, 2020, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera published an Administrative Order on Expanding The Statewide Suspension Of Jury Trials And Suspending Grand Juries.
Pursuant to the Administrative Order:
- All grand juries shall be suspended until further notice, subject to any exception that may be granted on an individual basis by the Chief Judge of the Court ofAppeals.
- All civil jury trials in the Circuit Courts throughout the state of Maryland scheduled to begin on or after March 16, 2020, have been and shall be suspended on an emergency basis pending further Order of the Chief Judge of the Court ofAppeals.
- All criminal jury trials in the Circuit Courts throughout the state of Maryland scheduled to begin on or after March 16, 2020, have been and shall be suspended on an emergency basis pending further Order of the Chief Judge of the Court ofAppeals.
- Any currently scheduled trial date that is at least six weeks after the date that concludes the COVID-19 emergency period as ordered by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals will be maintained, absent further order of the court in which the trial is scheduled.
On April 8, 2020, Judge Barbera published an updated order that revised the April 3, 2020 Order to include certain additions related to juvenile shelter care hearings and child in need of assistance matters. The order also added a provision regarding the suspension of notices of contemplated dismissal.
On April 14, 2020, Judge Barbera published an updated order that revised the April 8, 2020 Order to restrict court operations through June 5, 2020. The Order also provided additional details related to emergency delinquency hearings.
Also, on April 14, 2020, Judge Barbera issued another order, which requires judges to hold prompt hearings for certain categories of cases in which individuals are detained.
On May 4, 2020, Judge Barbera issued two new orders. The orders clarified the tolling of statutes and deadlines.
https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/admin-orders/20200504fourthamendedadministrativeorderexpandingandextendinjudiciary restricted operations.pdf
On May 22, 2020, Judge Barbera issued several orders regarding the progressive resumption of the full function of judicial operations.
On Friday, June 5, the Maryland courts will begin implementing its reopening plan that guides courts across the state of Maryland.
Here is a set of answers to Frequently Asked Questions from the Maryland judiciary:
If COVID-19 conditions allow, the Maryland Judiciary will move to Phase IV on August 31, 2020. Phase IV will mark the resumption of non-jury trials and other contested matters in the District Court of Maryland and circuit courts.
Circuit Court for Montgomery County
On March 25, 2020, the Court issued an order restricting the Court to emergency operations, and closed the Court to the public with limited exceptions through May 1, 2020. Thus, as with Maryland’s federal court, the right of public access to judicial proceedings is being significantly curtailed during the crisis.
Certain emergency matters would continue to be heard in person or remotely, including emergency criminal, civil, family, and juvenile detention matters, as well as protective orders.
As of April 14, 2020, that includes bail reviews and bench warrants; arraignments for detained defendants; juvenile detention hearings; peace order petitions for juvenile respondents; emergency evaluation petitions; quarantine and isolation petitions; extradition cases; body attachments; and extreme risk protective order appeals. Other emergency matters may be heard in the court’s discretion.
Any hearings are held virtually, usually by telephone, with videos being used by detention centers. Where reference to documents is necessary, the transmission of documents between locations may be by facsimile, file-sharing programs, or video transmission of sufficient resolution for legibility.
All jury trials are postponed.
Persons other than media are not permitted in the courthouse except in limited circumstances. The Court is, thus, permitting the news media to be the eyes and ears of the public.
On April 15, 2020, the Court issued an order regarding the wearing of face coverings in the courthouse. The relevant portions of the Order are, as follows:
ORDERED, that effective on April 20, 2020, all persons entering the Circuit Court for Montgomery 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 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
The order on masks was clarified on April 30, 2020: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cct/Resources/Files/COVID-19-Notices/FaceMasks_and_SoclDistancing_04302020.pdf
Beginning on April 27, 2020, the Court is allowing parties to agree to civil motions previously set for hearings through June 4, 2020 to be decided on the papers.
