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CRIMINAL CASE MANAGEMENT PLAN
This Criminal Case Management Plan is established in accordance with Md. Rule 16-202(b) which requires the County Administrative Judge to develop and, upon approval by the Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, implement and monitor a case management plan for the prompt and efficient scheduling and disposition of action in the Circuit Court.
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.
Consistent with the Case Time Standards adopted by the Judicial Council, Constitutional requirements and applicable Md. Rules, it is the goal of this plan to ensure that all criminal cases, jury and non-jury, be concluded within 180 days of the date of first appearance of the defendant or his/her counsel, whichever is earlier, except that District Court appeals and jury prayers should be concluded within 120 days of the date they are transferred to this Court.
This Criminal Case Management Plan outlines policies and procedures for the management of all criminal cases in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, including Jury Trial Prayers and Appeals from the District Court.
1.2 Judicial Assignment in Criminal 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 Criminal Case Management Judge and a backup judge. The Administrative Judge shall also designate which judges shall have the primary responsibility for the handling of the scheduling/status conferences and the pretrial docket.
Generally, except in Violation of Probation (VOP) cases, criminal cases are not specially assigned and will be heard by whichever judge is assigned the criminal docket on a given day, or a backup judge.
At the request of any party or any judge that a case be specially assigned for the purposes of litigation management and trial, such request or recommendation shall be forwarded to the Criminal Case Management Judge who will make a recommendation to the County Administrative Judge. The special assignment of all criminal matters is the responsibility of the County Administrative Judge. Special assignment will typically apply only to very complex cases involving numerous days of trial, multiple parties and/or technical issues.
If the case is specially assigned, subsequent case management decisions and scheduling will be initiated by the specially assigned judge consistent with the Case Time Standards, However, pursuant to Md. Rule 16-101, all postponements or scheduling that affects the trial date or the 180 day Hicks period, must be made by the judge who is designated by the County Administrative Judge to rule on postponements. The designated postponement judge will confer with the specially assigned judge for a recommendation as to the postponement and to clear new court dates on the assigned judge's calendar. The scheduling or re-scheduling of all specially assigned cases must also be cleared in advance with the Assignment Office and the Jury Office in order to ensure judicial and juror availability.
Whenever practicable, VOP cases shall be assigned to the sentencing judge who placed defendant on probation. If the sentencing judge is not available due to retirement or illness, the VOP case shall be assigned to one of the sitting judges in rotation by the Assignment Office (AO).
1.3 Criminal Case Management Personnel
Until such time as this Court may hire a Criminal Case Administrator, the policies and procedures outlined in this plan shall be implemented by the Criminal Case Management Judge and his/her back-up judge and their respective staffs.
The Criminal Case Management Judge reports to the County Administrative Judge. The Administrative Judge supervises all aspects of criminal case management, and is ultimately responsible for the implementation of this Criminal Case Management Plan, pursuant to Md. Rule 16-202(b). The Administrative Judge designates certain judges to hear the various criminal matters, and makes final decisions about whether and to whom a case should be specially assigned, when necessary.
The Criminal Case Management Judge shall have and exercise authority over such criminal case issues and matters as designated by the administrative Judge. The Criminal Case Management Judge shall monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the Criminal Case Management Plan.
All judges are responsible to comply with and implement in their rulings the provisions of this Plan. 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 and the jury office. Specially assigned cases should be managed to the extent possible consistent with the provisions of this plan, including adherence to the Case Time Standards.
This paragraph shall not apply to Jury Prayers originating in the District Court. In all other cases, including VOPs, upon filing of a new case, the Court shall schedule the case for an arraignment before a judge. If defendant is incarcerated at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center (AADC), the arraignment shall occur on the first Monday after the case is filed, except that, if the case is filed later than 12:00 noon on Friday, then the arraignment shall take place on the second Monday from the date of filing. If defendant is incarcerated in any other facility or is not incarcerated at all, the arraignment shall take place on a Monday three weeks following the filing of the case.
At the time of initial scheduling, the Court shall also schedule a Pretrial Status Conference (PSC) for a Friday approximately 35 to 45 days following the arraignment. The Court shall also set a Trial Date for approximately 60 days following the PSC, and shall comply with the Case Time Standards, Constitutional requirements and the applicable Rules of Procedure.
If a pretrial motions hearing is required, the parties shall coordinate a hearing date in advance of trial, in accordance with the calendar established byt he Assignment Office.
