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As we turn to the holiday weekend, we bring you important updates from the Judiciary about the phased reopening of the courts, as well as Judiciary responses to recent MSBA inquiries on behalf of the profession. We will provide more detailed analysis and commentary on the impact of these orders in the coming days and weeks.

Four New Administrative Orders from the Judiciary

Here are summaries from the Court about four new Administrative Orders:

1) Administrative Order on the Progressive Resumption of Full Function of Judiciary Operations. The administrative order outlines operational directives to the courts across the state as the judicial branch continues to monitor the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Beginning June 5, at 5 p.m., the Maryland courts will reopen through a phased approach. There are five phases and the Maryland Judiciary is currently in Phase 1. Each phase will represent an increase in the level of activity within each courthouse and court office. Depending on the current state of COVID-19 throughout Maryland, it may be necessary for a court and/or jurisdiction to adjust phases. Regardless of the phase, the administrative order encourages the courts to continue using technology for remote proceedings, either through video or telephonic purposes, as outlined in the Amended Administrative Order on Remote Proceedings Held During the COVID-19 Emergency issued May 1.

The Judiciary also issued three other administrative orders regarding jury trials and grand juries, the tolling or suspension of statutes of limitations and statutory and rules deadlines related to the initiation of matters and pending matters, as well as the suspension of foreclosures, evictions, and other ejectments for residences.

2) The Administrative Order Lifting the Statewide Suspension of Jury Trials and Resuming Grand Juries states, in part, that grand juries may resume at the discretion of an administrative judge and new grand juries may be empaneled, as necessary. Additionally, grand juries that are currently convened may be extended by the administrative judge. All jury trials, both civil and criminal, will resume and trial dates will be scheduled beginning October 5, 2020. Priority will be given to criminal trials and other urgent court matters, such as family law emergencies. Any jury trial previously scheduled between October 5, 2020, and December 31, 2020, will remain, unless otherwise ordered by the court’s administrative judge. Read the full order for more details.

3) The Revised Administrative Order on the Emergency Tolling or Suspension of Statutes of Limitations and Statutory and Rules Deadlines Related to the Initiation of Matters and Certain Statutory and Rules Deadline in Pending Matters states, in part, that the number of days that the courts were closed to the public does not count against the time remaining for the initiation of a court matter. Filing deadlines to initiate matters will be extended by an additional 15 days, depending on the date in which a specific clerk’s office opens. For example, if two days remained for the filing of a new matter on March 15, 2020, then two days would remain upon the reopening of the courts to the public on July 20, 2020. With the additional fifteen days, seventeen days would be left for a timely filing beginning July 20, 2020. Additionally, all statutes and rules deadlines related to pending court proceedings are tolled or suspended by the number of days that the courts are closed to the public. As such, the number of days the courts were closed to the public do not count against the time remaining to conduct judicial proceedings. Read the full order for more details.

4) The Administrative Order on Suspension during the COVID-19 Emergency of Foreclosures, Evictions, and Other Ejectments involving Residences states, in part, that the stay on residential foreclosures and evictions will be lifted effective July 25, 2020.

MSBA Continues to Share Reopening Questions with the Judiciary on Behalf of the Profession 

We also invite you to review the Judiciary’s responses to recent questions we posed on behalf of our members and partners about reopening considerations, remote technologies, and filing considerations, available here. We are thankful to have shared nearly 200 questions on behalf of the profession during this difficult time.

We welcome you, as always, to reach out to us at feedback@msba.org so that we can continue to advocate for the legal community.