Because of the COVID-19 Crises, the Federal and State Courts in the DMV are operating under Orders that have severely curtailed the court operations. This is a summary of the current status of the courts’ limited operations as a result of the issued orders that have tolled certain deadlines, statutes of limitations and suspended and postponed civil and criminal hearings and trials.
State Courts: Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland has issued several Administrative Orders tolling the application of case time standards, which set forth the time periods during which cases must be scheduled and concluded, as well as statutes of limitations from March 16, 2020, until the time that the courts re-open. These Administrative Orders apply to all District and Circuit Courts of Maryland in the 23 counties and Baltimore City as well as the Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals. The most recent Order has kept courts closed until June 5, 2020 with limited exceptions.
Certain matters that are considered emergency matters including but not limited to bail hearings, arraignment of detained defendants, family law emergency hearings, some domestic violence hearings, emergency guardianship matters, and more, will still be heard in court. Our firm will be able to advise you if you are uncertain as to whether your matter constitutes an emergency and will be heard by the courts.
Federal Courts: The U. S. District Court of Maryland, issued Standing Order 2020-05, post-postponing and continuing all civil and criminal petit jury selections and trials, and other non-emergency proceedings through April 24, 2020. On April 10, 2020, the court issued Standing Order 2020-07, suspending the prior Standing Order and extending all court closings until June 5, 2020.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:
D. C. Superior Court: On March 18, and amended on March 19, 2020, an Order issued by Chief Judge Morin tolled all deadlines and statutes of limitations from March 16 through May 15, 2020. All criminal and civil trials have been continued until May 15, 2020. In a discussion with the judges who head the civil division this past Friday, April 10, 2020, , we learned it is likely that the May 15, 2020 deadline will be extended to a date in June and that jury trials in both criminal and civil matters will likely not take place until late June 2020, at the earliest. We were also advised that criminal trials will have priority over civil trials in scheduling.
U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia: Similarly to the other courts, on March 16, 2020, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell issued, Standing Order 20-9, providing that all civil and criminal trials scheduled to begin on March 17 through May 11, 2020, were postponed and continued until further Order of the Court.
State Courts: The Supreme Court of Virginia issued IN RE: ORDER DECLARING A JUDICIAL EMERGENCY IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 EMERGENCY effective March 16 through April 6, 2020, providing that all non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings in all circuit and district courts were suspended, and all deadlines were tolled and extended for a period of 21 days. On March 27, 2020, the Court issued a similar Order extending the suspension until April 26, 2020.
Federal Courts: The Eastern District Court of Virginia that includes the federal courts in Alexandria, Norfolk, Richmond and Newport News, on March 12, 2020, issued General Order 2020-01, that effective March 16, 2020, all misdemeanor, traffic and petty offense dockets scheduled in the court were suspended through April 30, 2020. On March 13, 2020, the Court issued General Order 2020-02, suspended all civil and criminal hearings and trials from March 16, through April 17, 2020. On April 10, 2020, the Court issued General Order 2020-12, extending all criminal and civil trials and hearings until June 10, 2020. This Order noted that this deadline could be amended in the future.
It should be noted that some of the courts are enabling hearings and settlement conferences to proceed via electronic methods. Even the United States Supreme Court is conducting oral argument via telephone in certain cases.