Maryland Courts During April 2020 and COVID-19 (Legal Update)
Maryland courts remain operational during April 2020.
However, the Courts are operating on a limited and emergency basis until May 1, 2020.
Maryland's Stay at Home Order
On March 30, 2020, Maryland Governor Hogan issue a stay-at-home emergency Order for Maryland, which amended and expanded the prior Order issued on March 23, 2020, to protect everyone from the spread of COVID-19. See Order, Md. (No. 20-03-30-01).
As part of the prior Order, Governor Hogan recognized the legal industry as an essential service. Thus, lawyers can continue to operate and serve each of thier clients and the community.
See Interpretative Guidance, No. COVID19-04 (Mar. 23, 2020), p. 3 at 2(j), Office of Legal Counsel, State of Maryland.
Governor Hogan's Order also permits travel "required by a law enforcement officer or court order." Order, Md. (20-03-30-01), at II.b.vi. So, visitation under custody orders can proceed.
If you are traveling in a car to fulfill a court order, have a paper copy of the court order in your car, say, in the glove compartment.
Maryland's Courts (Updated April 5, 2020):
The Courts however are closed to non-emergency matters. Administrative Order (Mar. 25, 2020), Court of Appeals (J. Barbera). On April 3, by way of a new expanding Administrative Order, the Maryland Judiciary extended this through May 1, 2020.
Yet specified criminal, emergency and other matters are being processed. This includes emergency family matters, and domestic violence and protective order requests and proceedings, for instance. Administrative Order, Section (g); Administrative Order (Expanded, April 3, 2020), Section (b).
The Courts are empowered to also conduct "remote proceedings" when appropriate. Administrative Order (Expanded, April 3, 2020), Section (c).
Maryland Courts are processing filings in current cases at the Court, and are permitted to handle civil motions if no hearing is necessary. Administrative Order, Section (h); Administrative Order (Expanded, April 3, 2020), Section (j).
On April 3, the Maryland Judiciary also issued an Administrative Order on Emergency Tolling (abbreviated title) that extends deadlines as well as time-to-file new lawsuits by the number of days from March 16, 2020 to when Courts re-open. See id., Section (a)-(b).
This matter of deadlines will be addressed again in the Court's eventual administrative order reopening courts to normal operations. Id., Section (c). Nevertheless, if you have a new matter to file and are running up against a deadline to file, you are advised to consult an attorney. Further, this article is only updated through April 5, 2020.
These rules do not apply to our federal courts or necessarily to U.S. law. Maryland court rules apply to pending suits in the Maryland judiciary and to claims and disputes under Maryland law.
Maryland's Federal Courts (Updated April 5, 2020):
The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, our federal court system, has suspended filing deadlines until April 24, 2020 for already-filed cases, unless a Judge has issued a specific order in that case.
However, the federal court has a dropbox and new filers need to meet their statute-of-limitations deadlines under the law, or can have their case filed electronically through an attorney. Standing Order (2020-05) (D. Md., filed Mar. 20, 2020, J. Bredar).
As the situation is evolving, this information should be checked against the most recent court and state orders before making any decision.
Gregg H. Mosson, Esq.
Mosson Law, LLC
For information on representation in the fields of employment and family law, I invite you to get in touch. Please visit my website at www.mossonlaw.com. The office is based in Towson, Maryland, and the practice ranges Maryland-wide.