EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 22, 2020:
BY ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER OF CHIEF JUDGE MARY ELLEN BARBERA, JURY TRIALS WILL RESUME APRIL 26, 2021.
Once jury trials resume, please make sure to fill out your qualification form online at www.courts.state.md.us/juryservice/jurorqualificationform. If you are requesting to be excused those requests need to be submitted in writing to the Court and submitted within 10 days of receipt.
We have been working hard to prepare the courthouse for the return of Jurors. Please watch this short video to see the changes that have been made to keep you, our staff and all who visit the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County safe:
Message from the Maryland Judiciary: Trial by jury is a foundation of our system of justice and is one of the reasons that our justice system is the finest in the world. While trial by jury is a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Maryland Declaration of Rights, serving on a jury is both a responsibility of being a citizen and an opportunity to serve the community. No special training, skills or legal knowledge are necessary to be a juror. All that is required is that you be willing to keep an open mind, to pay attention, and to make a decision based only on the law and evidence that is presented. On behalf of the Maryland Judiciary, thank you for your jury service.
All Jurors are encouraged to watch the following Juror Orientation Video produced by the Maryland Judiciary:
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Jury Service and COVID-19
The Maryland Court of Appeals Administrative Order Clarifying COVID-19 Health Measures in Courthouses and Judicial Branch Facilities requires that anyone entering a courthouse, including employees, are required to wear a mask or face covering; submit to a written or verbal questionnaire regarding any COVID-19 related symptoms; and submit to a no contact thermometer temperature check. These measures are in place as additional safety precautions to help protect the well-being of all court visitors, judges, and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is the court calling in jurors during a pandemic?
The Maryland Judiciary provides fair, efficient and effective justice for all. The suspension of Jury Trials, both criminal and civil, has posed a wide range of issues regarding access to the courts. The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County is doing all that it can to create a safe environment to bring Jurors back which is a vital to our legal system.
Have any other states resumed jury trials?
Several states across the United States have resumed jury trials during the pandemic. We have learned and taken into consideration the experiences of those that have already faced the challenges that we are now addressing so that we can best ensure the health and safety of all court users here at the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.
Is the court in compliance with State and County public health mandates?
The Maryland Judiciary is the third co-equal branch of government known as the Judicial Branch. As such, it operates separate and apart from the executive and legislative branches. Although the judiciary is following the basic mandates outlined by the state governor and local county executive, the court operates under the directives of the Chief Judge of the Maryland Judiciary. The administrative order of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals mandates the resumption of jury trials on October 5, 2020.
The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County COVID-19 Response Plan for the Progressive Resumption of Full Function of Judiciary Operations is likewise available. (Click here to review).
Will masks be required all day?
Everyone entering the courthouse is required to wear a mask at all times. This includes judges, court staff, and anyone over 2 years old. If you are called for jury duty you must also wear a mask. The mask must cover both the nose and mouth completely. If you arrive at a courthouse without an adequate mask, we will give you one. Jurors can wear their own clear personal shields and other barriers, but such shields are not a substitute for masks which are required to be worn at all times.
Will defendants and witnesses be unmasked while speaking?
No. Defendants and witnesses will not be unmasked while speaking. They may have alternative face coverings to ensure their faces are visible as circumstances require.
Will I need to remove my mask when speaking in the courtroom?
No. Jurors will not need to remove their mask while speaking in the courtroom.
What happens to people who remove their mask or wear it inappropriately?
Masks must be worn while in the courthouse at all times, covering both the nose and mouth completely. Any person who does not comply will be denied entrance or required to leave the court as a result of the screening process or as a result of refusing to comply with the requirements to wear a face mask or maintain social distancing.
Can I wear an alternative facemask?
No. Masks must follow guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and proper attire, including masks is required in the courthouse. You may be asked to replace your mask if deemed inappropriate.
I am deaf, hard of hearing, or rely on lipreading to communicate. Do I have an exception to wearing a mask?
No. You must still wear your mask, however, staff will communicate with you using captioning or written communication, where appropriate. You may express your concerns with the trial judge or jury commissioner upon your arrival.
I have difficulty breathing (COPD, asthma, etc.). Do I have a mask exemption?
Are people required to sit 6 feet apart?
