State courts will postpone all trials and most regular business in response to the spread of coronavirus.

The Maine Judicial Branch announced Friday that the courts will schedule events that are necessary or emergency measures, like arraignments and first appearances for defendants held in custody. The order was effective immediately and will continue through May 1.

“The courthouses of Maine remain open to the public,” the state’s order said. “If you have questions about whether you should go to a courthouse, please call the clerk of court at that location to have your questions answered.”

The U.S. District Court of Maine, which has locations in Portland and Bangor, issued a similar but less specific order. Jury trials and grand jury proceedings will be postponed, but other events appear to be on as scheduled.

Courts in other states have taken similar measures.

The state 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, matters related to protection from abuse or harassment orders, child protection matters, mental health matters and hearings granted on motion.

The grand jury, which hands down indictments on felony charges in Maine, will not meet. Any trials in progress may be completed, but otherwise no criminal or civil jury trials will be heard until after May 1. Oral arguments at the Maine Supreme Judicial Court have been postponed for April.

The order allowed for people and attorneys to file written motions to the court if they feel there are urgent and compelling reasons for their hearings to be heard before May 1.

The order also allowed for electronic meetings for board and committees.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.