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Appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland – Maryland Courts

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What is an Appeal? | How Do I Start my Appeal? | Briefs and Informal Briefs | Deadlines in an Appeal
In November 2022, Marylanders voted to adopt a constitutional amendment to change the names of Maryland’s two highest courts. The Court of Special Appeals is now the Appellate Court of Maryland. The Court of Appeals is now the Supreme Court of Maryland.
When you disagree with the final outcome of your court case, you may be able to appeal. This means asking a higher court to review the outcome. Most cases decided in a circuit court may be appealed to the Appellate Court of Maryland.
The information on this page covers appeals from circuit court only. For information on appealing from District Court to a circuit court, please see the article on the People’s Law Library.
Most appeals, including those to the Appellate Court of Maryland, are heard “on the record.” Often, the person who appealed, called the appellant, must order and pay for a transcript of the circuit court hearings to be made. The appellant must write a “brief.” In the brief they explain why they agree or disagree with the lower court’s decision. Other parties involved in the case, called appellees, may file briefs as well. The appeals court will review the transcript, any other documents that were submitted to the circuit court, and all parties’ briefs. The appeals court will then issue a written decision.
In some record appeals, the court may hold a hearing called oral argument. At oral argument, each party will explain the legal reasoning in their brief and answer questions from the judges. Oral argument is not a new trial. You cannot introduce new facts or evidence.
Certain types of cases require an expedited (fast) appeal. Special rules apply to cases involving adoptions, guardianships, child access (custody or visitation), child in need of assistance, and special immigrant juvenile status cases. The deadlines for taking some of the steps required may be shorter so talk to a lawyer or review this guide.
Disclaimer – Appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland can be complicated for unrepresented parties. You are expected to provide a written analysis of facts and the law regarding your case. This page provides a basic overview of appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland. A more detailed guide may be viewed here. Whenever possible, hire a lawyer to help you with your appeal.
Before you start the appeals process, make sure your case is ready for an appeal. There are three things you should consider:
Final Judgment Rule
With a few exceptions, you cannot appeal a case until the circuit court enters a final judgment. This means the circuit court made a decision that ended the case. Speak with a lawyer if you are unsure if you have an appealable judgment. Additional information is also available from this guide.
Appeals as a matter of right
In most cases, you are entitled to an appeal as a matter of right. There are, however, some situations where you must first ask the Appellate Court of Maryland for permission to appeal your case. This is called an Application for Leave to Appeal. Some case types where you must apply for leave to appeal include:
If your case is one of the listed types, you may refer to this guide for a more detailed explanation of how to apply for leave to appeal.
Is the Appellate Court of Maryland the right court to hear my appeal?
The Appellate Court of Maryland hears appeals from the circuit courts and orphan’s courts. It does not hear appeals that come from any other courts.
Sometimes a circuit court case must instead be appealed to the Supreme Court of Maryland. The most common example is when a case was appealed already from the District Court to the circuit court. Seek advice from a lawyer about how to appeal to the Supreme Court of Maryland or review the article on appeals on the People’s Law Library.
There are four steps to starting an appeal to the Appellate Court of Maryland. First file a Notice of Appeal. Then pay the costs or apply to have costs waived. Third, when required, file a Civil Appeal Information Report. Last, order a transcript and pay the costs of the transcript.
A brief is a written document where you explain what you agree or disagree with about the circuit court’s decision. The Court will mail a notice to each party stating the deadline to file briefs. The person who filed the appeal, called the appellant, must file a brief within 40 days of when the case record is received by the Appellate Court of Maryland. The other parties who did not appeal, called the appellees, may then file a response brief within 30 days after the filing of the appellant’s brief. An appellee is not required to file a response to an informal brief. If the appellee does file a response brief, the appellant may file a reply brief.
Formal briefs must follow specific formatting, style, and legal writing rules. In civil cases, the brief must also be accompanied by a record extract. This is a collection of documents and parts of the transcript necessary to help the Court decide the main issues in the appeal. An explanation and example of a brief and extract is in this guide.
Informal briefs can be an easier way for persons representing themselves to write a brief. Informal briefs have relaxed formatting rules and do not require a record extract. The Appellate Court of Maryland provides form templates for informal briefs. You may file an informal brief if you are not represented by a lawyer AND:
In all other situations, you must request the Court’s permission to file an informal brief. Request permission to file an informal brief by submitting a motion.
Motion for Informal Briefing – A motion is a request to the court made in writing. A judge will review the motion and either grant or deny the request. You may use this Motion for Informal Briefing form. For the Court to consider a motion, it must:
Starting Your Informal Brief
The informal brief forms are available in three formats:
Here are some important rules for informal briefs:
In some cases, the Court may hold a hearing called oral argument. At oral argument, each party will explain the legal reasoning in their brief and answer questions from the judges. Oral argument is not an opportunity to introduce new facts or evidence. If the Court does not schedule oral argument, the case will be decided on the briefs and the record from the circuit court. The court will issue a written decision called an opinion.
These deadlines apply to most appeals but not expedited appeals. Appeals which are expedited have shorter deadlines. If your appeal is expedited speak with a lawyer about your deadlines. Failure to meet a deadline may result in dismissal of the appeal.
Notice of Appeal – In most cases, you have 30 days from the entry of judgment or other appealable order to file your Notice of Appeal.
Pay Costs/Apply to Waive Costs – Costs are due the same day you file your notice of appeal.
Civil Appeal Information Report – Due 10 days after you file your notice of appeal.
Order a Transcript:
Additional information is also available from this guide.
Start your appeal at the circuit court where you case was heard.
The circuit court transmits the case record to the Appellate Court of Maryland.
 
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