Judicial Council 2021 Annual Report
MISSION The Maryland Judiciary provides fair, efficient, and effective justice for all. VISION The Maryland Judiciary advances justice for all who come to Maryland’s courts. We are an efficient, innovative, and accessible court system that works collaboratively with justice partners to serve the people with integrity and transparency. GOALS 1. Provide access to justice. 2. Be responsive and adaptable to changing community needs. 3. Communicate effectively with stakeholders. 4. Improve systems and processes. 5. Be accountable. 6. Assure the highest level of service. 7. Build partnerships. 8. Use resources wisely.
THE MARYLAND JUDICIAL COUNCIL
As the governance body of the Judiciary and principal policy advisor to the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the Maryland Judicial Council is committed to advancing the Judiciary’s mission of providing fair, efficient, and effective justice for all. The Judicial Council is the nexus through which its committees vet Judiciary-wide policy changes, judicial reforms, legislative issues, and other internal and external developments that affect the administration of justice. Guided by the eight key goals of the Judiciary’s strategic plan, the committees develop recommendations for policies, programs, and initiatives that help ensure efficient operations and the timely and effective administration of justice in Maryland. These recommendations are reviewed by the Judicial Council and, if accepted, are forwarded to the Chief Judge for approval. The Judicial Council and its committees, subcommittees, and work groups include a wide representation of the diverse Judiciary community: judges, magistrates, trial court clerks and administrators, commissioners, and justice partners throughout Maryland. It is through their collective work that the Maryland Judiciary is fulfilling its mission and achieving its strategic goals in serving the people of Maryland. This report focuses on just a few highlights of the work of the Judicial Council and its committees during calendar year 2021. CONTENTS JudicialCouncilOverview......................... 1 MessagefromtheChiefJudge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2021JudicialCouncil............................3 2021JudicialCouncilCommittees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The Maryland Judiciary prepares for a post-COVID court system . . . . . . . . 5 Community Impact: Striving for equal justice during a pandemic . . . . . . . 9 Innovative approach: Finding creative ways toprovideservicessafely......................... 13 Meaningful access: Unexpected opportunities presented by the COVID-19pandemic............................17
PASSING THE GAVEL Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, 2013 – 2021 In 2021, I concluded my time as chief judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. I thank the many people who worked with me to help move justice forward in Maryland. We accomplished so much together, and we persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic with the Judiciary continuing to provide access to justice throughout. The future is bright for the Judiciary and it is certain that access to justice will continue to flourish and grow. I have full confidence that the positive changes we made will inspire all future chief judges to continue to move the justice forward in Maryland.
Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty, 2021 – 2022 In September 2021, I was humbled and honored to be appointed by Governor Larry Hogan as chief judge for the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Many of the Judiciary’s recent accomplishments are a direct reflection of the exceptional leadership portrayed by my predecessor then Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera. When the gavel was passed to me, I made the commitment to continue the push for excellence in service to justice for Maryland through all levels of the courts. Specifically, I appointed the Joint Subcommittee on Post-COVID Judicial Operations to analyze the current use of remote technology and other court innovations for possible continuation in judicial operations to provide the highest level of service within the Judiciary.
