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District Court Bench Bar Committee

GENERAL MATTERS

Redacting Personal Information
     The court wants attorneys to be aware that they are filing pleadings and documents with personal information that is prohibited to be disclosed under the rules.  
     Rule 1-322.1, Maryland Rules of Procedure, requires the exclusion of personal identifier information in court filings.  In particular, information such as Social Security numbers, and account numbers, must be redacted from court filings.  
     The Court of Appeals had adopted a rule requiring an express certification from the attorney filing a pleading or document, to the effect that the filing is in compliance with the Rule.  However, the implementation of the Rule was deferred and then repealed for the time being.  There is a certification with electronic filing that the filing is in compliance.  

MOTIONS
     The court is concerned about a number of issues with motions.  This has been a reccurring problem.

     a. Proposed Orders
     A Proposed Order is necessary with a motion.  This provides the Judge with the ability to grant or denies the Motion or else put down reasons for whatever ruling the Judge makes in response to the Motion.

     b. Timing of Motion
     If there is not enough time for the response before the court date, the Motion will not be sent to a judge, and will be decided by the trial Judge.      If a response is not timely filed, the court may rule on the Motion without considering the response.

     c. Consent Motion
     A Consent Motion will be ruled on promptly, without waiting for a response.  

ATTORNEY INFORMATION
     The court is concerned that it is receiving numerous filings from attorneys where the attorney has not legibly printed his or her name and put his or her phone number.  You should also always include your attorney code.  This way the clerk and court will know who is making the filing and know how to get in touch with them.  

CURRENT FORMS
     The court is concerned that attorneys have been making filings with forms that are outdated, obsolete, no longer in use, etc.  These forms are not to be accepted by the clerk since there is a reason why the form was modified to a newer version.

CONTINUANCE PRACTICE
     The court is receiving many continuance requests close to the court date.  As indicated previously, Motions would have to be held until the court date if there is not sufficient time for the other side to respond.  Therefore, if you have good reason for a last minute continuance request, contact the other side to see if they consent to the motion.  This does not mean that it would  automatically be granted, particularly if there have been prior continuances.  
     For criminal cases it is generally possible to get a new date from the clerk.  For civil cases, you can request a date with consent of the other side, if it is on a civil day within 60 days.  If for any reason you are unable to reach the other side to obtain a date that is satisfactory to both sides, put in dates that you are unavailable to try to avoid a further conflict.

Richard London, Co-Chair


Announcements in Criminal Cases
     Criminal marijuana possession cases under ten grams [Pre-10/1/14]:   For those cases that were filed against defendants prior to October 1, 2014, the cases will still be set on a criminal docket and the State’s Attorney’s Office will continue  to offer defendants an opportunity to pay a $100.00 contribution to the General Fund as a way of resolving those cases.  For those individuals who cannot pay the $100.00 on their current trial date, a new trial date will be set and the District Court will implement a procedure that allows them to pay the $100.00 contribution on any date before the date set.  This means such defendants will not have to come to court a second time, but will have to go to the Clerk’s Office to get a “payment page” or similar document to pay at the cashier.
     Civil marijuana possession cases [10/1/14 and after]: The State’s Attorney’s Office has asked police officers not to charge paraphernalia related to marijuana, and has also asked that all marijuana cases not involving school property, intent to distribute, or some other aggravating circumstance be charged as the new civil offense, even where the quantity is over ten grams. 
     Civil citations under the new law will never appear in Case Search.
     These cases can already be paid at any point prior to any court date being set.  The District Court plans to do nothing the first 30 days after a civil citations for these cases is issued.  After that, civil marijuana citations will be set approximately 60 days later, or about 90 days after issuance. 
     The Montgomery County District Court intends to send notices to defendants that they can pay their citations at any time prior to the trial date but that Court costs of $22.50 will be assessed for anyone who comes to court and is found “guilty” after a court hearing on the civil possession charge.
     For those cases that go to trial under the new statute, Montgomery County judges may not dismiss cases solely because the drug evidence was not tested.   In effect, judges may allow opinion testimony from police officers based on their training and experience.  Preponderance of the evidence will be the standard of proof in any trial. 
     For those people who fail to appear for their trial dates on civil marijuana citations, there will be no bench warrants or body attachments, but the District Court intends to enter a civil judgement in the amount of $122.50 and immediately send such judgements to Central Collections.

Preliminary Inquires in Montgomery County
     The court will continue to send notices for preliminary inquires to people charged with DUI, and may expand this process to include driving suspended charges as well. 
     If a criminal defendant misses a preliminary inquiry and an attorney then enters an appearance, the Court is likely to recall any bench warrant that was issued for failing to appear at the Preliminary Inquiry.  Attorneys should put a notation about this in the appearance line, for example, “Counsel requests that the bench warrant issued on 11/4/14, be recalled.”   A motion to recall may also be used and is very likely to be granted promptly.

Reg Bours, Co-Chair


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

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.