Hearings on Violations of Probation (VOP) shall be scheduled by the Assignment Office upon notification from the Clerk that a new case is filed. The VOP hearing shall be set on dates that have been cleared for the judge to whom the case is assigned. The initial VOP hearing shall be set within 90 days of arraignment.
Motions for bail review in non-VOP cases will be forwarded by the Clerk to the Criminal Case Management Judge, who will determine whether a bail review should be scheduled. If the Criminal Case Management Judge orders a bail review, the case will be forwarded to the postponement coordinator for scheduling.
If counsel have cleared a date in advance, the coordinator will set the hearing for the date and time selected by counsel.
If counsel have not cleared a date in advance, the coordinator will contact counsel by email to clear a date. If a date is then cleared by counsel, the hearing shall be scheduled for that date and time.
A copy of the email will be sent to a designee of the State's Attorney who will respond, in the event that the assigned prosecutor is not available to respond. If the coordinator does not receive a response from the SAO within 48 hours of sending the email, the bail review will be set on the 3rd day thereafter, unless defense counsel asks for a later date.
If there is any dispute between counsel as to the selection of a date for the hearing, the coordinator will refer the matter to the Criminal Case Management Judge.
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Motions for bail review in VOP cases will be forwarded by the Clerk to the judge to whom the VOP case is assigned, who will determine whether a bail
review should be scheduled. If the assigned judge orders a bail review, the judge's chambers shall clear a hearing date with counsel and sign an appropriate order scheduling the hearing. The order may designate whether the bail review shall be heard by the assigned judge or by any judge. If any judge before whom a VOP bail review is scheduled declines to hear the matter, the bail review shall be rescheduled as soon as practicable before the assigned VOP judge.
1.5.1 Conduct of Initial Appearance/ Arraignment
At the Initial Appearance/Arraignment, the presiding judge shall advise each defendant of the right to counsel, the pending charges and the possible penalties (including mandatory and/or enhanced penalties), in compliance with Md. Rule 4-213. The judge will also advise each defendant of the dates for the Pretrial Status Conference and the Trial. If appropriate, defendant will be provided with information regarding the Office of the Public Defender (OPD).
1.5.2 Conduct of Pretrial Status Conferences
Except for cases that have been specially assigned to a judge and cases that are set for a next-day jury trial from the District Court, all cases shall be scheduled for a Pretrial Status Conference (PSC). The defendant shall be present at the PSC and if necessary, writs for the defendant shall be issued sufficiently in advance by the Clerk.
If defendant is represented by counsel, the principal attorney responsible for the representation of defendant and the prosecutor who is assigned the case shall be present. Except for extraordinary reasons, stand-in counsel shall not appear for a party. If principal counsel is not available, the party should request to reschedule the PSC in advance. The parties may not waive attendance at a status
At the PSC, the parties may enter guilty pleas if appropriate or otherwise dispose of the case. If the case is not disposed of by plea or otherwise, the parties shall be prepared to advise the Court of the status of the case, including the progress of discovery, any outstanding issues and their preparedness for trial. The judge shall address any open issues to the extent possible at the PSC. If appropriate, the PSC judge may establish deadlines for any open discovery or compliance with pretrial disclosure requirements.
The PSC is intended to be a meaningful event and counsel shall prepare for the PSC by substantially completing pretrial discovery and plea discussions, in advance of the PSC. Defense counsel shall meet with their clients in advance of the PSC to have substantive discussions about the state of plea negotiations, or be prepared to advise the presiding judge why such a meeting was not held.
If a case is passed for trial and may require more than a day of Court time, counsel must remain in contact with the Assignment Office and the Jury Office to update them from time to time on the need for jurors and back up judges.
If the parties require a Motions Hearing on any issue, including motions to suppress evidence, in advance of trial which has not yet been scheduled, the
Court shall clear a date on the Court's calendar for the hearing and advise the defendant in open court of the date and time.
If it appears to the presiding judge that the parties have not concluded discovery, have open motions, have not completed meaningful plea negotiations or are unprepared for trial for any other reason, the Court may require the parties to appear at another PSC prior to the scheduled trial date. The parties shall not pass a case for trial unless the presiding judge determines that the parties are reasonably prepared for trial and that a trial is necessary or desirable to conclude the case.
In order to minimize adverse impacts on witnesses, jurors, judicial resources and other cases on the Court's dockets, it is the policy of this Court that cases that remain on the trial docket or in which a postponement has been denied are ready for trial and will be actually tried on the trial date. By effectuating this policy, the Court can more accurately predict the number of cases to be heard, can schedule the appropriate number of judges and jurors, and parties and counsel can be assured that their case will proceed to trial on the scheduled day. It is the intent of this policy to minimize last-minute dispositions or postponements that needlessly take up judicial resources that could be used for other matters pending in this Court.