Chief Judge Matthew J. Fader, 2022 – The success of the Judiciary’s mission depends on the united efforts of everyone reading this, because we all play a crucial part in the Judiciary’s success. That has always been so, but it has never been more evident than over the past 28 months. Recent times have been challenging, to say the least. But, under the leadership of Chief Judges Barbera and Getty, we have collectively responded with countless innovations and adaptations that allowed the Judiciary to continue core operations during the pandemic while, at the same time, furthering our commitment to equal justice. As a result of those efforts, we are stronger and better positioned to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
2021 JUDICIAL COUNCIL
Honorable Mary Ellen Barbera, Chair (January – September 2021) Honorable Joseph M. Getty, Chair (September 2021 – April 2022) Honorable Keith A. Baynes Chair, Conference of Circuit Judges
Pamela Harris State Court Administrator Administrative Office of the Courts Honorable James A. Kenney III Chair, Senior Judges Committee Honorable Donine Carrington Martin Circuit Court for Charles County Honorable John P. Morrissey Chief Judge, District Court of Maryland Honorable Bonnie G. Schneider District Court in Cecil County Honorable Kathy P. Smith Vice-Chair, Conference of Circuit Court Clerks Circuit Court for Calvert County Mary K. Smith Administrative Clerk, Howard and Carroll Counties Roberta Warnken Chief Clerk, District Court of Maryland Honorable Alan Wilner (Ret.) Chair, Rules Committee Honorable Dorothy J. Wilson District Court in Baltimore County Burgess Wood Vice-Chair, Conference of Circuit Court Administrators Circuit Court for Calvert County
Circuit Court for Cecil County Honorable Pamila J. Brown
District Court in Howard County Honorable Audrey J.S. Carrión Vice-Chair, Conference of Circuit Judges Circuit Court for Baltimore City Honorable Karen Christy Holt Chesser District Court in St. Mary’s County Honorable Angela M. Eaves Circuit Court for Harford County Honorable Matthew J. Fader Chief Judge, Court of Special Appeals of Maryland Marina Fevola Chair, Conference of Circuit Court Administrators Circuit Court for Kent County Honorable Jeffrey S. Getty Circuit Court for Allegany County Markisha Gross Administrative Clerk, District Court in Calvert County Honorable Katherine Hager Chair, Conference of Circuit Court Clerks Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County
2021 COMMITTEES Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee Honorable Mimi Cooper, Chair Promote the use of appropriate dispute resolution processes throughout the courts. Provide an avenue for courts to vet changes to
Education Committee Honorable Susan H. Hazlett, Chair
Guide, promote, and encourage the education, training, and professional development of all judges and Judiciary employees. Equal Justice Committee Honorable Judge E. Greg Wells, Chair Ensure that judges and staff increase their knowledge and understanding of ethnic disparities, discrimination, and systemic racism, including implicit bias, micro-inequities, and micro-aggressions. Juvenile Law Committee Honorable Michael J. Stamm, Chair Provide guidance and recommendations regarding policies, rules, and legislation surrounding juvenile law, including juvenile justice and child welfare. Recommend policies, rules, and legislation that improve the effective administration of juvenile law. Legislative Committee Honorable Stacy A. Mayer, Chair Protect and promote the Judiciary’s interests regarding new laws and initiatives. Major Projects Committee Honorable John P. Morrissey, Co-Chair Pamela Q. Harris, Co-Chair Address policy-related matters regarding the implementation and ongoing operation of new and existing technology projects, as well as the establishment of priorities for the implementation of those projects. Senior Judges Committee Honorable James A. Kenney III (Ret.), Chair Honorable Deborah S. Eyler (Ret.), Vice-Chair Advise the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the Judicial Council on matters relevant to retired/recalled judges. Specialty Courts and Dockets Committee Honorable Nicholas E. Rattal, Chair Honorable Mark S. Chandlee, Vice-Chair Promote and oversee the development, implementation, and evaluation of specialty courts and dockets in the courts.
ADR rules and standards of conduct. Court Access and Community Relations Committee Honorable Pamela J. White, Chair
Address barriers to access to the courts and legal services in Maryland. Strengthen public awareness of the Judiciary’s programs, projects, services, and initiatives. Promote knowledge and understanding of the Judiciary. Court Operations Committee Honorable Glenn L. Klavans, Chair Address matters related to the efficient operations of the courts. Assist in the development of consistent statewide operations, policies, and best practices. Court Technology Committee Honorable Fred S. Hecker, Chair Honorable Margaret M. Schweitzer, Vice-Chair
Ensure the technology operations of the Judiciary are efficient and effective.
