Maryland State Court System

  • District Court: The District Court of Maryland has jurisdiction in small claims and other civil matters.
  • Circuit Court: The Circuit Court is the state’s trial court of general jurisdiction. It has exclusive original jurisdiction in tort cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $30,000.
  • Court of Special Appeals:The Court of Special Appeals is Maryland’s intermediate appellate court. It hears cases appealed from the District and Circuit Courts.
  • Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals is Maryland’s highest court and has discretionary appellate jurisdiction over lower court cases.

*Some of the courts in the Maryland State Court System also have jurisdiction over other proceedings which are not covered here.

Pleadings

In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 30 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.

Discovery

After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:

  • Written Discovery: is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:

    • Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
    • Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
  • Depositions: In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.

Settlement Negotiations– At all times throughout the claims process, the parties can agree to settle the dispute by reaching an amicable solution for both parties. 95% of all personal injury claims or lawsuits are resolved by way of settlement prior to trial.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

If a case is pending in the District or Circuit Court of Maryland, a plaintiff may be able to take advantage of an ADR program to resolve the dispute before trial. Many District Court locations offer unique alternative dispute resolution programs for cases within the court. In mediation programs, the mediator helps the participants reach a mutually agreeable resolution without evaluating the facts for them. In settlement conferences, the facilitator may use an impartial evaluation to assist the participants with settling the case.

Trial

If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.

Motions and Appeals

After a final judgment is entered, the party wishing to appeal must file a notice of appeal with the district clerk within 30 days after the entry of the final judgment.

Recovery

A judgment rendered in Maryland is valid for 12 years.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Maryland. Should you have a question/concern specific to Maryland law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland.