Maryland’s Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals are the appellate courts for the state. The Court of Appeals acts as a Supreme Court overseeing all other levels of the judiciary. It is the highest court in the state and hears death penalty appeals and other select cases from lower courts.
The Court of Special Appeals is the state’s intermediate appeals court. It was established in 1966 and is the first court of appeal for District and Circuit Court appeals. When a dissatisfied party of a case from a lower court wants their case reviewed, they file an appeal. Usually, a panel of three judges will review the case, court transcripts, briefs and oral arguments prepared by each side and determine if there were any errors made in the first trial. Occasionally, all 15 judges of the Court of Special Appeals will sit in to review, and this is referred to as sitting “en banc.” Only two of the three judges need to agree to be a majority vote. They publish their verdicts called “opinions,” and these sometimes become precedents for new cases. Any appeal heard in the Court of Special Appeals can be later appealed to the Court of Appeals, but they rarely accept new cases.
Maryland’s Courts website has an extensive area devoted to appeals, appeal schedules, published opinions, guides to creating briefs and oral arguments, resources and information designed to guide individuals through the legal appeals process.
For the last year tallied, the Court of Appeals reviewed 871 cases. Of those 596 were for petitions of Certiorari, 126 were for attorney grievances, and the rest were for regular appeals and miscellaneous docket matters. For that same year, 1,931 cases were filed with the Court of Special Appeals. From those, judges published 1,341 opinions. The majority were for post-conviction appeals.