Court rules set out the procedures that govern how the court will operate. Procedural rules include topics such as how and when to file documents, which court can appropriately hear certain cases, and what types of evidence can be presented.
Different rules apply in different types of courts. In addition, the rules for criminal cases are different than the rules for civil (non-criminal) cases.
Before you begin searching for court rules, you should figure out which court your case will be in and what type of case (civil or criminal) it is. For example, there are different rules of civil procedure for the Circuit Courts and District Courts. There is also a separate set of rules of criminal procedure that apply in criminal cases for both the Circuit and District Courts.
If you are representing yourself in Maryland, the most likely set of court rules that you will need are the procedural rules for civil cases in the Circuit Court and the District Court.
Locating the Rules
- Rule books in the library - 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).
- There is also a free web database containing the unannotated text of rules from Maryland courts. You will need to look for the rules based on the appropriate court.