Greenbelt Federal Courthouse
Currently, there are three United States District Court Judges who sit in Greenbelt, including the Chief Judge for the District of Maryland. There is also a senior United States District Judge who actively hears felony cases.
The Greenbelt federal courthouse also has a number of United States Magistrate Judges.
In the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, federal magistrate judges have limited responsibilities in criminal cases. When someone is first arrested and taken to the Greenbelt courthouse on federal criminal charges, they have an initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. If they are not released on conditions of pretrial release before their trial, the person will have a detention hearing in front of a federal magistrate judge.
U.S. Magistrate Judges in the federal District Court in Maryland do not hear pretrial motions in felony cases, unlike in some other federal district courts. Instead, U.S. Magistrate Judges only hear pretrial motions in cases that are before them for trial – federal misdemeanor charges.
In the Greenbelt federal courthouse, U.S. Magistrate Judges will also preside over a person’s arraignment.
The federal courthouse in Greenbelt has had a number of high profile federal white-collar felonies prosecuted and defended in it. Because it handles federal cases that arise in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., the federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Maryland has a number of cases that involve federal employees, or white-collar crimes involving the federal government, or agencies that regulate as a part of the federal government.
The Greenbelt courthouse has also been home to a significant number of drug crimes and other serious federal felonies.
The United States Attorneys Office for the District of Maryland has a branch office in the federal courthouse in Greenbelt. Greenbelt also has a separate grand jury that meets in the U.S. District Courthouse there, as well as a separate pretrial services office, a separate probation office, and a separate office of the Clerk of the Court.
The courthouse is in the city of Greenbelt. Greenbelt was a planned community which saw significant growth during the Great Depression. As a result, Greenbelt has an old neighborhood which looks very much like a planned community, and the streets of Greenbelt have names that celebrate its roots in the federal government spending that were laid out to try to pull the country out of the Great Depression.
The federal courthouse in Greenbelt, by contrast, was built relatively recently. When Maryland won approval from the United States Senate to build a second federal courthouse and form a Southern Division, the legislation stipulated that the courthouse had to be within five miles of the borders between Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Maryland. Greenbelt was chosen as the location.
As a result, any federal crime that starts in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, St. Mary’s County, or Charles County Maryland is very likely to be handled in the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland.