Civil Case Management Plan
Civil Law Differentiated Case Management Plan
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County
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From the commencement of litigation to its resolution, whether by trial or settlement, any elapsed time other than reasonably required for pleadings, discovery, and court events, is unacceptable and should be eliminated. To enable just and efficient resolution of cases, the court, not the lawyers or litigants, should control the pace of litigation. A strong judicial commitment is essential to reducing delay and once achieved, maintaining a current docket.
Standard 250, ABA Standards Relating To Court Delay Reduction
It is the purpose of this Case Management Plan to provide an effective case management system which will assure:
- equal treatment of all litigants by the court;
- timely disposition consistent with the circumstances of the individual case;
- enhancement of the quality of the litigation process; and
- public confidence in the court as an institution.
Consistent with the Case Time Standards adopted by the Judicial Council, it is the goal of this plan to ensure complete compliance of all general civil cases, jury and non-jury, be settled, tried or otherwise concluded within 18 months of the date of first service or first answer of any defendant whichever comes first. Cases entitled to statutory priority shall be accorded that priority consistent with the appropriate rules of procedure.
The Civil Law Differentiated Case Management Plan, promulgated in accordance with Maryland Rule 16-202 (b), outlines policies and procedures for the management of civil cases at the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. This case management plan applies to all non-family law civil matters, including, but not limited to the following types of cases:
- Tort or contract actions
- Non-family Equity actions
- Worker's Compensation Appeals
- Medical malpractice
- Complex Litigation
- Declaratory Judgments
- Landlord Tenant Jury Prayers
- Mechanics Liens
The following types of cases are also subject to the Civil Law Differentiated Case Management Plan, but because of the nature or statutory requirements of those cases, they are forwarded to the Assignment Office when at issue for assignment in accordance with the specific procedures described herein:
- Administrative Appeals
- Certiorari In Circuit Court
- Confessed Judgment (Md. Rule 2-611)
- District Court Appeals (de novo and record appeals)
- Habeas Corpus
- Inmate Grievances
- Liquor Board Appeals
- Orphans Court Appeals
This plan does not apply to cases which fall under the comprehensive jurisdiction of the Family Law Division of the Circuit Court. Those cases are governed by the Family Law Differentiated Case Management Plan. Nor does this plan apply to criminal actions.
1.2 Judicial Assignment in Civil Matters
The Administrative Judge shall designate judges of this bench to handle the responsibility for various matters required for the efficient management of this plan, including the designation of a Civil DCM Judge with appropriate backup judges. The Administrative Judge shall also designate which magistrates and judges shall have the primary responsibility for the handling of the scheduling conferences and the Pretrial Docket.
The special assignment of all civil matters is the responsibility of the County Administrative Judge. At the request of any party or if the magistrate or judge determines it is appropriate that a case be specially assigned for the purposes of litigation management and trial, such request or recommendation shall be forwarded to the County Administrative Judge. This will typically only apply to very complex cases involving numerous days of trial, multiple parties and/or technical issues. Special Assignment does not guarantee priority status on the courts' docket.
If the case is specially assigned, subsequent case management decisions and the selection of a trial date will be made by the specially assigned judge consistent with the case time standards and in accordance with the basic plan procedures outlined herein. The scheduling or re-scheduling of all specially assigned cases must be cleared with the Assignment Office in advance in order to ensure judicial availability.
1.3 Civil Case Management Personnel
The policies and procedures outlined in this plan are implemented by the following personnel of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County:
Civil Case Administrator. The Civil Case Administrator is responsible for the overall design and implementation of the Civil Case Management Plan. The Civil Case Administrator reports to the Director of Court Operations. The Administrator in turn supervises the Civil Case Coordinator and other civil case management staff. The Administrator's other duties include: 1) developing and managing all civil Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs; 2) assisting the Bench in maintaining consistent standards and procedures to promote resolution of civil matters in an efficient and just manner and to ensure compliance with the plan procedures; 3) data collection and the compilation of statistical information to evaluate civil case management programs; 4) grant writing to support program initiatives; (5) preparation of an Annual Report and participation in annual budget processes; 6) serve as a resource for the Bench, the Bar and courthouse staff on civil procedure and case management law; 7) review requests for injunctive relief before forwarding to a judge; and 8) review any motions referred by the Assignment Office to make a recommendation to the Civil Case DCM Judge regarding its status as a complex motion; and (9) work closely with the Court's Civil Case Law Civil Case Coordinating Committee in developing civil case procedures.