Provide advice and guidance regarding the implementation of technology and its impact on judicial operations and functions. District Court Chief Judge’s Committee Honorable John P. Morrissey, Chair Chief Judge, District Court of Maryland Advise the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals on the operation of the District Court. Aid the Chief Judge of the District Court in the administration, operation, and maintenance of the District Court statewide. Domestic Law Committee Honorable Cathy H. Serrette, Chair Provide guidance and direction regarding policies, rules, and legislation surrounding family domestic law, including domestic violence. Recommend policies, rules, and legislation that improve the effective administration of domestic law.
The Maryland Judiciary prepares for a post-COVID court system
Microsoft Teams, Zoom for Government video remote interpreting services, the continued expansion of Maryland Electronic Courts, and additional digital tools now make up a portion of the Maryland Judiciary’s post-COVID operation. Though innovation within the Maryland Judiciary is not new, the pandemic accelerated the courts’ adoption of technology within the courtroom. While the changes made during 2020 were unprecedented in pace and scale, 2021 provided judicial leadership with the opportunity to reflect on which applications will be filed away as effective short-term responses to a looming emergency and which ones are here to stay in a post-COVID court system.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maryland Judiciary implemented several short- and long-term solutions to ensure continued access to fair, efficient, and effective justice for all. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, courts throughout the state installed technology that allowed them to remain operational throughout the entirety of the public health emergency. “The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic offer a framework for the modern Judiciary that increases the use of technology for efficient court proceedings and increased access to justice during unprecedented times,” said then Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty, Court of Appeals of Maryland. “Our courts adopted remote technology to continue the high level of service we all expect. I believe that it is incumbent upon us to take the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and evaluate what innovations, novel uses of technology, or other techniques adapted to meet these challenges may be incorporated as best practices throughout the Maryland Judiciary for the foreseeable future.” Then Chief Judge Getty convened the Joint Subcommittee on Post-COVID Judicial Operations to collect feedback on the most effective emergency measures implemented during the pandemic and form recommendations for the continued use of those initiatives moving forward.
The subcommittee held two successful listening sessions in December. Judiciary employees, members of the bar, and the public provided feedback and suggestions on which innovations, technology, and changes the Judiciary adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic should be implemented moving forward. Both listening sessions were moderated by then Chief Judge Matthew Fader, Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, who also serves as chair of the subcommittee. Programs developed during the reduction in court operations to
“We are proud of the efforts made during the pandemic to continue to provide access to justice,” said Chief Judge Fader. “Feedback from inside and outside the Judiciary has helped to inform the Joint Subcommittee on Post-COVID Judicial Operations on ways to improve the delivery of technology for the courts and those whom it serves. Many of the innovations adopted to meet the moment have the potential to further increase
access to justice and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations.”
provide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services in a remote environment are still being utilized today. The statewide Pre-trial Remote ADR Program and the Pre- trial Remote Peace Order ADR program now piloting in Montgomery County are two notable programs that emerged during the reduction in court operations. “The Maryland Judiciary has learned the value of remote technology within the court system and intends to apply the lessons we have learned to future practices and procedures moving forward,” said State Court Administrator Pamela Harris. “I commend the administrative and associate judges, court leadership, and staff members who have been extraordinarily dedicated to continuing operations.”
The Court Access and Community Relations Committee continued to develop innovative self-help services and resources to provide meaningful access to justice for all court users, regardless of circumstances. Because the accessibility of justice goes well beyond an internet connection or a Zoom link, the Judicial Council’s Equal Justice Committee (EJC) continues to identify and address discriminatory
“Maryland Court Help Center services are a critical function of our state’s civil justice system,” said District Court Chief Judge John P. Morrissey. “In fiscal year 2021, Maryland Court Help Centers provided more than 147,000 instances of service in civil matters to litigants without counsel and, in its first six months, the new District Court Help Center in Rockville served more than 1,700 litigants without counsel.”
impacts in all aspects of the Judiciary’s functions. The global health pandemic provided the Maryland Judiciary with further insight into the inequality within the criminal justice system. As a result, Judiciary leadership continues to engage with the community it serves. Throughout the summer and fall of 2021, the Judicial Council’s Equal Justice Committee hosted virtual listening sessions to obtain public feedback on Maryland rules. During summer 2021, the EJC’s Rules Review Subcommittee held 12 virtual listening sessions ranging in topics from domestic violence and protective orders to juvenile delinquency and Child in Need of Assistance proceedings.
