ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Judiciary will enter Phase V of its five-phased COVID-19 progressive resumption of operations on Monday, April 26, 2021. At this time, all courts in Maryland will be fully operational with the resumption of jury trials in criminal and civil cases in circuit courts statewide, consistent with the COVID-19 emergency administrative orders.
Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera released a new video explaining the preparations for resuming jury trials and thanking the public, Judiciary staff, judges, and justice partners for their patience and perseverance during the COVID-19 emergency.
“As we resume Phase V emergency operations, which includes jury trials, the courts are again prepared to move forward. All of the circuit courts have the benefit of the successful implementation of jury trials with COVID-19 health and safety protocols last fall. Eighty-eight jury trials were conducted without a single incident of COVID-19 transmission, prior to any COVID-19 vaccination having been approved. This could only be achieved through intensive planning and preparation and careful implementation by each of the circuit courts in Maryland,” said Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera. “The same health protocols will remain in place for anyone who enters a courthouse or Judiciary facility, consistent with CDC guidelines, including wearing masks, social distancing, plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizer, and cleaning protocols to limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Marylanders can fulfill their civic duty to serve on a jury with the assurance that their health and safety are being safe-guarded.”
Phase V of the Judiciary’s phased resumption of operations will be implemented as outlined in the Amended Administrative Order Expanding Statewide Judiciary Operations in Light of the COVID-19 Emergency. In addition, per the Seventh Administrative Order Clarifying COVID-19 Health Measures in Courthouses and Judicial Branch Facilities, anyone entering a courthouse, including employees, is required to wear a mask; submit to a written or verbal COVID-19 questionnaire; and submit to a contactless thermometer temperature check. These measures are in place as essential safety precautions to help protect the well-being of all court visitors, judges, and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an updated jury video produced by the Maryland Judiciary’s Administrative Office of the Courts, “Jury Duty COVID-19 Safety Precautions,” members of the public, including those who are called for jury duty, can view the sanitation efforts and preparations made by the courts before jurors enter a court building.
The Maryland Judiciary continues to follow guidelines from the Maryland Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and is routinely cleaning buildings with a focus on frequently touched surfaces. The video shows how jury assembly rooms, deliberation rooms, and courtrooms have been modified to comply with these guidelines. Plexiglass shields have also been installed in jury rooms and courtrooms to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Additional rooms and buildings may be utilized to allow social distancing as required. Jurors and court visitors should note that jury environments will differ by jurisdiction due to the differences in the various circuit court building layouts. Contact local jury offices for questions about jury service and accommodations.
Phase V is the Maryland Judiciary’s final phase of its resumption of operations during the COVID-19 health emergency. On April 26, the Maryland Judiciary will be fully operational throughout Maryland’s courts. Find more information on COVID-19 and court operations online at https://mdcourts.gov/coronavirusinformationforpublic.
Courts across Maryland will continue using technology for remote proceedings, either by video or telephone, but such utilization will vary by court location. Individuals who have business with the courts should check the Judiciary’s website at mdcourts.gov, or call the Clerk’s Office for information before arriving at a courthouse location.