Searching for Maryland Laws Without a Citation

Many public libraries in Maryland subscribe to the Annotated Code of Maryland in print. This print version of the Code is the version you should use if possible for two reasons: (1) It is the official version, the one most accepted by Maryland's courts; and (2) at the end of each statute section, the Code's editors will list, summarize, and provide citations to cases that have interpreted that statute section. These case annotations will give you a head start on finding primary sources related to your problem. Here are the steps for using the Annotated Code of Maryland in print:

  1. Look up words related to your problem in the subject index.
  2. Look up the code sections cited after each of the words you’ve looked up.
  3. Each of those code sections will appear in a hardbound volume. The hardbound volume may be several years old, so you need to update it. The first step in updating a statute is to look for a soft pamphlet in the back of the hardbound volume. This soft pamphlet is called a pocket part.
  4. If you find a pocket part, look for your section number in it. If you find your section in the pocket part, read for changes made to the section since the hardbound volume was published. If your section number is not in the pocket part, this means that the information you found in the hardbound volume is accurate and up-to-date.
  5. If you don’t find a pocket part, look for a soft supplemental pamphlet sitting next to the hard volume on the shelf. If you find a supplemental pamphlet, check it for changes to your section.
  6. After you check the pocket part or supplemental pamphlet, you still have to look for pamphlets at the end of the code called “Advance Sheets” or “Advanced Legislative Service.” These pamphlets are published monthly to show any changes made since the pocket parts to each code volume were published. The advance sheets are updates to the entire code, not just the one volume. They are usually shelved right before the index volumes.

The unannotated Maryland statutory code is available free on the web via Westlaw. Statutes are also available via the General Assembly website.

Sara Kelly, law librarian with the University of Maryland School of Law.

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