Civil Case Status due to COVID-19 Emergency
ON JULY 20, 2020, THE COURT BEGINS PHASE III OF CHIEF JUDGE MARY ELLEN BARBERA’S GRADUAL PLAN TO RESTORE JUDICIARY FUNCTIONS. This statement provides important information on the status and handling of CIVIL/NON-DOMESTIC CASES in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City during Phase III and leading to the planned progression to Phase IV on August 31, 2020.
FILING PAPERS. The Civil Division of Clerk’s Office will re-open to the public on July 20, 2020. Filing of papers in civil cases, however, may continue to be done by mail or by delivery to the filing lockboxes available on business days from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Calvert Street and Fayette Street (ADA accessible) entrances to the Mitchell Courthouse. Parties are encouraged to use the filing lockboxes for filings that are not time-sensitive and do not require a transaction in the Clerk’s Office. All packages for filing should be marked prominently on the envelope as EMERGENCY or NON-EMERGENCY to assist in giving priority to emergency matters. See Administrative Judge Carrión’s Updated Letter Regarding Processing of Filings/Need for Email Address. For emergency matters, the filing party also should contact either the Civil Assignment Office ((410) 333-3755) or Judge Fletcher-Hill’s chambers ((410) 396-6826) to direct attention to the matter.
REMOTE ELECTRONIC HEARINGS. Most hearings on the chambers and fast track dockets continue to be heard by telephone conference call pursuant to Maryland Rules 2-802 and 2-803. If a hearing is to be conducted in this way, the court will contact the parties with the conference call information.
TRIAL POSTPONEMENTS. As ordered by Chief Judge Barbera, jury trials will not resume until October 5, 2020, at the earliest. All civil jury trials scheduled to start through October 2, 2020 are canceled. See below for the status of pre-trial conferences associated with those civil jury trials. The court is in process of rescheduling those trial dates to 2021, and the parties will receive notice of the new pre-trial conference and trial dates as they are scheduled.
Civil non-jury trials scheduled after July 20, 2020, may go forward on their currently scheduled dates, either by remote electronic means or in person. Some civil non-jury trials may be postponed inadvertently because of the difficulty identifying non-jury matters. If you have a civil non-jury matter after July 20, 2020, that gets postponed, please contact the Civil Assignment Office ((410) 333-3755) to see if the trial date can be preserved or restored.
PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES. For civil jury cases that had trial dates from mid-August through October 2, 2020, the pre-trial conference dates are being preserved. The court will contact counsel to determine whether the conference will proceed as a status conference or as a full settlement conference. All status and settlement conferences will be done by conference call.
SCHEDULING ORDER MODIFICATIONS. As Administrative Judge Carrión has stated, see Updated Letter Regarding Processing of Filings/Need for Email Address, the court is aware of the impact the COVID-19 emergency is having on parties’ ability to proceed with discovery and to meet other scheduling order deadlines. There has not been a blanket extension or suspension of those deadlines. The court is now considering scheduling order modifications either by motion or through status conferences. If counsel are filing a motion to modify the scheduling order, counsel are urged to seek consent of all parties to any proposed modification.
CIVIL DISCOVERY MOTIONS. Pursuant to Administrative Judge Carrión’s Administrative Order 2020-07, all motions and responses concerning discovery matters in civil/non-domestic cases must be filed both virtually at email@example.com and physically by mail, in the courthouse filing lockbox, or at the Clerk’s Office. The papers may have an electronic signature that complies with Maryland Rule 20-107 for signatures in MDEC jurisdictions. Administrative Order 2020-08. Please make sure these filings distinguish between emergency and non-emergency matters and that counsel’s email address, if any, is included in the signature block. Note that the virtual filing lockbox is for discovery motions ONLY.
POSTPONEMENT COURT. Daily postponement court is being conducted by telephone conference call. Please call the Civil Assignment Office ((410) 333-3755) well in advance of 1:45 p.m. to provide the information for the postponement request. That office will give instructions on when and how the matter will be heard.
FORECLOSURE CASES. Pursuant to Chief Judge Barbera’s June 3, 2020, Amended Administrative Order Lifting the Suspension during the COVID-19 Emergency of Foreclosures, Evictions, and Other Ejectments Involving Residences, all mortgage foreclosure and tax sale foreclosure actions involving residential property remain stayed until July 25, 2020. No foreclosure sales or evictions or ejectments involving residential property are permitted. Papers may be filed in these actions. New actions that are filed are stayed upon filing.