MSBA continues to bring you the latest court updates and COVID-related news. We have a breaking update from the Maryland Judiciary, as well as federal court updates.
Judiciary Updates
MSBA has shared 170 COVID-related questions with the Judiciary on behalf of our members, and we are glad to see new Administrative Orders from the Court addressing many of our members’ concerns. The Judiciary issued three Administrative Orders this week.
Today’s first Administrative Order expands and extends the emergency operations of courts through June 5, 2020. All matters scheduled to be heard between March 16, 2020 through June 5, 2020, are postponed or suspended, unless otherwise ordered. Courts may continue to conduct remote hearings for emergency matters and resolve matters that may be addressed without a proceeding. Administrative judges may also review, on an emergency basis, whether to hear matters involving locally incarcerated defendants.
Another Administrative Order  from today guides the response of trial courts to the COVID-19 emergency as it relates to incarcerated or imprisoned individuals. The Order instructs administrative judges in District and Circuit Courts  to identify at-risk incarcerated individuals for potential release for health reasons, with regard for victims’ safety. Judges are directed to set prompt hearings for warrant or body attachment service for certain hearings, and to expedite bond reviews and body attachments in certain types of cases, including child support contempt, bond reviews, and minor probation violations.
Yesterday’s Administrative Order protects juveniles in detention and prevents further detention unless necessary. The Order confirms the existence of COVID-19 in Maryland juvenile detention facilities and instructs Circuit Court Administrative Judges or their designees in juvenile courts to identify detained juveniles and identify any for potential release to protect their health, with regard to the safety of victims.  Judges handling juvenile matters are instructed to consider additional COVID-related inquiries when considering the detention or release of juveniles.
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.
Free On-Demand Webinars
Thank you for remaining engaged with your peers and with MSBA during this difficult time. We are providing several free webinars to help you navigate COVID-related issues in your practice. Join the thousands of legal professionals that have tuned into our YouTube channel to view our free, on-demand, COVID-related webinars. Take time to view our recent webinar on concerns regarding the Paycheck Protection Program and considerations for the self-employed, as well as an earlier session on the Program and important CARES Act benefits.