Civil Case Status due to COVID-19 Emergency
With the Court’s return to Phase III of the Maryland Judiciary’s reopening plan as of January 3, 2022, civil jury trials have been suspended. Non-jury trials and all other general civil proceedings are proceeding. The Court is conducting most general civil proceedings by remote electronic means. This statement provides important information on the status and handling of CIVIL/NON-DOMESTIC CASES in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
FILING PAPERS. The Civil Division of Clerk’s Office is open to the public. Use of the lockboxes in the Mitchell Courthouse for filing papers has been discontinued. When filing papers by mail or in person at the Clerk’s Office, it remains important to mark the envelope or the papers as EMERGENCY if the filing requires immediate attention. 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.
EMAIL ADDRESSES. Please note that Maryland Rule 1-311(a) requires counsel to include any email address counsel uses on any filed paper. This is essential to allow the Court to communicate by email when appropriate, including sending links for remote electronic proceedings. Unrepresented parties should also include an email address on filed papers.
POSTPONEMENT COURT. Daily postponement court is being conducted by remote electronic means. 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.
REMOTE ELECTRONIC HEARINGS. Most hearings on the chambers and fast track dockets continue to be heard by remote electronic means pursuant to Maryland Rules 2-802 and 2-803 using Zoom for Government. If a hearing is to be conducted in this way, the court will contact the parties with the conference call information.
CIVIL DISCOVERY MOTIONS. Administrative Order 2020-07 has been rescinded, and the virtual filing of civil discovery motions has been discontinued. All civil discovery motions must now be filed in paper form only with the Clerk’s Office, by mail or in person. Please continue to make sure these filings distinguish between emergency and non-emergency matters.
PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES. All pre-trial settlement conferences and early neutral evaluation conferences are being conducted by remote electronic means using Zoom for Government.
CIVIL NON-JURY TRIALS are proceeding as scheduled, with most conducted by remote electronic means. 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 that is postponed without a request by the parties, please contact the Civil Assignment Office ((410) 333-3755) to see if the trial date can be preserved or restored.
CIVIL JURY TRIALS. Civil jury trials scheduled to begin from January 3, 2022 to February 8, 2022 must be postponed. Orders have been issued in all affected cases giving instructions for how new trial dates will be set. In general, priority for trial among civil cases once jury trials resume will be based on the age of the case, with priority for older cases.
TRIAL POSTPONEMENTS. Even once civil jury trials resume, some trial dates will have to be postponed at the Court’s initiative because of the limited number of civil jury trials that can be conducted. The parties will receive notice of the new pre-trial conference and trial dates as they are scheduled.
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 continues to consider 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.
FORECLOSURE CASES. Pursuant to then Chief Judge Barbera’s August 6, 2021 Tenth Amended Administrative Order on the Suspension during the COVID-19 Emergency of Foreclosures, Evictions, and Other Ejectments Involving Residences, mortgage foreclosure and tax sale foreclosure actions involving residential property may proceed only upon filing of a Declaration of Exemption from Moratorium, as required by that Administrative Order. Counsel are urged to review the Tenth Amended Administrative Order carefully to be certain that all necessary statements are included in any Declaration of Exemption. Except when filed and then served with the initial papers in an action, any Declaration of Exemption must include a complete certificate of service on all parties.