District Court Bench Bar Committee
The District Court Bench Bar Committee held its December 2015 meeting on Thursday December 3, 2015. There are several matters that are of interest to the bar.
As winter has finally arrived, the court advises that the weather closing procedure will be the same as last year. The Circuit Court and the District Court administrative judges will make a joint decision regarding whether there will be any court closing due to bad weather. The decision is usually made no later than 5:00 a.m. in the morning. As soon as a decision is made the major news outlets are notified, as well as the Judiciary website. See, http://mdcourts.gov/administration/closingsdelays.html
District Court will be on a greatly reduced schedule in June while the Annual Judicial Conference is held in Ocean City at the same time as the Maryland State Bar Association, Wednesday June 15 through Friday, June 17, 2015. Bond hearings, domestic violence orders and peace orders will still be heard, but largely with “Visiting Judges” handling the dockets.
Where a preliminary hearing is being waived, the Defendant must still appear in court on the Friday hearing date unless the written waiver is filed by the close of business on the Wednesday before the hearing. If not, the Defendant is expected to appear and a bench warrant could be issued. Assistant State’s Attorneys have no authority to waive the appearance of the Defendant.
ON GOING EVENTS
Criminal and Traffic Dockets:
The judges are having a final meeting on the exact procedures that will be followed beginning sometime early this year on the calling of criminal and traffic dockets. After the new procedure is implemented, hese dockets will no longer be called by the Assistant State’s Attorneys. Instead, either the clerk or the assigned judge will be calling cases to assess the status of the docket and determining in what order preliminary matters, pleas and trials will be heard. Final details of the new procedure will be appearing in this space before the change occurs.
District Court Meet and Greet:
The court is planning a program for attorneys who have an interest in learning more about practice before the District Court. The Judges and staff will provide information, tips, policies and procedures, best practices, etc. The event is now definitely scheduled for Wednesday, April 6, 2016. More information will be forthcoming, but current plans call for a multifaceted program beginning around 3:00 p.m. and running about two hours. It is likely that judges and court personnel will also appear at a venue in Rockville Town Center for a social hour after the program concludes.
Judgments and Executions: Attorneys are filing attachments and executions on judgments where the name of the Defendant does not match the name on the judgment. If for any reason it is necessary to pursue the same individual under a different name, the Plaintiff’s attorney should file a motion with the court to amend the name of the Defendant.
If a judgment creditor purchases or takes assignment of a judgment, it is necessary to file the proper paperwork so that the Plaintiff’s name on the attachment or execution on the judgment matches the owner of the judgment.
When listing costs on an attachment or execution, the judgment creditor’s attorney should only list the actual court costs in the file, and not costs that are not part of the costs that were awarded by the court or subsequently incurred with the court.
Resolutions Docket: Attorneys who have cases on the resolutions docket should not be adding additional fees to their claims for appearing and negotiating payments arrangements with Defendants at the time of the resolutions docket.
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: