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State courts to limit trials, sessions through May 1

Mar 13, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Knox County Courthouse in Rockland.

Maine courts will remain open but the number of cases to be heard will be dramatically scaled back for the next two months.

No criminal or civil jury trials will be heard in the state courts until after May 1, the Maine Judiciary announced Friday, March 13. Grand jury sessions will also not be held.

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; and hearings granted on motions.

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 will have to 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.

The emergency order from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court Courthouse is 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 order states.

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