This notice is intended to address scheduling and postponement of criminal actions pending in the Circuit Court, as well as other procedures in criminal cases. It may be modified or supplemented in the future.
Fines and court costs are to be paid by 4:30 p.m. on the day of trial or disposition in the Office of the Clerk, unless extended for "good cause" by the original trial judge.
Ordinarily, Motions to Strike Appearance of defense counsel shall not be granted within the 14-day period before an assigned trial date unless accompanied by the entry of appearance of another attorney for the defendant. Counsel are reminded that, pursuant to Rule 4-214(d) the Court “may refuse leave to withdraw an appearance if it would unduly delay the trial of the action, would be prejudicial to any of the parties, or otherwise would not be in the interest of justice.”
Defense counsel who intend to pursue suppression motions shall contact the Assistant State’s Attorney handling the matter at the earliest possible time to arrange a mutually agreeable motions hearing date. Defense counsel shall not seek a separate motions hearing date unless they believe in good faith that there are grounds to pursue that relief. Motion’s hearings are set Monday through Thursday at 1:30 p.m. on the felony docket.
Non-Specially Assigned Criminal Cases
These include prayed jury trials and appeals from the District Court. Ordinarily, day-of-trial postponements will not be granted except for "good cause."
If either party wishes to request a postponement of an action that has been specially assigned to a particular judge, that party will be responsible for clearing a new date with that judge and with the Central Assignment Office and all witnesses in advance of appearing before the postponement judge for approval. All postponement requests in specially-assigned cases must be heard by the Lead Criminal Judge, Honorable Robert E. Cahill, Jr.
Designated plea judges will be available on an expedited basis before the day of trial to schedule guilty pleas in any case where the parties have reached an agreed plea. These will be known as “advanced plea hearings," which and will be set on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Counsel handling the matter can use the below contact information to schedule an advanced plea hearing, which will be set before a plea judge on an alternating basis. In appropriate cases, advanced plea hearing judges will approve joint requests to bind to a particular disposition, but such requests must be accompanied by a written record of the defendant’s juvenile and adult criminal histories.
Contested Juvenile Waiver
Contested juvenile waiver hearings will take place on specially assigned docket, scheduled for every other Friday, with a limit of three contested hearings per day.
Criminal dockets will have staggered time slots with cases scheduled at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
VOP bench warrants will be heard on the video bail docket on the next court day after pickup. If the defendant is released, the video bail judge will coordinate a VOP hearing date with the assigned judges’ chambers. If the defendant is not released, the video bail judge will advise the assigned judge so their chambers can schedule a hearing.
Regarding Criminal Misdemeanor Cases
The Circuit Court has experienced significantly increased docket demands associated with handling misdemeanor criminal matters. As a result, the misdemeanor dockets are often overloaded, resulting in trial delays. Additionally, the misdemeanor caseload has had a significant impact on the Circuit Court’s ability to process other cases, particularly civil and domestic trials. As a consequence, the Court has explored modifications in the criminal misdemeanor case processing. Learn more about the individual processes below.
District Court Appeals
District Court appeals will be handled as a separate docket rather than mixed in with other misdemeanor cases. These will be scheduled every other Friday and will typically be assigned to the judge designated to hear criminal case postponements on that day.
When an appeal is filed in the District Court:
- The file shall be immediately transferred to the Circuit Court.
- The Circuit Court Assignment Office will issue a scheduling notice setting the matter in for a de novo trial within 60 days.
- The notice will be mailed to counsel of record, if any, with a copy sent by regular mail to the Defendant at the address listed on the Notice of Appeal.
- Requests to postpone the de novo trial should be sent in advance of the scheduled date whenever feasible. Requests to postpone made on the date the appeal is scheduled will only be granted based upon a showing of "good cause," consistent with the Court’s criminal case postponement policy.
Prayers for Jury Trials
The Circuit Court handles Prayers for Jury Trials (PJTs) on the following trial day in the Circuit Court. Next day case processing places an enormous burden on the administrative and clerical staff in both the District and the Circuit courts. If the PJT is not heard the following day in the Circuit Court, the target timing for hearings is within 45 to 60 days from the date the case is transferred to the Circuit Court. When a jury trial is elected, the Defendant shall be served with a Summons that sets the date for the next Court appearance. The Defendant shall sign the summons to verify receipt of the hearing notice.
Whenever possible, follow the below process:
- PJTs should be identified at the beginning of the District Court docket to enable the District Court staff to transfer the essentials of the file to the Circuit Court.
- The District Court Clerk’s Office will notify the Circuit Court Criminal Department (as soon as practical) to the number of cases being transferred for the following morning docket, and shall scan and email the essential file materials to the Circuit Court, with the file to follow by courier.