On May 1, 2020, Judge Greenberg held a virtual townhall for the Court. Below are some of the relevant points:
- Have a skeleton staff which calls for just essential services
- Family division is almost up to date with filing
- Reopening – current order sets date as June 8. Judge Barbera will decide and work with Governor Hogan to coordinate
- If June 8 is the day, the Court may have a roll out that will consist of 2 weeks where Court is open to finish business before public can enter the Court
- Stagger starting times of cases once trials start
- Jury trials will not start at least 6 weeks after 6/8 opening
- Civil jury trials – will probably be 3-4 months after reopening
- Uncontested divorces – will be scheduled
- Discovery rules apply – no suspension of rules regarding answering or replying to motions
- Virtual drop box – set up virtual drop box for discovery and certain other motions
Beginning on May 4, 2020, the Court will be conducting some uncontested divorce hearings remotely.
On May 22, 2020, the Court announced that will be resuming non-emergency operations on Monday, June 8, 2020. Even with the reopening, the building will remain closed to the public and attorneys, with limited exceptions, until at least June 22.
JURY TRIALS – All jury trials in civil and criminal cases are postponed until at least October 5, 2020l.
EMERGENCY DOCKETS – The court will continue to hear the cases it presently hears under the requirements of Judge Barbera’s previous orders. All such hearings will continue to be held remotely, whenever possible. No other trials, hearings or proceedings of any type scheduled for June 8-June 26, inclusive, with few exceptions.
CONTESTED TRIALS OF ANY TYPE (CRIMINAL, CIVIL, FAMILY, JUVENILE OR OTHER) – All such cases previously scheduled for June 8 through June 26, inclusive, will be postponed to a new date.
MOTIONS IN CIVIL CASES – Those cases which were previously set on the 10:00 a.m. civil motions dockets from Monday through Friday will remain on the docket and be heard by telephone or videoconference, beginning with cases set to be heard on June 1 (not June 8), 2020.
STATUS/PRETRIAL HEARINGS IN TRACK 2 CIVIL CASES – All such hearings set for the period of March 16 through July 2 have been removed from the docket and will not be rescheduled.
PRETRIAL/SETTLEMENT HEARINGS IN TRACK 3 CIVIL CASES – All such hearings set for the period of March 16-July 2 have been removed from the docket and will not be rescheduled. Effective August 6, 2020, the court is instituting a new policy to expedite resolution of these cases. This policy will remain in effect until at least October 4, 2020. Pursuant to this new policy, any parties scheduled for a Settlement/Pretrial Conference in Track 3 cases will forego the Settlement Conference and appear only for Pretrial, by telephone, before the Administrative Judge. All previously scheduled Settlement Conferences in Track 3 civil cases are hereby removed from the docket. The parties may receive a notice from the court informing them that the Settlement Conference (but not the Pretrial) has been removed.
CRIMINAL PRETRIAL DOCKETS IN TRACK 2 & 3 CIVIL CASE – Will resume on June 19, 2020.
CRIMINAL SENTENCING HEARINGS – All such cases set before any judge during the weeks of June 8-19 will be rescheduled.
Dates on Scheduling Orders in all civil and family law cases, and criminal cases where applicable, where Scheduling Orders were issued before March 16, 2020, shall be adjusted by adding 84 days (the length of the court emergency closure) to each event described, provided the original event date for which extension is sought was after March 16.
The virtual dropboxes established by previous order of this court for the resolution of Track 2 and 3 family law and civil discovery and juvenile cases are discontinued, effective June 5, 2020. New electronic filing systems, which will be described in a future message, are being instituted effective June 8, 2020. https://montgomerycountymd.gov/cct/index.html
On June 6, 2020, Montgomery County Circuit Court released its five-phase reopening plan with an anticipated resumption of full activities on October 5, 2020. The full plan is available below:
- Filings and Remote Procedures.
Because the Court normally does not accept electronic filings, it is working on finding ways to deal with other motions and filings remotely.
- Other Relevant Information
On April 1, 2020, the Court reiterated that it was only processing and ruling on emergency matters. All filings mailed or placed in the drop box must be marked as emergency or non-emergency. The Court also announced that it is working on strategies to deal with non-emergency matters, and extension will be liberally granted after the Court reopens.
