Maryland Court of Appeals

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Maryland Court of Appeals
Court information
Justices:   7
Founded:   1776
Location:   Annapolis, Maryland
Chief:  $186,000
Associates:  $167,000
Judicial selection
Method:   Assisted appointment
Term:   10 years
Active justices

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

Seal of Maryland.png

The Maryland Court of Appeals is the court of last resort in Maryland. The court meets in the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building in the state capital, which is Annapolis, Md. The term of the court begins the second Monday of September.[1][2]


The court is composed of one chief judge and six associate judges.[1]

The Maryland Court of Appeals has 7 judges.
JudgeTermAppointed byParty
Judge Lynne Battaglia2001-2022Gov. Parris N. 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 Shirley Marie Watts2013-2024Gov. Martin O'MalleyDemocratic
Judge Robert N. McDonald2011-2022Gov. Martin O'Malley

Judicial circuits

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 set up 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

Judicial selection

Judges of the Maryland Court of Appeals

Judges are appointed to serve 10-year terms by the governor of the state and must be confirmed by the Maryland Senate before taking office. At least one year after the appointment, the judge must run without opposition in a retention election. If the judge is retained, he or she will serve another 10-year term. Maryland has a mandatory retirement age for all judges, which is their 70th birthday.[3][4]


Court of Appeals judges must be:

  • citizens and qualified voters of Maryland;
  • residents of the state for at least five years
  • residents of the appellate judicial circuit to which they are appointed for at least the prior six months;
  • 30 years of age at the time of appointment;
  • admitted to practice law in Maryland; and
  • "most distinguished for integrity, wisdom and sound legal knowledge."[5]

Chief judge

The chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals is selected by the governor and serves as the administrative head of the state's judicial system, according to the Maryland Constitution.[3][6]


The Court of Appeals has exclusive jurisdiction over death penalty appeals, cases involving legislative redistricting, issues concerning removal of elected officials and is responsible for answering broad legal questions.[3] The court has authority to make administrative, practical and procedural rules, all of which have "the force of law."[1] The Court of Appeals is also responsible for determining admission to the state bar and is in charge of disciplinary proceedings for ethical and legal violations by lawyers and the judiciary.[1]


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2014 106 153
2013 124 109
2012 128 173
2011 138 161
2010 143 140
2009 176 98
2008 165 135
2007 148 176




JudgeElection Vote
WattsShirley Marie Watts 88.4% ApprovedA

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.[8]


Removal of justices

Maryland judges may be removed in four different ways:

  • A judge may be removed by the governor upon the address of the general assembly and the agreement of two thirds of each house.
  • A judge may be retired by the general assembly with a two-thirds vote of each house and the governor's concurrence.
  • A majority vote of the house of delegates and a conviction by two thirds of the senate is necessary to impeach a judge.
  • The commission on judicial disabilities may recommend the removal of a judge. Based on this recommendation, the Court of Appeals makes the final decision.[9]

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]

Notable cases


  • The Maryland Court of Appeals was created in 1776 when the Maryland Constitution was ratified. Article 56 of that document laid out the court.
  • In 1778, the court was remodeled to five judges.
  • In 1801, the court was reduced to just three judges.
  • In 1806, the court restructured again, this time creating the six judicial districts. Now the court had a chief judge and two associate judges per district.
  • A constitutional amendment in 1851 divided the state into four judicial districts; each district elected one judge to serve on the court. Further, the amendment proscribed a term of 10 years for each judge. The court was then given exclusive appellate jurisdiction and a permanent seat from which to hear cases, Annapolis.
  • The 1864 amendment created five judicial districts and five judges to serve on the court.
  • In 1867, however, the court returned to a mixed trial and appellate court makeup. There were now eight judicial districts. The governor was given authority to select a chief judge, whom the Maryland Senate had to confirm, for each of the seven districts. In the eighth district, which was Baltimore, the voters selected a chief judge. These eight chief judges sat on the court.
  • The next change occurred in 1943, when the court went back to a five-judge model where each was elected for terms of 15 years.
  • In 1960, the number of judges on the court increased to seven, which is the current amount.[3]

Former judges


  • Robert M. Bell, 6th Appellate Judicial Circuit
  • Dale R. Cathell, 1st Appellate Judicial Circuit
  • Howard S. Chasanow, 4th Appellate Judicial Circuit
  • John C. Eldridge, 5th Appellate Judicial Circuit
  • Robert L. Karwacki, 1st Appellate Judicial Circuit
  • Joseph F. Murphy, Jr., 2nd Appellate Judicial Circuit
  • Robert C. Murphy, 2nd Appellate Judicial Circuit
  • Irma S. Raker, 7th Appellate Judicial Circuit
  • Lawrence F. Rodowsky, 3rd Appellate Judicial Circuit
  • Alan M. Wilner, 2nd Appellate Judicial Circuit

See also

External links


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