Civil Litigation During the COVID-19 Emergency

Posted: May 12, 2020 by Jennifer A. King

The COVID-19 emergency has created significant uncertainty within the court system.  The operation of the judiciary varies by jurisdiction and there is no uniform approach towards tolling or suspension of any applicable statutory deadline or rule.  Further, as the pandemic is constantly evolving, the Courts are issuing new orders on regular basis.  The following is a general overview of the operations of the Courts in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia as it pertains to civil litigation.  For more specific information about any particular court in these jurisdiction or any additional questions, please contact one of our attorneys. 

MARYLAND
STATE COURTS

The following is a general overview of the update to the operations of the Courts in Maryland as it pertains to civil litigation, as published by the judiciary on May 22, 2020.  For more specific information or any additional questions, please contact one of our attorneys.

Closures
The Courts will resume operations in phases and to the extent any proceeding can be conducted remotely, the Courts will continue to be encouraged to do so.
  • Phase I: March 16, 2020 - June 4, 2020
    • All Courts are restricted to emergency operations and closed to the public with limited exceptions.
    • All matters (except for certain emergency matters) are postponed, unless the parties are notified otherwise. 
    • The Courts will address:
      1. Matters that can be addressed without a proceeding; or
      2. Matters that conducted be remotely upon proper notice to all parties.
  • Phase II: June 5, 2020 - July 19, 2020
    • All Courts are closed to the public with limited exceptions.
    • In addition to those matters identified in Phase I, the following civil proceedings will resume:
      1. Circuit Court: Scheduling conferences, status conferences, and matters that can be handled remotely or without testimony.
      2. District Court: All matters remain postponed.
  • Phase III: July 20, 2020 - August 30, 2020
    • All Courts are open to the public.
    • In addition to the those matters identified in Phases I and II, the following civil proceedings will resume:
      1. Circuit Court: Motions hearings requiring witness testimony and settlement hearings.
      2. District Court: Begin scheduling for dockets beginning August 31, 2020.
  • Phase IV: August 31, 2020 - October 4, 2020
    • In addition to the those matters identified in Phases I, II, and III, the following civil proceedings will resume:
      1. Circuit Court: Non-jury trials and de novo appeals.
      2. District Court: All matters.
  • Phase V: October 5, 2020
    • All courts are fully operational, but still encouraged to conduct proceedings remotely.
    • Subject to priority given to criminal trials and other urgent matters:
      1. Jury trials will resume with trial dates to be scheduled beginning October 5, 2020.
      2. Any previously scheduled jury trial beginning between October 5, 2020 and December 31, 2020, may be maintained unless otherwise .
Deadlines
  • New Cases (including statute of limitations)
    • All deadlines related to the initiation of matters are tolled or suspended through July 20, 2020. 
    • Filing deadlines are extended by an additional 15 days.
  • Pending Cases
    • All deadlines to conduct pending judicial proceedings in existing cases are tolled or suspended through July 20, 2020.
    • Deadlines pending on March 16, 2020 are extended by an additional 60 days.
    • Any modifications of Civil Scheduling Orders will be addressed by motion on a case by case basis.
    • The application of case time standards (try by dates) for cases reaching a conclusion between March 16, 2020, through December 31, 2020, is suspended.  The application of case time standards will resume January 1, 2021.
    • If a filing is made during the tolling period, the filing will relate back to the day before the deadline expired.
Filing Court Documents
  • The Courts will continue to accept and process documents filed electronically, by mail, and/or by drop box, where applicable.
  • In those Courts where MDEC is not available (Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County), it is within the discretion of those Courts to permit virtual drop boxes through Phase
  • IV only.
All COVID-19 administrative orders issued by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals can be found at: http://www.courts.state.va.us/news/items/covid_19.pdfhttps://www.courts.state.md.us/coronavirusorders

For additional guidelines and procedures specific to each county circuit and district court, please refer to that County court’s website.    
 
FEDERAL COURTS
Closures
  • The Courts are restricted to emergency operations and closed to the public with limited exceptions through June 5, 2020
  • All proceedings now scheduled to occur through June 5, 2020, are postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date, unless otherwise ordered by the assigned judge
Deadlines
  • New Cases
    • The Order addressing the COVID-19 emergency does not toll any applicable statute of limitations
  • Pending Cases
    • All filing deadlines for all cases originally set to fall between March 16, 2020, and June 5, 2020, are extended by 84 days unless otherwise ordered by the assigned judge.
    • However, the suspension of filing deadlines does not include the conduct of discovery in civil cases, provided that all parties agree to continue with discovery, and that the conduct of discovery does not involve conduct by counsel for the parties that would contravene public health orders or directives issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the event that all parties do not agree as to whether discovery should be conducted, they shall meet and confer, and if unable to resolve the disagreement, a joint letter shall be submitted to the assigned judge
  • Any modifications of Civil Scheduling Orders will be addressed by motion on a case by case basis
Filing court documents:
  • The Courts will continue to accept and process documents filed electronically, by mail, and/or by drop box, where applicable
All COVID-19 administrative orders issued by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland can be found at: https://www.mdd.uscourts.gov/COVID-19
 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
 
