Topics on this page:
- What Are Court Rules?
- Locating the Rules
- Organization of Rules
- Which Court Rules Apply?
- Special Proceedings
- Local Rules
- Federal Rules
What are Court Rules?
The Maryland Rules are rules that lay out the procedures that must be followed when conducting business with the Maryland State courts. These court rules set out the procedures that govern how the court will operate and the details of how the court process will work. Examples include which court can appropriately hear certain cases, what must be done when you are serving a legal complaint on a person you want to sue, deadlines, the kinds of evidence a court may consider, and jury selection. The Supreme Court of Maryland (formerly the Court of Appeals), the highest court in Maryland, has rulemaking power.
Locating the Rules
The Maryland Rules are available online and in print.
- Print - The procedural rules of all the courts in Maryland, including the federal courts, are published in the two paperback rules volumes of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Any library that subscribes to the Annotated Code of Maryland will also get the court rules. The rules volumes contain several different sets of court rules, which apply in different courts and in different types of cases. The rules volumes also include their own indexes to the court rules - one index for rules of the state courts and a separate index for each of the federal courts that sits in Maryland (the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court).
- Online - There are free, online sources where you can view the Maryland Rules. The Thurgood Marshall State Law Library's website has information about accessing Maryland Rules online.
Organization of Rules
The Maryland Rules are organized by Title and Chapter. Titles are broad categories and Chapters are more specific. Where the Rule appears within the organizational structure can tell you a lot about what information the Rule contains. For example, consider Md. Rule 5-601. Title 5 addresses evidence, and Chapter 600 deals with witnesses.
Which Court Rules Apply?
Figure out which court your case will be in and what type of case it is. Different rules apply in different types of courts (e.g., circuit court, District Court, appellate courts). Separate rules apply for different types of cases (e.g., civil, criminal, juvenile, family, and appellate cases).
- The rules that generally apply to civil cases in Circuit Courts are found in Title 2 of the Maryland Rules.
- The rules that generally apply to civil cases in District Courts are found in Title 3 of the Maryland Rules.
Read the rule: Md. Rule 1-101
Small claims and landlord-tenant cases are considered “special proceedings" under the District Court Rules.
- Certain aspects of these special proceedings have their own rules.
- Special rules for small claims are in Md. Rule 3-701.
- The court trial for a small claims matter is much more informal under these special rules. If there is no special rule on a certain issue, then the general rules (Md. Rules,Title 3 excluding Chapter 7) apply.
- For example, Md. Rule 3-701(e) says that there will be no discovery allowed in small claims cases (i.e. cases in which $5,000 or less is in dispute. If your claim is for only $50 more ($5,050), however, discovery is allowed under the regular District Court rules and therefore more complicated rules apply. See Md. Rules Title 3, Chapter 400.
- Special rules for landlord-tenant cases are in Md. Rule 3-711.
The Maryland Rules are the same across the state, regardless of what county or court you are in. However, there are very limited circumstances where an individual court may have its own local rule. Specifically, this would apply to court libraries, memorial proceedings, auditors, compensation of trustees in judicial sales, and appointment of bail bond commissioners and licensing and regulation of bail bondsmen. If these topics are relevant for your case, check for any applicable local rules.
Read the rule: Md. Rule 1-102
The federal rules of practice and procedure govern the federal court processes. Detailed information is available on the United States Courts website.