September 29, 2020
187 Harry S. Truman Parkway
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Jury trials to resume in criminal and civil cases statewide, new video shows court preparations ahead of jurors’ return to service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Judiciary will enter into Phase V of its five-phased COVID-19 emergency progressive reopening plan on Monday, October 5, 2020. At this time, all courts in Maryland will be fully operational with the resumption of jury trials in criminal and civil cases in circuit courts statewide.
Phase V of the Judiciary’s reopening plan will be implemented as outlined in the Amended Administrative Order on the Progressive Resumption of Full Function of Judiciary Operations Previously Restricted Due to the COVID-19 Emergency. In addition, per the Administrative Order Clarifying COVID-19 Health Measures in Courthouses and Judicial Branch Facilities, anyone entering a courthouse, including employees, are required to wear a mask or face covering; submit to a written or verbal questionnaire regarding any COVID-19 related symptoms; and submit to a contactless thermometer temperature check. These measures are in place as additional safety precautions to help protect the well-being of all court visitors, judges, and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Jury trials require the assembly of large groups of citizens in order to allow the selection of an impartial jury. Doing this responsibly, while safeguarding due process, is a complex challenge that the leaders of the circuit courts have worked hard to meet,” said Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, Maryland Court of Appeals. “New courtroom layouts include plexiglass shields and distanced seating. They are among the many measures the Judiciary has employed to limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Those called for jury service can be assured that we will continue to safeguard, as much as we reasonably can, the health of the public, including jurors, Judiciary personnel, and justice partners.”
In a new jury video produced by the Maryland Judiciary’s Administrative Office of the Courts, “Jury Duty COVID-19 Safety Precautions,” members of the public who are called for jury duty can see sanitation efforts and preparations made by the courts before jurors enter a court building.
The Maryland Judiciary continues to follow guidelines from the Maryland Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and is routinely cleaning buildings with a focus on frequently touched surfaces. The new video shows how jury assembly rooms, deliberation rooms, and courtrooms have been modified to comply with such guidelines. Plexiglass shields have also been installed in jury rooms and courtrooms to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Additional rooms and buildings may be utilized to allow social distancing as required. Jurors and court visitors should note that jury environments will differ by jurisdiction due to the differences in the various circuit court building layouts. Contact local jury offices for questions about jury service and accommodations.
The Maryland Judiciary joins other states across the country, including Delaware and Ohio, in the resumption of jury trials. To learn how many other states have resumed jury trials during COVID-19, click here. To learn more about the importance of jury duty, click here.
Phase V is the Maryland Judiciary’s final phase of its COVID-19 reopening plan during the COVID-19 health emergency. On Oct. 5, the Maryland Judiciary will be fully operational throughout Maryland’s courts. Find more information on COVID-19 and court operations online at https://mdcourts.gov/coronavirusinformationforpublic.
Courts across Maryland will continue using technology for remote proceedings, either by video or telephone, but such utilization will vary by court location. Individuals who have business with the courts should check the Judiciary’s website at mdcourts.gov, or call the Clerk’s Office for information before arriving at a courthouse location.