Court closures and prisons are addressed in orders issued from the Maryland Court of Appeals.
On April 14, the Maryland Court of Appeals filed two administrative orders in direct response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Both issued by Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, the orders direct all state courts to remain closed through June 5 with exception to emergency business, as well as navigating the release of inmates in prisons statewide. As of April 15, Maryland has over 10,000 cases of the novel coronavirus out of 600,000+ cases confirmed in the United States.
As prisons become breeding grounds for spreading the virus, one of the orders states that judges "are encouraged to communicate with justice system stakeholders to identity at-risk incarcerated persons during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, with careful regard for the safety of victims and communities in general; with respect for the statutory rights of victims; and with due consideration given to public health concerns related to inmates who may have contracted COVID-19."
The safety of inmates, as well as prison staff, has been a topic of much concern amidst the pandemic. Recently the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services reported 93 confirmed cases and one death in the state's system as a whole. You can view the order here.
The other order directs courts to remain closed until June 5, with special exceptions made for emergency court business. Essential employees will report to work and be available via phone and email between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. In the case of urgent matters, judges will be able to decide on a method of handling the case, whether it warrants an in-person meeting or can be completed through a contactless method like videoconference. Cases may even be rescheduled. View the full details of the order here.
For more information and updates related to COVID-19 in Maryland's judicial system, you can visit the Maryland Courts' website.
What do you think of the Maryland Court of Appeals' response to COVID-19? Sound off in the comments!