1.5.3 Conduct of Criminal Docket
The criminal docket will begin at 9:00 a.m. All counsel having cases scheduled on the criminal docket shall be present at that time, prepared to advise the presiding judge of the status of their cases. If any counsel is needed in another courtroom, he/she shall first report to the courtroom in which the criminal docket is being called. If that is not possible for any reason, counsel must notify the courtroom clerk or the presiding judge's chambers in advance, preferably the day before, as to which courtroom counsel will be in, what counsel will be doing, and how long it will take.
If any counsel will not be in the courthouse by 9:00, the attorney must obtain advance permission from the Judge handling the criminal docket (if known) or the Criminal Case Management Judge. When seeking permission to arrive late, counsel must advise the court of the status of the case. Counsel will generally not be permitted to arrive late if the case is likely to require a trial.
At the initial call of the docket, counsel shall be prepared to advise the Court whether or not the case will be a trial and whether a jury will be required.
If any party becomes aware of the need for an interpreter for any party or witness, the party shall promptly notify the court by using the Request for Interpreter form, which is available on the Court's web site. A delay in notifying the court of the need for an interpreter may result in the inability to handle a case on the scheduled date. Requests for interpreters must be specific as to the language and, if appropriate, the particular dialect that may be needed. The request must also specify for whom the interpreter is needed.
The party requesting an interpreter shall remain responsible for confirming that an interpreter has been ordered and shall notify the Court immediately if the need for the interpreter changes. If a request for interpreter is not cancelled at least 48 hours in advance of the trial or hearing, the Court will be billed for the interpreter's services. If the Court is billed for an interpreter needlessly as a result of counsel's failure to advise the Court that the interpreter will not be needed, or because counsel or a litigant does not appear in court in a timely fashion, the Court may asses the interpreter costs against the party or counsel causing the unnecessary expense.
Unless the Court is advised that a case will be a definite trial and its duration, the Court will only hire interpreters for a single morning or afternoon session.
Pursuant to Md. Rule 16-101, all postponement requests must be considered by the County Administrative Judge or his/her designee. The designated postponement judge shall be authorized to make good cause findings and to rule on waivers of the Hicks requirement. Pursuant to the Rule, only one judge may be designated to have postponement authority at a time.
Except as stated below, this limitation on postponement authority applies to all cases in the Circuit Court, including cases that are specially assigned to a judge. The procedures for postponing specially assigned cases are set forth in Paragraph 1.2.1 above.
2.2 VOP and Sentencing hearings
These limitations do not apply to VOP, post-conviction, coram nobis, sentencing or modification hearings. In those matters, the judge to whom the case is assigned, may schedule and postpone them in the judge's discretion.
Any party requesting a postponement of a trial or any other hearing shall coordinate a proposed re-set date with the opposing party and the Court consistent with Case Time Standards. Failure to coordinate a re-set date may result in the postponement not being considered. Compliance with this procedure does not guarantee that any continuance will be granted and will not be interpreted by the Court as constituting consent to the postponement.
Counsel requesting postponement of a case on the day it is set for trial or hearing shall bring it to the Court's attention at the beginning of the criminal docket and shall promptly be referred to the Designated Postponement Judge for consideration. If the postponement request is denied, the case shall be referred back to the criminal docket judge for further handling.
The above mentioned procedure shall not apply to VOP, post-conviction, coram nobis, sentencing or modification hearings. In those cases, requests for postponement shall be made to the judge to whom the case is assigned.
2.5 Advance postponements of Pretrial Status Conferences
Consent requests for postponement of a pretrial status conference, made at least 24 hours in advance, may be made electronically, by consent, by using the form provided on the Court's web site. Postponements of all other events must be done by regular motion.
If the postponement of any event will, in any way, implicate the Hicks Rule, a Hicks waiver or finding of good cause must be made in open court, by the designated postponement judge. The Defendant shall be present in open court and written waivers will not be accepted. If necessary, counsel may coordinate a postponement/Hicks hearing with the chambers of the Criminal Case Management Judge.
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In order to discourage the practice commonly known as "judge shopping", the County Administrative Judge may designate a judge or judges to accept advanced guilty pleas. Subject to the limitation set forth in this paragraph, a defendant, with the consent of the State's Attorney, may schedule a guilty plea before such designated judge in advance of the trial date. A date for such a guilty plea must be cleared with the designated judge at least 5 business days prior to the scheduled trial date. Unless calendared pursuant to this paragraph, any guilty plea shall be taken by the judge who is assigned the docket on the day of trial or the backup judge, upon referral by the criminal docket judge.
