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Maryland courts to close to public for 3 weeks

Maryland courts will close to the public for three weeks starting Monday to reduce the number of people in courthouses during the coronavirus pandemic, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera announced Friday evening.

“All courts in the Maryland Judiciary, court offices, administrative offices, units of the Judiciary and the Offices of the Clerks of the Circuit Courts shall be closed to the public on an emergency basis, effective March 16, 2020; however, Judiciary operations shall continue to the extent practicable,” Barbera said in an administrative order.

Courts will remain staffed for emergency matters, according to Barbera, and personnel are to report to work as usual. Judges are authorized to use electronic means to conduct legal proceedings when possible. Emergency matters include domestic violence petitions, bail reviews, juvenile detention and shelter hearings, and search warrants.

Barbera had previously ordered the cessation of all jury trials in circuit courts in the state until April 3. Prince George’s County circuit and district courts announced that they would be closed to the public Thursday.

Federal courts in Maryland also acted Friday to postpone all proceedings.

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