COVID-19 Updates

GENERAL
CIVIL
CRIMINAL
FAMILY

General Updates

Pursuant to Chief Judge Barbera’s Order of June 3, 2020, regarding the progressive resumption of full function of Judiciary operations, no one exhibiting illness will be permitted in the courthouse and the following additional information is provided.

The Court shall schedule and hear all Phase I matters and additional Phase II matters, to include:

Civil

  1. Emergency evaluation petitions
  2. Quarantine and isolation petitions
  3. Emergency Habeas Corpus petitions
  4. Body attachments
  5. Temporary restraining orders
  6. Scheduling conferences
  7. Status conferences
  8. On the record appeals
  9. Matters that can be handled remotely or without testimony

Criminal

  1. Bail reviews, bail reconsiderations, and bench warrants including matters involving locally incarcerated defendants, consistent with the Administrative Order Guiding the Response of the Trial Courts of Maryland to the COVID-19 Emergency as It Relates to Those Persons who are Incarcerated or Imprisoned, filed April 14, 2020
  2. Arraignments for detained defendants
  3. Extradition cases
  4. Matters addressing competency; criminal responsibility issues not requiring witness testimony, status and discovery and Hicks issues
  5. Deferred sentencing
  6. Plea agreements without recommendations for sentences of incarceration; deferred sentence matters; and motions that can be handled remotely or without testimony or both
  7. Motions
  8. Expungements
  9. Violation of probation hearings
  10. Non-jury trials
  11. Status hearings

Family

  1. Scheduling conferences
  2. Status conferences
  3. Uncontested divorces and other uncontested family law matters
  4. Domestic violence temporary and final protective orders
  5. Domestic violence, peace, and extreme risk protective order appeals
  6. Family law emergencies that have been determined to require an expedited hearing, including time urgent matters related to special juvenile immigrant status
  7. Guardianship matters
  8. Temporary restraining orders
  9. Default hearings
  10. Exceptions hearings
  11. Motions requiring witness testimony
  12. Pendente Lite hearings
  13. Contempt hearings (non-child support)
  14. Adoptions
  15. Child support establishment
  16. Settlement hearings
  17. Court ordered mediations, and
  18. Matters that can be handled remotely or without testimony

COVID-19 Juvenile Court Law Case Processing

CINA (Dependency)

  1. Shelter care hearings
  2. CINA adjudications, dispositions, permanency plans, permanency plan reviews
  3. Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) proceedings
  4. Exceptions hearings
  5. Guardianships under juvenile causes
  6. Adoptions concerning CINA and TPR juveniles
  7. All matters and motions that are contested and/or requiring testimony, and
  8. Matters that can be handled remotely or without testimony or both

Juvenile (Delinquency)

  1. All matters that are contested and/or requiring testimony
  2. Adjudication
  3. Disposition and disposition reviews
  4. Closure of probation and jurisdiction of Juvenile Court
  5. Motions
  6. Juvenile expungements
  7. Juvenile permanency plan and permanency plan reviews
  8. Juvenile and adult sex offender registration matters
  9. Waiver hearings, including to and from Juvenile Court
  10. Exceptions hearings, and
  11. Matters that can be handled remotely or without testimony.

Attendance at the above hearings may be limited by building and room capacity. Petit Jury duty is canceled until Phase V, however, Grand Jury has resumed. Dockets are updated daily and can be found at https://mdcourts.gov/circuit/howard/dockets

The Clerk’s office will be open to the public, subject to building capacity. The Register of Wills office is available by appointment only. The law library is open with very limited capacity and self-help programs are available by appointment only.

In accordance with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this court seeks to limit the level, duration and quality of contact among persons who frequent the Circuit Court for Howard County. To that end, all members of the public who enter the Circuit Courthouse must wear a face covering or mask and will be screened for temperature and illness at entry. All persons are encouraged to frequently wash their hands and keep an appropriate distance from others. Commonly used surfaces in the Circuit Courthouse, including the areas around doors and elevators, are cleaned throughout the day by cleaning crews.

Orders related to restricted operations can be found at: https://mdcourts.gov/coronavirusupdate. Please check back frequently for updates or revisions. Additional contact numbers are:

Calendar Management: 410-313-3575
Court Administration: 410-313-2028
Jury Commissioner: 410-313-3804
Clerk’s Office: 410-313-2111
Land Records/Licensing: 410-313-5850

COVID-19 Civil Case Processing

No civil jury trials will be conducted and no jurors should report until further notice. Any individual that has questions should consult their attorney or contact the Maryland Self-Help Center at 410-260-1392.

The Amended Administrative Order on 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, shall control as to statutory and rules deadlines.

COVID-19 Criminal Case Processing

No criminal jury trials will be conducted. Bail reviews, arraignments of detained individuals, and other emergencies and matters listed above will go forward by remote means unless otherwise ordered by the court. If the prosecution and defense agree that a plea has been negotiated and may result in the release of an incarcerated individual, they may file a Joint Line to Set in Plea Hearing. A follow up e-mail should be sent to the Court’s Criminal Case Manager at Lindsay.shimek@mdcourts.gov.

Chief Judge Barbera has issued a court order requiring administrative judges in the Circuit Courts to work with others to identify at-risk incarcerated persons for possible release to protect them during theCOVID-19 health emergency. Judges will be evaluating whether these individuals can be released in light of victim and community safety, the rights of victims, and public health concerns.

COVID-19 Family Law Case Processing

The Circuit Court for Howard County has temporarily amended family law case procedures as follows:

  1. Scheduling/Status Conferences: If a conference has been scheduled the case may be able to proceed remotely. The family law office will convert all eligible hearings to a remote proceeding, the date will remain the same as the previously scheduled date, however the time may change. Counsel/parties will be emailed remote hearing information and no action from parties or counsel is necessary. Contact the family law office 410-313-2403 or steven.ale@mdcourts.gov for more information.
  2. Uncontested/Default Hearings: : If an uncontested or default proceeding has been scheduled, the case may be able to proceed remotely. The calendar management office will convert all eligible hearings to a remote proceeding, the date will remain the same as the previously scheduled date, however the time may change. Counsel/parties will be emailed remote hearing information and no action from parties or counsel is necessary. Contact the family law office 410-313-2403 or kathleen.eyler@mdcourts.gov for more information.
  3. Settlement Conferences: All settlement conferences will be held remotely. Contact the family law office 410-313-2403 or kathleen.eyler@mdcourts.gov for more information.
  4. Magistrate Conference Calls: If a case has been properly served, and there has been limited access, inadequate support, violation of an existing order or other urgent issue, a conference call may be requested. The request form must be completed and filed with the Clerk’s Office. If the Request is granted, instructions regarding the call will be e-mailed to counsel/parties.

Contact the family law office with any procedural questions, 410-313-2403 or kathleen.eyler@mdcourts.gov. Additionally, although walk-in self-help centers are limited in their capacity to protect the health and safety of court visitors and staff. The Maryland Court Self-Help Center is still operating to help Marylanders with civil legal problems on the phone and by live chat. To speak with a lawyer, call 410-260-1392 or go to https://mdcourts.gov/selfhelp/mcshc.