|Location:||Montgomery County Circuit Court
North Tower 1st floor, Rm 1280
|Hours of Operation:||8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.|
Handling each case properly and expeditiously is not only important to the parties involved in the case, but also it is crucial for the efficient operation at Montgomery County Circuit Court, which experienced over 30,000 filings of cases in fiscal year 2006. To this end, the court’s Assignment Office plays one of the critical functions of the court: scheduling hearings, trials and special event dates for the Judges and Family Division Masters of the court, maintaining the schedules up-to-date, and ensuring that these events are scheduled in accordance with the court’s Differentiated Case Management Plans.
- What We Do
- Who We Are
- Assignment Office Responsibilities:
- Criminal Indictments/Informations
- Criminal Jury Demands and Appeals
- Civil Trial Assignment/Special Assignments
- Civil Motions
- Family Cases
- Juvenile Cases
- Bench Warrants
- Data Entry
- Daily Docket and Delivery of Court Files
- Differentiated Case Management (DCM)
- Quality Control
- Assignment Office Frequently Asked Questions
The Assignment Office’s main responsibility is to maintain and coordinate all scheduled court events for the Judges and Family Division Masters. The scheduling of trials, motions, and DCM events are coordinated through this office. Any change to an event – the date, time, estimated duration, courtroom, or judge assignment – must also be handled through the Assignment Office.
The Assignment Office is also responsible for maintaining courtroom assignments, locating and retrieving court files, and ensuring that each court file is reviewed and delivered to the judges’ chambers. Once scheduled events have been completed, the Assignment Office enters the information of the events into the Court’s computer system, which would define what event took place in the courtroom.
The Assignment Office consists of the Assignment Commissioner, Office Manager, and 12 staff. The Assignment Commissioner supervises the overall operation of the office, including the assignment of trials to the judges; coordination of all scheduled court dates with judges on specially assigned matters, as well as approving, scheduling, and coordinating all other court calendars maintained by the Assignment Office; and the re-assignment and transfer of court cases from one courtroom to another.
When a criminal case is filed, its trial date and other scheduled events are scheduled according to the Criminal Differentiated Case Management Plan. Through close communication with judges, courtroom clerks, and the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Assignment Office coordinates necessary changes in the court’s calendar assignments and maintains up-to-date information for all matters, including sentencings, violations of probation (VOP), pleas, video bond hearings, and other special criminal hearings.
Criminal cases that originated in the District Court are transferred to the Circuit Court when a jury trial is requested or the case is appealed. Jury Demands made in open court at the District Court are heard by the Circuit Court on the same day the jury demand was requested. To schedule Criminal District Court Appeals and other miscellaneous criminal cases that originated from the District Court, the Assignment Office maintains the court’s calendar called the Pre-Trial Docket. The Pre-Trial Docket is scheduled at 9:00 a.m. every Friday. Criminal cases not resolved at the Pre-Trial Docket are provided a trial date. These cases are scheduled for trial at 8:30 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
Scheduling of sentence review panels and en banc hearings (hearings which three judges preside over and participate in the decision) are also handled by the Assignment Office.
Civil trials are scheduled in accordance with the Civil Differentiated Case Management Plan at a settlement/pre-trial conference (Tracks 3, 4, 5 and 6) or status/pre-trial conference (Track 2). The court case must be ready for trial and a Joint Pre-Trial Statement must be filed. A trial date will be cleared with the attorneys and/or parties in the courtroom and will not be changed without further order of court. Administrative Appeals, District Court Appeals (on the record), and any specially assigned civil trials are assigned to judges on a rotation basis and are scheduled in accordance with the Maryland Rules of Procedure.
When a request for hearing is filed with a motion in a civil case in Tracks 0, 2, or 3 of the Civil Differentiated Case Management Plan, the request is referred to the Assignment Office to schedule the hearing. Motions are scheduled for hearing on the half-hour motions calendar. One judge is assigned to this calendar assignment each week. Eighteen half-hour motions are scheduled per day. Long motions (not to exceed two hours) are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and one-hour motions are scheduled on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Under the Family Differentiated Case Management Plan, the Assignment Office retrieves, reviews, schedules and oversees all the schedules for family cases, as well as is in charge of updating and maintaining the calendars of the Family Division Judges and Masters. In addition, the Assignment Office handles Exceptions, Family Motions Calendar and Adoptions.
