Postponement Court Hears Plea Offers, Sets Trial Dates

In the Baltimore City Circuit Court, cases are called into postponement court when they are not a plea, or are inactive or dismissed. Unlike reception court, postponement court features offers from the prosecution.

Scheduled at 11:30 a.m. Monday thru Friday, Judge Melissa M. Phinn, the judge in charge of the criminal division, presides over felony postponements under the authorization of Administrative Judge Audrey J. S. Carrión. Administrative issues may change the postponement court schedule; however, all parties are notified of any changes.

Prior to COVID-19, postponements were addressed during reception court, but parties are now required to use zoom to enter a meeting code, which remains the same each day. Upwards of 20 cases may be heard in a given day.

During postponement court, Judge Phinn will call cases, the prosecution and the defense counsel and ask for the prosecution’s plea offer.

Offers that are accepted are scheduled for a plea hearing. If a plea offer is rejected, Judge Phinn sets a date for trial that works with the court, prosecution and defense counsels’ schedule.

Motions hearings are also scheduled for cases that have new discovery.

On numerous occasions, Judge Phinn has said cases are pleading out faster and faster.

Judge Phinn requires incarcerated defendants have trials scheduled in July or August, while non-incarcerated defendants may have trials scheduled as far out as November.