Maryland Court of Special Appeals
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals is the intermediate appellate court for the U.S. state of Maryland. The Court of Special Appeals was created in 1966 in response to the rapidly growing caseload in the Maryland Court of Appeals. Like the state's highest court, the tribunal meets in the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building in the state capital, Annapolis.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals originally could hear only criminal cases. However, its jurisdiction has expanded so that it now considers 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, however, all 15 judges may listen to a case, known as an en banc hearing.
Appointment and qualifications
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."
After initial appointment by the Governor and confirmation by the Senate, members of the court, at the first general election occurring at least one year after their appointment, run for continuance in office on their records without opposition. If the voters reject the retention in office of a judge, or the vote is tied, the office becomes vacant. Otherwise, the incumbent judge is retained in office for a ten-year term. This requirement of voter approval is similar to provisions in the Missouri Plan, a non-partisan method for selecting judges which is used by 11 states.
There are eight at large judges and one judge from each of the state's seven Appellate Judicial Circuits; the latter are required to be a resident of his or her respective circuit. The circuits are currently as follows:
- 1st Appellate Judicial Circuit: Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico & Worcester counties
- 2nd Appellate Judicial Circuit: Baltimore County & Harford County
- 3rd Appellate Judicial Circuit: Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Howard & Washington counties
- 4th Appellate Judicial Circuit: Prince George's County
- 5th Appellate Judicial Circuit: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles & St. Mary's counties
- 6th Appellate Judicial Circuit: Baltimore City
- 7th Appellate Judicial Circuit: Montgomery County
In order of decreasing seniority, the current judges on the court are:
- Judge Deborah S. Eyler, At Large
- Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser, At Large
- Judge Timothy E. Meredith, 5th Appellate Circuit
- Judge Patrick L. Woodward, 7th Appellate Circuit
- Judge Alexander Wright, Jr., At Large
- Judge Robert A. Zarnoch, At Large
- Judge Kathryn Grill Graeff, 3rd Appellate Circuit
- Judge Christopher B. Kehoe, 1st Appellate Circuit
- Judge Michelle D. Hotten, 4th Appellate Circuit
- Judge Stuart R. Berger, At Large
- Judge Douglas R. M. Nazarian, 2nd Appellate Circuit
- Judge Kevin F. Arthur, At Large
- Judge Andrea M. Leahy, At Large
- Judge Michael W. Reed, 6th Appellate Circuit
- Vacancy, At Large