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District Court Bench Bar Committee 

     The District Court Bench Bar Committee held its first meeting of this year on September 4, 2014 
     The following matters will be of interest to members of the Bar.  
Court Administration
     Security 
     There has been increased emphasis on courthouse security lately.  Last month the contraband policy for the District Court system was published again.  
     There are Forty-Five Thousand (45,000) people each month that go through security in both District Court buildings in Montgomery County.  There are approximately Two Thousand (2,000) people per day.  This does not include permit holders that bypass the screeners.  
     Court  Security Rules
     Some of the more important security rules for court are as follows:
     1. Cell phones are not to be turned on in the courtroom.
     2.  There is to be no standing in the seating area of the courtroom.
     3.   There is to be no sitting or standing in the well of the court unless you are participating in the case.  
     4.   There are to be no private discussions in court while court is in session.  If it is necessary to talk, take the discussion outside of the courtroom.  
     5.   Keep your brief case or trial case in your possession.  Do not leave the courtroom and leave your brief case unattended.  
    6.   No food or drink is to be brought in the courtroom.
    Punctuality
     Attorneys need to be on time. If you are going to be late or in another courtroom, you must contact the court to advise where you can be located.  Particularly, if an attorney is scheduled with a conflict in Circuit Court.  It is necessary to tell the courtroom clerk or advise the Judge’s office, so that the court will know where the attorney is when needed in court.  
Criminal Matters
A. Richmond Decision [Cont’d] Initial Appearance Issues
     Judge Wolfe has asked that attorneys participating at any initial appearance before a District Court commissioner remember that the purpose of those hearings is simply to set bond and release conditions, not debate probable cause for arrest.  
     Defendants who are represented at the initial appearance by one of the attorneys participating in the Richmond panel set up by the Court should remind the Defendants that they must interview with the Office of the Public Defender after their release.  Defendants should not be told that the Public Defender will definitely represent them just because they were represented at the initial appearance by persons working in the project.  
     Attorneys wanting to participate at the Central Processing Unit in person should go to the Commissioner’s entrance that has been created on the side where the main entrance to the Montgomery County Detention Center is located.  However, attorneys can participate in the initial appearance by calling into the CPU Commissioner, using 301-610-7218.  
B. Marijuana Laws Update
     Chapter 158, Laws of 2014, takes effect on October 1, 2014, and makes possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil infraction that must be charged by a citation that can be paid without appearing in court. The State’s Attorney’s Office is currently attending roll calls with the Montgomery County Police to discuss how this law is to be implemented, and is requesting that police officers file the civil charge even where the possession is more than 10 grams.  
     Police officers will be instructed to file criminal charges on small marijuana cases only where the marijuana offense occurs on school property or there is some other aggravating circumstance like an assault on a police officer or resisting arrest.  Police officers will also be able to petition the State’s Attorney’s Office to allow criminal charges based on special or aggravating circumstances peculiar to each case. 
C. E-Discovery
The following is an announcement from John McCarthy, State’s Attorney for Montgomery County:  

Dear Colleagues,
     I am excited to announce the roll-out of our eDiscovery Project.  Starting Monday, September 15th, 2014, members of the criminal defense community will be able to download discovery materials for their active cases through an Internet portal.  In an effort to streamline discovery material delivery, our Office is offering an efficient and secure online method of access.  The portal allows attorneys to create online accounts, and once approved, download discovery materials to their local computer.  During the transition period, discovery will be provided online or by the present method. 
     For more information and to set up your account, please visit our site on the Internet and select eDiscovery from the sidebar or, click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/q6z5fum
     If you have any questions regarding eDiscovery, please contact the SAO’s eDiscovery System Administrator at (240) 777-7305 or
discovery@montgomerycountymd.gov.
Sincerely,
John J. McCarthy
State’s Attorney
Montgomery County, Maryland

Civil Matters
Collections Cases: Attorney’s Fees
     In order to get an award for Attorney’s Fees an Affidavit must be filed containing details of work done, even if 15% is claimed.  The Attorneys Fee Affidavit should be filed with the complaint containing a breakdown of the hourly work.  
Dismissal
     If a claim is paid, the case should not be dismissed under Rule 3-506(b).  It should be a regular dismissal.   
Responses to Motions 
     A response to a Motion should be filed within 10 days after service, plus 3 days for mailing.  The court will rule after the expiration of the time limit, so if you want an opposition to be considered, it must be timely filed.  
Miscellaneous
Calendar
A. Judicial Conference
     A Judicial Conference is scheduled for October 23 and October 24.  There will only be limited court coverage, such as domestic violence and felony cases.
B. Other Court Closings
     The court will be closed for Columbus Day and Election Day. Additionally, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Friday after Christmas, and Friday after January 1 will all be court holidays.

District Court Practice Pointer

     It is absolutely necessary for the attorneys to inform the court if they are running late.  The number to call for Rockville cases is (301) 563-8867.  The number to call for Silver Spring cases is (301) 563-8520.
     If you are in another courtroom, in the Circuit Court, etc., you must make the court, or the courtroom clerk in the court where you are scheduled to be, aware of your location.
     The court will attempt to work with counsel if they are unavoidably delayed, and if they notify the court of their delayed circumstances.

Co-Chairs

Reginald W. Bours
Richard D. London

 

Meeting Dates

October 2, 2014
November 6, 2014
December 4, 2014
January 8, 2015
February 5, 2015
March 5, 2015
April 2, 2015
May 7, 2015

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.