DISTRICT COURT OF MARYLAND

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


The District Court of Maryland was created by constitutional amendment ratified in 1970 (Chapter 789, Acts of 1969; Const., Art. IV, secs. 41A through 41-I). The Court began operating as a court of record in July 1971. With statewide jurisdiction, the Court functions in every county and Baltimore City. It replaced the justices of the peace, the county trial magistrates, the People's Courts (in certain counties), the People's Court of Baltimore City, and the Municipal Court of Baltimore City.

The District Court has jurisdiction in minor civil and criminal matters, and in virtually all violations of the Motor Vehicle Law. The exclusive jurisdiction of the District Court generally includes all landlord and tenant cases; replevin actions; motor vehicle violations; criminal cases if the penalty is less than three years imprisonment or does not exceed a fine of $2,500, or both; and civil cases involving amounts not exceeding $2,500. It has concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts in civil cases over $2,500 (but not exceeding $10,000) and concurrent jurisdiction in misdemeanors and certain enumerated felonies. The District Court has little equity jurisdiction and only in Montgomery County has jurisdiction over juvenile cases.

Since the District Court provides no juries, a person entitled to and electing a jury trial must proceed to the Circuit Court (Code 1957, Art. 27, secs. 586, 594D, 616 1/ 2, 643A; Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, secs. 1-601 through 1-608, 2-601 through 2-607, 4-101 through 4-405, 6-403, 7-301, 7-302, 9-201, 11-402, 11-701 through 11-703, 12-401 through 12-404; Code Family Law Article, secs. 4-501 through 4-510).

Administered centrally, the District Court of Maryland is funded totally by the State. Including the Chief Judge, 108 judges serve on the Court as of January 2000.

The Chief Judge is the administrative head of the Court and appoints administrative judges for each of the twelve districts, subject to the approval of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. A chief clerk of the Court is appointed by the Chief Judge as are administrative clerks for each district. Appointed by the District Administrative Judge with the approval of the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland, a district commissioner in each district issues arrest warrants and sets bail or collateral.

District Court judges are appointed by the Governor to ten-year terms, subject to Senate confirmation. They do not stand for election. The Chief Judge is designated by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.

The District Court of Maryland is divided into twelve geographical districts. Each district contains one or more political subdivisions, with at least one judge in each subdivision.


ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGES COMMITTEE

The Administrative Judges Committee of the District Court of Maryland was formed by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland when the Court began in 1971. At that time, the Committee included the Chief Judge, as chair, and the twelve district administrative judges. In 1978, the Chief Judge extended membership to add five trial judges of the District Court elected at large biennially by written ballot of the administrative and trial judges of the District Court. The Chief Judge further extended membership in 1998 to include the chairs of the Committee on Civil Procedures and the Committee on Criminal and Motor Vehicle Matters, and later to include the chairs of the Commissioner Education Committee and the Judicial Education Committee.

Meeting quarterly, the Committee considers matters that affect the administration, operation, and maintenance of the District Court of Maryland.

COMMITTEE ON CIVIL PROCEDURES
The Committee on Civil Procedures was formed in 1973 as the Committee on Civil Matters by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland. The Committee reviews new legislation affecting District Court civil cases and appellate court decisions bearing on the trying of civil causes in District Court. Revisions to District Court forms, practices, and procedures also are recommended by the Committee. Upon request of the Chief Judge or the Administrative Judges of the Court, the Committee studies certain topics in civil law.

Members of the Committee are appointed to two-year terms by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland.

COMMISSIONER EDUCATION COMMITTEE
In 1971, the Commissioner Education Committee was initiated by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland. Annually, the Committee revises the District Court Commissioners' Manual. It recommends changes to forms and procedures used by Commissioners. Each year, the Committee prepares an educational seminar for all District Court Commissioners.

Committee members are appointed for indefinite terms by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland.

COMMITTEE ON CRIMINAL & MOTOR VEHICLE MATTERS
The Committee on Criminal and Motor Vehicle Matters was created by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland in 1973 as two separate committees: the Committee on Criminal Matters, and the Committee on Motor Vehicle Matters. They merged in 1981 to form the present committee. The Committee reviews new legislation affecting District Court criminal and motor vehicle cases and appellate court decisions bearing on the trying of criminal and motor vehicle causes in District Court. The Committee recommends revisions to District Court forms, practices, and procedures. Upon request of the Chief Judge or the Administrative Judges of the Court, the Committee studies certain topics concerning criminal or motor vehicle matters.

Members of the Committee are appointed to two-year terms by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland.

JUDICIAL EDUCATION COMMITTEE
The Judicial Education Committee was established by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland in 1973. The Committee prepares and presents an annual education conference for all District Court Judges. Topics and speakers are selected by the Committee, whose members frequently make presentations.

The Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland appoints Committee members to two-year terms.


DEFUNCT COMMITTEES OF DISTRICT COURT

AD HOC COMMITTEE ON COURT LIBRARY REQUIREMENTS
The Ad Hoc Committee on Court Library Requirements was formed by the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland in 1994. The Committee developed a core list of law books, periodicals, and other research materials required for District Court libraries and judges' chambers and for use on the bench. It also determined which titles could be discontinued because of infrequent use. The Committee concluded its work in December 1995.

Maryland Judiciary
Maryland Government
Maryland Constitutional Offices & Agencies
Maryland Departments
Maryland Independent Agencies
Maryland Executive Commissions, Committees, Task Forces, & Advisory Boards
Maryland at a Glance


Maryland Manual On-Line

 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2000

July 18, 2000   
Note: In this past edition of Maryland Manual, some links are to external sites.  View the current Manual


[ Archives' Home Page  ||  All About Maryland  ||  Maryland Manual On-Line  ||  Reference & Research
||  Search the Archives   ||  Education & Outreach  ||  Archives of Maryland Online ]

Governor     General Assembly    Judiciary     Maryland.Gov

Copyright July 18, 2000 Maryland State Archives