Community impact: Striving for equal justice during a pandemic
A legal professional, in deep thought, gazes into a computer screen filled with squares of various names and dimly lit faces while attending a landlord/tenant listening session hosted by the Maryland Judiciary’s Equal Justice Committee (EJC) Rules Review Subcommittee. It may still feel awkward, but a virtual meeting is the new normal. A town hall or community forum looked immensely different two years ago, but this is how communities gathered during the global health pandemic.
At this point, in a virtual setting some people prefer the camera on or camera off. Societal norms ensure microphones are muted when people are not speaking, unmuted to talk, and background distractions are limited. The last two years brought great uncertainty but were also filled with opportunities to learn more about each other: how people communicate, how tech savvy someone is, and how implicit bias affects how people perceive others.
After the formulation of six subcommittees within the EJC, the race was on to implement programs and initiatives to create change throughout the Judiciary. One of the first action items was conducting listening sessions for the public and justice partners on possible bias in the Maryland Rules and when rules are applied with discriminatory or unfair consequences. During the months of June and July 2021, the EJC’s Rules Review Subcommittee held 12 virtual listening sessions covering topics such as but not limited to:
“In the wake of national protests for racial justice around the country in 2020, [then] Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera created the 40-member Equal Justice Committee comprised of members throughout the Judiciary,” said Equal Justice Committee Chair and Court of Special Appeals Judge E. Greg Wells in a recorded video on the EJC web page. He added, “there is an energy within this committee that continues to push the needle forward and deliver results based on community interaction and feedback. One of the best things we can do to make a difference within the Judiciary is listen.” His closing statement in the EJC video says it best, “This work is ongoing, but each of our members are dedicated to fulfilling the Judiciary’s mission of fair, efficient, and effective justice for all.”
domestic violence and protective orders, criminal procedure, divorce, guardianship, and juvenile delinquency and Child in Need of Assistance. In total, over 350 people participated in these listening sessions providing pivotal feedback as to how the Rules of Practice and Procedure can be revised to avoid implicit bias. To participate in these listening sessions, members of the public were required to preregister and were given the opportunity to request spoken language interpreters and auxiliary services. “It is critical to make sure that the Rules of Practice and Procedure operate fairly for everyone who encounters our justice system,” said Rules Review Subcommittee Chair and Court of Special Appeals Judge Daniel Friedman. “It was eye-opening to hear subtle and often unintended ways that the Rules reflect or perpetuate unfair biases and to study the ways that our justice partners and community members suggest improving the Rules to insure fair treatment for everybody.” Listening sessions were only the beginning of the EJC’s ongoing effort to engage with the public. The Community Outreach Subcommittee planned community forums across Maryland by working collaboratively with local community partner organizations. Those organizations helped identify specific forum topics, assisted in
developing questions for panelists, and promoted participation in their respective communities. Each 90-minute forum featured a moderator
who presented questions to the
panelists. Registered attendees submitted additional questions for the panelists by using a Q & A feature on the Zoom webinar platform. During each forum, the audience also received relevant resource information and links to helpful websites. “The purpose of the forums is to increase awareness about the role of the Judiciary, its services and programs. Our goal is also to understand the community’s concerns and the ways in which the courts can provide better service,” said Judge Vicki Ballou- Watts, Circuit Court for Baltimore County, and Community Outreach Subcommittee Chair. At the conclusion of each forum, registered attendees received a survey with a request to provide feedback about the forum, the topic and any related matters. On July 15, the first community forum was held in Montgomery County. The topic was juvenile justice and featured Circuit Court for Montgomery County judges Bibi Berry and Karla Smith as well as Reverend Timothy B. Warner, and justice partner representatives from the local state’s