Research Guides

TMLL Research Guide - Chapter 9



The Maryland Code, the subject compilation of Maryland statutes currently in force, has existed in various editions since the 1800's.  Until the 1950's the time between new editions, as much as 20 years, was bridged by sporadically published bound cumulative supplements.  Further updating was done by the researcher's own addition of session laws that had either amended an existing section or added a new section of the code.  Editions of the Maryland Code were published in 1840, 1860, 1879, 1888, 1904, 1912, 1924, 1939, and 1951.

In 1957 the Michie Company published a new edition of the Maryland Code, with updating provided annually by pocket parts incorporating the enactments of that year's legislative session.  Organized by the same numbered articles as its immediate predecessor, the 1951 edition, the 1957 edition of the Code streamlined the numbering of sections within the articles.  Cross references from the internal section numbering of the articles in the 1951 edition to the 1957 edition were provided in a "Table of Comparative Sections" published in volume 9 of the 1957 edition.  While this edition of the Code was a great improvement over its predecessor both in format of updating and editorial enhancements, the decision was made by the early 1970s to recompile the Code in an edition organized by named topical articles.  This effort to recompile the Code first brought substantive results in 1974 with the publication of the articles covering Agriculture, Courts and Judicial Proceedings, Estates and Trusts, Natural Resources, and Real Property.  Since then, the legislature has gradually whittled away at the portions of the Code that still remain in the numbered article format of the 1957 edition.  After these old articles are recompiled, the new articles are enacted into law and published.  The old volumes of the 1957 edition are then republished with the now superseded articles removed.  While the portion of the Maryland Code still current in the 1957 edition format becomes smaller every year, a sizable portion of the Code remains to be recompiled.

In order to translate a citation from the 1957 edition of the code forward, reference must be made to the "Table of Comparable Sections for Unnumbered Articles" within the Annotated Code of Maryland Tables.  This paperback is republished every year and allows the researcher to determine where a particular section from the 1957 edition is now codified.  Often the researcher finds that an individual section from the 1957 edition is now in several sections of the new edition, while sometimes the old section now has no counterpart, having been repealed in its entirety.  Moreover, many articles of the subject edition of the Code have now existed for so long that they themselves have been recompiled.  A translation table for this too may be found in the paperback volume.  Be cautious here, however.  A number of articles were reorganized between 1957 and their further revision into the subject edition of the Code.  These revisions within the 1957 edition can be difficult to trace.  To do this, check the "Tables of Comparable Sections" included in the 1972 and 1977 republications of volume 9A of the 1957 edition.  This "forward translation" is most often done when a researcher finds a citation to the Code in a case and wants to determine the current status or form of that portion of the Code.

On the other hand, in order to translate a new code section back to an old, reference must first be made to the historical citations at the end of every section of the Code.  However, it is important to note that the subject edition of the Code uses the 1957 edition as a "platform."  By looking at the historical citations at the end of every section, you will determine where, if anywhere, the section was codified in the 1957 edition, as well as the cites of any subsequent session laws that have amended the section.  To determine where the section appeared in earlier editions, however, you must then go to the article and section referenced in the 1957 edition.  This will give you not only where the section appeared in all editions back to and including the 1888 edition of the code, but all session laws that contributed to the section back to Colonial times.  Once again, this process is used to determine the law at a particular date in the past or to determine the statutory context in which to read a case from the past.  In addition, reference can be made to old pocket parts, back to 1957, to look at a "snap shot" of how the code stood at a particular year in the past.  Generally a superseded pocket part must be looked at in conjunction with the bound volume of the code, superseded or current, that the pocket part was published to update.  The earliest copyright date in the pocket part will reveal which of possibly several republications of that article or group of articles of the code it was designed to update.

In the historical citations with each section of the Maryland Code, older editions of the Maryland Code can be distinguished from session laws.  The abbreviation "ch." for chapter appears immediately after the year in a session law citation, while a citation to an older edition of the Code consists only of the year of the Code followed by the section.  For example, at the end of Md. Ann. Code art. 27, § 38 (1996) the information appears as:

An. Code, 1951, § 46; 1939, § 42; 1927, ch. 651; 1961, ch. 691.

