Anne Arundel County Circuit Court
Resumption of Phase II continues through March 12, 2021 
 
In compliance with the December 22, 2020, Seventh Administrative Order Restricting Statewide Judiciary Operations due to the COVID-19 Emergency issued by the Honorable Mary Ellen Barbera, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, our Court will be taking the following steps. One thing that remains unchanged is our commitment to safety. We continue to be grateful to the staff of the Circuit Court who have worked tirelessly to get us through this complicated time.  We are also thankful to the attorneys and community members who have helped us face the challenges we are all facing.
 
These changes went into effect on November 30, 2020, and will continue through March 12, 2021, with the exception of jury trials. Jury trials will not resume until April 26, 2021.

 

Family

  1. IN PERSON HEARINGS: Protective Orders, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and Emergency Custody matters will continue to be heard in person.

  2. OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT (TITLE IV), CHILD SUPPORT ESTABLISHMENT HEARINGS:  All Office of Child Support establishment hearings scheduled through March 12, 2021, will be converted to Zoom hearings. Notices will be issued with details on how to participate remotely.

  3. CHILD SUPPORT CONTEMPT HEARINGS: All private and Office of Child Support contempt hearings scheduled through March 12, 2021, will be reset.

  4. FAMILY LAW MERITS: Other than “carryover” merits hearings, family law merits set through March 12, 2021, will be converted to Zoom pre-trial settlement conferences. The hearings will be held on the same date and time as the originally scheduled merits. Notices will be issued with details on how to participate remotely. Cases with a “carryover” date (i.e., a merits hearing that commenced prior to the resumption of phase II and had an additional day added) will receive further direction from the assigned judge’s chambers.

  5. SCHEDULING CONFERENCES: Scheduling Conferences will continue to be heard via Zoom through March 12, 2021. Notices have been issued with details on how to participate remotely.

  6. PRE-TRIAL SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES: Pre-trial settlement conferences will continue to be conducted via Zoom through at least March 12, 2021. Notices will be issued with details on how to participate remotely.

  7. DCM SHOW CAUSE HEARINGS: DCM Show Cause hearings will remain as scheduled in person.

  8. GUARDIANSHIP HEARINGS: All guardianship hearings that are currently scheduled to be held remotely will remain as scheduled. Any hearing that is scheduled to be held in person will receive a directive from the Court either resetting the matter or converting it to a remote hearing.

  9. ALL OTHER HEARINGS: All other hearings will remain as scheduled, but will be held remotely unless otherwise notified. Notices will be issued with details on how to participate remotely.
 
Civil (Non-Family)
 
  1. IN PERSON HEARINGS: Body Attachments, Peace Orders, and Emergency Evaluations will continue to be heard in person.

  2. BENCH AND JURY TRIALS: Unless otherwise ordered in a specific case, all civil trials, including de novo appeals, set through December 31, 2020, were converted to Zoom pre-trial settlement conferences. Notices have been issued with details on how to participate remotely. Please pay particular attention as dockets may be staggered causing a change to the time of the conference.  Cases with trials scheduled between January 4, 2021, and January 15, 2021, have received further direction from Court. Cases with a “carryover” date (i.e., a trial that commenced prior to the resumption of phase II and had an additional day added) will receive further direction from the assigned judge’s chambers.

  3. PRE-TRIAL SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES: Pre-trial settlement conferences will be conducted via Zoom through at least March 12, 2021. Any pre-trial settlement conference that was scheduled to be in person through March 12, 2021, will be converted to a Zoom hearing. Notices will be issued with details on how to participate remotely.

  4. ALL OTHER HEARINGS: All other hearings will remain as scheduled, but will be held remotely unless otherwise notified. Notices will be issued with details on how to participate remotely.
 
Criminal
 
  1. JURY TRIALS:  All cases currently scheduled for jury trial, through the date of April 23, 2021, are converted to Status Conferences. These “converted” Status Conferences will take place on the originally scheduled trial date/time. The assigned ASA and any defense attorney who has entered an appearance in the case, will appear remotely via Conference Call for purposes of participating in the “converted” Status Conference. Defendants who are not currently incarcerated, or are participating in a House Arrest program, must personally appear. Defendants who are incarcerated, will appear remotely via video and/or audio feed. As with all Status Conferences, the assigned ASA must convey a plea offer to defense counsel or the defendant, if unrepresented, at least one week prior to the “converted” Status Conference. Guilty Pleas (see #7 below for Status Conference Guilty Plea Procedure), Stets, and Nolle Prosses will be taken at “converted” Status Conferences. In the event the case cannot be resolved at the “converted” Status Conference, a new trial date will be selected. Counsel are expected to have their calendars with them and to have communicated with their witnesses in advance of the “converted” Status Conference to ascertain their availability. In the event the re-scheduling of a trial date implicates the Hicks Rule, the attorneys and the defendant will be transferred to the designated Criminal Postponement Judge to address that issue.

