Maryland Case Law
The Maryland state court system is divided into three levels. The highest court in Maryland is the Maryland Court of Appeals, which consists of seven judges. The Court of Appeals reviews appeals of decisions by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. It also reviews appeals of decisions by trial courts in limited situations. Decisions by the Maryland Court of Appeals are final unless the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review an appeal of a decision.
The middle level of the Maryland state court system is the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which consists of 15 judges. The Court of Special Appeals usually reviews cases in three-judge panels, although sometimes the entire Court will hear a case upon a majority vote of the sitting judges. Most appeals from trial courts must pass through the Court of Special Appeals before reaching the Court of Appeals.
The lowest level of the Maryland state court system consists of the Maryland Circuit Courts, the Maryland District Courts, and the Maryland Orphans' Courts. The Circuit Courts are trial courts with general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. These courts also review appeals of decisions by District Courts, Orphans' Courts, and administrative agencies. The jurisdiction of the District Courts is limited to certain types of cases. These include misdemeanors, some felonies, traffic offenses, landlord-tenant disputes, and civil matters with less than $5,000 at issue. The Orphans' Courts review cases related to probate, estates, and guardianships. Decisions by Orphans' Courts may be appealed to a Circuit Court or to the Court of Special Appeals.