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Maryland Court of Appeals

The Maryland Court of Appeals is the highest court in Maryland. The Court of Appeals hears cases almost exclusively by way of certiorari. Certiorari or Cert is a process which gives the court discretion to decide which cases to hear. The Court of Appeals is mandated by law to hear certain cases including criminal cases involving the death penalty, legislative redistricting, removal of certain officers, and certifications of questions of law. All seven judges hear oral arguments on each case unless a judge removes himself/herself from a case whereupon a judge from another court, or a retired appellate judge may be specially assigned to the case. (Source: Maryland Judiciary's site). A lot of people think that the Court of Appeals rehears evidence during the appeal process. That virtually never happens at the appellate level. Appeals are heard on the record established at the trial court level. In order to prevail on an appeal, the party must prove to the satisfaction of the panel of judges that more than just harmless error occurred at the trial of the case. The Court usually relies on the fact finding of the trial court unless it is clearly erroneous. There are times that the Court of Appeals may hear a case requested by the United States District Court of Maryland.

The attorneys must prepare an abstract of the case and present it for the appeal. Each party submits an appellate brief setting forth its position regarding the facts established at the trial level and setting forth the errors it contends the trial court made. The party must set forth a legal argument that cites case law or statutory law that supports their position. The attorneys for the parties are provided a set limit of time to present oral argument to try to convince the panel of the correctness of their position. There can be very pointed questions asked by the panel regarding the alleged facts and the interpretation of the law. It usually takes several months for the Court to render a written decision. In many cases the losing party in the appeal will be required to pay the costs of the appeal.

Maryland Court of Special Appeals

The Court of Special Appeals is Maryland’s intermediate appellate court. The Court of Special Appeals was created in 1966. The Court of Special Appeals originally could hear only criminal appeals. Presently, the jurisdiction of the Court of Special Appeals includes 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 all 13 judges may listen to a case, known as an ‘en banc’ hearing. (Source: Maryland Judiciary's site)

The procedure followed in the Court of Special Appeals is much like the procedure before the Court of Appeals. An appellate brief must be filed, there is oral argument before the panel of judges and a decision is usually rendered within several months.

Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
361 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 260-1450

District of Columbia Court of Appeals

The District of Columbia Court of appeals was established by congress in 1970. The court consists of a chief judge and eight associate judges. From time to time retired judges assist the court with its caseload.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals is authorized to review all final orders, judgments and specified interlocutory orders of the Superior Court. The Court of Appeals also has jurisdiction to review decisions of the administrative agencies, boards, and commissions of the District of Columbia Government, as well as answer questions of law certified by federal and state appellate court. The Court of Appeals also reviews proposed rules of the Superior Court and promulgates its own rules. Either party may appeal a decision rendered in the Superior Court to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia. Clients need to understand that appeals are heard on the record and no new testimony is taken. There needs to be a legitimate appealable issue before an appeal should be taken since costs can be assessed against the losing party on appeal. Simply being dissatisfied with the result is not an appealable issue. One must show that the trial judge misapplied the law, made erroneous evidentiary or legal rulings that affected the outcome of the case or there was some other issue that prejudiced the outcome of the case that should not have occurred. Appeals are very difficult to win and are generally not recommended unless it is clear that error was committed at the trial level. Procedurally, appeals are handled similar to the Maryland Courts and require a great deal of time and attention to prepare the required documents.

Mondays-Fridays: 8:30a.m.-5:00p.m.
After 5:00p.m., filings can be made in the after-hours filing box in the lobby of the Moultrie Courthouse.

Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Sixth Floor
Washington, D.C. 20001

Main Contact
Phone: (202) 879-2700

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