St. Mary’s County Circuit Court Open on Restricted Operations from March 17, to April 3, 2020

March 17, 2020

Pursuant to Chief Judge Barbera’s Order of March 16, 2020, restricting the operations of the Maryland Judiciary due to the COVID-19 Emergency, the following information is provided.

In accord with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the further escalation of the emergency requiring more comprehensive measures to protect the health and safety of Maryland residents and Judiciary personnel. this court will be operating on a restrictive basis pursuant to the Order of March 16, 20020 seeking to limit the level, duration and quality of contact among persons who frequent the Circuit Court for St. Mary’s County.

To that end, all persons who enter the Circuit Courthouse are encouraged to practice good hygiene, by frequently washing their hands, keeping an appropriate distance from others and — in the case of employees — keeping workstations, keyboards and phones clean. Commonly used surfaces in the Circuit Courthouse, including the areas around doors and elevators, are cleaned by county crews.

The concept of “social distancing” in the Circuit Courthouse is encouraged, but normal human interaction is inevitable. Thus, all courthouse users should be prudent and exercise good judgment during those interactions. As a result of the decision to restrict operations having occurred after business hours concluded on March 16, Administrative Judge Stamm will be meeting with court officials in an effort to streamline procedures going forward. For now, however, please note the following:

Pursuant to the March 16, 2020 Administrative Order, only those proceedings designated as urgent mandatory matter will be proceeding on and after March 17, 2020 until April 3, 2020 or further order of Court. These matters shall be scheduled or heard in person or remotely pursuant to the Administrative Order on Remote Electronic Participation in Judicial Proceeding, June 18, 2018. The following is a listing of said mandatory matters per said Order;

  • bail reviews
  • arraignments for detained defendants
  • juvenile detention hearings
  • emergency delinquency
  • quarantine and isolation petitions
  • extradition cases
  • body attachments
  • extreme risk protective order appeals

As for the above urgent mandatory matters, if not done remotely ONLY the parties, attorneys, and testifying witnesses are permitted to attend those trials, motions or hearings, with no exceptions, unless permission is expressly granted by the Administrative Judge to do so. The Members of the news media shall be admitted to the Courthouse to attend said matters upon request and must provide credentials.

For all other emergency matters including those listed below, the administrative judge or his or her designee shall review the petition, determine whether it must be heard in person, or can be heard with remote electronic participation, or can be scheduled after the emergency period has ended, or can be resolved without a hearing:

  • shelter care hearings and/or related adjudications
  • emergency delinquency hearings
  • emergency Habeas Corpus petitions

(4) emergency issues in guardianship matters

(5) domestic violence protective orders

(6) appeals from peace orders

(7) family law emergencies

(8) temporary restraining orders

(9) criminal competency matters

(10) motions regarding:

  • extreme risk protective orders
  • domestic violence protective orders
  • peace orders

(11) contempt hearings related to peace or protective orders

(12) matters involving locally incarcerated defendants;

Requests for initial or temporary Domestic Violence Orders are to be filed and heard by the Court Commissioner located at the Saint Mary’s County Detention hearing

All remaining emergency non-mandatory matters, including both civil and criminal jury and civil trials, motions or hearings scheduled to commence on or after March 16, before any judge or magistrate, shall be re-scheduled. If you are currently scheduled for a matter not on the mandatory list your case is postponed this week and will be rescheduled to a later date. Case management will be contacting by phone litigants scheduled the week of March 16 and after this week by either MDEC or mailings of your new dates

The March 16, 2020 Administrative Order does not affect the courts’ consideration or resolution of matters that can be addressed without a proceeding that involves testimony or argument;

The Clerks’ office will not be interacting with members of the public or attorneys, except by telephone. All court filings and land recordings shall be mailed or placed in the court’s after-hours drop box, located by the main entrance of the Court House, with no exceptions.

Other than judges, designated essential employees of this courthouse, Register of Wills office, and State’s Attorney’s Office, the only persons who may access the Circuit Court are litigants, attorneys or testifying witnesses in a case scheduled for hearing on a particular day; Public Defenders; probation agents; Saint Mary’s County Office of Child Support; Pretrial Services employees; Department of Juvenile Justice employees; the Saint Mary’s County Attorneys and Department of Health and Human Services employees. Any other user of the courthouse who frequently appears on behalf of a government agency who is not on the list above should contact the Administrative Judge.

The law library, Self-Help Center, Pro Bono/Self Help Clinic, notary services, any classes offered or attended in the Circuit Courthouse, and Lawyer Referral Service will continue to be closed to the public, except that attorneys or litigants who are in court for hearing or trial may use the library on the day of their hearing or trial.

Please check back frequently for updates or revisions.