Court of Special Appeals gains two judgeships – first since 1977
New law adds 11 judgeships across state
For the first time in more than 35 years, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has gained new judgeships to meet increased need, thanks to legislation passed during the 2013 General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley in April.
The law, Senate Bill 239, will go into effect July 1. The two additional Court of Special Appeals judges, who will be appointed by the governor, will hold at-large seats.
The Court of Special Appeals, created in 1966, is Maryland’s intermediate appellate court. Judges generally hear and decide cases in panels of three. In some instances, however, all judges sit en banc to hear the case.
When the law takes effect July 1, the Court of Special Appeals will have 15 judgeships. The last time the court added new judgeships was 1977, when it grew from 12 to 13 judges.
“Not only has the Court of Special Appeals’ caseload increased significantly over the last three and a half decades, the nature of the cases has shifted significantly,” Judge Krauser said. “The majority of cases filed in our court now are civil, and these cases have, over the years, increased in complexity.”
He added, “We are extremely grateful to the governor and the legislature for helping us continue to improve access to our court. Our judges have been doing an outstanding job in the face of an overwhelming caseload, and these new judges will help alleviate that burden and improve court efficiency. We consider the additional judges as a key part of our efforts to increase access for Marylanders who need our services. We have also started a highly effective mediation program to bring alternative dispute resolution to the appellate level, and produced a guide for people who are representing themselves in the Court of Special Appeals. There’s been a significant increase of self-representing litigants during my tenure as chief judge, and today more than one in four cases in the Court of Special Appeals involves at least one pro se litigant,” Judge Krauser said.
Under the new law, nine new judgeships have also been added to meet demonstrated need at the trial court level. The Circuit Courts for Calvert, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick and Wicomico counties will each gain one judgeship. The District Court in Baltimore City and in Charles, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will each gain one judgeship.