Journalist's Guide

precedent. The Court as a whole decides which opinions to report. On very rare occasions, the Court may decide to hear or re-hear a case en banc , which means all 15 active judges will sit and decide the case together. The Court makes its reported and unreported opinions available on the Maryland Judiciary website. Court of Appeals The Court of Appeals is the highest court in Maryland. It is known in other states except New York as the Supreme Court. Similar to the Court of Special Appeals, it sits in Annapolis. Unlike the lower court, it chooses which cases it will hear and decide. Parties who wish to have the Court of Appeals hear their case must file a petition asking for a writ of certiorari ; the Court of Appeals issues the writ, and decides to hear the case. The Court of Appeals may also decide to grant certiorari before the case is heard in the Court of Special Appeals, but more commonly awaits a decision from that court before deciding to take a case. The Court of Appeals consists of seven judges, one each from the seven appellate judicial circuits in the state. The Court hears all cases en banc , which means all seven judges hear and decide each case. As in the Court of Special Appeals, the Court of Appeals establishes a briefing schedule for each case, then schedules oral arguments, typically 30 minutes per side. As in the Court of Special Appeals, briefs and record extracts are filed well in advance of argument, and reporters may wish to contact the Clerk’s office to obtain copies or contact information for the attorneys involved. The Court of Appeals also decides each case through written opinions which are available on its website as soon as they are issued. Court of Appeals opinions are almost always reported, and thus serve as binding precedent on other cases. Cases are decided by a vote of the seven judges; judges who disagree with the majority may write separate dissenting opinions, and judges who agree with the result but for different reasons may write separate concurring opinions. The Court of Appeals only hears cases that have broad public significance and legal importance in both criminal and civil matters. Like the Court of Special Appeals, the Court of Appeals does not re-litigate the facts of a case. Instead, it determines whether trial courts applied the correct principles of law and whether the trial court proceedings were conducted properly and fairly. The Court livestreams its arguments, which then are archived and remain online for viewing at your convenience. Twice a year, the Court of Appeals admits lawyers to practice in Maryland. The Court of Appeals also disciplines lawyers and judges who violate the governing rules of professional conduct, and adopts rules governing practice and administration for all courts in the state.

The Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals opinions can be found online at


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