- The Circuit Court Criminal Department Clerks prepare the file for processing.
- The State’s Attorney handling the docket will advise the presiding District Court judge whether the trial requires civilian witnesses for the State or the Defendant and the matter will be scheduled.
- The Defendant will be served with a summons to appear in the Circuit Court.
If a case with no civilian witnesses—The Defendant will be served with a Summons to appear in the Circuit Court at 9 a.m. on the next day court is in session, unless the Defendant is incarcerated and is not housed in the Baltimore County Detention Center (BCDC). PJTs being heard the following court day will be scheduled with other matters on the routine criminal docket. Any request to postpone a PJT set for the following Court date in the Circuit Court shall be filed in the Circuit Court or, in light of the short time frame, sent in writing to the Central Assignment Office prior to 4 p.m. Written requests to postpone cases set the next day only may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 410-583-7529. Timely requests for postponement will be ruled upon promptly by the Criminal Case Coordinating Judge, or in their absence, the Administrative Judge.
If the case involves civilian witnesses—The Defendant will be served with a Summons setting the case for hearing in the Circuit Court. Similarly, if the Defendant is incarcerated in some institution other than BCDC when the request for a jury trial is made, either on that case or on another matter, the Defendant will be served with a Summons setting the matter for trial in the Circuit Court.
If the Defendant is not represented by counsel—The Defendant will be served with a Summons to appear for Arraignment in the Circuit Court on the afternoon docket on the Monday following the jury trial election, or on the following Tuesday if the Monday is a Court holiday.
If the Defendant is represented by counsel—The Defendant will be served with a Summons to appear for a trial date set within 60 to 75 days.
- The PJT arraignments will be set at 1:30 p.m. on the weekly Criminal Administrative Docket. The State should be prepared to attempt to resolve cases at the arraignment docket, if feasible.
- If the case cannot be resolved, the Defendant will be re-advised of his right to counsel, and the matter will be scheduled for trial in approximately 60 days.
- The Defendant will be served with a trial Summons at arraignment. Any request to postpone should be made in advance of the trial date, whenever possible. Requests to postpone made on the date of trial will only be granted based upon a showing of "good cause," consistent with the Court’s criminal case postponement policy.
- If a jury trial is elected in advance of trial in the District Court, the matter will be set for hearing by the Circuit Court Criminal Assignment Clerk within 60 to 75 days of the date the file is received in the Circuit Court.
The target cap for misdemeanor dockets is 25 cases.
The Criminal Assignment Office shall maintain a PJTs docket calendar and shall coordinate efforts to cap the number of cases set through the District Court on the dockets at 20 to 22, anticipating that some cases will be added to dockets based upon “next day” PJT case assignment. The State’s Attorney’s Office will coordinate with the Criminal Assignment Office to prepare a schedule of presumptive trial dates for PJTs involving civilian witnesses. If the PJTs assigned to a Circuit Court docket significantly exceed the target cap, Criminal Assignment will consult with Assignment Director and the Administrative Judge to determine whether to create a second PJT docket for that day.
Examples of what constitutes “good cause” for day of trial include:
- Trial Date Conflict—The first case set takes precedence (See Chief Judge Robert C. Murphy’s Revised Administrative Order for Continuances for Conflicting Case Assignments or Legislative Duties effective May 15, 1995.) Documentation establishing a trial date conflict must be provided.
- Illness/Death—Serious illness of, or death in the family of, a party, counsel, or necessary witness
- Vacations—Vacations scheduled prior to any assigned trial date; Requests for postponement must be made within 10 calendar days of notification of scheduled event
- Counsel Has Another Scheduled Court Case—If counsel is scheduled for a matter before this court, but another trial in another court carries over to cause a conflict with the Baltimore County trial date
- No Notice of Hearing—A party did not receive notice of the hearing or trial, through no fault of the party or their counsel
- Facts or Circumstances Arising—Or becoming apparent too late in the proceedings to be corrected in advance of the hearing, and which, in the view of the Court, would likely cause undue hardship or a possible miscarriage of justice if the hearing or trial proceeded as scheduled
The following are generally not “good cause” examples for postponement:
- Vacations scheduled after establishing a trial or motion date
- Consent of the State and the defense with no substantive basis
- No previous requests for postponement
- Any matter known or which should have been known when the trial date became firm
- New counsel has entered an appearance or a party wishes to change counsel
- Plea negotiations ongoing
- Law enforcement “officer training”
- Discovery is incomplete or just provided
- Investigation ongoing
- Postponement requested to consolidate with a matter pending in the District Court as to which a jury trial may be prayed
- A party or counsel is unprepared to try to case for reasons including, but not limited to, the party’s failure to cooperate with or maintain necessary contact with counsel