CURRENT STATUS: Phase III

Last Updated: Friday, January 14, 2022

On Wednesday, December 29, the Maryland Courts will revert to Phase III of its progressive phased reopening plan. Please call the court and/or review the local court page before visiting a court location. We appreciate your patience during this time.

The Maryland courts continue to follow a Phase Reopening Plan. On Wednesday, December 29, 2021, the Maryland courts reverted to Phase III. During Phase III courts may conduct remote proceedings to the greatest extent possible. Jury trials scheduled to begin after December 29, 2021 and March 4, 2022, will be rescheduled. During Phase III courts continue to require social distancing and health measures.

Safety Measures and Social Distancing

In each phase, the Maryland Courts will follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and/or the Maryland Department of Health (MDH).

As those agencies have recommended, before you enter a court building you must:

  • Answer COVID-19 screening questions;
  • Permit staff to check your temperature (non-contact) if asked;
  • If not fully vaccinated, wear a face mask or covering;
  • If not fully vaccinated, maintain social distancing.

Effective August 9, 2021, you must wear a mask indoors, whether or not you are vaccinated, in any court in a county or Baltimore City where COVID-19 transmission rates are “substantial” or “high.” This requirement will be lifted only after the county or Baltimore City has gone back to “moderate” or “low” transmission rates for at least 14 days. If you’re not sure whether masks will be required, contact the court before you come to find out.

If we determine, after screening, that you cannot enter the court, we will give you information on other ways you can accomplish what you need to do.

If you do not comply with the requirements above, you may be denied entrance or required to leave the court.

If masks are mandatory, you are still required to maintain social distancing. If masks are not mandatory, and if you are vaccinated, you are not required to maintain social distancing. You may be asked to maintain social distancing in some settings if the administrative judge determines it is necessary, even if you are vaccinated.

Remote Proceedings

Courts are encouraged to conduct remote proceedings to the greatest extent possible, following the rules established by previously issued orders from the Chief Judge until further order. If your hearing will be held remotely, instructions will arrive by mail or you may be contacted by the clerk. Call the courthouse right away if you are not able to participate by remote means.

You may ask that the court change your in-person hearing to a remote hearing. Submit this form to ask for a remote hearing.

Court-Based Services

Courts may offer certain services either remotely or in person, as appropriate to the phase, to be determined by the administrative judge. These may include:

  • Court help centers;
  • Alternative dispute resolution programs (for example, mediation);
  • Family Division services;
  • Law libraries;
  • Child care for litigants, witnesses and others.

Judges

All incumbent judges (except Orphans Court judges) will continue to be cross-designated so they can serve in any trial court in Maryland.

Filing Court Documents

  • In Person. Documents not required to be filed electronically may be filed in person at clerk’s offices.
  • MDEC. The Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) may still be used for electronic filing. If you are in a county that does not yet use MDEC, you may continue to use MDEC for appellate filings.
  • Virtual Drop Box. Non-MDEC jurisdictions (Baltimore City, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties) may still make “virtual drop boxes” available for filings through Phase Four.
  • Other Filings Not Required to be Electronic. Individuals may still file documents via mail or using physical drop boxes when permitted.

Jury Trials and Trial Deadlines

Jury Trials. Jury trials which had already begun as of December 27, 2021, may continue until they are concluded. Jury trials scheduled to begin between December 27, 2021, and March 4, 2022, will be rescheduled.

Deadline for Offering Jury Trials to Defendants Extended. Deadlines established by Maryland law or court rules regarding when criminal matters must be heard in state court are tolled or suspended effective December 29, 2021. This means that days that jury trials could not be offered to defendants due to the COVID-19 health emergency do not count against the time remaining for the start of a criminal jury trial. Once jury trials resume March 7, 2022, those deadlines will be extended an additional 30 days to permit Circuit Courts to conduct status hearings and reschedule jury trials as appropriate.

Deadlines for Court Actions and Statutes of Limitations

Deadline for Preliminary Hearings in Criminal Matters Extended. For all criminal cases that were pending or which began on December 29, 2021, through March 6, 2022, the deadline to conduct preliminary hearings in the District Court pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-221(b) is extended to March 7, 2022.

Deadline for Initiating New Matters Extended. Deadlines established by Maryland law or court rules regarding when new matters must be filed in state court, including statutes of limitations, were tolled or suspended effective March 16, 2020, by the number of days the courts were closed. This means that the days the offices of the clerks of court were closed due to the COVID-19 health emergency (March 16 – July 20) do not count against the time remaining to initiate that matter. Clerks offices reopened to the public on July 20, 2020, and filing deadlines to initiate matters are were extended by an additional 15 days.