Scheduling of advanced guilty pleas shall be done so as to minimize any adverse impact on the judges' availability to handle other matters and so as to avoid any last minute changes to the trial docket.
This paragraph shall not affect the parties' ability to enter guilty pleas at a scheduled PSC. This paragraph shall not apply to cases that have been specially assigned to a judge. This paragraph shall not preclude the County Administrative Judge or the Criminal Case Management Judge from authorizing any other judge to accept an advance guilty plea, in the interest of fairness and/or expediency.
Guilty pleas in contemplation of entry in Drug Treatment Court.
When a defendant has a new case pending in this Court as well as a pending VOP, the new case will be managed in the ordinary course via arraignment, status conference(s) and trial dates. If defendant is eligible for and wishes to participate in Drug Treatment Court, and has the approval of the VOP judge, he may enter a guilty plea on the new case and an admission to the VOP before the Drug Treatment Court judge, in lieu of the judge(s) assigned to accept guilty pleas, so long as the scheduling of the guilty plea does not affect any court dates scheduled for the new case.
Such guilty pleas must be entered prior to a scheduled status conference and trial date. If there is good cause why the plea can not be entered prior to a scheduled status conference, the Criminal Case Management Judge may consider resetting the status conference to a later date, so long as it does not adversely impact the trial date or the Hicks period.
Status conferences and/or trial dates may be cancelled by the Drug Court judge, if a plea has been accepted. Otherwise, any scheduling issues in the case will be dealt with by the Criminal Case Management judge.
If Defendant has only a VOP pending, and no new case, referral to the Drug Court will be dealt with by the judge to whom the VOP case is assigned.
The parties shall fully comply with the Md. Rules regarding pretrial discovery, disclosures and notifications.
The Court will schedule Motions Hearings only upon request of the parties. If the parties require a Motions Hearing to resolve any dispute, including any Fourth Amendment issues, they shall coordinate the scheduling of a hearing in advance of trial. Hearings shall be scheduled during time slots that have been identified by the Assignment Office. Motions must be scheduled sufficiently in advance of trial so as not to interfere with the scheduled trial date. Except for Motions in Limine that should be heard by the trial judge, pretrial motions shall not be scheduled for the day of trial. The parties shall each be responsible for clearing the hearing dates with the witnesses as well as issuing writs and subpoenas sufficiently in advance of the hearing date.
6. TRANSFERRED CASES FROM DISTRICT COURT
Jury trials in the Circuit Court shall be scheduled to begin only on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday (Jury Days). When a defendant prays a jury trial in the District Court on the day of trial:
6.1. The case shall be set for jury trial on the next Jury Day if:
a. Defendant is represented by counsel other than the Office of the Public Defender (OPD); or
b. If defendant is not represented, but was advised of the right to counsel, by a Judge, at least 30 days prior to the District Court trial.
6.2. The case shall be set for Pretrial Status Conference one week from the next Jury Day if:
a. Defendant is represented by the OPD;
b. An interpreter is required;
c. Defendant is unrepresented, but has not been advised of the right to counsel by a Judge, at least 30 days earlier; or
d. The State's Attorney requests that the case be set for Pretrial Status Conference instead of trial.
6.3 Other Transfers from District Court
Appeals of District Court non-VOP cases shall be handled in the same manner as other new filings in the Circuit Court.
Appeals of District Court VOP cases shall be handled in the same manner as Circuit Court VOP cases in which the sentencing judge has since retired or become unavailable. In those cases, the Clerk shall assign the VOP appeal to an available Circuit Court judge to be handled with that judge's other VOP cases.
When a defendant has prayed a jury trial in writing at least 15 days prior to the trial date, the case shall be scheduled in the same manner as District Court appeals.
7.1 The Criminal Case Management Judge and the backup judge shall handle all of the chambers matters pertaining to the criminal docket, except in cases that have been specially assigned to a judge pursuant to paragraph 1.2.1 above.
All motions, except those filed in specially assigned cases, shall be forwarded to the Criminal Case Management (CCM) Judge for consideration when the motion is ripe for consideration. The CCM judge shall rule on the motion, if appropriate. In the event a hearing is necessary or required by Maryland Rules, the CCM judge will direct that the motion be set for hearing.
Adopted January 23, 2014