MD Judiciary Adopts Recommendations and Releases Report of Joint Subcommittee on Post COVID-19 Judicial Operations
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Last week, the Judiciary Council, the governing body of the Maryland judiciary, unanimously accepted all of the recommendations of a report submitted by the Joint Subcommittee on Post-COVID-19 Justice Operations. The joint sub-committee met in September 2021 to review the various innovations and adjustments introduced across the judiciary during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine which of these should be maintained permanently.
The joint subcommittee grouped its findings and recommendations into eight distinct categories: Technology, Remote Procedures and Events, Courthouse Safety and Security, Alternative Working Arrangements, Courthouse Planning and Records Management, Judicial College of Maryland, Sessions and Non-Judicial Functions. Some of the recommendations are very specific, such as B. Identifying specific types of procedures that are generally appropriate or not for non-crisis remote detention, and other recommendations concerned further study and analysis, e.g. B. if and, if so, how to provide additional flexibility in teleworking and alternative working arrangements.
In particular, the joint subcommittee recommended, among other things, that remote proceedings should continue but are generally appropriate only for procedural issues, undisputed facts or legal arguments. Their findings concluded that distance trials are not appropriate when a fact finder needs to assess the credibility of evidence, particularly in criminal or civil trials.
“The pandemic has been a serious crisis that has challenged us in ways we could not have foreseen,” said Chief Justice Joseph M. Getty of the Maryland Court of Appeals. “In adapting to this crisis, staffers across the justice system have embraced new technology, developed new processes and found new ways to keep courthouse doors open — literally and virtually — across the state. We take great pride in the work our judges, case officers, commissioners and staff have done together during the pandemic to ensure we remained open and available. I thank Chief Justice of the Court of Special Appeals Matthew Fader for his leadership as Chair of the joint subcommittee and his members for all their care in preparing this report.”
“All recommendations are designed to improve the operation of the judiciary for the benefit of the people we serve, our staff, and the future of the Maryland judiciary,” said Chief Justice Matthew J. Fader of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. “This report would not have been possible without the significant input from internal and external stakeholders and the commitment, effort and expertise of the Committee members.”
To help identify and assess the various innovations and adaptations deployed across the judiciary during the pandemic, the joint sub-committee requested information on surveys via email to internal and external stakeholders. In total, nearly 2,000 surveys were completed with meaningful responses. In addition, in December 2021, the joint sub-committee held two public hearing sessions, made presentations to solicit input at judicial staff conferences, and convened four internal working groups to collect and evaluate input and make recommendations.
The full report can be found here: www.mdcourts.gov/postcovidreport