District Court Bench Bar Committee
The District Court Bench Bar Committee held its November 5, 2015. The following items will be of interest to the Bar.
The court is having serious problems with attorneys who are over scheduled. If an attorney is scheduled at the same time in two different courtrooms, the attorney must make the other court aware of where he or she is, so that the Judge can try to work around the attorney’s conflict.
This is particularly a problem when an attorney is scheduled in a matter in District Court and in Circuit Court at the same time. If the attorney is not present for the District Court case it will greatly inconvenience the Judge, witnesses and parties. As stated, the court can try to work with the attorney if they are aware of the circumstances. If they are not aware the circumstances, it could be a serious problem for the attorney.
The court is concerned that the attorneys are not using Rule 3-506(b) properly. Problems have arisen when attorneys have worked out settlement agreements with Defendants either after the court date, (or before, but not advised the court). Attorneys have requested that the judgment be vacated and the case dismissed under Rule 3-506(b). This can only be done within 30 days and for good cause. Otherwise, it is not appropriate to file the 3-506(b) dismissal after the judgment has been entered.
Another issue is if the case is dismissed under rule 3-506(b), and the Defendant performs the terms of the settlement agreement, counsel for Plaintiff should file a Line with the court indicating that the obligations have been performed, and paid and satisfied, or otherwise shown as satisfied.
DISTRICT COURT PRACTICE POINTERS
• Dismissal Upon Stipulated Terms:
It was traditional in civil matters, that if the parties reached a settlement by the court date but were not able to either complete the settlement or finalize the settlement agreement, attorneys would ask for the case to be “passed for settlement”. It has been a long time since this procedure has been followed. Due to case management and docket control issues, cases can not be left open.
To address the concern about reaching a settlement under circumstances where the Defendant wants to settle, but does not want a judgment entered, and the Plaintiff wants to have the ability to enforce the claim if there is a default under the settlement, Rule 3-506(b) was created to permit the parties to enter into a settlement agreement without entering a judgment against the Defendant, but still protecting the Plaintiff in the event that the settlement is not complied with.
Rule 3-506. Voluntary dismissal
(b) Dismissal upon stipulated terms. If an action is settled upon written stipulated terms and dismissed, the action may be reopened at any time upon request of any party to the settlement to enforce the stipulated terms through the entry of judgment or other appropriate relief.
• Note the following in connection with 3-506(b) dismissal:
1. There is no comparable rule in Circuit Court, this rule is only applicable to District Court.
2. The rule requires that the settlement stipulation be on written stipulated terms. The parties should create a memorandum of the agreement rather than requesting it to be dismissed without any written agreement that is signed by the parties.
3. The action may be reopened at any time upon the request of any parties to the settlement to enforce the stipulated terms through the entry of judgment or other appropriate relief.
4. Even though the case is entered as dismissed on the docket pursuant to the stipulated terms, the court requests that once a settlement is performed, the other party file a pleading to that effect, so that the record will reflect that the settlement has been satisfied.
5. A suggested form for a dismissal under this rule can be found at:
Reginald W. Bours
Richard D. London
December 3, 2015
January 7, 2016
February 4, 2016
March 3, 2016
April 7, 2016
May 5, 2016
Committee Meetings will be held on the 1st Thursday of the month at 8AM in the Judges Conference Room in the District Court building, 191 East Jefferson St., Rockville, MD, unless otherwise noted.