Beginning on March 3, 2021, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City has transitioned to allowing Zoom hearings for some trials and hearings for family law cases including divorce, custody, modification, visitation, child support and exceptions. Through the pandemic other courts in different counties have allowed for Zoom hearings and now the rollout is happening in Baltimore City.
**Please Disregard Any Notices that Say To Appear in Person**
Most family law cases in Baltimore City seem to generate court notices for whatever dates may have initially been set in a case and throughout the past year, even when the court has been limiting who can enter the courthouse they will still send out a Notice that says that you must appear in person for a hearing. Then after receiving the automatically generated Notice, you may receive a second more personal notice in the form of a letter written or addressed directly to you to tell you to disregard a previous Notice and give additional instructions on how to appear for a hearing. Many hearings if previously set for trial had been reset to a Status Conference held by phone. The status conferences appeared to be an additional opportunity to see if a case could be resolved, or just to set a new date for trial when the court reopened.
From now through March 15, 2021, the courts have a coronavirus plan and are still operating through its phased reopening procedure , which still limits the people entering the courthouse to mostly emergency hearings. But Family Courtrooms in Baltimore City lack the capacity to adhere to social distancing. Most of the Family Courtrooms are on the first floor of the courthouse and labelled F1-F4, for each judge that is in each courtroom.The waiting area when waiting for a hearing in one of the Family Courtrooms also lack the space to allow individuals waiting for their case to be called to socially distance. And it appears in an effort to allow cases to continue to be heard, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City is transitioning to allow Zoom hearings for family law trials.
If a hearing is to be held by Zoom, notices have been sent out. If you object to proceeding with your hearing through Zoom, then you must file your objections with the Clerk of the Court no later than 15 days prior to the hearing. The objections shall state the specific grounds and can be emailed to the court by the court provided email address in the notice.
The new notices will specify the time of the Zoom hearing, the date, and the Judge or Magistrate that the hearing will be held with. It will also provide the Zoom meeting code and passcode to log in. If you do not join the hearing at the time indicated the court advises that your case may be heard without you, dismissed or reset for a hearing after the court fully reopens. The court will allow you to provide exhibits to the court via email and has outlined the procedure for attaching, and labelling each exhibit you intend to introduce, and the process to provide exhibits to the opposing party or counsel.
Additional information for participants and counsel regarding remote hearings for the Family Division includes:
By accessing the link for a Zoom hearing, you agree that you will not record, broadcast, or forward any portion of the trial, hearing or proceeding. This includes live-streaming on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. This prohibition applies to the use of television, radio, photographic, including screen shots, or recording equipment. You also agree that you will not share the link to the hearing or provide the link to anyone other than a party or witness in the case. Any violation of the terms may result in you being held in contempt of court and sanctioned.
It is unknown at this time as to how long cases will be allowed to proceed via Zoom, but cases have been scheduled for Zoom hearings at least through early summer 2021.
Make sure your lawyer is not a cat.
Contact us if you need help preparing for a Zoom hearing or want to have representation at a Zoom trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.