NOTICE: The information contained on this page is in effect until June 5, 2020.

Last Updated: Friday, May 22, 2020

Maryland courts are currently closed to the public; however, the courts will continue to hear certain types of emergency matters. Most courthouses are operating with essential staff only and are experiencing high call volumes. Please take time to review the information on this page as well as this video about available resources and tools for the public during COVID-19. The information on this page is subject to change.

Current Cases
Most court cases will not be heard. They will be rescheduled and the court will contact you with a new date. If you are not sure about your case, call the Circuit Court or District Court.

If you have a hearing for the following types of cases contact the Circuit Court or District Court. A judge will decide whether your case needs to be heard in person, whether it can be held by videoconference, whether it can be rescheduled, or whether it can be resolved without a hearing:

  • Domestic violence hearings (New cases: contact a District Court Commissioner)
  • Peace order hearings (New cases: contact a District Court Commissioner)
  • Extreme risk protective order hearings (New cases: contact a District Court Commissioner)
  • Family law emergencies (custody, child access, visitation, support) including urgent matters related to special juvenile immigrant status
  • Shelter care or adjudications (Child in Need of Assistance (CINA))
  • Emergency delinquency hearings
  • Emergency guardianship matters
  • Temporary restraining orders
  • Emergency habeas corpus petitions
  • Criminal competency matters
  • Contempt relating to peace or protective orders
  • Matters involving locally incarcerated defendants

Domestic Violence and Peace Orders
If you are in need of protection and are seeking a peace or protective order, or an extreme risk protective order, call the District Court Commissioner in your county or Baltimore City. Your request will be heard. Call first to provide information and for instructions on where to go. Once the commissioner issues an interim order, a judge will determine whether the next hearing must be heard in person, can be heard with remote electronic participation, can be scheduled after the emergency period has ended, or can be resolved without a hearing.

Some Cases May be Expedited
Judges will be reviewing interim orders that involve an order to vacate the home, an issue of child custody, or firearms. If a judge determines a hearing is required, a temporary protective order hearing will be held within 7 days of the interim order. The court will notify you if your case will have an expedited hearing.

Types of cases that are still being heard
The courts will continue to hear the following types of cases:

In the Circuit Courts:

  • bail reviews
  • bench warrants
  • arraignments for detained defendants
  • juvenile detention hearings
  • juvenile shelter care 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

District Court Commissioners (Call first. See the Directory):

  • new protective order petitions
  • new peace order petitions
  • new extreme risk protective order petitions
  • initial appearances
  • applications for statement of charges
  • acceptance of bail bonds
  • bench warrant satisfactions

Filing deadlines and statutes of limitations

New Cases. All deadlines established by Maryland law or court rules  to initiate a case or an appeal in a Maryland state court are tolled or suspended effective March 16 by the number of days the courts are closed. The Chief Judge will issue an order providing the amount of time after the courts begin to reopen to the public to initiate a case or an appeal and have the filing still considered to be timely.

Pending Cases. Cases that were scheduled to be heard during the health emergency are generally postponed and will be heard at a later date, except for priority matters listed above. Contact the court if you are unsure.  Hearing deadlines established by Maryland law or court rules in existing cases are tolled or suspended effective March 16 by the number of days the courts are closed. Those hearings will be scheduled at a future date. Other deadlines remain in effect.

Scheduling Orders.If you have a scheduling order in a civil or family law case and you want the court to consider changes to that order, submit a motion to the court. The court will consider your request.

No Dismissals for Lack of Jurisdiction or Prosecution. Under normal circumstances the court may dismiss a civil case for lack of jurisdiction (failure to serve the defendant within a specific time) or lack of prosecution (failure to take any action within 1 year). The court will not be dismissing cases for these reasons during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Filing court documents while courts are closed
The court will continue to accept documents filed electronically through MDEC, by mail, and in person. If you plan to file in person, all courts have a drop box. Contact the individual court for more information on where and how to use the drop box.