Yes. All courthouse members, including jurors, the public, and employees are required to maintain a distance of at least six feet. Social distancing markers are installed on all courthouse and courtroom benches. Jury box seating in the courtrooms have been socially distanced and plexiglass installed in between rows of Juror seating.
Are the hallways labeled with directional signs?
Various social distancing markers have been placed on the floors at the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. Fortunately, our courthouse has wide hallways and stairways conducive to a socially distanced flow of traffic.
I don’t want to be confined in an elevator with another person. Can I take the stairs?
Yes. Also, elevators have been marked with social distancing markers and each is limited to a maximum of three people at a time. Masks must be worn in elevators, as in the rest of the courthouse.
CHAIRS AND TABLES
How often are chairs, tables and chair handles wiped down?
Since the pandemic started, tables, chairs, handles and other “high touch points” are cleaned daily by the cleaning staff. In addition, Jury staff also wipe down chairs after each day’s use.
Will there be tables in the quiet room so that I can do personal work?
No. Our Quiet Rooms are not large enough to allow for personal workspace in a socially distanced manner at this time. While we understand the need for that type of space, until pandemic restrictions are safely lifted, our traditional the quiet rooms will not be available.
What happens if I just don’t come? Is there a penalty if I do not appear for jury service or do not complete my service?
If you do not appear for jury service at the date and time directed by the summons, you can be fined for up to $1,000, incarcerated for up to 60 days, or both. If you do not complete jury service, you can be fined for up to $1,000, incarcerated for up to 90 days, or both. This is Maryland Law which all courthouses and jurors are required to follow. The relevant laws are Maryland Annotated Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, Sections 8-504 and 8-505. There are also penalties for failing to complete the Juror Qualification Form accurately and for not returning that Form. You can learn more about these penalties here.
How long is the day? Will I be sent to multiple courtrooms?
The jury system at the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County is a ONE WEEK or ONE TRIAL system. That means you will be done with your service if you serve on one trial. If you are not seated on a trial, your “on call” service is only one week. You may or may not be called in each day of your week of service. The courthouse is open to jurors at 7:00 a.m. daily.
You should plan to be at the courthouse during normal business hours which are 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. During this time, the movement of jury panels will be limited as much as possible. Our court has increased the areas of the building in which jurors will be assembled which will allow for social distancing and assist in limiting juror movement.
I have issues with childcare since schools are not reopening and are only offering virtual classes, what do I do?
The court does allow a one-time courtesy postponement which can be done when you have completed your questionnaire on-line. If you have used this one-time postponement previously, you will need to submit your request in writing and documentation may be required. If serving during a school break is practical, you may have the option of selecting a date within that range.
I am a caregiver and need to be home with my loved one, what do I do?
The court does allow a one-time courtesy postponement which can be done when you have completed filling out your questionnaire on-line. If you have previously used this one-time postponement, you will have to submit a written request along with a note from the physician of the person you are caring for.
Myself or a household member has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days. Do I need to report?
DO NOT COME TO THE COURTHOUSE if you or a member of your household has tested positive for COVID-19 or if you are experiencing symptoms. You should let the Jury staff know immediately. Please note that you will have to provide doctor documentation. Once documentation is received via email or fax, your jury service will be rescheduled.
Will I lose my unemployment benefits if I serve on a jury?
No. Under Maryland law, you will not be denied unemployment benefits because you had jury service and were unable to work or seek work. The relevant law is Maryland Annotated Code, Labor & Employment Article, Sections 8-101(z)(3)(x), 8-907(a) and 8-1108(a)(1)). For more information, contact the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
How will we eat lunch/drink water?
You will be permitted to lower your mask to eat, drink, or take oral or nasal medications. While doing so, appropriate social distancing will be required. You must replace your mask upon completion.
Can I still bring my own lunch and snacks? Can I still eat in the assembly room?
Yes. Jurors can bring their own lunch and snacks. All Jurors must be mindful of debris, odor and spills when choosing food items. Jurors will only be allowed to remove their masks while eating or drinking and sitting at least six feet apart from one another. Jurors will be allowed to leave the building for breaks and bring food back into the courthouse.
Will the vending machines still be available?
Yes. The vending machines will still be available for your convenience. The court will provide cleaning solution and or/wipes for proper sanitizing of vending machines before and after your use. Our snack bar will also be open for food purchases, though no seating is permitted in the snack bar area during Covid restrictions.
