When you receive a Maryland District Court summons, you should know that most of the time your case will appear on a court docket made up of similar cases. For example, if you are in court to sue your landlord for the return of your security deposit then you can probably expect to be in court with other people involved in landlord tenant cases. If you are in court as a defendant in a criminal case then you can expect to see other criminal cases heard that day along with yours. The same applies to traffic violations, parking tickets, law suits for money damages, peace orders, and so on.
In the busier jurisdictions the District Court Dockets can be quite large. In Baltimore or in the counties adjacent to the District of Columbia, it’s not uncommon to see daily District Court criminal dockets made up of 60 or more cases. And that’s just for one courtroom! Usually the bigger jurisdictions will have multiple courtrooms open for business at the same time. That means that getting to District Court in the morning can be a confusing experience. If you receive a Maryland District Court Summons then you should expect to be arriving for court with hundreds of other people. It’s best if you know ahead of time where you are going. Parking can be difficult and lots near your courthouse may fill up early on busy days. Be prepared. Ask your lawyer for advice on where you need to be and what to do about parking. Chances are your lawyer can help you.
It is important to keep in mind that District Court schedules are imprecise. Usually Maryland District Courts have two dockets each day: an AM docket and a PM docket. You’ll know which one your case is on by what time your summons says you need to be in court. Summonses for AM cases usually tell you to be to court by 8:30 AM; summonses PM cases usually specify 1:30 PM. The times on the summonses are little more than a guide to when you need to show up for court. If you are summonsed for 8:30 AM then you should expect that your case will be called sometime before lunch. If you are summonsed for 1:30 PM then you should expect your case to be called sometime before the close of business. District Courts are very busy places where most people spend most of their time waiting for something to happen. It is critical that you arrive on time and come prepared to wait as much a few hours for your case to be called. If you aren’t in court when your case is called then bad things happen! If you’re accused of a crime and you miss your case then a bench warrant for your arrest will likely issue. If you’re in court for a civil case and you don’t answer when called then you can expect the other party to win. If you are involved in an accident and can’t make it to court then you need to call your lawyer and the court’s clerk to explain your situation.