SUPERIOR COURT
Closures
 
  • UPDATE:  D.C. has extended its Order of Court Closures through June 19, 2020.
  • The Court will still rule on motions and matters that can be decided without a hearing
Deadlines - New and Pending Cases
  • Unless otherwise ordered, all deadlines and time limits that would otherwise expire before May 15, 2020, are suspended, tolled, and extended during the period of the COVID-19 emergency and may be extended further
  • This tolling period applies to, but is not limited to, statute of limitations, time for service of process, discovery responses, and events leading to a pretrial conference, and all scheduling orders issued before March 18, 2020
  • If an event before the start of the tolling period triggered a deadline that falls within the tolling period, the new deadline is extended by the length of the tolling period
  • If an event during the tolling period triggered a deadline, the clock would starting running on the date the tolling period ends
  • If the deadlines as they have been extended during this emergency are appropriate, a motion to modify the scheduling is not necessary.  If the parties require additional time, a motion may be filed with the assigned judge
  • A party is not precluded from taking action during the tolling period
Filing court documents
  • The Courts will continue to accept and process documents filed electronically, by mail, and/or by drop box, where applicable
All COVID-19 administrative orders issued by the Chief Judge can be found at:https://www.dccourts.gov/coronavirus
 
FEDERAL COURT
Closures
  • Currently, the Courts are open but with limited operations to support essential functions to ensure public safety, public health and welfare
  • All jury trials scheduled to commence before June 11, 2020, are postponed and continued pending further order of the Court
  • All other civil proceedings scheduled to occur before June 1, 2020, are postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date, unless otherwise ordered by the assigned judge to be conducted remotely
Deadlines
  • New Cases
    • The Order addressing the COVID-19 emergency does not toll any applicable statute of limitations
  • Pending Cases
    • The Order addressing the COVID-19 emergency does not toll deadlines in pending cases
Filing court documents
  • The Courts will continue to accept and process documents filed electronically, by mail, and/or by drop box, where applicable
All COVID-19 administrative orders issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia can be found at: https://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/coronavirus-covid-19-response-information-and-announcements
 
 
VIRGINIA
 
STATE COURTS
Closures
  • The Courts are encouraged to continue the use of remote proceedings, but may conduct in-person non-emergency matters if they determine it is safe to do and they comply with all COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the Commonwealth
  •  All jury trials are suspended and shall be continued until further notice
Deadlines - New and Pending Cases
  • With the exception of discovery deadlines, all other deadlines (including statutes of limitations) are tolled and extended through June 7, 2020 
  • In all civil cases, any tolling of deadlines and obligations arising out of Part Four of the Rules shall terminate on May 18, 2020 
  • All discovery issued with a deadline to respond during the judicial emergency shall be due on or before June 8, 2020
 Filing court documents
  •  The Courts will continue to accept and process documents filed electronically, by mail, and/or by drop box, where applicable
All COVID-19 administrative orders issued by the Supreme Court of Virginia as well as any additional guidelines and procedures specific to each county circuit and district court can be found at: http://www.courts.state.va.us/news/items/covid_19.pdf  

FEDERAL COURTS
Closures
  • Currently, the Courts are open but with limited operations
  • All jury trials scheduled to commence on or before June 10, 2020, are postponed and continued pending further order of the Court
  • All other civil proceedings scheduled to occur on or before June 10, 2020, are postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date, unless otherwise ordered by the assigned judge to be conducted remotely
Deadlines
  • New Cases
    • The Order addressing the COVID-19 emergency does not toll any applicable statute of limitations 
  • Pending Cases
    • Any modifications of Civil Scheduling Orders will be addressed by the assigned judge
Filing court documents
  • The Courts will continue to accept and process documents filed electronically, by mail, and/or by drop box, where applicable
All COVID-19 administrative orders issued by United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia can be found at: http://www.vawd.uscourts.gov/court-information/covid-19.aspx
 
All COVID-19 administrative orders issued by United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia can be found at: http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/covid-19.html
 



Comments
Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.

Tags

No Tags Were Found

OUR OFFICES

DeCaro, Doran, Siciliano, Gallagher and DeBlasis LLP
Maryland Office
17251 Melford Boulevard
Suite 200
Bowie, MD 20715
MAP IT
301.352.4950
Virginia Office
3930 Walnut Street
Suite 250
Fairfax, VA 22030
MAP IT
703.255.6667
Washington, D.C. Office
1100 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Suite 950
Washington, D.C. 20036
MAP IT
202.862.5505