For the counties, the Circuit Courts were established to succeed the County Courts in 1851 (Constitution of 1851, Art. IV, secs. 8, 9). The present Baltimore City Circuit Court, however, evolved out of a more complex judicial system.
From 1789 to 1816, a court of oyer and terminer and gaol delivery heard criminal cases for Baltimore City. Its jurisdiction was assumed in 1817 by the Baltimore City Court. The Constitution of 1851 provided Baltimore City with the Court of Common Pleas, the Superior Court, and the Criminal Court (Art. IV, secs. 10-13). The Circuit Court of Baltimore City was established by statute in 1853 and further mandated by the Constitution of 1864 (Chapter 122, Acts of 1853; Art. IV, secs. 31, 35). The Constitution of 1867 authorized the Baltimore City Court (for civil proceedings) and placed all of these City courts under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City (Art. IV, secs. 27, 28). In 1888, Baltimore City Circuit Court no. 2 also was placed under the Supreme Bench (Chapter 194, Acts of 1888). By constitutional amendments ratified by the voters in November 1980, the six courts of the Supreme Bench were consolidated. They became the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on January 1, 1983.
Allegany County Courthouse, 30 Washington St., Cumberland, Maryland, July 2006. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
The Circuit Courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction. Their jurisdiction is very broad but generally covers major civil cases and more serious criminal matters. Circuit Courts also may decide appeals from the District Court of Maryland and certain administrative agencies.
Circuit Courts are grouped into eight geographical circuits. The first seven circuits each contain two or more counties; the eighth consists of Baltimore City (Const., Art. IV, sec. 19).
Cecilius Calvert statue (1908), by Albert Weinert, Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr., Courthouse (from St. Paul Place), Baltimore, Maryland, January 2001. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
2nd Judicial Circuit (7 judges): Caroline (1 judge), Cecil (3 judges), Kent (1 judge), Queen Anne's (1 judge) & Talbot (1 judge) counties
3rd Judicial Circuit (22 judges): Baltimore County (17 judges) & Harford County (5 judges)
4th Judicial Circuit (8 judges): Allegany (2 judges), Garrett (1 judge) & Washington (5 judges) counties
5th Judicial Circuit (19 judges): Anne Arundel (11 judges), Carroll (3 judges) & Howard (5 judges) counties
6th Judicial Circuit (25 judges): Frederick (4 judges) & Montgomery (21 judges) counties
7th Judicial Circuit (32 judges): Calvert (2 judges), Charles (4 judges), Prince George's (23 judges) & St. Mary's (3 judges) counties
8th Judicial Circuit (32 judges): Baltimore City
As of May 2007, there are 153 Circuit Court judges, with at least one judge for each county and at least four judges for each judicial circuit. Unlike other Maryland courts, the Circuit Court has no chief judge. Instead, eight circuit administrative judges perform administrative duties in each of their respective circuits. Appointed by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, circuit administrative judges are aided by county administrative judges. County administrative judges are designated by the circuit administrative judge, except in the 8th Judicial Circuit (Baltimore City), where the Circuit Administrative Judge has all the powers and duties of a county administrative judge. Within each circuit, the judge who has served longest on the court is designated chief judge of the circuit (Const., Art. IV, sec. 21).
Each Circuit Court judge is appointed by the Governor and then must stand for election. The judge's name is placed on the ballot in the first general election that occurs at least one year following the vacancy the judge was appointed to fill (Const., Art. IV, sec.5). The judge may be opposed formally by one or more qualified members of the bar, with the successful candidate being elected to a fifteen-year term (Const., Art. IV, secs. 3, 5, 11, 12, 19-26).
Representing the interests of the circuit courts, the Conference of Circuit Judges is a policy advisory body to the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the Court of Appeals, and other judicial branch agencies in all circuit court matters. Periodically, the Conference meets to consider and make recommendations concerning the administration of justice and the circuit courts. The Conference also may initiate complaints to the Commission on Judicial Disabilities concerning alleged judicial misconduct or disability.
The Conference of Circuit Judges originated as the Conference of Circuit Administrative Judges, which formed on March 14, 1972, by rule of the Court of Appeals (Maryland Rules, Rule 1207). At that time, the Conference was composed solely of the eight administrative judges of the judicial circuits. On November 28, 1978, the Conference reorganized as the Conference of Circuit Judges (Maryland Rules, Rule 16-108).
The Conference consists of sixteen members. Eight are the administrative judges of the eight judicial circuits. From each of the eight judicial circuits, the judges of each circuit elect a fellow judge to represent them at the Conference for a two-year term. The chair is elected by the Conference for a two-year term. The Administrative Office of the Courts serves as secretariat to the Conference.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE July 1, 2009
The Executive Committee of the Conference of Circuit Judges formed in 1998. It consists of the chair and vice-chair of the Conference and such other members as the Conference may designate.
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Maryland Manual On-Line, 2009
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July 1, 2009