Civil Case Coordinator. All cases subject to this Plan shall be managed by the Civil Case Coordinator upon first service or a responsive pleading by any Defendant. The Coordinator works with the Assignment Office to set all appropriate cases for a Scheduling Conference or Pretrial Conference. The Civil Coordinator assists the Civil Case Administrator in the management of all civil Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs as well as in the implementation and monitoring of this Civil Case Coordinating Plan.
Other offices and individuals involved in implementation of the Civil Law Differentiated Case Management Plan include the following:
Assignment Office. The Assignment Office schedules all proceedings before a Magistrate or Judge of the Circuit Court. These include: Scheduling Conferences, Motions Hearings, Pretrial Conferences and Merits Trials.
Jury Office. The Jury Office works with the Bench to provide jury panels on the day of trial. They provide Bailiffs to the Court and otherwise assist in all aspects of jury management.
Administrative Judge. The Administrative Judge supervises all aspects of civil case management, and is ultimately responsible for the implementation of this Civil Case Coordinating Plan. The Administrative Judge designates certain judges and magistrates to hear the various civil matters, and makes final decisions about whether and to whom a case should be specially assigned, when necessary.
Civil DCM Judge. The Civil DCM Judge shall have and exercise authority over such civil issues and matters as designated by the Administrative Judge. The Civil DCM Judge shall monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the Civil Case Management Plan. The Civil DCM Judge signs all scheduling orders, orders for alternative dispute resolution, and other preliminary orders resulting from a scheduling conference when held before a magistrate, including any request to modify a scheduling order or pre-trial order or any dispute regarding such orders. The Civil DCM Judge shall work with the Civil Case Coordinator and the Civil Case Administrator to ensure that this plan is properly implemented, including the development of ADR Programs as well as compliance with the Md Rules for said programs.
Other Judges. All judges and magistrates are responsible to comply with and implement in their rulings the provisions of this Plan. In their capacity as Chambers Judge, all other judges hear requests for injunctive relief, and consider all motions. Other Judges of the Circuit Court preside at motions hearings and all merits trials. When appropriate, a case may be specially assigned to a Circuit Court judge by the Administrative Judge. Individual judges are responsible for the effective management of cases specially assigned to them; however, the scheduling of specially assigned cases must always be coordinated with the assignment office in order to ensure judicial availability. Specially assigned cases should be managed to the extent possible consistent with the provisions of this plan, including adherence to the Case Time Standards.
1.4.1 Civil Case Information Report (CCIR)
Pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-111, a Civil Case Information Report (CCIR) (See Appendix A) shall be filed with all original pleadings in the case, and a copy shall be served on the defendant(s). The CCIR shall be filed in all non-family law civil matters with the exception of the case types noted in the "Committee Note" accompanying Rule 2-111.
A CCIR should be filed with the responsive pleadings. If no CCIR is filed by the opposing attorney or party, the Court may proceed without the Defendant's information to prepare a scheduling order in accordance with Maryland Rule 2-504 or to set a scheduling conference in accordance with Md. Rule 2-504.1.
1.5 Case Tracking and Setting of Scheduling Conferences
Upon the first to occur of the filing of a Notice of Service as to any defendant or the filing of any responsive pleading by any defendant the case file shall be managed by the Office of Case Management. In accordance with Md. Rule 2-504.1 (a) and (b), all cases, except those specifically exempted herein, shall be set for a scheduling conference or issued a scheduling order, the Clerk to notify counsel/parties.
In accordance with Md. Rule 2-507 (b), in any action against any defendant who has not been served or over whom the court has not otherwise acquired jurisdiction, a Notification of Contemplated Dismissal shall be served by the Clerk on all parties at the expiration of 120 days from the issuance of original process directed to that defendant.
Scheduling Conferences are held before a judge or magistrate designated by the Administrative Judge to hear these matters .The assignment office, after consultation with the Administrative Judge or his/her designee, shall set scheduling conferences at such intervals as may be necessary to accommodate the scheduling of such conferences pursuant to this plan. Only Counsel and unrepresented parties are required to attend Scheduling Conferences. Postponements of scheduling conferences will be reasonably granted to accommodate scheduling conflicts. The court may hold a scheduling conference in chambers, in open Court, by telephone or other electronic means. The conference will be conducted in accordance with Md. Rule 2-504.1.