Restrooms are cleaned and checked multiple times daily by custodial staff. Soap, and sanitizer and wipes will be available in all restrooms.
Can I bring Lysol aerosol spray?
No. Aerosol sprays are not permitted in the courthouse and cannot be sprayed in the building for the health and safety of others.
Are there receptacles for proper disposal of PPE?
Yes. The court will provide appropriate trash cans for proper disposal of PPE.
Are there plexiglass barriers between the jurors? Are there plexiglass barriers between staff and the jurors?
There are plexiglass partitions between rows of socially distance chairs in the Jury boxes in the courtrooms being used for jury trials. At this time, the court does not have partitions in between each individual juror, however, the court requires face masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing following CDC guidelines found here.
In high contact areas, jury staff are behind plexiglass barriers to protect all users from exposure to COVID-19. All staff will be required to wear a face mask when interacting with the public.
Can I wear a face shield?
Yes. Face shields are permitted but must be worn along with a mask, not by themselves.
Is eye protection provided by the Court?
No. Eye protection is not currently provided.
Will there be screening at the door? Will they check my temperature?
Yes. Consistent with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and local health departments, any person who seeks entrance to courts and judicial facilities shall be:
- Subject to COVID-19 screening questions;
- Subject to non-contact temperature checks;
- Required to wear face masks or coverings;
- Required to maintain social distancing.
Any person may be denied entrance or required to leave the court as a result of the screening process or as a result of refusing to comply with the requirements to wear a face mask or maintain social distancing.
Will there be COVID-19 testing performed and anyone who tests positive be dismissed immediately?
COVID-19 testing will not be performed on-site. Anyone who tests positive and notifies the court will be dismissed immediately with proper doctor documentation.
Will anyone with a fever be sent home? How will they be paid for coming?
If denied entry at Security Screening Station prior to entering the building due to a fever or other symptoms, your service will not be satisfied, therefore you will not be given credit nor paid for jury service. If this occurs, please call the Jury Office at 410-222-1499 option 4 from the Courthouse courtyard so Jury staff is aware that you were denied entry.
Will access to the courthouse be limited to prospective jurors and essential personnel?
Following our local reopening plan, the courthouse will be entering Phase V and is open to the public. The court is limiting and staggering dockets and cases. This is effectively reducing the number of people in the courthouse. Additionally, many of our cases continue to be heard remotely further reducing the numbers in the court.
What happens if I, another juror, or jury staff test positive while I am serving? How will everyone be notified?
Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who may have come into contact with an individual with an infectious disease, in this case COVID-19. The contact tracer reaches out by phone to someone who has tested positive for the virus to determine their whereabouts and close contacts for the two-week period when they may have been infectious. The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County works closely with the Anne Arundel County Health Department. Any positive test result is reported to the Health Department and if deemed appropriate, Health Department staff will conduct contact tracing and contact any individuals potentially impacted.
Who is responsible for the security protocol? What happens with noncompliance?
The Anne Arundel County Office of the Sheriff is responsible for enforcing the security protocol. Any person may be denied entrance or required to leave a court as a result of the screening process or as a result of refusing to comply with the requirements to wear a face mask or maintain social distancing.
My bus line is not operating on a regular schedule. What do I do?
The court has been in contact with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the City of Annapolis Department of Transportation. We are encouraging the continuation of the bus lines connecting our County and City. If a bus line is limited or canceled, the court encourages you to find a suitable means of transportation to come to and from the courthouse.
I don’t feel comfortable taking public transportation, where can I park?
Please click here to visit our website to find resources for parking.
What types of cases will be heard?
The court will resume jury trials involving both criminal and civil matters.
Will there be any remote/virtual options for remote hearings?
The court has been holding many hearings remotely by telephone and video since the beginning of the pandemic. At this point, there are no plans to hold Jury trials by video.
I haven’t left my house. Can I schedule a virtual meeting with the jury commissioner’s office to discuss my concerns with serving?
Will we be allowed to bring?
- Reading Material: Yes
- Pens: Yes, and encouraged
- Sanitizer, Personal Wipes: Yes, and encouraged
- Electronic Devices: Yes, but must be turned off in courtrooms
- Lunch/Snacks: Yes
Additional information can be found on the Maryland Judiciary’s website: https://mdcourts.gov/juryservice
Statewide Jury Service FAQ can be found at: https://mdcourts.gov/juryservice/faqs