Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Maryland Resources In-Depth

This State Guide provides an in-depth look at sources of law in Maryland.

Courts, Cases & Court Rules

A. Courts

The Maryland Judiciary consists of the following courts:

  • The Court of Appeals
    • The Court of Appeals, the highest tribunal in the State of Maryland, was created by the Constitution of 1776. It hears cases almost exclusively by way of certiorari, a discretionary review process. The Court has exclusive jurisdiction over appeals in which a sentence of death is imposed.
    • The web site provides general information on how to file petition for writ of certiorari, how to file appellate briefs, how to change your name on the Court's official roll (for attorneys), and how to obtain a certificate of good standing (for attorneys).
    • The web site also provides biographical information of judges, court schedule, and fee schedule.
    • See the next section for court opinions.
  • The Court of Special Appeals
    • The Court of Special Appeals is Maryland's intermediate appellate court, created in 1966.
    • The site provides biographical information of judges, appellate fee schedule, and links to court opinions.
  • The Circuit Courts
    • There are 8 judicial circuits in Maryland. The Circuit Courts are the highest common law and equity courts of record.
    • The web site provides contact information for administrative judges, a fee schedule, and links to all circuit courts of all 24 counties.
  • The District Court
    • The Jurisdiction of the court includes all landlord-tenant cases, replevin actions, motor vehicle violations, misdemeanors and certain felonies. In civil cases the District Court has excusive jurisdiction in claims for amounts up to $5,000, and concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts in claims for amounts above $5,000 but less than $25,000. The jurisdiction of the court in criminal cases is concurrent with the Circuit Court for offenses in which the penalty may be confinement for three years or more or a fine of $2,500 or more; or offenses which are felonies.
    • The web site provides contact information for District Court Commissioners, electronic versions (in both html and pdf formats) of some of the Court's brochuresfee schedule in pdf format, and various district court forms in pdf format.
  • The Orphans' Courts
    • The Orphans' Court hears all matters involving decedents' estates which are contested and supervises all of those estates which are probated judicially. It approves accounts, awards of personal representative's commissions, and attorney's fees in all estates. The Court also has concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit court in the guardianships of minors and their property. All matters involving the validity of wills and the transfer of property in which legal questions and disputes occur are resolved by the Orphans' Court.
    • The web site provides a description of the Courts and a directory of Orphans' Courts judges and registers of wills.

For more information about the Maryland Judiciary, consult Annual Report of the Maryland Judiciary [KFM 1708.A826]. The Library has volumes 1976-77 through 2001-02 in print. Later editions were published in two parts: a statistical report and a "highlights" report. These later editions are available on the Judiciary website (1999- ).

B. Where to Find Court Opinions?

1. REPORTED APPELLATE COURT OPINIONS

Reported appellate court opinions are accessible in the following publications and databases:

  • Maryland Reports: Cases Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Maryland (Md.)
  • Maryland Appellate Reports, Cases Adjudged in the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland(Md. App.) [KFM1248.A2]
    • Library has v.1, 1967 to present
  • Maryland Advance Reports [KFM1245.A3]
    • Published weekly (except last week of September and first week of October)
  • Atlantic Reporter (A., A.2d)
  • Appellate Court Opinions Website
    • The database includes reported opinions, in WordPerfect and pdf formats, from the Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals from 1995 to date. There are two ways of accessing the opinions you need. You can do a full-text keyword search; search query results are only available in pdf format. Opinions can also be listed by case docket number/term, by official case citation, by appellant's (or first party's) name, by date opinion is filled by court, or by judge. You can choose one particular year or all years.
    • Reported opinions are posted on the web site on the day they are filed.
  • Amicus Curiarum: a Publication of the Administrative Office of the Courts
    • This publication provides abstracted highlights of selected appellate opinions. (Georgetown Law Library does not carry this, but the Maryland State Law Library and a few university libraries in Maryland do.)
    • The Maryland Judiciary Website provides the publication in html and pdf formats from August 2003 (Vol. 20, Issue 8).
  • Lexis: Browse -> By Jurisdiction -> Maryland -> Cases
  • WestlawMaryland Cases - covers cases from the following:
    • Provincial Court, Proprietary Province of Maryland (1714-1774), General Court (1781-1805), Court of Appeals (1787-), Court of Special Appeals (1967-), Tax Court (1960-)

2. UNREPORTED APPELLATE COURT OPINIONS

  • A list of unreported Appellate Court Opinions is available on the courts' website by month since January 2001. Full-text is not available.
  • Lexis:
  • Westlaw: Maryland Cases
  • Note: Under Maryland Rule 1-104, unpublished opinions are not precedent and also not persuasive authority; therefore, you should not cite them in documents submitted to Maryland courts.

3. CIRCUIT COURT OPINIONS

  • As noted in Pamela Gregory, Legal Research in the District of ColumbiaMaryland and Virginia (2000) [KF240.C43 2000], "Opinions of the circuit courts seldom are ever published, as they are nisi prius opinions. Occasionally an opinion will be of such general interest or uniqueness that the Daily Record will publish it, but those instances are rare." (p. 2-60). The Daily Record is a daily newspaper containing legal announcements, court calendar, opinions of Attorney General, and synopses of important court decisions. The Library no longer has a current subscription, but earlier issues are kept on Reserve behind the Circulation Desk in the Library until replaced by the Microfiche set (vol. 1, 1888- v.245, 1996).

4. COURT OPINIONS - FINDING AIDS

  • West's Maryland Digest 2d: Covering Cases from State and Federal Courts [KFM1257.M3 1993] (1658-)
    • It is not necessary to consult the Digest's first series, below, because this series covers all published Maryland cases from 1658 on.
  • Maryland Digest: Covering Cases from State and Federal Courts [KFM1257.M3] (1658-1993)
  • Atlantic Reporter Digest [KF135.A72 W3]
    • Subject index for the West regional reporter which includes published cases from Maryland
    • Summarizes cases from Maryland state courts, but not from the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland
  • West's Atlantic Digest 2d [KF135.A72 W4] (1968-2004)
    • To find cases earlier than 1968 you must search the first series, Atlantic Reporter Digest
    • Summarizes cases from Maryland state courts, but not from the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland

C. Where to Find Docket Information?

The Maryland Judiciary Case Search page provides basic docket information (filing date, party names, attorney names, and case status) for all Maryland circuit and district courts except those of Prince George's and Montgomery Counties. Dates of coverage vary by court. The Maryland Judiciary Case Search is a free service searchable by participant (party, attorney) name and docket number.

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D. Where to Find Court Rules?

  • Print: Michie's Annotated Code of the Public General Laws of Maryland [KFM1230 1957.A4]. Includes two Rules Volumes at the end of the set.
  • Lexis: Maryland Court Rules Includes rules for state courts and United States district and bankruptcy courts
  • Westlaw:
    • Maryland Court Rules: Maryland Court Rules (current within a few months) - includes rules of the Federal District Court, District of Maryland
    • Maryland Rules Updates: Contains court orders that update court rules governing state and local federal practice in Maryland as displayed in the MD-RULES database.