Maryland’s top two courts have been renamed. The Court of Appeals of Maryland is now the Supreme Court of Maryland and the Court of Special Appeals is now the Appellate Court of Maryland. The jurisdiction and function of the courts will remain the same. The seven judges on the court will be called justices of the Supreme Court of Maryland.
Maryland voters approved the name change through a constitutional amendment.
The decision means that the Supreme Court of Maryland is the state’s top court. The intermediate appeals court is the Appellate Court of Maryland.
Chief Judge E. Gregory Wells called the move “a welcome and much-needed change.”
“Hopefully the voter-approved constitutional change in the names of both courts clears up any confusion among the public, lawyers, and judges from other jurisdictions about the roles of our respective courts,” Wells continued.
There was some bewilderment over the hierarchy of the courts based on the former names. The state’s top court was merely called the Court of Appeals. The intermediate appellate court was called the Court of Special Appeals. Newbies to the Maryland court system and those from other states often mistakenly thought that the Court of Special Appeals was the state’s top court and the Court of Appeals was the intermediate appellate court. Maryland’s top court, like many other top state courts, has discretion over the cases that it hears and can choose not to hear an appeal. On the other hand, the state’s intermediate appellate court must consider and decide all appeals.
With an eye toward saving money related to the name change, the existing stationery and paperwork with the old court names will be used until depleted. This means that Maryland residents will receive correspondence with the previous names for several months.
Maryland’s top court has a long history. The Court of Appeals was established under Maryland’s constitution in 1776. As a result, the appellate court of last resort has been in operation for almost 250 years.
The state’s intermediate appellate court doesn’t go back that far. The Court of Special Appeals was created in 1966. Originally, five judges served on the court. Presently, 15 judges sit on the newly renamed Appellate Court of Maryland.
The circuit courts in Maryland are the trial courts for most civil matters.
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