Criminal trials will take priority over civil cases in Maine - delaying foreclosures, small claims, land use violations and other matters until at least next year.
The Supreme Judicial Court has updated its plans for management of delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a standstill for months that has led to a huge backlog. Many hearings are being conducted remotely by video, but trials have only recently restarted on a very limited basis.
The courts will focus on immediately pressing issues, such as a risk of people being hurt or where liberty is at stake. The updated management plan expects to start scheduling trials from November 9, and all available resources are being used for priority cases.
That means money judgments, disclosures, small claims, land use violations, and other civil matters, will not be scheduled or heard before 2021 and the courts can’t say when those matters will be scheduled. Additionally, foreclosures will not be scheduled or heard before February 28, 2021.
The amended Covid plan said: “[B]ecause jury trials during the COVID era require significant diversions of limited security and facility resources, the scheduling of jury trials will be limited to criminal matters, and will be the subject of a comprehensive plan to be promulgated in the near future.”