The Assignment Office oversees the scheduling of juvenile matters by coordinating schedules and dates with the Juvenile Judges, Juvenile Division of the Clerk's Office, Juvenile Case Managers, State's Attorney's Office, Public Defender's Office, County Attorney's Office and related departments that provide juvenile services.
Following the guidelines of the Juvenile Differentiated Case Management Plan, a series of orders and scheduling orders for a juvenile case is automatically scheduled as soon as the case information is entered in the court’s database by the Juvenile Division of the Clerk's Office or the Assignment Office. The hearings scheduled include, but are not limited to, preliminary inquiries, pre-trial hearings, adjudicatory hearings, dispositions, permanency placement hearings, peace orders, adoptions, detention hearings, emergency hearings for delinquent and CINA cases, restitution hearings, review hearings, violations of probation, waivers to adult court, shelter care hearings, and termination of parental rights.
Upon receiving bench warrant returns (for failure to appear) from the Sheriff's Office, the Assignment Office locates the court file, determines what matters need to be rescheduled for hearing, and attaches an information slip indicating necessary court actions for the Duty Judge’s consideration. Bench warrants are presided over by the Duty Judge each day at 1:30 p.m. If there are any bench warrants/body attachments returnable to individual judges only, the judge can direct the Assignment Office to send the defendant to the duty judge with instructions as to bond, or schedule the bench warrant/body attachment hearing before himself/herself for that same day.
The Assignment Office is responsible for generating the docket sheets for both the judges and the masters. The docket sheets contain all relevant information regarding the scheduled events, i.e. case number, names of parties, event(s) scheduled, start time, event time estimate, etc. These docket sheets are delivered to the judges’ and masters’ chambers and are also distributed to other pertinent departments.
The Assignment Office locates all files for the assigned trial calendars, reviews each file to establish that the matter is still pending, and delivers the files to the judge’s chambers. In addition, transcripts and/or exhibits will be retrieved from the reproduction room, attached to the court files if such documents are requested, and delivered to the judge’s chambers the day before the scheduled event(s).
The Assignment Office maintains all the Differentiated Case Management (DCM) scheduled events. These events include Civil Track 2 status/pre-trials, Civil Tracks 3, 4, 5 and 6 scheduling conferences and settlement/pre-trial conferences. The Assignment Office also updates any changes in discovery and motions cut-off dates. All files pertaining to these events will be obtained, reviewed, and delivered to the assigned judge by the Assignment Office.
The Assignment Office works closely with the Quality Control Department to monitor all court cases filed with the Circuit Court. All data entry is reviewed for accuracy and verified to ensure that all relevant information, such as court dates, deadlines, dispositions and event postings, is entered into the court’s database in accordance with the existing court’s policies and procedures. This work also involves constant coordination with other courthouse departments. Any data problems or discrepancies are researched and corrected to ensure the integrity of all case data.
- How can I obtain the telephone number for a specific department or individual within the Circuit Court?
- What information do I need to have available for the Assignment Office Staff to assist me?
- How do I find out which judge is handling emergency matters?
- How do I get a motion scheduled?
- How is the scheduling of complex cases – cases in Track 4 Criminal, Civil, Business & Technology and ASTAR (Complex Science/Medicine) - arranged?
- How is a trial date scheduled?
- How do I find out the name of the judge assigned to hear a particular case?
- What do I need to do when my case is not assigned to a judge and is put on the “to be assigned” calendar?
- If I am unavailable to attend a scheduled hearing or trial date, what do I do to get it postponed?
- What types of papers can be faxed to the Assignment Office?
These inquiries should be directed to the Information Desk (240-777-9415).
To expedite our service to you, please have the case number and the name of the case accessible when contacting the Assignment Office. The case number is usually 4 to 6 digit numbers and is followed by a D (District Court Appeal), C (Criminal), V (Civil), and FL (Family Law). Please note that juvenile matters are confidential and access to juvenile case information is limited.
Please contact the Assignment Office at (240) 777-9000 to find out which judge has been assigned to regular duty and family duty. Judges rotate weekly on these assignments. The Regular Duty Judge handles emergency matters that pertain to civil and criminal matters. The Family Duty Judge handles matters that pertain to family cases only.