2.2.1 Issue Identification and Settlement
At the Scheduling Conference the presiding judge or magistrate will attempt to assist the parties in reaching an agreement on all contested issues. If an agreement can be reached, the judge or magistrate will take testimony on the record and issue a final order in the case or direct counsel to prepare the order. If the magistrate or judge concludes that settlement discussions are premature in light of the need for discovery, the magistrate or judge shall proceed in accordance with Md. Rule 2-504.1. If it is clear that there remain contested issues, the judge or magistrate will identify those issues and complete a Scheduling Order.
2.2.2 Discovery Deadlines and Amendments
After discussion with counsel, the magistrate or judge will set discovery deadlines and schedule subsequent event dates. The magistrate/judge shall also set a date for the filing of any amendments to the pleadings that may add additional parties or create additional causes of action or defenses. The dates set shall be firm dates and shall not be modified except by Order of the Civil DCM Judge.
In accordance with the provisions of Title 17 of the Maryland Rules (Alternative Dispute Resolution), the magistrate or judge will discuss alternative dispute resolution techniques with the parties and assist the parties in selecting from among the available ADR resources, in accordance with the provisions of this court's ADR Plan. It is the policy of this court to encourage and facilitate the use of ADR in every case and as early in the process as possible. These include:
- Settlement Conferences
- Neutral Case Evaluation
- Neutral Fact Finding
In order to make the Pretrial conference a meaningful event, all motions must be filed and resolved prior to the Pretrial conference. The magistrate or judge shall establish deadlines for the filing of motions. When ripe, motions shall be forwarded to the Chambers Judge immediately, who shall either rule on the motion or direct that it be set for a hearing. A motions hearing will only be set if the Chambers Judge determines that a hearing is necessary or required by the Rules.
2.2.5 Scheduling of Pretrial Conferences
The magistrate or judge will set the case in for a Pretrial Conference in accordance with Md. Rule 2-504.2.
No trial dates will be scheduled at the time of the Scheduling Conference. Rather, the case will be managed in such a manner as to facilitate settlement prior to or at the time of the Pretrial Conference. A trial will be scheduled only if and when the Pretrial Conference fails to resolve all pending issues in the case. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that those cases scheduled for trial cannot be resolved by alternative dispute resolution methods and that any case scheduled for trial is actually ready to go to trial. This Civil Differentiated Case Management Plan is designed to facilitate settlement as early on in the case as possible to spare the parties unnecessary expense and delay. By setting a date for the trial in this manner, the Court can more accurately predict the number of cases to be heard, can schedule the appropriate number of judges, and parties and counsel can be assured that their case will proceed immediately to trial on the scheduled day.
At the time of the Scheduling Conference, the magistrate or judge will use his or her discretion to determine the appropriate scheduling order for the case. The Court will determine whether alternative dispute resolution is appropriate and issue necessary orders regarding ADR. The judge/magistrate shall issue a scheduling order setting the matter in for a pre-trial conference on the first available date.
2.2.6 Computer Generated Evidence
The Scheduling Order shall also provide a deadline for the notice required to be filed by any party who intends to use computer generated evidence as required by Md. Rule 2-504.3.
A single, uniform Scheduling Order shall be used for all non family civil cases which result in a scheduling conference. A single, uniform scheduling order shall be used for all cases in which a schedule is set without a conference. The deadlines and dates set forth in the Scheduling Order are firm dates and may not be changed by the parties or counsel without the prior approval of the Administrative Judge or his/her designee, the Civil DCM Judge.
3. Alternative Dispute Resolution
In accordance with Title 17 of the Maryland Rules of Procedure, the Court has adopted an Alternative Dispute Resolution Plan (ADR) which is incorporated herein as part of this Civil DCM Plan. It is the goal of this Plan that every case be considered for ADR and that ADR occur as early in the process as possible.
