ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


[photo, Maryland Judicial Center, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland] In 1944, administrative direction for the courts of Maryland became the responsibility of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals as "the administrative head of the Judicial system of the State" (Constitution, present Art. IV, sec. 18(b)). Not until 1955, however, did the General Assembly take steps to provide professional administrative staff to assist the Chief Judge with these duties. In that year, the Administrative Office of the Courts was formed (Chapter 343, Acts of 1955).


Maryland Judicial Center, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland, March 2009. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


[photo, Maryland Judicial Center, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland] The Administrative Office of the Courts helps the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals oversee and implement court policies established by the Chief Judge, the Court of Appeals, and the General Assembly. The Office prepares and administers the Judiciary budget; operates information systems; engages in planning; conducts research; and gathers and analyzes statistics and other management information (Code Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, sec. 13-101). The Office also assists the Chief Judge in the assignment of judges to cope with temporary backlogs or to address shortages of judicial personnel. Additionally, the Office serves as liaison for the Judiciary with the legislative and executive branches of government.

For the Maryland Judicial Conference, the Conference of Circuit Judges, the Conference of Circuit Court Clerks, and for the education and training of judges, as well as nonjudicial personnel, staff support is provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts.


Maryland Judicial Center, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland, August 2003. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


Heading the Office is the State Court Administrator who is appointed by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.

Functions of the Administrative Office of the Courts formerly were carried out by eight departments: Budget and Finance, Court Operations, Facilities Administration, Family Administration, Human Resources, Judicial Information Systems, Legal Affairs, and Procurement and Contracts Administration. In a reorganization in July 2014, those functions were dispersed to six divisions: Education, Government Relations, Internal Affairs, Judical Information Systems, Operations, and Programs. In November 2015, the Education Division was renamed the Judicial College of Maryland.

The Office is aided by the Oversight Committee on the Circuit Court Real Property Records Improvement Fund.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CENTRAL REPOSITORY
In October 2010, the Administrative Office of the Courts was authorized to maintain the Domestic Violence Central Repository (Chapter 687, Acts of 2010). The Repository stores interim, temporary and final protective orders, and certain peace orders, providing quick access for judges, court personnel, and law enforcement agencies (Code Family Law Article, sec. 4-512.1).


GOVERNMENT RELATIONS DIVISION

Government Relations transferred from the Court of Appeals in July 2014 and became a division under the Adminstrative Office of the Courts.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS DIVISION

Organized in July 2014, the Internal Affairs Division is responsible for three departments: Fair Practices, Internal Audit, and Legal Affairs.

FAIR PRACTICES DEPARTMENT
The Fair Practices Department started as the Office of Fair Practices and reformed as the Fair Practices Department under the Internal Affairs Division in July 2014.

The Department works to eliminate and prevent discrimination in the workplace. It promotes equal opportunity in employment through compliance with federal, State and local employment laws and regulations concerned with civil rights; the fair and voluntary resolution of disputes about equal employment opportunity; and education and outreach. The Department also investigates complaints of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment, including sexual harassment, filed by employees and public users of Judiciary programs and services.

INTERNAL AUDIT DEPARTMENT

In 1998, the Judiciary Department of Internal Audit moved from the Administrative Office of the Courts to the Court of Appeals. In July 2014, it moved back to the Administrative Office of the Courts, was placed under the Internal Affairs Division, and adopted its present name.

The Internal Audit Department conducts compliance audits for all Judicial offices and agencies, and the Circuit Court. In 2002, it also assumed the internal auditing responsibility for the District Court of Maryland. The Department, however, does not oversee audits of the Court of Appeals or Court of Special Appeals.

LEGAL AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT
The Legal Affairs Department originated in 2001 as the Department of Legal Affairs. In July 2014, it transferred to the Internal Affairs Division as the Legal Services Department and, at that time, reformed as the Legal Affairs Department.

The Department advises the State Court Administrator on legal issues relating to administrative matters, including personnel and procurement. In addition, the Department conducts legal research; and provides in-house legal review of Judiciary policies and procedures, and of contracts and memoranda of understanding with other State agencies.


JUDICIAL COLLEGE OF MARYLAND

Within the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Judicial College of Maryland first was formed as the Education Division, which was established in July 2014 to oversee the Judicial Institute of Maryland, Professional Development, and Technical Training Services. In November 2015, the Education Division reorganized as the Judicial College of Maryland (Administrative Order, Nov. 23, 2015).

The Judicial College is responsible for the continuing judicial education of judges, magistrates, commissioners, and other Judiciary employees (Administrative Order, June 6, 2016). On the Judiciary website, the Judicial College maintains a current calendar of upcoming educational programs and courses.