To have a motion scheduled for a hearing, all parties must file their motions prior to the Motions Filing Deadline date. However, not all motions are scheduled for hearings. Many of the discovery motions are sent to the Court’s Special Master to determine whether a hearing is necessary under the rules. When a motion is determined to be appropriate for a hearing, the hearing will be scheduled by the Assignment Office after the appropriate response time is due (normally 18 days after the motion is filed), and a hearing scheduling notice will be mailed to the parties. Motions are scheduled for one-half hour and are scheduled before the presiding Motions Judge for the week. Motions hearings may be scheduled for matters that are anticipated to take longer than one-half hour, if the parties request additional time in writing. Please note that in Criminal Jury Demand and Appeal cases (Track 1), all motions are scheduled to be heard on the day of trial. In Criminal Indictment and Information cases (Tracks 2, 3, & 4), the motions will be scheduled at the Rule 4-215/Scheduling Hearing.
Complex cases are automatically assigned on a rotating basis to the judges sitting in the Criminal, Civil, Business & Technology and ASTAR rotations. An original scheduling order is produced setting the track guidelines. The assigned judge’s staff schedules all necessary events directly with the parties and/or counsel and notifies the Assignment Office of all scheduled events for posting in the Court’s system.
Criminal, civil, and family cases are assigned to the appropriate Differentiated Case Management (DCM) track at the filing of the case. Tracks are determined by the parties and are based on the complexity of the issues and the amount of trial time needed. Based on the DCM guidelines, each case is assigned a scheduling hearing, status hearing and/or settlement/pre-trial. In Criminal cases, a Track 4 designation must be approved by the Administrative Judge. Depending on the issues and the case type, the judge or family division master will distribute scheduling orders that schedule deadlines for discovery, motions and pre-trial statements to be filed.
Criminal Jury Demands and Appeals (Track 1) are assigned a trial date at the Pre-Trial hearing. Criminal Indictments and Informations (Tracks 2, 3, & 4) are assigned a trial date at the Rule 4-215/Scheduling hearing. A formal motion for postponement is required to postpone the trial date.
Civil Trial dates (Tracks 2 and 3) are scheduled at the status hearing or settlement/pre-trial hearing. The trial dates are normally scheduled within 60 to 90 days from the scheduled hearing.
Family Trials or hearings are normally scheduled at the scheduling hearing or settlement/status pre-trial hearing held before one of the Family Division Masters of the Circuit Court.
Juvenile Hearings are scheduled automatically at the time of filing. Dates may be adjusted within the mandatory guidelines at the pre-trial hearing. The Administrative Judge must make a Finding of Extraordinary Cause to postpone a hearing beyond the mandatory guidelines.
Other cases that are not on a scheduling track will be sent to the Assignment Office for scheduling when all parties have filed an answer (written response to the original filing). Time estimates will be confirmed, when possible, and the case will be scheduled for the next available date on the court’s calendar. A notification of trial/hearing will be mailed to all parties.
Call the Assignment Office at (240) 777-9000 after 3:00 p.m. the day before the scheduled trial/event date or go to the Maryland Judiciary’s on-line case search at http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/.
Please keep in mind that the case assignment schedule can change at anytime. When you arrive at the courthouse, check the case assignment monitors located on the Lobby Level before proceeding to the courtroom.
It may be necessary for some cases to be placed on the TBA (to be assigned) calendar when a full load of cases has already been assigned to the available trial judges or when trials have been carried over from the previous day.
Parties assigned to the TBA calendar should report directly to the Assignment Office, North Tower 1st floor, room 1003, in the Circuit Court. Every consideration will be given to assign the case in an expeditious manner.
A written motion to postpone, with the reason(s) listed, must be filed prior to the actual hearing or trial date, and parties must follow up with the ruling of the motion. For additional information regarding Criminal and Civil motions for postponement, please refer to the Criminal and Civil Motions for Postponement Procedures. ()
Civil Motions, District Court Appeals, Uncontested Divorces, and various other court events may be moved one time by a letter of agreement of all parties. Call the Assignment Office at (240) 777-9000 for more information on this procedure.
Lines and letters of agreement to move scheduled hearing dates or to inform the Court of settlements may be faxed to the Assignment Office for reference information only. These documents must be followed up with the original filing(s) sent to the Clerk of the Court or the Assignment Office before the matter is actually rescheduled. The fax number for the Assignment Office is (240) 777-9017.
50 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM