Montgomery County courts remain open for emergency hearings

Courts in Montgomery County, Maryland, are among those in the D.C. region still holding emergency hearings during the coronavirus outbreak.

Judge Christopher Fogleman is just one of a few dozen people still physically going to work at the Circuit Court in Rockville.

“It’s really important that we have court open for domestic violence cases,” Fogleman said.

With people spending time together a lot more than they would, and added stress in families and in other relationships, “It’s really important that people who feel they have a safety concern have a place to go where they can get some help,” Fogleman said.

Fogleman presides over family court, which typically handles cases, such as divorces, child custody agreements and domestic violence cases.

Fogleman recalled a recent protective order hearing, which would have normally taken an hour but instead took three. Each party had to call in, and evidence was submitted digitally and had to be printed to be submitted.

There were also technical issues with calls dropping out, he said.

Video conferencing is not approved for his hearings. However, he said if court remains closed, it could be technology that the courts consider in the future.

Courts are closed to public except for emergency matters, and courthouses are operating with essential staff.

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