Maryland Us state Map & flag
Maryland Us state Map & flag

Courts in Maryland

The judiciary in Maryland State plays a critical role in upholding the rule of law and maintaining the balance of power within the state. It’s essential to understand how the court system works, how judges are selected, and how the judiciary serves the people of Maryland. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the courts and judiciary in Maryland State, covering everything from the structure of the court system to innovative programs that make it more accessible and efficient.

Maryland Court System

The Maryland court system is divided into two main categories: trial courts and appellate courts. Each court has its unique purpose and jurisdiction.

Trial Courts

Circuit Courts

Circuit courts are the highest level of trial courts in Maryland. They handle major civil cases, serious criminal cases, and family law matters. Circuit courts also have appellate jurisdiction over certain cases originating in the District Courts.

District Courts

District courts are the lower level of trial courts in Maryland. They handle minor civil cases, misdemeanors, and traffic violations. District courts do not have jury trials, and cases are typically decided by a judge.

Counties are administrative divisions of a state or country, responsible for local government and the provision of essential services to citizens within their jurisdiction. They serve as an intermediary level of governance between the state and municipal levels, handling various responsibilities, such as law enforcement, infrastructure maintenance, and public health services.

County Governments


County governments perform numerous tasks, including managing local finances, administering public services, maintaining records, and operating public facilities. They also play a crucial role in enforcing laws and regulations at the local level.


The structure of county governments can vary depending on the state. However, they generally consist of an elected board of supervisors or commissioners, an executive officer or administrator, and various department heads responsible for specific services and functions.

Counties & Judiciary

  • County CourtsCounty courts are essential components of the judicial system in many states. These courts typically handle cases involving civil disputes, misdemeanors, and traffic violations. They may also manage preliminary hearings for felony cases, which are then transferred to higher courts.
  • Role in Judicial SystemCounty courts play a vital role in the judicial system by providing citizens with access to local courts for resolving legal disputes, hearing minor criminal cases, and managing various administrative matters, such as probate and family law issues. They serve as the first point of contact for many citizens seeking legal remedies or representation.
  • Coordination & CooperationCounty courts often work in coordination with other courts within the state and federal judicial systems. This cooperation ensures the efficient handling of cases and the fair administration of justice for all citizens.

Notable County Courts

Some county courts have achieved prominence for their innovative approaches to case management or unique jurisdictional responsibilities. Examples include the Harris County (Texas) Probate Courts, which manage a large volume of probate and guardianship cases, and the Los Angeles County (California) Superior Court, which oversees a vast array of civil, criminal, and family law matters.

Innovations in County Courts


Many county courts have embraced technology to improve efficiency and accessibility. Examples include electronic filing systems, online case information databases, and video conferencing tools for remote hearings.

Specialized Courts

Some county courts have implemented specialized courts, such as drug courts, mental health courts, and domestic violence courts, to address specific issues more effectively. These problem-solving courts focus on rehabilitation, support, and treatment to help reduce recidivism and promote better outcomes for individuals involved in the legal system.

County Courts & Legal Aid

County courts often work closely with legal aid organizations and pro bono programs to ensure access to justice for all citizens, regardless of their financial resources. These partnerships help provide low-income individuals with affordable legal representation and assistance in navigating the judicial system.

Appellate Courts

Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals is Maryland’s highest court and serves as the final arbiter on matters of law within the state. It reviews decisions made by the Circuit Courts and the Court of Special Appeals.

Court of Special Appeals

The Court of Special Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in Maryland. It reviews decisions made by the Circuit Courts in civil and criminal cases.

Judicial Selection

In Maryland, judges are selected through a combination of appointment processes and judicial elections.

Appointment Process

The gubernatorial appointment is the primary method of selecting judges for the appellate courts and circuit courts in Maryland. A judicial nominating commission reviews applications and recommends candidates to the governor, who then selects the judges.