  2. COURT TRIALS:  Court Trials will not take place until further notice.

  3. MOTION HEARINGS: Motion Hearings will generally not take place with the following exceptions:

    1. Competency Hearings;
    2. Criminal Responsibility Hearings not requiring witness testimony;
    3. Discovery Hearings;
    4. Hicks/Postponement Hearings; and
    5. Other “agreed upon” Motion Hearings not requiring witness testimony.
     
    All cases currently scheduled for Motion Hearings, through the date of March 12, 2021, are converted to Status Conferences. These “converted” Status Conferences will take place on the originally scheduled Motion Hearing date/time. The assigned ASA and any defense attorney who has entered an appearance in a case, will appear remotely via Conference Call for purposes of participating in the “converted’ Status Conference. Defendants who are not currently incarcerated, or are participating in a House Arrest program, must personally appear. Defendants who are incarcerated, will appear remotely via video and/or audio feed. Guilty Pleas (see #7 below for Status Conference Guilty Plea Procedure), Stets, and Nolle Prosses may be taken at the “converted” Status Conference. In the event the case cannot be resolved at the “converted” Status Conference, a new Motions Hearing date/time will be selected. Counsel are expected to have their calendars with them and to have communicated with their witnesses in advance of the “converted” Status Conference to ascertain their future availability. In the event the re-scheduling of a Motions Hearing impacts a trial date or implicates the Hicks Rule, the attorneys and the defendant will be transferred to the designated Criminal Postponement Judge’s courtroom to address those issues.

  4. VOP HEARINGS: VOP Hearings will generally continue to take place as they have over the past several months with the exception that all counsel will appear remotely via Conference Call. Defendants who are not currently incarcerated, or are participating in a House Arrest program, must personally appear. Defendants who are incarcerated, will appear remotely via video and/or audio feed. If an incarcerated defendant makes a request to personally appear, as opposed to appearing remotely, or wishes to contest the VOP allegations, the assigned Judge will re-schedule the VOP Hearing to take place sometime after March 12, 2021. All Probation Agents will appear remotely via Conference Call. If counsel are interested in speaking with a Probation Agent, they should do so in advance of the VOP Hearing date.

  5. INITIAL APPEARANCES/ARRAIGNMENTS: Initial Appearances/Arraignments will continue to take place as they have over the past several months with the exception that all counsel will appear remotely via Conference Call. Defendants who are not currently incarcerated, or are participating in a House Arrest program, must personally appear. Defendants who are incarcerated will appear remotely via video and/or audio feed.

  6. FRIDAY GUILTY PLEAS: The Court will continue to hear Guilty Pleas on Fridays. All counsel should contact the Criminal Case Management Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if they would like to schedule a Friday Guilty Plea. The assigned ASA will appear remotely via Conference Call. Defense Counsel must personally appear in Court along with any defendant who is not currently incarcerated, or is a house arrest participant, to enter the plea and complete all required paperwork, including the Probation Order.  If a plea agreement is reached for an incarcerated defendant, Defense Counsel will appear remotely via Conference Call for the guilty plea.  

  7. STATUS CONFERENCE (Converted Trial Date/Converted Motion Hearing Date) GUILTY PLEA PROCEDURE: In the event a plea agreement is reached in a Status Conference that has been “converted” from a trial date or Motions Hearing date, the assigned ASA will appear remotely via Conference Call. Defense Counsel must personally appear in Court along with any defendant who is not currently incarcerated, or is a house arrest participant, to enter the plea and complete all required paperwork, including the Probation Order. If a plea agreement is reached for an incarcerated defendant, Defense Counsel will appear remotely via Conference Call for the guilty plea. 
     
  8. MODIFICATION OF SENTENCE, 8-505/7, SENTENCING, POST CONVICTION, and RELATED HEARINGS: These types of hearings will generally continue to take place as they have over the past several months with the exception that the assigned ASA and any defense attorney who has entered an appearance in the case will appear remotely via Conference Call. Defendants who are not currently incarcerated, or are participating in a House Arrest program, must personally appear. Defendants who are incarcerated, will appear remotely via video and/or audio feed. In the event an incarcerated defendant wishes to personally appear for one of these types of Hearings, the Court will grant a continuance and reschedule the Hearing to take place sometime after March 12, 2021.

