Maryland Trial & Appellate Litigation Attorneys
The judicial system in Maryland gives both plaintiffs and defendants opportunities to appeal a court’s decision. When either party believes a court made a substantial error, they may appeal the outcome of their case to a higher court.
Maryland does allow people to represent themselves in appeals cases; however, appeals guidelines are stringent, and any mistake along the way could cause a court to refuse to consider an appeal.
If you are considering appealing a court’s decision, talk to Lusk Law, LLC. Our legal team has successfully represented clients in the appeals process, including cases presented to the state’s two highest courts. Request your no-obligation consultation today by calling 443-535-9715.
How Appeals Work
Maryland has five types of courts. The three lower courts have branches in each county and in Baltimore City, and the courts are organized as follows:
- District Court – This court handles cases including landlord-tenant disputes, traffic infractions, domestic violence, small claims of less than $5,000, and civil suits less than $30,000.
- Orphans’ Court – Judges hear cases involving wills, estates, probate matters, and some guardianship cases.
- Circuit Court – This court reviews appeals stemming from District Court and Orphans’ Court. It also handles initial cases involving serious criminal offenses, civil suits over $30,000, juvenile matters, and divorce.
- Maryland Court of Special Appeals – This court may review any judgment, decree, order, or action arising from Circuit Court or Orphans’ Court. Fifteen judges serve on this court, and most cases are heard by three-judge panels.
- Maryland Court of Appeals – This is the highest court in Maryland (what many states label a “Supreme Court”) and includes 7 judges. It reviews appeals from the Court of Special Appeals; in some instances, it may hear appeals from the District Court and Circuit Court. The Maryland Court of Appeals is not obligated to hear a case, unless it involves the death penalty, legislative redistricting, removal of certain officers, and certifications of questions of law. Instead litigants file Petitions of Certiorari to the Court of Appeals if they want their case heard and the Court then chooses cases that it finds desirable and in the public interest.
The Importance of Procedure
In a civil case, a party has an automatic right of one appeal. The party must file a Notice of Appeal and pay the appeal fees. Depending on the type of case that is being appealed, the Appeal may either be “De Novo”, which means heard anew or “On the Record”. If the case is appealed “De Novo”, the entire case is tried again at the higher court, without consideration to what happened in the first trial. If the appeal is “On the Record”, then the higher court is solely reviewing the record and what occurred at that lower court. After the first level of appeal, if a litigate wants to appeal again, then the litigant must file a Petition for Certiorari to ask the highest court to consider an appeal and must explain a specific reason for that appeal. The standard of review by the appellate court will depend on the basis for the appeal.
Throughout the appeals process, there are deadlines and requirements that must be followed, to ensure the appeal isn’t rejected for procedural errors.
Court Considerations and Decisions
A higher court can’t “overturn” a lower court’s decision. But it can take any of the following actions when it reviews a case:
- Dismiss the appeal –A court may dismiss an appeal that did not adhere to appropriate procedures.
- Affirm – If, after reviewing the facts, the higher court believes the lower court acted appropriately, it may simply affirm the lower court’s findings.
- Reverse/remand – When a higher court reverses a lower court’s decision (such as a sentence or a civil award), it reverses the decision and “remands” (instructs the court to take a certain action).
- Vacate – In some cases, a higher court may find that a fundamental error completely negates a lower court’s action. For example, if a court lacked jurisdiction to hear a case, a higher court would vacate the lower court’s proceedings.
- Modify – The court may find that a lower court incorrectly applied the law (for example, sentencing or parenting-time guidelines) and order the lower court to modify its decision.
Although the law allows for multiple, escalating steps in the appeals process, most people want a quick resolution. Hiring an attorney who is experienced in the appellate realm may expedite resolution of your appeal.
If you need help with an appeal, contact the legal team at Lusk Law, LLC, either online or at 443-535-9715. Let us put our experience to work for you.
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