On April 6, 2020, the Court reiterated that statutes and rules deadlines to hear pending matters are tolled and suspended, effective March 16, 2020. New deadlines are also tolled and suspended. This was again reiterated on April 14, 2020.
On April 10, 2020, the Court issued an Administrative Order Regarding Electronic Filing.
On April 15, 2020, the Court issued an order allowing for filings related to juvenile emergency proceedings to be emailed to the Court.
On April 27, 2020, the Court extended the electronic filing procedures from only Track 3 discovery disputes to include Track 2 civil cases and also certain family matters.
On June 3, 2020, the Court issued the following Amended Administrative Order Regarding Electronic Filing:
Having been authorized on April 3, 2020, by the Court of Appeals, to use a virtual dropbox for electronic filing during the COVID-19 emergency period, and having since determined that the Court’s use of virtual dropboxes should be changed in the manner set forth below, it is this 3rd day of June, 2020, by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, hereby
ORDERED, that the following Administrative Orders are VACATED, effective June 5, 2020, and the virtual dropboxes established in them may no longer be used:
- April 10, 2020 Administrative Order Regarding Electronic Filing;
- April 15, 2020 Administrative Order for Electronic Filing in Juvenile Emergencies;
- April 27, 2020 First Amended Administrative Order Expanding Availability of Electronic Filing; and it is further.
ORDERED, that for the limited purposes set forth below, effective June 8, 2020, eight virtual dropboxes established for electronic filing in cases pending in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.
On June 12, 2020, the courts sent out a “Message to the Bar from the Circuit Court,” announcing that by the close of business on June 12, many attorneys will already have heard from judges or staff regarding cases that were set on the docket from June 8-July 31. By June 19, it is anticipated that the court’s dockets for June 29-July 17 will be updated on the court website, and July 20-August 31 docket updates will be posted soon thereafter. Additionally, the courts announced they anticipate that Zoom for Government will be the remote videoconferencing platform and will be in use by the end of the month.
July 20, 2020 will mark the beginning of Phase III of the Montgomery County Circuit Court Reopening Plan. On this date, the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office will be open to the public and attorneys for certain services. These services will be by appointment only from 10-12 and 2-4. However, it is still strongly encouraged that both the public and attorneys continue to request copies and information by e-mail, drop box, or USPS. To limit the number of people in the courthouse and to expedite requests, members of the public and attorneys will be able to order copies and request appointments for the following services online: 1. Copies of case documents (excluding marriage licenses) 2. Reviewing case files 3. Swearing in of Special Police Officers 4. Swearing in of notaries
Circuit Court for Prince George’s County
On March 25, 2020, the Court issued an order restricting the Court to emergency operations and closed the Court to the public with limited exceptions through May 1, 2020. This is now extended to July 20, 2020.
As of April 8, 2020, that includes bail reviews and bench warrants; arraignments for detained defendants; juvenile detention hearings; juvenile shelter care hearings; peace order petitions for juvenile respondents; emergency evaluation petitions; quarantine and isolation petitions; extradition cases; body attachments; and extreme risk protective order appeals. Other emergency matters may be heard in the court’s discretion.
The Court’s website states that it is working to address every emergency and bond hearing that is filed. Remote hearings in front of a judge are scheduled, if needed. Bond hearings are also heard each day.
All jury trials are postponed.
On June 8, 2020, phase two of the Circuit Court’s reopening plan commenced, allowing some staff to return to the courthouse with the incorporation of social distancing. A limited number of in-person hearings will be scheduled and the Circuit Court will expand the use of remote hearings on other matters. Uncontested hearings and services such as mediation, parenting classes, training, etc. continue remotely. The courthouse will still be generally closed to the public.
The Court is not a MDEC county and does not accept electronic filings. A drop box is available for filings.
On Monday, July 20, 2020, the Judiciary will enter Phase III of the Judiciary’s five-phase statewide reopening plan. In Phase III, the clerks’ offices in the circuit courts and the District Court of Maryland will fully open to the public. A broader range of court matters will also be scheduled throughout the state during this phase.