In a briefing to Maryland state lawmakers Thursday, the state’s top judge described the months-long phased approach that will be used to gradually reopen courthouses.
Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, said full jury trials are not expected to resume for about five months.
REOPENING PLANS AROUND THE REGION:
- Montgomery County
- Northern Virginia
- Prince George’s County
- Frederick, Anne Arundel and Charles counties
“We have a long way to go,” Barbera said.
“I will emphasize that resumption of operations does not mean business as usual.”
In the coming weeks, Maryland courts will continue to be closed to the public, except for those that are necessary to matters being heard.
Starting June 5, circuit court judges will begin bail reviews, arraignments and extradition cases. In the juvenile court system, detention hearings and arraignments begin again.
The most significant step in the near future will occur on July 20, when some non-jury trials will resume and the clerks’ offices in both the District Court of Maryland and circuit courts are scheduled to fully open to the public.
Eviction and foreclosure proceedings are scheduled to resume July 25.
On Aug. 31, all non-jury trials are set to start again. Then, on Oct. 5, courts are scheduled to resume full operations. including jury trials.
“I am certain that we will get through this together. We’ll do it together for the people of Maryland,” Barbera said.
Barbera first announced the phased approach last week, saying judges should continue to hold remote proceedings whenever they can, either through video services or over the telephone.
Those who seek access to a courthouse or court office location will be required to answer a set of COVID-19 screening questions. People also will be subject to temperature checks.
“In all phases, safety measures are required including masks and social distancing for both court visitors and personnel,” Barbera said.
Administrative judges may limit the number of people entering the courthouse or a courtroom.
If someone is denied access to a court building or court office, the individual will be given information on the option to conduct the hearing remotely, in locations where this service is available or how to have it rescheduled.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.