COVID-19 Updates

GENERAL
CIVIL
CRIMINAL
FAMILY

General Updates

Pursuant to Chief Judge Barbera’s Orders, regarding the progressive resumption of full function of Judiciary operations, no one exhibiting illness will be permitted in the courthouse and the following additional information is provided.

Attendance at hearings may be limited by building and room capacity. Petit Jury duty will resume at the Circuit Court for Howard County the week of May 3, 2021 and Grand Jury has resumed. Dockets are updated daily and can be found at https://mdcourts.gov/circuit/howard/dockets

The law library is open with very limited capacity and self-help programs are available by appointment only.

In accordance with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this court seeks to limit the level, duration and quality of contact among persons who frequent the Circuit Court for Howard County. To that end, all members of the public who enter the Circuit Courthouse must wear a face covering or mask and will be screened for temperature and illness at entry. All persons are encouraged to frequently wash their hands and keep an appropriate distance from others. Commonly used surfaces in the Circuit Courthouse, including the areas around doors and elevators, are cleaned throughout the day by cleaning crews.

Orders related to restricted operations can be found at: https://mdcourts.gov/coronavirusupdate  Please check back frequently for updates or revisions. Additional contact numbers are:

Calendar Management: 410-313-3575
Court Administration: 410-313-2028
Jury Commissioner: 410-313-3804
Clerk’s Office: 410-313-2111
Land Records/Licensing: 410-313-5850

COVID-19 Civil Case Processing

Jury trials will resume the week of May 3, 2021, although criminal jury trials will take priority. Proceedings will be conducted remotely unless otherwise ordered. held whenever possible. Any request to convert a remote hearing to an in-person hearing must be filed with the Clerk’s Office and ruled on by a judge. An individual that has questions should consult their attorney or contact the Maryland Court Help Center at 410-260-1392.

Maryland Court Help Center is operating to help Marylanders with civil legal problems on the phone and by live chat. To speak with a lawyer, call 410-260-1392 or go to https://mdcourts.gov/helpcenter/mchc

The Amended Administrative Order on Emergency Tolling or Suspension of Statutes of Limitations and Statutory and Rules Deadlines Related to the Initiation of Matters and Certain Statutory and Rules Deadlines in Pending Matters, shall control as to statutory and rules deadlines.

COVID-19 Criminal Case Processing

  • JURY TRIALS: Jury trials will resume the week of May 3, 2021. Plea agreements that may involve incarceration will take place in-person.
  • COURT TRIALS AND MOTION HEARINGS: All cases will be scheduled as remote hearings unless otherwise ordered by a judge. Any request to convert a remote hearing to an in-person hearing must be filed with the Clerk’s Office and ruled on by a judge.
  • VOP HEARINGS:
    1. VOP Hearings for Non-incarcerated defendants will be held in-person.
    2. VOP Hearings for incarcerated Defendants will go forward remotely, unless otherwise ordered.
  • INITIAL APPEARANCES/ARRAIGNMENTS:Initial Appearances/Arraignments will continue to take place remotely for incarcerated defendants. All others will be held in-person. If counsel enters their appearance, dates for future events will be cleared and these proceedings will be vacated. If counsel enters their appearance but does not clear dates for future events, the proceedings will be converted to a remote Scheduling Conference.
  • GUILTY PLEAS AND DISPOSITIONS: Guilty pleas and dispositions that do not have recommended incarceration can be scheduled and heard remotely upon agreement. State and defense shall contact Calendar Management to clear a date and time and then file a Line with the Clerk’s Office. Prosecution and defense will notify Calendar Management if a plea may involve incarceration and the proceeding will be held in-person.
  • EXPUNGEMENTS, CRIMINAL SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES, MODIFICATION OF SENTENCE, AND POST CONVICTION HEARINGS: These types of hearings will be scheduled as remote proceedings. Anyone wishing to have an in-person proceeding must file a motion with the Clerk’s Office which will then be ruled upon by a judge.
  • BAIL REVIEWS: Bail Reviews will continue to be heard remotely.
  • COVID-19 Family Law Case Processing

    Pursuant to Chief Judge Barbera’s February 16, 2021 Order, beginning March 15, 2021, courts are open to the public, however restrictions continue to limit the concentration of individuals and allow social distancing. Therefore, courts may continue to conduct certain remote proceedings. Beginning March 15, 20201 through July 2, 2021, the Circuit Court for Howard County has temporarily amended family law case procedures as follows:

    In-Person Hearings
    The following court events will be in-person proceedings:

    1. All domestic violence proceedings, with the exception of a Motion to Shield, which shall be heard remotely;
    2. Department of Social Services child support contempt hearings;
    3. Any other matter as ordered by a Judge or Magistrate.

    Remote Proceedings
    All other family law, CINA and juvenile delinquency hearings will be scheduled, or converted, to remote proceedings, unless otherwise ordered by this court. Therefore, it is very important to review the online docket prior to any court appearance. If parties prefer an in-person hearing, a motion for this request must be filed and ruled upon.

    Magistrate Conference Calls
    If a case has been properly served, and there has been limited access, inadequate support, violation of an existing order or other urgent issue, a conference call may be requested. The request form must be completed and filed with the Clerk’s Office. If the Request is granted, instructions regarding the call will be e-mailed to counsel/parties.

    Legal Clinics
    The legal clinics are open by appointment only, contact Sandy Brewer for more information, (410) 313-2135 or sandy.brewer@mdcourts.gov. Additionally, the Maryland Court Self-Help Center is operating to help Marylanders with civil legal problems on the phone and by live chat. To speak with a lawyer, call 410-260-1392 or go to https://mdcourts.gov/helpcenter/mchc.

    Contact the Family Law Office with any procedural questions, (410) 313-2403 or kathleen.eyler@mdcourts.gov.