March 31, 2022
187 Harry S. Truman Parkway
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Maryland Judiciary adopts recommendations and releases report from Joint Subcommittee on Post COVID-19 Judicial Operations
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Last week the Judicial Council, the governance body of the Maryland Judiciary, unanimously accepted all recommendations from a report submitted by the Joint Subcommittee on Post COVID-19 Judicial Operations. The joint subcommittee convened in September 2021 for the purpose of reviewing the various innovations and adaptations employed throughout the Judiciary during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine which of them should be retained on a permanent basis.
The joint subcommittee divided its findings and recommendations into eight different categories: technology, remote proceedings and events, courthouse security and safety, alternative work arrangements, courthouse scheduling and docket management, Judicial College of Maryland, meetings, and non-judicial functions. Some of the recommendations are highly specific, such as identifying specific types of proceedings that are, or are not, generally amenable to being held remotely absent a crisis, and other recommendations were for further study and analysis, such as whether and, if so, how, to provide additional flexibility in teleworking and alternative work arrangements.
Notably, the joint subcommittee recommended, among other items, that remote proceedings should continue but are generally appropriate for only procedural matters, uncontested facts, or legal argument. Their findings concluded that remote proceedings are not appropriate when a finder of fact needs to assess the credibility of evidence, specifically in criminal or civil jury trials.
“The pandemic was a serious crisis that challenged us in ways we could not previously have anticipated,” said Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty, Court of Appeals of Maryland. “In adapting to that crisis, personnel throughout the Judiciary employed new technologies, developed new processes, and found new ways to keep the doors of courthouses open—literally and virtually—across the state. The work that our judges, clerks, commissioners, and staff did together during the pandemic to make sure that we remained open and available is a source of great pride. I thank Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Matthew Fader for his leadership in chairing the joint subcommittee and its members for all their diligence in the creation of this report.”
“All of the recommendations are intended to improve the Judiciary’s operations for the benefit of the people we serve, our personnel, and the future of the Maryland Judiciary,” said Chief Judge Matthew J. Fader, Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. “This report would not have been possible without significant input from internal and external stakeholders and the dedication, effort, and expertise of the members of the committee.”
To help identify and evaluate the various innovations and adaptations employed across the Judiciary during the pandemic, the joint subcommittee solicited information via surveys by email to both internal and external stakeholders. In all, nearly 2,000 surveys were completed with substantive responses. Also, the joint subcommittee hosted two public listening sessions in December 2021, made presentations soliciting input at conferences of judiciary personnel, and convened four internal work groups to collect and evaluate input, and formulate recommendations.
The full report can be found here: www.mdcourts.gov/postcovidreport