attorney, public defender and Department of Juvenile Services offices. The panelists discussed some of the challenges that exist when juveniles are charged, placed on probation, or committed to a juvenile facility. They also addressed concerns regarding differences in treatment for minority youth in juvenile delinquency cases. In addition, the panelists described community-based programs and services available to youth, including diversion programs that allow a juvenile to avoid formal charges. Monica McQueen, president of Conversations That Matter, served as moderator. The Racial Justice Coalition, an umbrella of Montgomery County-based churches, and Conversations That Matter served as the community partners. On October 28, the EJC’s Community Outreach Subcommittee hosted a Baltimore County forum on “Sentencing Alternatives for Defendants with Significant Drug and/ or Alcohol Disorders.” The Baltimore County Alumnae Chapter (BCAC) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Morning Star Baptist Church served as community partners with BCAC President Monique Cephas and Bishop Dwayne Debnam participating on behalf of their respective organizations. Attorney Kimberly Robinson moderated the panel discussion which focused on the connection between drug addiction, alcoholism, mental health issues, and the criminal justice system. Judges and justice partners participate in Baltimore County forum in fall 2021.
Baltimore County Department of Corrections Deputy Director Renard Brooks shared statistics on the number of inmates who require detoxification services. He also described treatment and re-entry services available to inmates as they transition back into the community. Judge Nancy Purpura, Circuit Court for Baltimore County, and Judge Kimberly Thomas, District Court in Baltimore County, the presiding judges for Baltimore County’s respective adult drug court programs, explained the main features of these specialty court programs which offer a collaborative approach between agencies, intensive supervision and treatment, wrap around services and a system of incentives and sanctions.
State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger and District Public Defender James Dills discussed some of the challenges in prosecuting and defending cases involving defendants with significant substance abuse and/or mental health disorders. They both expressed the need for additional resources and alternatives to sentencing where appropriate. During the Baltimore County forum, panelists were asked about efforts to ensure equitable treatment. “The Equal Justice Committee is looking at all aspects of equitable treatment,” said Judge Ballou-Watts. “That includes reviewing internal court operations, looking at sentencing laws such as mandatory minimum sentences, revisiting judicial philosophies, and re-evaluating the training judges receive to determine if more can be done to address implicit bias and other concerns that lead to inequitable results.” The subcommittee held its final forum for the 2021 calendar year in Anne Arundel County on November 18. The topic was “Sentencing in Criminal Cases.” The Anne Arundel County NAACP was the community partner organization and Reverend Stephen Andrew Tillett served as the forum moderator. Panelists included Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County judges Elizabeth Morris and Glenn Klavans, Judge Sidney Butcher, District Court in Anne Arundel County, Clerk of Circuit Court Scott Poyer, executive director of the Maryland State Commission on Sentencing Policy David Soulé, State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, District Public Defender Elizabeth Palan, Attorney Daryl Jones, and Director of American University’s Diversity and Inclusion School of Public Affairs, Dr. Kareem Jordan. Factors in determining sentences, the use of Maryland Sentencing Guidelines, concerns about sentencing disparities and the role of the prosecutor and defense counsel were discussed. In 2022, more community forums are planned beginning with Prince George’s County on “Guardianship, Youth in Care and Services for People in Need.” Additional forums on bail reform, substance abuse treatment and other requested topics are planned for jurisdictions across the state.
Innovative approach: Finding creative ways to provide services safely
The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee worked with the Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO) and the District Court ADR Office to approach the challenges of the past year as opportunities to bring quality dispute resolution services to more people, in new ways. Circuit court ADR program managers across the state met monthly with MACRO to support the continued delivery of services through both remote and in-person mediation.