A Pretrial conference shall be scheduled for all managed cases, either at the time of the initial Scheduling Conference or in the initial Scheduling Order, if no conference is set. Unless excused by the Court (Administrative Judge or designee) for good cause, all parties and their counsel who will try the case are required to attend the Pretrial Conference. If settlement terms must be approved by a claims supervisor, claims representative or committee, government or corporate official or other individual or individuals, that person or those persons, with the full negotiating authority (not limited authority) must appear, in addition to the party or parties and their counsel. Furthermore, all parties, counsel and representatives who attend must be prepared to discuss, in good faith, all issues in order to attempt to reach a fair and reasonable settlement or resolution of all open issues. Failure to comply with these provisions, including the failure to attend or to send a person with full authority to negotiate a reasonable settlement may result in sanctions being imposed by the Court.
All discovery must be completed by the time established in the scheduling order, in advance of the Pretrial conference and all experts must have been identified in order to make the settlement discussions meaningful. This Court will permit the taking of de benne esse depositions subsequent to the Pretrial. Witness Lists and lists of exhibits must likewise have been exchanged as required by Md. Rule 2-504.2(b). Counsel must be prepared at the time of the Pretrial conference to meaningfully discuss settlement and any other issues required for the preparation of a Pretrial conference order.
In order to ensure that Pretrial conferences are conducted efficiently and uniformly, a Pretrial Docket shall be established for the purpose of conducting Pretrial conferences in accordance with Md. Rule 2-504.2. The assignment office, after consultation with the Administrative Judge or his/her designee, shall set this docket at such intervals as may be necessary to accommodate the scheduling of such conferences pursuant to this plan. The County Administrative Judge shall designate those magistrates or judges who shall handle the Pretrial Docket. It is the responsibility of the Civil Case Administrator working with the Civil DCM Judge to monitor the Pretrial docket and to provide the magistrates and judges with training and/or education in order to ensure that Pretrials are conducted consistent with the policies set forth in this Plan. It is the responsibility of each magistrate and judge to know and follow the policies outlined herein. The success of this Plan is dependent upon the uniformity of its implementation.
4.2 Pretrial Conference Procedure
The Pretrial Conference shall be conducted in accordance with Md. Rule 2-504.2. Counsel or the parties shall be directed to prepare and file, no later that five (5) business days prior to the Pretrial Conference, a Pretrial Statement in accordance with Md. Rule 2-504.2. Counsel who are to try the case must appear unless excused by the Court (Administrative Judge or his/her designee). For those cases that go to trial, a Pretrial order governing the further handling and trial shall be prepared using the Civil Pretrial Order form. Some complex or specially assigned cases may require a more extensive and lengthy Pretrial Conference, either for settlement purposes or for consideration of other Pretrial matters. Any such special assignment shall be made with the approval of the Administrative Judge.
The magistrate or judge conducting the Pretrial conference shall meet with the parties and/or their counsel in an attempt to facilitate a settlement in the case. All parties and their counsel must be prepared to discuss all aspects of the case in anticipation of settlement. In the event that an agreement is reached, an appropriate order shall be entered or the agreement will be placed on the record that day by the judge or magistrate. Counsel will be instructed, if necessary, to file an order or line of dismissal and pay any open costs within a specified time period.
Counsel who are designated to prepare any such final order must comply within the time frame established by the magistrate or judge. Any disagreements between counsel regarding the language of the order must be resolved timely between counsel or by prompt notification to the Court. Any failure to comply with this provision may result in sanctions being imposed by the Court, including but not limited to monetary sanctions and/or counsel fees. Counsel for the parties, all representatives with full authority and all parties may be required to appear in Court on a date to be determined solely in the discretion of the Court to explain the failure to timely file the appropriate order.
4.2.2 Pretrial Order / Setting Trial Date
In every case, the court shall enter an order that recites in detail the decisions made at the conference. The order controls the subsequent course of the action but may be modified by the court to prevent manifest injustice. If the case has not been resolved by way of settlement or an agreement to have the issues submitted to some form of ADR and the case is ready for trial, the magistrate or judge shall coordinate an agreed trial date within case time standards. If the case is not ready for trial it is within the discretion of the magistrate or judge to resolve any open issues or re-set the Pretrial with any appropriate directions or orders regarding the completion of such matters as will make the case ready for trial. In completing the Civil Pretrial Order, the magistrate or judge shall specify the anticipated length of trial, number of witnesses, number of experts and number of jurors required, if appropriate. For jury trials, the court shall determine the size of the jury panel required as well as any issues regarding the number of strikes each party will be entitled to exercise. The court shall set the deadline for filing and exchanging any voir dire, instructions and verdict sheets.
