How to Obtain Court Records in Maryland
Maryland’s district courts are the most commonly visited for residents yet trials are not held at this level. Instead, the state’s district courts handle traffic violations, landlord-tenant disputes, misdemeanor proceedings, domestic violence, small claims, and similar legal concerns. There is at least one district court in each county.
The state’s circuit courts are where trials take place as well as juvenile court cases, family law issues such as custody and divorce, and serious criminal (felony) cases. Circuit courts also hear appeals of some lower court matters including orphan’s court decisions and some administrative agencies verdicts.
The top tier of state courts are two appellate courts rather than one intermediate appellate court and one supreme court. Maryland’s system functions the same as an appellate and supreme court structure does, with the Court of Special Appeals being the intermediate appellate body.
Requesting court records
Having a copy of a court document can help in several situations, including to clarify child custody, to get a protection order enforced, to establish entitlement to a financial settlement, or to prove that your probation or parole has been served.
Some court records are subject to confidentiality, including juvenile criminal cases, the names of victims of sex crimes, and information about medical conditions.
Maryland has a simple website for searching court records: http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/casesearch//processDisclaimer.jis. This site is unlikely to provide all of the information you need. To get a copy of a case record or document, contact the clerk of the court where the case was held using this directory: (circuit courts) http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/31cc/html/cc.html or (district courts) http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/32dc/html/dc.html.
A divorce decree is the official document that spells out how shared property should be divided, child custody, alimony, name changes, and other details following a divorce. This can be an important part of financial applications, housing eligibility, and school entry requirements. Divorce is overseen by circuit courts, so contact the clerk of the court where the divorce was granted by using this page: http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/31cc/html/cc.html.
Orphan’s courts are the Maryland equivalent of probate courts in other states. These courts do not hold trials but oversee the distribution of inherited properties when a person dies. There is an orphan’s court in every county. Use this directory to contact the clerk of the appropriate court if you need documents: https://www.courts.state.md.us/courtsdirectory.
When a person files for bankruptcy, it is not handled by state courts but by federal courts. There is a U.S. District Court in every state that oversees the bankruptcy process as well as federal criminal trials and civil proceedings like class action lawsuits and lawsuits that involve more than one state. To research these records, use the following website: https://www.pacer.gov.