This is a reference to the two earlier editions of the Maryland Code where the section was codified and to the two session laws that went into making up the section as it stood in 1996.  Following the Bluebook form the older codes would be cited:

Md. Ann. Code art. 27, § 46 (1951)

Md. Ann. Code art. 27, § 42 (1939)

and the session laws would be cited:

1927 Md. Laws ch. 651

1961 Md. Laws ch. 691

Since the 1957 edition was first published, not only have its individual volumes and those of the subject edition been kept up to date with pocket parts, but the volumes themselves have been republished as necessary.  This has occurred either when the pocket parts have become too large to fit readily into the space provided in the back of the volume, or when the substantive changes in the code have become so great or complicated that the republication of the entire volume was necessary for clarity.  In both the 1957 edition and the subject edition of the Code, original volumes have a year alone printed on the lower portion of the spine, whereas replacement volumes have both a year and "Replacement Volume" immediately following.  This distinction is particularly important when dealing with the subject edition because key features, the Revisor's Notes, are published only in the initial volume of the new edition.  When that volume is first replaced, these notes are no longer included.  Thus, the researcher must use the original volume of each article of the subject edition to find the Revisor's Notes.


First, look at Article 88A, § 30 in the 1951 edition of the Maryland Code. Note that the earliest session law in the historical citations with that section (this information is printed immediately before the section, not after, as is now the practice) is from 1947, with other enactment in 1950.

Maryland Code - Article 88A § 30, 1951 edition


The first session law, cited following The Bluebook as 1947 Md. Laws Ch. 600, § 16M is the enactment of the legislature that first created this section.

Laws of Maryland, 1947 - Chapter 600


What happened to this section when the 1951 edition of the Code was recompiled in 1957? Turn to the cross reference table in volume 9 of the 1957 edition of the Code, which translates from the 1951 to the 1957 edition. Note that the section appears in the 1957 edition at Md. Code art. 88A, § 31. Obviously this is not much of a change, but in other parts of the Code, where there was more legislative activity during the 1950s, the renumbering was much more extensive.

Maryland Code, Table of Comparative Sections, 1957


Note how the section was published in the 1957 edition. Also note how the session law information no longer precedes the section, but now follows the section in parenthesis.

Maryland Code - Article 88A § 31, 1957 edition


What happened when Article 88A of the 1957 edition was recompiled into the current subject edition of the Code? Using the “Table of Comparable Sections for Unnumbered Articles” (within the Annotated Code of Maryland Tables, a separate volume that is republished every year and shelved with the current edition of the Code), note that this section ended up in the subject edition at Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 5-521.

Maryland Code, Table of Comparable Sections, 1998


This is the section as it appeared in the subject editions of the Code when the Family Law article was first published in 1984. Note the inclusion of the Revisor’s Note.

Maryland Code, Family Law § 5-521, 1984 edition


The next illustration shows the section as it appears in the current republication of the Family Law article. Note that the Revisor’s Note is not here. Revisor’s Notes are dropped from all republications of subject edition volumes. Even though the pocket part is not illustrated here, there have been no changes to this section through the 1998 legislative session. Thus, the most recent session law to have affected this section is 1984 Md. Laws ch. 296, § 2.

Maryland Code, Family Law § 5-521, 1991 edition


Looking at session laws can be significant for several reasons, including determining when specific language was added to a section of the Code. As it turns out, this session law was the massive enactment of the Family law article by the legislature after the editorial work creating it from various articles of the 1957 edition had been completed. Note that going back to the session law itself is one of the few ways to determine the original bill number that resulted in the enactment. This was House Bill # 1 from 1984.

Laws of Maryland, 1984 - Chapter 296


Laws of Maryland, 1984 - Chapter 296 (continued)


Note how the bill appeared as it was first introduced. While the illustrations here do not show it, one of the benefits of looking at the original bill as published for its required three readings before the legislature and at the resulting session law is to note the addition and deletion of language. This is represented by under linings and strike throughs respectively, and can serve to reveal changes made by the legislature during consideration.

Maryland Bills - House Bill 1, 1984


Maryland Bills - House Bill 1, 1984 (continued)mdretro11

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