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 from a more complex judicial system.
Courthouse, 206 High St., Cambridge, Maryland, January 2007. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
By constitutional amendment, the six courts of the Supreme Bench were consolidated (Chapter 523, Acts of 1980, ratified Nov. 4, 1980). On January 1, 1983, they became the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
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.
As trial courts of general jurisdiction, Circuit Courts have very broad jurisdiction, generally covering major civil cases and more serious criminal matters. Circuit Courts also may decide appeals from the District Court of Maryland and certain administrative agencies.
Allegany County Courthouse, 30 Washington St., Cumberland, Maryland, July 2006. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
As of July 1, 2016, there are 173 Circuit Court judges, with at least one judge for each county and at least four judges for each judicial circuit (Chapter 34, Acts of 2013; Chapter 91, Acts of 2016; Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, sec. 1-503). 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 also are designated by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals after considering the recommendation of 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 (Maryland Rules, Rule 16-105). 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).
2nd Judicial Circuit (8 judges): Caroline (1 judge), Cecil (4 judges), Kent (1 judge), Queen Anne's (1 judge) & Talbot (1 judge) counties
3rd Judicial Circuit (26 judges): Baltimore County (20 judges) & Harford County (6 judges)
4th Judicial Circuit (8 judges): Allegany (2 judges), Garrett (1 judge) & Washington (5 judges) counties
5th Judicial Circuit (22 judges): Anne Arundel (13 judges), Carroll (4 judges) & Howard (5 judges) counties
6th Judicial Circuit (30 judges): Frederick (6 judges) & Montgomery (24 judges) counties
7th Judicial Circuit (35 judges): Calvert (3 judges), Charles (5 judges), Prince George's (24 judges) & St. Mary's (3 judges) counties
8th Judicial Circuit (35 judges): Baltimore City
Maryland Judicial Center, 580 Taylor Ave.,
Annapolis, Maryland, March 2004. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
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.
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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