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Maryland State Courts

A quick guide on the judicial state court system in Maryland, and relevant resources

Introduction to the Courts of Maryland

The Maryland court systems is composed of four levels. The highest court in Maryland is the Supreme Court of Maryland, then Appellate Court of Maryland, Circuit Courts, and District Courts. 



Trial Courts vs. Appellate Courts

The District Courts are one of two general trial courts in the Maryland judicial system. A District Court case is tried before a judge only, if a person requests a jury for their criminal or civil case then it moves to Circuit Court. The cases in District Courts consider a variety of issues.

The Circuit Courts hold criminal and major civil cases, these courts have a jury. Cases are decided by juries, but may also be decided only by a judge.

What is a Jury?

A group of everyday people who are summoned to sit and observe trial arguments and proceedings. As a group they will deliberate and make a decision on the case presented. 

Who gets chosen to serve on a Jury?

In the state of Maryland, a jury is selected at random from a cross selection of Maryland residents randomly chosen through voter registration and drivers license pools. Any U.S. citizen, 18 years or older can serve on a jury. They must reside in the county in which they would serve as a Juror.

Maryland Circuit Courts Jury Service Orientation Video

Maryland Court Jury Service orientation video, goes over what to expect while serving on a jury in the state of Maryland.

The Appellate Court of Maryland consider appeals from any cases within the Circuit Courts and Orphans' court. The court hears arguments about decisions made in the lower courts.

Each case is decided by a group of three judges. The judges consider the briefs filed by both parties, and the records from the trial court which include transcripts, and important documents to the case. Sometimes oral arguments are held.

The judges will write an opinion on their decision of the appeal. Parties who are unsuccessful may ask the Supreme Court of Maryland for further review.

The Supreme Court of Maryland is the highest court in the state of Maryland.  Parties are able to make petition for certiorari.

All seven justices read the petitions and cases. The Court has the discretion to choose which cases it hears. If granted then the parties file a briefs of questions to the justices.

All seven justices hear oral arguments on the case. They make their decisions for the case through a written opinion.

In addition to hearing cases, The Supreme Court of Maryland also admits lawyers into practice in the state of Maryland, establishes rules of practice and procedure in Maryland Courts, and disciplines judges and lawyers who violate the rules and procedures.