Maryland Court of Appeals

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Maryland Court of Appeals
Court information
Justices:   7
Founded:   1776
Location:   Annapolis, Maryland
Chief:  $185,000
Associates:  $166,000
Judicial selection
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   10 years
Active justices

Lynne Battaglia  •  Clayton Greene  •  Glenn T. Harrell, Jr.  •  Sally Adkins  •  Mary Ellen Barbera  •  Robert N. McDonald  •  

Seal of Maryland.png

The Maryland Court of Appeals is the supreme court in Maryland. The court meets in the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building in the state capital, Annapolis. The term of the Court begins the second Monday of September.


The court is composed of one chief judge and six associate judges. Unlike most other states, the jurists on the Maryland Court of Appeals are called judges, not justices.[1]

The Maryland Court of Appeals has 6 judges.
JudgeTermAppointed byParty
Judge Lynne Battaglia2001-2022Gov. Parris Glendening
Judge Clayton Greene2004-2016Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.
Judge Glenn T. Harrell, Jr.1999-2020Gov. Parris N. Glendening
Judge Sally Adkins2008-2018Gov. Martin O'Malley
Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera2009-2020Gov. Martin O'Malley
Judge Robert N. McDonald2011-2022Gov. Martin O'Malley

There is one judge from each of the state's seven Appellate Judicial Circuits and each judge is required to be a resident of his or her respective circuit. The circuits are currently as follows:

Maryland Court of Appeals Judicial Circuits

Circuit Counties
1 Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico & Worcester Counties
2 Baltimore County & Harford County
3 Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Howard & Washington Counties
4 Prince George's County
5 Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles & St. Mary's Counties
6 Baltimore City
7 Montgomery County

Chief Judge

Robert Mack Bell was appointed to the court in 1991 by William Donald Schaefer, a Democrat. His current term expires in 2012. The Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals is selected by the Governor. As Chief Judge, Bell is the administrative head of the state's judicial system, according to the Constitution of Maryland.[2]


Throughout the year, the Court of Appeals holds hearings on "the adoption or amendment of rules of practice and procedure and supervises the Attorney Grievance Commission and State Board of Law Examiners in attorney disciplinary and admission matters."[2] The Court of Appeals has exclusive jurisdiction over death penalty appeals, legislative redistricting, removal of some officers, and is responsible for answering broad legal questions.[2]

Judicial selection

Judges are appointed to serve ten year terms by the Governor of the state, with the consent of the senate. At least one year after the appointment, the judge must run without opposition. If the judge is retained, he will serve a ten-year term, and all judges must retire by their 70th birthday.[3]

Political outlook

See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of State Supreme Court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Maryland was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Maryland received a score of -0.44. Based on the justices selected, Maryland was the 10th most liberal court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.[4]


"The Judges of the court are required to be citizens of and qualified voters in Maryland. Prior to their appointment, they must have resided in Maryland for at least five years, and for at least six months in the appellate judicial circuit from which they are appointed. They must be at least thirty years of age at the time of appointment, and must have been admitted to practice law in Maryland. Appointees should be "most distinguished for integrity, wisdom and sound legal knowledge."

Removal of justices

"Maryland judges may be removed in one of four ways: Judges may be removed by the governor upon the address of the general assembly with the concurrence of two thirds of the members of each house. Judges may be retired by the general assembly with a two-thirds vote of each house and the governor's concurrence. Judges may be impeached by a majority of the house of delegates and convicted by two thirds of the senate. Judges may be removed or retired by the court of appeals on the recommendation of the commission on judicial disabilities."[5]


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2011 138 161
2010 143 140
2009 176 98
2008 165 135
2007 148 176


Notable decisions

Maryland legislature seeks to mitigate pit bull ruling

January 18, 2013
Last year, the Maryland Court of Appeals handed down a ruling that declared all pit bulls were dangerous.[7][8][9] The ruling made pit bull owners responsible for any harm done by their dogs and also made landlords responsible for the dogs of their tenants, meaning that in some instances of attack or other damage, two parties would be held fully responsible.[7] The ruling spurred many pet surrenders and abandonments, as some landlords sought to remove pit bulls from their rental properties and other pet owners worried about liability.[8] The ruling has increased the number of pit bulls in the shelter and rescue system, while simultaneously making pit bulls harder to adopt. The mitigation of the court ruling through legislation has become a popular cause among the public, with Democratic Representative Luiz R.S. Simmons noting that he has received more emails about this topic than any other during his time in office.[7] An emergency bill, filed in the house by two lawmakers on January 17, 2013, promises to spread responsibility for harm caused by all dogs equitably. The sponsors of the bill note that it is intended to be fair to landlords, dog owners, and dog bite victims.[7] The new bill would pertain to all dogs, unlike the Court of Appeals ruling which covers only pit bulls. Two similar bills were introduced in emergency sessions in the House and Senate last year, but both failed to pass.


Financial disclosure

See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements

In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Maryland earned a grade of C in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.[10]

History of the court

The Maryland Court of Appeals was created in 1776 with the ratification of the Maryland Constitution. Specifically, the court was created by Article 56 of the constitution. The Court was to be "composed of persons of integrity and sound judgment in the law, whose judgment shall be final and conclusive in all cases of appeal, from the general court, court of chancery, and court of admiralty . . ." Since it's conception, the Governor has appointed all judges in the state. In 1778, five judges held court, but in 1801, the number was reduced by two. In 1806, the court restructured with six judicial districts--a Chief Judge and two associate judges per district. The Constitution was amended in 1851 to divide the state by four judicial districts, and judges were to serve ten-year terms. The Constitution was amended several times, but by 1960, the number of justices increased to seven, the size of the current court.

See also

External links


Portions of this article have been taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Copyright Notice can be found here.

MarylandMaryland Court of AppealsMaryland Court of Special AppealsMaryland District CourtsMaryland Circuit CourtsMaryland Orphans' CourtUnited States District Court for the District of MarylandUnited States bankruptcy court, District of MarylandUnited States Court of Appeals for the Fourth CircuitMaryland countiesMaryland judicial newsMaryland judicial electionsJudicial selection in MarylandMarylandTemplate.jpg

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JudgeIncumbencyRetention voteRetention Vote %
BattagliaLynne Battaglia   ApprovedAYes313,78286.2%ApprovedA
BellRobert M. Bell   ApprovedAYes179,71886.9%ApprovedA
McDonaldRobert N. McDonald   ApprovedAYes348,45984.1%ApprovedA