- The Maryland Judiciary is comprised of four court levels: two trial courts and two appellate courts.
- Beside these courts the State of Maryland has Orphan Courts, Tax Courts to decide
Ã˜ TRIAL COURTS
- The function of a trial court is to consider evidence in a case and to make judgments based on the facts and underlying law and legal precedent.
This may result in the awarding of monetary damages or other relief in a civil case, or the imposition of imprisonment or fines in a criminal case.
THE DISTRICT COURTS
- The District Courts of Maryland are fully state-funded court of record possessing statewide jurisdiction.
- The jurisdiction of the court includes all landlord-tenant cases, replevin actions, motor vehicle violations, misdemeanors and certain felonies.
- In civil cases
- The District Court has exclusive jurisdiction in claims for amounts up to $5,000.
- The district courts have in civil cases concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts in claims for amounts above $5,000 but less than $25,000.
The jurisdiction of the court in criminal cases is concurrent with the Circuit Court for offenses in which the penalty may be confinement for three years or more or a fine of $2,500 or more; or offenses, which are felonies.
The District Court hears most cases involving motor vehicle violations, criminal misdemeanors and certain felonies. Types of cases that the district courts deal with are:
- Motor vehicle and boating violations
- Small Claims
- Civil lawsuits up to a certain dollar amount
- Misdemeanors and felonies
- Landlord and tenant disputes
- Domestic Violence, and
- The circuit courts of Maryland, located in all 23 counties and Baltimore City, are the trial courts of general jurisdiction.
- Unlike the District Court, which operates under a unified system, the circuit courts historically have had greater autonomy and have been funded by the county or city.
- Circuit courts generally handle:
- the State's major civil cases and more serious criminal matters,
- juvenile cases,
- family matters such as divorce,
- most appeals from the District Court,
- most appeals orphans' courts and administrative agencies.
- The circuit courts also can hear cases from the District Court (civil or criminal) in which one of the parties has requested a jury trial, under certain circumstances.
Ã˜ APPELLATE COURTS
- COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS
- The Court of Special Appeals is Maryland's intermediate appellate court.
- The Court of Special Appeals has jurisdiction over hear in appeal any Criminal Cases considers any reviewable judgment, decree, order, or other action of the circuit and orphans' courts, unless otherwise provided by law.
- Judges sitting on the Court of Special Appeals generally hear and decide cases in panels of three.
- In some instances, however, all 13 judges may listen to a case, known as an 'en banc' hearing.
- COURT OF APPEALS
- The Maryland Court of Appeals is the highest court in the State.
- The Court of Appeals hears cases almost exclusively by way of certiorari, a process which gives the court discretion to decide which cases to hear.
- The Court of Appeals is mandated by law to hear cases involving the death penalty, legislative redistricting, removal of certain officers, and certifications of questions of law.
- The Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals along with six other judges hear oral arguments on each case.
- If a judge removes him/herself from a case a judge from another court, or a retired appellate judge, may be specially assigned to sit in the place of such judge.
Ã˜ ORPHANS' COURT
Orphans' Courts handle wills, estates, and other probate matters.
Orphan Courts also have concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit court to appoint guardians of the persons, and to protect the estates, of minors who are subject to parental authority.
All matters involving the validity of wills and the transfer of property in which legal questions and disputes occur are resolved by the Orphans' Court.
Ã˜ TAX COURTS
- The Maryland Tax Court is an independent administrative unit of the State government.
- It was created with an object to make of factual determinations and adjudicating disputes in areas such as income tax, sales and use tax, and real and personal property assessments.
- The Tax Court hears appeals from the final decision or determination of any unit of the state or local government authorized to make such decisions, about any tax issue.
- In other words, the taxpayer may represent himself in the legal action without the aid of counsel.
- There are no fees in the filing of an appeal before the Maryland Tax Court except for the provision of transcripts and recorded tapes of a hearing.
- If a party is not satisfied with the decision of the Maryland Tax Court, may go on an appeal to the Circuit Court, in that case, the filing fee is to be paid.