Circuit Court for Garrett County
Circuit Court for Washington County
Circuit Court for Allegany County
Fourth Circuit - Allegany, Garrett, Washington
• After the Maryland Judiciary moved into Phase V of its five-phased progressive resumption of operations plan, the Circuit Court for Allegany County conducted its first pandemic-era jury trial of 2021 in early May with a modified jury selection process. If the jury pool was 50 jurors or less, voir dire was conducted in the courthouse while still safely distancing jurors. To keep the number of people in the courtroom to a minimum, when jurors were excused or stricken for cause, they were directed to leave the courthouse. If the jury pool was larger than 50, the court used the Masonic Lodge, which is located near the courthouse, and can accommodate up to 100 jurors safely distanced. Holding jury selection on a separate day from the trial also allowed the case to start at the beginning of the court day, which worked well and is something the court will most likely continue. • Circuit Court for Washington County Juvenile Court was chosen as one of four juvenile courts in the United States to receive focused expert assistance to tackle the more difficult challenges those involved with juvenile justice courts face, from communities mired in crime and poverty to those facing systemic racism and housing insecurity. This project will provide the Washington County Juvenile Court with the expertise to analyze and tackle potential system reform in juvenile justice cases, work toward best practices,
and, hopefully, address racial equity issues, gang interdiction, and enhance family engagement. The main project is anticipated to be completed in late 2022. The collaboration with National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), however, will continue to meet informally thereafter, and perhaps would involve Washington County becoming a demonstration site. • The Circuit Court for Washington County Law Library was renovated to provide a secure office space for court staff. The space was previously a large, open room where staff cubicles intermingled with the library. The renovation created a separate office space for staff, added a mother’s lactation room, and made half of the area the Law Library and Court Help Center. By renovating and reorganizing this space, the court is able to provide a more accessible Law Library for self-represented litigants. The Guide and File system will be added to the public kiosks to assist self- represented litigants in completing court forms and Court- TV will be installed as an additional resource for individuals visiting the law library. • The Family Law Clinic in Washington County, currently open one day per week, was also moved to this area for additional resources to be made available to self-represented litigants meeting with the clinic attorney.
14 | Maryland Judiciary
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