Local Administrative Order 2022-01: Restricting Access to Court Proceedings in Light of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Emergency
On Wednesday, December 29, 2021, the Maryland Judiciary reduced operations and reverted to Phase III. of its five-phased reopening plan. During Phase III, Clerks’ offices in both the District Court of Maryland and circuit courts throughout the state will remain open to the public. The Court of Appeals of Maryland and Court of Special Appeals of Maryland remain fully operational, but the chief judge may determine whether to hold proceedings in person or remotely. In Phase III, the District Court and circuit courts will hear specific case types remotely or in-person, but jury trials will not be held until the Judiciary is able to re-enter Phase V of its progressive reopening plan.
All persons entering the courthouse are subject to health screening and temperature check and must wear a face covering at all times while in the building. Accommodations to allow individuals to maintain a safe social distance of six feet are in place throughout the building.
Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty issued an amended administrative order on January 14, 2022, Extension of Interim Administrative Order of December 27, 2021 Restricting Statewide Judiciary Operations in Light of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 Emergency, which extends the Maryland Judiciary Phase III operations in response to the continued Omicron variant surge. Phase III operations are extended through March 6, 2022, pending further order.
The cornerstone of our democratic form of government is a fair and impartial judiciary. In the State of Maryland, the judicial branch of government consists of four levels of courts, two trial and two appellate. The Circuit Court for Wicomico County hears major civil cases and more serious criminal matters, along with juvenile cases and most appeals from the District Court, Orphans’ Courts, and administrative agencies. If a party in a District Court civil or criminal case requests a jury trial, those cases are heard by the Circuit Court under certain circumstances.
Whether you are a party in a legal matter, a juror or a citizen curious about how the courts operate, you are welcome in our courthouse.
S. James Sarbanes
County Administrative Judge