During this emergency, the filing date will be considered as follows:

  • MAILED FILINGS:  the postmark date.
  • DROP BOX FILINGS: The previous business day, unless there is a timestamp on the drop box.

Self-help centers and law libraries
Walk-in self-help centers and law libraries are closed to the public at this time. The Maryland Courts Self-Help Center is available to provide help by phone and chat.

PHONE HOURS: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Call to speak with an attorney:  410-260-1392

CHAT HOURS: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Chat online with an attorney at: https://mdcourts.gov/selfhelp/mcshc.

Law Libraries
Selected court law libraries are responding to information requests from the public and attorneys via phone or email.
You may also submit your question to Ask a Law Librarian.  
At this time, there is no physical access to any Maryland court law library.

Getting a copy of a court order
Call the Clerk’s Office in the court where your case is pending to request a copy of the document. There may be a fee for the copy.

Evictions and failure to pay rent cases
All pending residential eviction matters are stayed by order of the Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. This court is not hearing failure to pay rent cases at this time.

All pending home eviction orders have also been stayed. This means that you cannot be evicted from your home during the emergency. In addition, sheriff’s departments in most Maryland counties have been ordered not to conduct evictions that have already been authorized during the present emergency. You can see those orders here.

Governor Larry Hogan has issued an order requiring that the court cannot issue a judgment for possession or warrant for restitution (the documents required before you can be evicted) if you can show you suffered a loss of income due to the COVID-19 virus or the state of emergency. Individuals can file court documents and start new cases but it is not clear when those cases will be heard.

Foreclosures
Home foreclosures pending in the courts have been stayed by order of the Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. That means if you have a foreclosure case it will not be heard until the court orders otherwise. Individuals can file court documents and start new cases but it is not clear when those cases will be heard. The court may lift the stay to allow some foreclosures to proceed if it would be a hardship for the homeowner not to proceed.

Auctions are only part of the foreclosure process. Auction sales must be ratified by the court. Through a new Administrative Order on foreclosures issued March 25, 2020, ratifications have been stayed by the court. Any individual that has questions regarding foreclosures should consult with their attorney or they may contact the Maryland Self Help Center (by phone) at 410-260-1392. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, phones will operate until 4:30 p.m. Online chat will operate until 8:00 p.m.

Family Law Matters
The Maryland courts have issued special guidance for families during the health emergency. Please review the Statement from the Maryland Judiciary Concerning Children and Families for information on child custody and parenting time, child support, and domestic violence matters.

Guardianship
The Maryland courts have issued special guidance about guardianship matters during the health emergency. Please review the Statement from the Maryland Judiciary Concerning Guardianships of Adults and Minors for information on guardianship emergencies, matters that need to be expedited, and for what court-appointed guardians should do during the health emergency.

Juvenile Matters
Chief Judge Barbera has issued an administrative order requiring administrative judges in the Circuit Courts to work with others to identify juveniles who have been detained or committee for possible release to protect them during the COVID-19 health emergency. Judges will be evaluating whether these youth can be released in light of victim and community safety, the rights of victims, and public health concerns. In evaluating new juvenile matters, judges will consider whether the juvenile suffers from a pre-existing condition, or has symptoms of or tests positive for COVID-19 in determining whether the juvenile should be detained or committed.

Incarcerated Persons
Chief Judge Barbera has issued an administrative 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 the COVID-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. In evaluating whether to order pretrial detention in new cases, judges are to consider a number of factors in light of the COVID-19 health emergency.

Marriage Licenses
The issuance of marriage license applications have been expanded and all Maryland courts have begun remote processing of marriage licenses during this emergency.  Please see the revised Marriage License Application and Marriage License Application Instructions.

Water, electricity or other utilities
Governor Larry Hogan has issued an order requiring that no electric, gas, sewage disposal, telephone, water, cable, or internet provider can terminate your service if it is being used in your home, until the health emergency is over.

A company providing those services cannot charge you a late fee during the health emergency.