  9. DRUG COURT: Drug Court will continue to be fully operational. Should counsel have any questions regarding Drug Court, they should contact the Drug Court Coordinator, Paula Fish.

  10. BAIL REVIEWS: Bail Reviews will continue to be heard on Tuesdays through Fridays at 1:30 pm. An ASA and any defense attorney who has entered an appearance in a case will appear remotely via Conference Call. Defendants will appear remotely via video and/or audio feed. In the event that a Trial Date is converted to a Status Conference and the case cannot be resolved at the “converted” Status Conference, the Court will consider scheduling a second, or subsequent, bail review upon written request to do so (please note that this provision only applies to situations in which a Trial Date is converted to a Status Conference during the time frame when the Court is not able to offer jury trials).

  11. FRIDAY STATUS CONFERENCES: Friday Status Conferences will generally continue to take place as they have over the past few months. The assigned ASA and any defense attorney who has entered an appearance in the case will appear remotely via Conference Call unless a plea agreement has been reached or is anticipated, in which case Defense Counsel must personally appear in Court along with any defendant who is not currently incarcerated, or is a house arrest participant, to enter the plea and complete all required paperwork, including the Probation Order. If a plea agreement is reached for an incarcerated defendant, Defense Counsel may appear remotely via Conference Call for the guilty plea. Defendants who are not currently incarcerated or are participating in a House Arrest program must personally appear. Defendants who are incarcerated will appear remotely via video and/or audio feed.

  12. COUNSEL: Unless the Court grants permission, “Stand-In” or “Substitute” Counsel will generally not be permitted to appear in any of the above cases with the exception of a stand in attorney from the Public Defenders Office with the assigned Public Defender calling in.

  13. INCARCERATED DEFENDANTS: Given the increase in COVID positivity rates, Incarcerated Defendants will not be personally transported to the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court until sometime after March 12, 2021.

  14. COURTROOM CONFERENCE LINES: If you have any questions about our Conference Call procedure, please contact the Court’s Criminal Case Management Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

  15. GUILTY PLEA LITANY: Depending on the Judge handling the criminal docket, Defense Counsel may be asked to qualify their respective clients.
 
Juvenile

The following Juvenile Court matters shall be heard remotely through March 12, 2021:

  1. CINA:

    1. Initial shelter care (contested or uncontested);

    2. Emergency matters (contested or uncontested). The Juvenile Judge shall review the request and the Magistrate’s recommendation, determine whether it can be heard with remote electronic participation or can be scheduled after the emergency period has ended;

    3. Uncontested matters and/or by proffer, agreement, consent or requiring legal argument only: adjudications, dispositions, initial permanency plan, permanency plan reviews, termination of parental rights (TPR), exceptions hearings, guardianships under juvenile causes, adoptions concerning CINA and TPR juveniles, or other matters that can be handled remotely or without testimony or both.


  2. DELINQUENCY:

    1. Initial detention hearings (contested or uncontested); 

    2. Peace order petitions for juvenile respondents (contested or uncontested);

    3. Initial appearance; 

    4. Emergency matters, including motions related to juveniles who are detained, committed pending placement, or committed, consistent with the Administrative Order Guiding the Response of the Circuit Courts Sitting as Juvenile Courts to the COVID-19 Emergency as it Relates to Those Juveniles who are Detained, Committed Pending Placement or in Commitments, filed April 13, 2020. The Juvenile Judge shall review the request and the magistrate’s recommendation, determine whether it can be heard with remote electronic participation, or can be scheduled after the emergency period has ended; 

    5. Uncontested matters and/or by proffer, agreement, consent or requiring legal argument only: adjudications, dispositions, disposition reviews, treatment plans and reviews, closure of probation and jurisdiction of Juvenile Court, expungements, permanency plans and reviews, juvenile waivers, exceptions hearings, or other matters that can be handled remotely or without testimony or both.

  3. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR JUVENILE MATTERS: All matters that cannot be heard by remote participation shall be postponed until after the current Phase II emergency period. Counsel are asked to notify the appropriate Magistrate or Judge by written Joint Consent Motion of any pending contested matter that that may proceed without testimony by proffer, agreement, consent, or requiring legal argument only, at least five (5) days prior to the hearing to arrange remote participation.  All matters that cannot be heard by remote participation may be postponed until after the current Phase II emergency period.
 
On behalf of the entire bench, thanks once again to all who have worked hard, exercised patience and dealt with the challenges during this time. Be safe and be well.
 

Laura Ripken
Administrative Judge
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County and
The Fifth Judicial Circuit

Click here for a printable version of this message in Adobe .pdf