Judicial Elections

After serving an initial appointment, appellate court judges and circuit court judges must stand for election in the first general election more than one year after their appointment. If successful, they serve a full term, after which they may stand for retention elections.

Judicial Conduct

The Commission on Judicial Disabilities is responsible for investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and making recommendations for disciplinary action. This commission helps maintain the integrity of the judiciary in Maryland.

legal Aid Resources

There are several resources available to assist Maryland residents in need of legal representation.

Maryland Legal Aid

Maryland Legal Aid provides free civil legal services to low-income residents of Maryland. They offer assistance in areas such as housing, family law, and public benefits.

Pro Bono Programs

Many local and state bar associations in Maryland offer pro bono programs that connect low-income residents with volunteer attorneys who provide free legal assistance. These programs typically focus on civil matters and work to ensure access to justice for all Maryland residents.

Notable Cases

Over the years, Maryland courts have heard several notable cases that have had a significant impact on the state’s legal landscape. Some examples include:

  • Maryland v. Craig (1990), a U.S. Supreme Court case that addressed the use of closed-circuit television testimony for child abuse victims.
  • DeWolfe v. Richmond (2013), a Maryland Court of Appeals case that established the right to counsel for indigent defendants at initial bail hearings.
  • King v. State (2012), a Maryland Court of Appeals case that addressed the use of DNA evidence in criminal investigations.

Court Innovations

The Maryland judiciary has embraced innovative programs and technology to better serve the residents of the state.

Problem-Solving Courts

Problem-solving courts, such as drug courts and mental health courts, aim to address the underlying issues that contribute to criminal behavior. These specialized courts provide treatment, supervision, and support to help offenders overcome their challenges and reduce recidivism.

E-filing and Online Services

Maryland has implemented electronic filing (e-filing) systems in its appellate and circuit courts to streamline the filing process and reduce the reliance on paper documents. Additionally, the judiciary offers online services, such as case search tools and electronic payment options, to make it more accessible and efficient for the public.


The courts and judiciary in Maryland State play a vital role in ensuring justice, fairness, and adherence to the rule of law. Through a well-structured court system, rigorous judicial selection process, and commitment to innovation, the Maryland judiciary continues to serve the needs of its residents while adapting to the ever-changing legal landscape.


What are the primary trial courts in Maryland?

The primary trial courts in Maryland are the Circuit Courts and District Courts.

How are judges selected in Maryland?

Judges in Maryland are selected through a combination of appointment processes and judicial elections.

What is the role of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities?

The Commission on Judicial Disabilities investigates complaints of judicial misconduct and makes recommendations for disciplinary action.

What resources are available for low-income residents in need of legal assistance in Maryland?

Maryland Legal Aid and pro bono programs offered by local and state bar associations provide legal assistance to low-income residents in the state.

Counties is Maryland

Allegany | Anne Arundel | Baltimore | Calvert | Caroline | Carroll | Cecil | Charles | Dorchester | Frederick | Garrett | Harford | Howard | Kent | Montgomery | Prince George’s | Queen Anne’s | St. Mary’s | Somerset | Talbot | Washington | Wicomico | Worcester | Baltimore City

Federal courts:

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals | U.S. District Court: District of Maryland | U.S. Bankruptcy Court: District of Maryland

State courts:

Maryland Court of Appeals | Maryland Court of Special Appeals | Maryland District Courts | Maryland Circuit Courts | Maryland Orphans’ Court

State resources:

Courts in Maryland | Maryland judicial elections | Judicial selection in Maryland

Circuit Courts

Maryland First Circuit

Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties

Maryland Second Circuit

Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties

Maryland Third Circuit

Baltimore and Harford Counties

Maryland Fourth Circuit

Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties

Maryland Fifth Circuit

Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties

Maryland Sixth Circuit

Frederick and Montgomery counties

Maryland Seventh Circuit

Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties

Maryland Eighth Circuit

Baltimore City

Counties in Maryland