In 2021, alternative ways of conducting mediation continued to emerge to address the changing circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic, including the shift to remote ADR, and in many cases, hybrid remote and in-person ADR services and programs. The District Court ADR Office fully pivoted its day-of-trial ADR programs to provide pre-trial remote mediation on Zoom for Government and began preparation for resumption of in-person ADR services. The Court of Special Appeals’ ADR Division continued to conduct mediations using methods and procedures developed and adopted during the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Most of the mediations from October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, were conducted remotely.
As emerging technology
and the need for remote mediation accelerated, so did the need for additional training. In response to the increased need, the ADR Committee staff, in partnership with additional Maryland Judiciary ADR office staff, presented trainings and workshops on topics such as mediator ethics, adult guardianship mediation, and the role of the new parenting
“Researching alternatives and finding solutions is what this committee does best,” said Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Chair and District Court in Harford County Judge Mimi Cooper. “During these challenging times, we accepted the opportunity of finding new ways of conducting mediation through the use of remote technology. Many of these adjustments proved to be valuable logistically and for practical purposes.”
plan rule and tool in mediation. A dedicated section of the MACRO web page for online mediation resources, including recordings of the Navigating ADR Online webinars. The District Court ADR Office conducted training and follow-up assessment sessions for ADR practitioners to assure that they were competent to conduct high- quality ADR processes on the remote platform, hosting 18 pre-trial remote ADR program orientations and 77 practice sessions in 2021. The office also fielded 1,906
phone calls between January and October 2021, and 1,645 e-mails inquiring about ADR services between August 2020 and October 2021. In January 2021, a new four-part video series on mediation was developed by the Access to Justice Department and MACRO, then approved by the ADR Committee. MACRO also launched new online ADR evaluation survey tools for both circuit and the District Court that provide a user-friendly method for collecting data about the outcomes and participant satisfaction for both online and in-person mediation. MACRO worked with Judicial Information Systems to implement a new MDEC ADR tab for ADR case management and data collection. Additionally, the ADR in the Rules Subcommittee drafted proposed new rules to provide for a centralized online circuit court ADR practitioner application process.
At the suggestion of ADR Subcommittee member Judge Eric John Nee, District Court in Montgomery County, and with the support of Administrative Judge Sherri D. Koch, District Court in Montgomery County, the ADR Office initiated a
“We are pleased the pilot was successful and benefited all parties involved,” said Judge Eric John Nee. “There is flexibility in scheduling these mediations as well as choosing what rules will be applied with this program.” Administrative Judge Koch noted, “It was a win-win for all involved and for us to implement the pilot.” She continued, “We were happy to take on the pilot program and it has proven its worth.”
Pre-trial Remote Peace Order Mediation Pilot Program for Montgomery County, to provide participating parties with an opportunity to resolve the conflict underlying peace orders.
The ADR Office trained 14 peace order roster mediators from all over Maryland to mediate the Montgomery County cases remotely. An apprentice process was also introduced by the office that included observations and post-session debriefs to ensure mediators were skilled and comfortable enough to mediate high-conflict disputes virtually. The program began on January 20, 2021, and within the year, 38 cases were referred, 28 of which participated in mediation and 19 reached an agreement for a 68% settlement rate. Another specialty docket pre-trial ADR program emerged from the pandemic to address illegal lock-out cases in the Pre-trial Mediation Housing Program for Baltimore City. The program was developed in a collaborative partnership between the District Court in Baltimore City, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Baltimore Community Mediation Center, and the District Court ADR Office. Since program inception in the first quarter of 2021, 38 cases have been referred into the program and in three of the four mediations conducted, landlords and tenants resolved the underlying issues surrounding the illegal lock-out. New processes and innovations had already begun to take place prior to 2021 and the ADR Committee capitalized on the opportunity to provide creative ways to provide alternative dispute resolution services. The extensive accessibility of video conferencing has the potential to transform court services.
Meaningful access: unexpected opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic
While the COVID-19 pandemic brought hardship, it also resulted in a few unexpected opportunities. The increased use of technology in the court system has proven to be a vital tool in providing access to justice for all.
