The Maryland court system has four levels: two trial courts and two appellate courts. The trial courts consider evidence presented in a case and make judgments based on the facts, the law and legal precedent (prior legal decisions from a higher court). Appellate courts review a trial court's actions and decisions and decide whether the trial judge properly followed the law and legal precedent.
Maryland has two appellate courts: the Court of Appeals, the highest court, and the Court of Special Appeals, the intermediate appellate court. These courts review a trial court's (District or Circuit Court) actions and decisions in given cases and decide whether the trial judge properly followed the law and legal precedent. Both appellate courts are located in Annapolis – Anne Arundel County.
Circuit Courts generally handle more serious criminal cases, major civil cases, including juvenile and other family law cases such as divorce, custody and child support and most cases appealed from the District Court, orphans' courts and certain administrative agencies. Circuit courts also hear domestic violence cases.
Each County and the City of Baltimore has a circuit court. Cases may involve juries or sometimes are heard by a judge only. Maryland's circuit courts are divided into 8 judicial circuits with a court in each of the 23 counties and Baltimore City. Talbot County is part of the 2nd Judicial Circuit, along with Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne's counties.
Most people experience the court system through the District Court. Cases heard here include motor vehicle (traffic) and boating violations and other misdemeanors and specified felonies, domestic violence and peace order petitions, landlord-tenant disputes, small claims and other civil cases involving limited dollar amounts, and replevin (recovery of wrongfully taken or detained goods).
Each county and the City of Baltimore have at least one District Court location. A case in the District Court is argued before a judge only: there are no jury trials in District Court. The District Court has 34 locations in 12 districts statewide, with at least one judge presiding in every county and Baltimore City. Talbot County is part of the 3rd District, as are Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne's counties.
The Orphans' Court is a specialized court that handles wills, estates, and other probate matters and limited aspects of guardianship. There is an Orphans' Court in each of the 23 counties and Baltimore City.
Page last modified 07/28/14 12:46:36