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News & Press: From the Courts

Emergency Order and Notice from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court Re Coronavirus

Sunday, March 15, 2020  
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Emergency Order and Notice from the 
Maine Supreme Judicial Court 
Courthouse Safety and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
March 13, 2020

In light of public health concerns arising from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Maine's Judicial Branch is taking steps to adhere to the guidance provided by the Maine and United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Persons identified as being infected by COVID-19, having had contact with those infected by COVID-19, or having visited areas identified as problematic due to the prevalence of COVID-19 should not come to Maine's courthouses.
 
The Judicial Branch is monitoring and managing the number of people in each courthouse in order to reduce the likelihood of the spread of COVID-19.  That will affect the scheduling and hearing of cases and the number of jurors called into courthouses. 
 
The courthouses of Maine remain open to the public.  If you have questions about whether you should go to a courthouse, please call the clerk of court at that location to have your questions answered.  All court phone numbers can be found on the Judicial Branch website here.
 
CANCELLATIONS AND POSTPONEMENTS

Effective immediately, and continuing through May 1, 2020, with the exception of the events listed below, all in-person court events for family, civil, and criminal dockets are postponed.[1]  The courts will schedule and hear only the following:
    • Arraignments and first appearances of defendants held in custody
    • Motions for review of bail
    • Juvenile detention hearings
    • Protection from Abuse requests and hearings
    • Protection from Harassment requests and hearings
    • Child Protection petitions and hearings
    • Mental health requests and hearings
    • Hearings granted on motion
This means that no criminal or civil jury trials will be heard in the Maine State Courts until after May 1, 2020, unless otherwise ordered by the court.  No grand jury proceedings  will be held.  All previously-scheduled cases are postponed. Any trials in progress may be completed.
 
If a party or the party's attorney contends that there are urgent and compelling reasons that the court should hold the party's criminal, civil, or family trial or hearing, the party or counsel shall immediately file a written motion, which must be served on the other party or parties, explaining why this particular case must be heard before May 1.  If any party objects to the motion, it must file its written opposition within three days after the motion is filed.  The court will rule on the motion expeditiously. 

JURORS AND JURY TRIALS

* JURORS: Please do not appear at the courthouse for jury duty. Except for trials that have already begun, all  report dates between Monday, March 16, 2020, and Friday, May 1, 2020, are cancelled.  Please check the Maine Judicial Branch website for any updates. If you have been chosen to serve on a jury, please call the courthouse before you appear.

* LITIGANTS: If your jury trial is now scheduled between March 16 and May 1, 2020, your trial will be rescheduled and you will receive notice of the new trial date.

Extension of the present cancellation period will be reviewed on an ongoing basis with notice provided to all parties. 
 
BOARDS, COMMITTEES, AND CLE

Effective immediately and until further order, all boards and committees established by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court are hereby authorized to conduct any and all meetings, conferences, and other activities by means of an electronic medium without in-person participation.

In addition, effective immediately and until further order, any in-person participation requirements for continuing legal education, including but not limited to the requirement in M. Bar. R. 5(c)(3), are hereby suspended and participation may be by an electronic medium.
 
ORAL ARGUMENTS IN THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT
 
All oral arguments scheduled for April 2020 before the Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, are hereby cancelled.  All appeals scheduled to be argued in April 2020 will be decided on the briefs.
 
If all parties to an appeal agree and assert that oral argument is necessary with respect to one of the cases previously scheduled for April oral arguments, the parties may jointly file a motion no later than March 20, 2020, requesting argument and concisely stating why argument is required. If the motion is granted, argument will be rescheduled in September 2020 or thereafter.
 
The Court will be monitoring events and providing updates with respect to the status of its calendar as to oral argument in May 2020 and thereafter. 
 
[1.] All in-person family mediations are postponed. Video mediations may occur.  You will be notified by the clerk.

Maine Bar Association 124 State St. Augusta, ME 04330