Trial on the merits will be scheduled at the time of the Pretrial Conference, if parties have been unable to reach agreement on all issues, discovery is closed, and all open motions are resolved. Counsel must bring their calendars to the Pretrial Conference. The magistrate or Judge, if the matter is to be set for trial, shall contact the Assignment Office and coordinate a trial date with counsel and the parties. Trial dates will be set as soon as practicable but no later than 120 days from the date of the Pretrial for jury trials and no later than 90 days for non-jury trials. The trial date is a firm date and counsel and the parties must be ready to proceed at that time.
Requests for re-setting of the Scheduling Conference will be reasonably granted, and an effort made to reset the matter within 30 days of the original conference date. Counsel or parties wishing to reset a Scheduling Conference should contact the Assignment Office directly at (410) 222-1422. Requests not within these time parameters must be made pursuant to Md. Rule 2-508.
Except as provided above, requests for the continuance of any civil proceedings, shall be made by motion pursuant to Md. Rules 2-508 and 2-311. These requests will be considered, in accordance with the provisions of this plan, by the Civil DCM Judge or his/her designee.
A strict continuance policy will be followed since parties and counsel will have had the opportunity to provide input on scheduling at the time of the Scheduling Conference or Pretrial. Cases will not be postponed merely by the consent of the parties or because discovery has not been completed. Any request for continuance must be timely made. Last minute requests for continuance, absent good cause, shall be denied. Before the Court will consider any request for continuance the moving party or counsel must coordinate with Assignment a proposed re-set date, consistent with the Case Time Standards. Failure to coordinate this date may result in the Continuance not being considered. Compliance with this procedure does not guarantee that any continuance will be granted.
If a continuance is granted, the provisions of the Pretrial Order shall remain in effect except as may be amended by the terms of the continuance order. The Court shall determine the future scheduling of the case consistent with the intent and purposes of this plan.
If a case has been specially assigned, continuance requests shall be directed to the specially assigned judge. The standards for continuance of the trial date shall remain the same as for cases not specially assigned.
7. Chambers and Motions Practice
7.1 All Motions Including Administrative Appeals, District Court Record Appeals & Orphans Court Appeals
All motions, except those filed in specially assigned cases, shall be forwarded to the Chambers Judge for consideration after the time has expired for response or after a response has been filed, whichever first occurs. The chambers judge shall rule on the motion if appropriate. In the event a hearing is necessary or required by Maryland Rules, the chambers judge will direct the Assignment Office to schedule the motion for hearing. In granting hearing requests the court shall exercise discretion in setting appropriate time limits for the hearing of any motion set. Normally motions shall be set for hearing as soon as practicable but in any event they shall be heard prior to the date of Pretrial or as may be directed pursuant to the Pretrial Conference Order.
If in the opinion of the chambers judge a motion involves complex issues, the chambers judge should notify the Assignment Office so that any such complex motion may be scheduled appropriately. The criteria for a complex motion is any motion involving complicated legal issues. The complex motions shall be scheduled before a specific judge and the file shall be delivered to that judge's chambers at least two weeks before the date of the hearing in order to give that judge and his staff an opportunity to review and prepare for the hearing.
Administrative Appeals shall be governed by Md. Rule 7-208 which states that a hearing can be set no earlier than 90 days from the date the record was filed. This will generally result in a hearing within 120 days of the date the record was filed. An Administrative Appeal shall be scheduled before a specific judge. The file shall be delivered to that judge's chambers at least two weeks before the date of the hearing in order to give that judge and his staff an opportunity to review and prepare for the hearing.
District Court Record Appeals shall be governed by Md. Rule 7-113. The District Court Record Appeals shall be scheduled before a specific judge. The file shall be delivered to that judge's chambers at least two weeks before the date of the hearing in order to give that judge and staff an opportunity to review and prepare for the hearing.
The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County will take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with all Case Management Orders issued in accordance with this Civil Law Case Management DCM Plan. If an attorney and/or party fails to comply with any Order, or fails to participate in alternative dispute resolution or other proceedings as ordered without having first obtained a postponement or other waiver from this Court, the Court shall take appropriate action, including but not limited to, issuing a Show Cause Order, entering an Order of Dismissal, granting of monetary and/or other sanctions.