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ANNPOLIS — Following the wishes of a majority of voters, effective Dec. 14 the Court of Appeals of Maryland became the Supreme Court of Maryland, and the Court of Special Appeals is now the …
ANNAPOLIS — Following the wishes of a majority of voters, effective Dec. 14 the Court of Appeals of Maryland became the Supreme Court of Maryland, and the Court of Special Appeals is now the Appellate Court of Maryland.
Governor Larry Hogan issued a proclamation announcing those changes as well as others to the state constitution with nearly 1.341 million ballots cast to change the name of the two highest courts (75%) and more than 447,250 votes (25%) in opposition during the Nov. 8 General Election.
“The Court of Appeals of Maryland and the Court of Special Appeals have a rich and long history operating under these names,” said Chief Justice Matthew J. Fader. “Both courts will continue to honor that history as we carry forward what those who came before us have worked so hard to build.
“Although the names are changing, Maryland’s highest courts and the entire Judiciary remain steadfastly committed to upholding the rule of law and achieving our mission of providing fair, efficient, and effective justice for all.”
Maryland’s highest court originated in the mid-17th century when the colonial Governor and Provincial Council, sitting as the Upper Chamber in the Assembly, held appellate jurisdiction as the Court of Appeals. Established by the Maryland Constitution of 1776, the Court of Appeals has remained the appellate court of last resort for the past 246 years.
Under the recently passed constitution amendment, the jurisdiction and function of the court will remain the same and the seven judges will now be known as justices of the Supreme Court of Maryland.
“This is a welcome and much-needed change,” said Chief Judge E. Gregory Wells, Appellate Court of Maryland. “Hopefully the voter-approved constitutional change in the names of both courts clears up any confusion among the public, lawyers, and judges from other jurisdictions about the roles of our respective courts. It should be noted, however, the precedents, rules, and all other practices of the court are unaffected by the renaming, and we will continue business as usual at the highest level of service.”
The Court of Special Appeals was created in 1966 by constitutional amendment as Maryland’s intermediate appellate court. Originally, five judges served on the court. The number of judges who serve on the intermediate appellate court increased several times over the years. Currently, 15 judges sit on the renamed Appellate Court of Maryland.
For a broader overview of the courts click here. In Somerset County, 68% or 3979 of the votes cast were in favor of the change with 1847 voting no.