JUDICIAL EDUCATION
In 1981, Judicial Education started when the Court of Appeals authorized the Judicial Institute of Maryland. The Institute was reorganized in November 2015 as Judicial Education and placed under the Judicial College of Maryland (Administrative Order, November 23, 2015).

Judicial Education provides continuing education programs for the Maryland judiciary.


JUDICIAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS DIVISION

2661 Riva Road, Suite 900, Annapolis, MD 21401

The Judicial Information Systems Division develops and maintains State court system applications, operates a statewide computer network, and is responsible for data center contingency planning. Moreover, the Division administers data processing systems; collects and analyzes statistics, and maintains computer hardware and software for the Judiciary. The Division also helps State and local judicial agencies meet their data processing and information technology needs. From judicial data files, the Division provides information to judicial, criminal justice and law enforcement agencies.

For court applications, the Division operates a mainframe computer and servers that support the Uniform Court System (UCS), providing court case management for all circuit courts except those in Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County. The System makes possible case initiation, scheduling, disposition, expungement, and other record keeping. The Division also support the Traffic Processing Center (traffic citations).

The Division developed and maintains internet access to various electronic court records. Instituted in January 2006, the Maryland Judiciary Case Search (MDJCS) Program provides electronic access to records in civil, criminal and traffic cases from Maryland Circuit and District Courts. Information commonly requested by attorneys, litigants, and the general public is available through the Program and includes case number, names of parties, and date of birth, charge, trial date and location, and case disposition.

In partnership with the State Archives, the Division maintains a database retrievable on-line of all land record images and indices. The Electronic Land Record Optical Imagery (ELROI) System scans recordable land record instruments and inputs the images into mdlandrec.net, an electronic archival and preservation system at the State Archives. Imaged documents may be accessed and viewed electronically by title abstractors and the public.

Formerly, the Judicial Information Systems Division oversaw Major Information Technology Projects, Operations, and Planning and Application Services. Reorganization in July 2014 made the Division responsible for Administrative and Management Services; Application Support Services; Customer Business Services; Customer Support and Information Security; Infrastructure Services; and Project Services.

Today, under the Division are six main units: Administrative and Management Services; Application Support Services; Court Business Services; Information Security; Infrastructure Services; and Project Services.


OPERATIONS DIVISION

[photo, Maryland Judicial Center, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland] The Operations Division organized in July 2014.

For the Judiciary, the Division oversees a statewide research agenda. It plans, develops, and evaluates the effectiveness of programs and operating initiatives; and creates statistical and management reports. The Division also provides guidance and support for obtaining grants to support new initiatives, and monitors how funds from the Judiciary are spent by grant recipients.

Maryland Judicial Center, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland, December 2000. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


The Division is responsible for the Office of Facilities and Security Administration, and three departments: Budget and Finance; Human Resources; and Procurement, Contract and Grant Administration.

OFFICE OF FACILITIES & SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
The Office of Facilities and Security Administration originated in May 2013, when the Department of Facilities Administration formed from Administrative Services. In July 2014, the Department reorganized as the Office of Facilities and Security Administration, and was placed under the Operations Division.

To help judicial agencies plan for continuity of operations during potential natural or man-made emergencies or disasters, the Office provides advice and training. It also coordinates judicial emergency management planning with other State and local agencies.

DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES
In July 2014, the Department of Human Resources transferred to the Operations Division.

The Department oversees five units: Classification, Salary Administration, and Recruitment; Employment and Employee Relations; Employee Services, Benefits, and Transactions; and Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS).

DEPARTMENT OF PROCUREMENT, CONTRACT & GRANT ADMINISTRATION
The Department of Procurement and Contracts Administration in July 2014 moved from the Court of Appeals to the Administrative Office of the Courts, and as the Department of Procurement, Contract and Grant Administration, was made part of the Operations Division.


PROGRAMS DIVISION

In July 2014, the Programs Division was created.

The Division oversees seven agencies. They include the Office of Communications and Public Affairs; the Foster-Care Court Improvement Program, and five departments: Access to Justice; Court Operations; Family Services; Mediation and Conflict Resolution; and Problem-Solving Courts.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Judiciary Education & Conference Center, 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, MD 21401

The Access to Justice Department was created by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals in September 2014. As a part of the Programs Division, the Department is concerned with expanding access to and enhancing the quality of justice in civil legal matters for everyone regardless of income level, disability, language or other disadvantage. It works to develop, consolidate, coordinate, and implement policy initiatives in these areas.

Work of the Department will encourage access to justice innovations within the Judiciary and prioritize initiatives designed to help persons who encounter barriers in gaining access to Maryland's civil justice system.

OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS & PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Judiciary Education & Conference Center, 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, MD 21401


[photo, Judiciary Education & Conference Center, 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, Maryland] The Office of Communications and Public Affairs originated as the Court Information Office within the Administrative Office of the Courts. It transferred to the Court of Appeals in 1998, and became the Office of Communications and Public Affairs in March 2009 (Administrative Order, March 10, 2009). It transferred from the Court of Appeals to the Programs Division within the Administrative Office of the Courts in July 2014.


Judiciary Education & Conference Center, 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, Maryland, January 2014. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


Programs that inform the public about the activities of the Maryland judiciary are planned by the Office, which issues press releases; publishes the quarterly newsletter, Justice Matters; and maintains a speakers' bureau of judges.

DEPARTMENT OF COURT OPERATIONS
Within the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Department of Court Operations originated as Management Analysis and Research. In 2006, it restructured as the Department of Court Research and Development, and became the Department of Court Operations in May 2013. It moved under the Programs Division in July 2014.

DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY SERVICES
In 1998, family divisions were formed within the circuit courts of Baltimore City and four counties (those having seven or more judges): Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County. At that time, in the circuit courts of the other nineteen counties, family services programs also were begun. Since 1998, the Department of Family Administration has overseen the establishment of family divisions and programs in each jurisdiction. In July 2014, as the Department of Family Services, it became part of the Programs Division.

The Department works with judges, family magistrates, court administrators, and family support services coordinators to identify and promote best practices in legal proceedings involving domestic and juvenile matters, such as: adoption; child support; child in need of assistance (CINA); child in need of supervision (CINS); custody; divorce; domestic violence; guardianship; involuntary admission; juvenile delinquency; name change; paternity; termination of parental rights; and visitation. For service providers and court professionals, the Department also develops standards and evaluation protocols, collects data and statistical information to support policy development and funding requests, and disseminates information on services, projects and grants, and funding availability.

The Department works with judges, family magistrates, court administrators, and service providers to develop family law policy and identify what services families need and how to provide them. Through special projects grants to organizations that provide legal or other services to families with cases before the Maryland courts, the Department also administers funding.

FOSTER-CARE COURT IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
In 1994, the Foster-Care Court Improvement Project was initiated to assess and improve the performance of juvenile courts in child abuse and neglect cases. In 2000, the Project was placed within the Department of Family Administration. Reorganized as the Foster-Care Court Improvement Program, it joined the Programs Division in July 2014.

The Foster-Care Court Improvement Program seeks to improve the effectiveness of the juvenile courts in cases concerned with Child in Need of Assistance (CINA), termination of parental rights (TPR), and adoption. Moreover, the Program works to ensure the safety, permanency, and wellbeing of children in foster care. Primarily funded by federal grants, the Program involves juvenile court judges and masters, court personnel, representatives of social service agencies, attorneys, and other experts in child welfare.

The Program administers federal grants that help Maryland courts safeguard abused and neglected children in the child welfare system. In 1997, to meet federal requirements in order to receive federal funds, a State plan, Improving Court Performance for Abused and Neglected Children, was issued and the former Foster Care Court-Improvement Implementation Committee was authorized.

In January 2015, under the Juvenile Law Committee of the Judicial Council, the Foster Care Court Improvement Program Subcommittee was formed.

MEDIATION & CONFLICT RESOLUTION DEPARTMENT
In July 2001, the Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office was established by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. In July 2014, the Office transferred to the Administrative Office of the Courts as a department under the Programs Division.

Mediation is a process by which a trained neutral person, a mediator, helps people in a dispute to communicate with one another, understand each other, and, if possible, reach an agreement by which to resolve the dispute. Mediation is voluntary. Those involved in the dispute must agree to mediation. By using mediation, however, the parties involved do not forfeit their legal rights. If an agreement is not reached, they can still seek redress in court.

The Mediation and Conflict Resolution Department promotes the appropriate use of mediation and other dispute resolution practices in Maryland's courts, neighborhoods, businesses, schools, governmental agencies, and criminal and juvenile justice systems. Such practices include mediation arbitration, settlement conferences, consensus building, and other nonviolent and nonlitigious methods of resolving disputes.


[photo, Judiciary Education & Conference Center, 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, Maryland] PROBLEM-SOLVING COURTS DEPARTMENT
Judiciary Education & Conference Center, 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, MD 21401

The Problem-Solving Courts Department started as the Office of Problem-Solving Courts. It reformed as a department in July 2014.


Judiciary Education & Conference Center, 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, Maryland, January 2014. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


The Department assists the Problem-Solving Courts Subcommittee of the Specialty Courts and Dockets Committee of the Judicial Council.

To the problem-solving courts statewide, the Department provides centralized oversight for financial responsibility, program guidelines, grant solicitation, and creation of a statewide management information system. As of 2015, the Department also supports thirty-seven drug courts, nine truancy reduction courts, three mental health courts, two re-entry courts, and one veterans court within Maryland's Judiciary.

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