New Guide Outlines Steps
How do you represent yourself in the Court of Special Appeals?

A new guide helps non-lawyers (and lawyers) file and proceed with an appeal in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court. “A Guide for Self-Representation” includes: a detailed outline of the steps in the appeals process; a checklist of those steps; explanations of terms and actions; and samples of forms and notices.

This is the first time the Maryland Judiciary has issued a guide for people representing themselves, also known as pro se litigants, in the appellate process. Such litigants are appearing in increasing numbers in all levels of courts throughout the U.S. At least eight other state appeals courts have guides for pro se litigants, as do several federal appeals courts and the Supreme Court of the United States.

COSA A Guide for Self Representation
“There’s been a significant increase 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,” Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser said. Each year, approximately 2,000 appeals are filed in the Court of Special Appeals.

The guide provides some fundamental information that people need to know if they are appealing a decision from a circuit court or orphans’ court. For example, the guide:

“It’s very important to note that this guide outlines the steps involved in the appellate process but it does not and cannot provide legal advice,” Judge Krauser said. “It is designed to help people know what forms to fill out, but it cannot give any advice about how to argue their appeal.”

Printed copies are also available in Circuit Court Clerk’s Offices throughout the state and online: A Guide for Self-Representation.

What is the Court of Special Appeals?
The Court of Special Appeals is Maryland’s intermediate appellate court. It considers any reviewable judgment, decree, order, or other action of the circuit and orphans’ courts unless otherwise provided by law. Judges sitting on the Court of Special Appeals usually hear and decide cases in panels of three. In some instances, however, all 13 judges sit en banc to hear the case. The Court of Special Appeals was created in 1966.

Want more information?
Read an overview of the Maryland Court System
Visit the Judiciary’s online video library to watch “The Maryland Court System,” a narrated overview