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Before you head into the weekend, we wanted to share a breaking update from the Judiciary this evening. The Judiciary has issued three new Administrative Orders responsive to many concerns that MSBA has raised on behalf of our members over the last few weeks regarding statutes of limitations, statutory and rules deadlines, and filing concerns. Many thanks to all of our members who reached out to us with questions that we then shared with the Judiciary – with our most recent question set going to the Judiciary just yesterday. MSBA is glad to see this thoughtful response from the Judiciary to address the challenges of this unprecedented environment for our legal community and the public.
MSBA will provide further details and analysis as we review more but we wanted to share this information with you as soon as possible before you go into your weekend. Much more to come in the following days.
1. Today the Judiciary issued an 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. The Order includes the following important changes:
  • All statutory and rules deadlines related to the initiation of matters required to be filed in a Maryland state court, including statutes of limitations, shall be tolled or suspended, as applicable, effective March 16, 2020, by the number of days that the courts are closed to the public due to the COVID-19 emergency by order of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals
  • All statutes and rules deadlines to hear pending matters, including, but not limited to juvenile matters, shall be tolled or suspended, as applicable, effective March 16, 2020, by the number of days that the courts are closed to the public due to the COVID-19 emergency by order of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals;
  • Such deadlines further shall be extended by a period to be described in an order by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals terminating the COVID-19 emergency period
  • Any such filings made within the period to be described in (b) shall relate back to the day before the deadline expired.
  • To the extent that this Administrative Order conflicts with extant Administrative Orders or local administrative orders, this Administrative Order shall prevail, except as provided in the Administrative Order Expanding Statewide Judiciary Restricted Operations Due to the COVID-19 Emergency filed on April 3, 2020, and the Administrative Order on Expanding the Statewide Suspension of Jury Trials and Suspending Grand Juries, filed April 3, 2020
2. The Judiciary also expanded the statewide suspension of jury trials by Administrative Order.
3. The Judiciary issued an Administrative Order expanding restricted operations due to the COVID-19 emergency to allow remote filings for non-MDEC jurisdictions.
We are also including a release from the Judiciary regarding these orders:
Government Relations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2020  

New orders address deadlines, jury service, and electronic filing

amid COVID-19 health emergency

 

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – In response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 public health emergency, the Maryland Judiciary has issued two new orders and revised an existing order further restricting court operations.

 

Effective March 16, statutory and rules deadlines related to the initiation of court matters that are required to be filed in Maryland, including statutes of limitations, are tolled or suspended. Additionally, all statutes and rules deadlines to hear pending matters, including, but not limited to juvenile matters, are tolled or suspended.

 

This new order will control statutory and rules deadlines, except for the deadline for scheduling of criminal jury trials. The new Administrative Order on Expanding the Statewide Suspension of Jury Trials and Suspending Grand Juries also issued today will govern those trials. 

 

As per the jury order, jurors will not be called for service until further notice. All civil and criminal jury trials in the circuit courts that were scheduled to begin after March 16, 2020, are suspended. If a trial date is scheduled at least six weeks from the date identified by Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera as the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency period, it will remain scheduled. Additionally, all grand juries will be suspended until further notice.

 

Lastly, the existing order that restricts court operations due to COVID-19 has been expanded to allow jurisdictions to handle certain proceedings remotely. It also permits jurisdictions that do not have electronic filing capabilities through the Maryland Electronic Courts, known as MDEC, including Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County, to do so using new virtual drop boxes. At the court’s discretion, the three jurisdictions may determine to process and handle emergency and urgent matters electronically.

 

To review the orders in full, go to: https://mdcourts.gov/coronavirusorders.