By Frank Johnson
Deputy City Attorney, City of Gaithersburg
One of the constitutional amendments approved by the voters was to change the name of Maryland’s appellate courts. The approved changes are to both the Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals, neither of which will use their former names. Instead, the current higher court will be called the Supreme Court of Maryland, and the intermediate appellate court will be called the Appellate Court of Maryland.
The name Court of Appeals was handed down from Great Britain and adopted by approval of the Maryland Constitution in 1776. At that time, the Court consisted of six chief judges of the state’s judicial districts, and in 1851 the Court become unified as the highest court. While the number of judges has varied, from 4 to 5 to 8, Senate Bill 7 proposed the current number of 7 in 1960, which the voters approved.
The Court of Special Appeals was created by an approved constitutional amendment in 1966 to address an increase in litigation and appeals that the Court of Appeals struggled to address. The number of judges has increased from 5, originally, to 15 as changed by statute in 2013.