Successful Summer Strategies: Research in the Real World
Sources for Maryland Case Law Research
The Maryland Court System
Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals is the highest court in Maryland and hears cases
primarily on review. It has appellate jurisdiction over death penalty
cases and questions of law under the Uniform Certification of Questions
of Law Act. The Court has original jurisdiction over questions concerning
gubernatorial succession, review of legislative districting, disciplining
of judges, and attorney discipline. Decisions are reported in the Maryland
Reports, the Atlantic Reporter, and the Maryland Reporter.
Court of Special Appeals
The Court of Special Appeals is the intermediate appellate court. It has
no original jurisdiction. Except for death penalty cases, which are directly
appealable to the Court of Appeals, it has exclusive initial appellate
jurisdiction over judgments, decrees, and orders from the Circuit or Orphans'
Courts. Decisions are reported in the Maryland Appellate Reports, the
Atlantic Reporter, and the Maryland Reporter.
The Circuit Courts are the highest common law and equity courts of record
exercising original jurisdiction. These courts have appellate jurisdiction
over decisions of the District courts. With the exception of Montgomery
County, they also have exclusive jurisdiction over juvenile matters. Each
county has a circuit court and these courts are grouped geographically
into circuits. Opinions of these courts are usually not published, but
summaries of some important cases appear in Maryland's legal and business
newspaper, the Daily Record.
The District Courts are of limited jurisdiction in both criminal and civil
areas. There are twelve geographical districts consisting of one or more
political subdivisions with at least one judge. The court has exclusive
jurisdiction over landlord and tenant cases, replevin actions, motor vehicle
violations, civil cases under $2,500, and criminal cases in which the
penalty is less than three years or the fine does not exceed $2,500, or
both. There is concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit Court in misdemeanors
and certain felonies. District Courts have no jurisdiction if the defendant
is entitled to and demands a jury trial. Opinions of the District courts
are not reported.
The Orphans' Courts have jurisdiction over probate matters. There is an
Orphans' Court in each county, except for Harford and Montgomery, and
Baltimore City. Opinions of these courts are not reported.
For further information about the structure and jurisdiction of Maryland courts,
consult the TMLL Guide to Legal Research, "Maryland
Maryland Reports (Md.) (1658 to date) Contains the full text of opinions
handed down by the Maryland Court of Appeals and its predecessor, the
General Court of Maryland. In addition to the opinions, each volume has
a table of cases reported, names of the judges of the court, an index
of petitions for writ of certiorari, a list of words and phrases construed,
a table of statutes cited, and an index digest.
Maryland Appellate Reports (Md. App.) (1967 to date) Contains the full
text of Maryland Court of Special Appeals opinions. The format is the
same as that of Maryland Reports.
Atlantic Reporter (A., A.2d) (1885 to date) (West Group) The unofficial
reporter for Maryland cases. The Atlantic Reporter covers Connecticut,
Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont, in addition to Maryland.
Maryland Reporter (A., A.2d) (1938 to date) (West Group) For the benefit
of practitioners who are primarily interested in Maryland decisions, West
has reprinted the pages of the Atlantic Reporter containing Maryland decisions.
The pagination is the same as the Atlantic Reporter.
Daily Record (1888 to date) Daily newspaper published in Baltimore City
and self-described as "Maryland's Business & Legal News."
Contains legal announcements, court calendars, articles, opinions of the
attorney general, and synopses of important court decisions.
Lexis and Westlaw: Lexis and Westlaw provide opinions of the
Court of Appeals (dating back to 1787 on Westlaw and 1770 on Lexis) and
the Court of Special Appeals (for both systems dating back to 1967, when
this court was created).
Internet: Opinions of the Court of Appeals and Court of Special
Appeals from 1995 to the present are available on the Maryland
Judiciary Web site. Opinions are loaded on the day of filing.
Records and Briefs
Larger libraries (such as the Thurgood Marshall Law Library) may receive
the records and briefs of reported cases from the Court of Appeals and the
Court of Special Appeals.
West's Maryland Digest 2d. This multi-volume set is the subject index
to both Maryland case law and federal cases arising in Maryland. Cases
from 1658 to the present are included and organized by subject using West's
topic and key number system. The second edition of this digest has completely
replaced the first.
Atlantic Reporter Digest and West's Atlantic Digest 2d. This multi-volume
set is the subject index for the Atlantic Reporter, the West regional
reporter that includes published cases from Maryland.
West's Maryland Law Encyclopedia contains summary discussions of all
areas of Maryland law with citations to cases, statutes, attorney general
opinions and law review articles. It is updated by pocket parts. It includes
several volumes of procedural forms.
Shepard's Maryland Citations. (Print) Gives information about later
history and other cases that have cited a particular decision or section.
The Maryland edition of Shepard's includes citing references from attorney
general opinions and law review articles published by law schools within
the state as well as citing references from federal cases. It does not
provide citing references from cases of other states.
Shepard's (Online on Lexis). Gives the prior and subsequent procedural
history of Maryland (and other state) cases and includes cites to decisions
that have cited particular cases, with analysis of the significance of
KeyCite (on Westlaw). Performs the same functions as Shepardizing. Allows
researcher to validate and expand case research. KeyCite on Westlaw is
as up to date as Shepard's on Lexis.