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Maryland courts pause jury trials amid COVID-19 surge

Jury trials in Maryland courts are being put on hold until Feb. 8 under a new administrative order issued in response to surging COVID-19 infections.

The order means that state courts will return to Phase III of the COVID-19 reopening plan, which will place limits on what types of cases courts hear, starting Wednesday.

The change will last until at least Feb. 8. Jury trials that are already underway will be able to conclude, but any trials scheduled to begin before Feb. 8 will be rescheduled.

RELATED: Maryland federal courts postpone jury trials, grand juries as COVID-19 spikes

The shift to Phase III comes as COVID-19 cases have spiked across Maryland, pushing the statewide positivity rate over 16% and setting new records for daily case totals.

The full list of court matters that will be heard in Phase III is included in the order from Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty. It lists certain civil matters, including landlord-tenant actions, some criminal matters, including bail reviews, and a number of family court matters.

Clerks’ offices will remain open to the public under this reopening phase.

Maryland’s appeals courts will remain fully operational, but the Court of Special Appeals announced Monday that oral arguments in its January session will be conducted remotely via Zoom.

The changes came soon after Maryland’s federal courts canceled jury selection and grand jury sessions through Jan. 24.