“There should be no avoidable limit to court access when providing resources for litigants to equitably navigate the legal system,” said former Court Access and Community Relations Committee Chair and Circuit Court for Baltimore City Judge Pamela J. White. “Our amazing committee is staffed by a group of dedicated professionals who contribute to the charge of addressing barriers to access to the courts and legal services. When the use of technology connects more litigants to resources for fair access, then we must continue this service to the community.”
As a result of measures taken during the pandemic, courts now have greater access to approved interpreters in a wide variety of languages through remote technology. With the use of video remote interpreting, the Maryland Judiciary can access a global network of court-certified interpreters through the National Center for State Courts. Maryland interpreters can serve in rural jurisdictions without having to travel, saving the Judiciary resources by avoiding travel time and mileage expenses.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, extensive training was provided to registry interpreters for the use of the interpretation feature on the remote hearing platform. The Court Interpreter Program staff initiated an effort to support the use of interpreters in remote proceedings in spring 2021 and the team continues to offer weekly hands-on trainings for interpreters, including all staff interpreters. In 2021, the training has expanded to permit interpreters to practice their team interpreting skills using remote technology in a mock trial setting. The Maryland Judiciary made a grant in 2021 to the legal nonprofit Ayuda to provide interpreter and translation services to civil legal aid organizations in Maryland, as needed, to facilitate attorney-client communications. Ayuda’s Interpreter Bank already provides paid interpreter services to the civil legal aid community in Washington, D.C. Through its 2021 Access to Justice Grant, Ayuda began offering those services to legal aid providers in Montgomery County, Maryland. During 2021, Ayuda provided interpreters for 89 assignments, with most services being provided
remotely. Additionally, they handled 45 translation projects for civil legal aid organizations. These services have since expanded to Prince George’s County. Together with the Access to Justice department of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Court Access and Community Relations Committee implemented the development of a broad array of self-help services and resources that are useful and accessible to court users. Access to Justice created the first grant for the Maryland Justice Passport, a digital portfolio of information to assist Marylanders seeking legal help, during fiscal year 2020. According to Civil Justice, 443 passports were created in the 12 months between December 2020, and November 2021.
Maryland Court Help Centers also played a pivotal role in providing access to justice during the pandemic by providing 147,332 instances of services during fiscal year 2021. Of that, 99,367 were remote services and 47,965 were walk- in. Additionally, 44 new or revised titles were added to the Maryland Court Help Center Library.
“I am continually impressed with the quality and quantity of digital resources such as video series to assist targeted audiences with specific legal needs from this committee,” said current Court Access and Community Relations Committee Chair and Circuit Court for Washington County Judge Brett R. Wilson. “If there is an opportunity to educate or inform a litigant on a particular topic, we address it.”
2021 Judicial Council
Members of the 2021 Judicial Council met in July 2021. Pictured (back row, from left to right): Judge Jeffrey Getty, Markisha Gross, Roberta Warnken, Judge Dorothy Wilson, Judge Angela Eaves, Kathy P. Smith, Judge Karen Christy Holt Chesser, Faye Gaskin, Burgess Wood. (front row, from left to right): Judge Bonnie Schneider, Judge Donine Carrington Martin, Judge James Kenney, Chief Judge Morrissey, Chief Judge Barbera, Judge Keith Baynes, Pamela Harris, Marina Fevola, Katherine Hager.
QUICK LINKS EQUAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE INFORMATION mdcourts.gov/equaljustice/committee MEDIATION AND ADR mdcourts.gov/legalhelp/mediationadr COURT HELP VIDEOS mdcourts.gov/reference/videolibrary LANGUAGE SERVICES mdcourts.gov/languageservices
MARYLAND COURT HELP CENTERS mdcourts.gov/helpcenter
Maryland Judicial Center 187 Harry S. Truman Parkway Annapolis, MD 21401 410-260-1488
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