The Circuit Court for Prince George's County Welcomes All - A Fair Forum for Justice
The Circuit Court is Maryland’s trial court of general jurisdiction—charged with resolving legal disputes in civil, criminal and family law matters, all jury trials, and appeals from the District Court and local and state administrative proceedings.
Every Maryland county, and Baltimore city, have one Circuit Court and one District Court. The county courts are grouped into judicial districts and circuits. The District Court of Maryland for Prince George’s County stands alone in District 5, but the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County shares the Seventh Judicial Circuit with the Circuit Courts for Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties.
According to the Maryland Constitution, all judges of the Circuit Court must be United States citizens qualified to vote in Maryland, and must have resided in Maryland for at least five years, and in Prince George’s County for at least six months before appointment or election. In addition, all judges must be admitted to practice law in Maryland, and are “most distinguished for integrity, wisdom and sound legal knowledge.
Judges of the Circuit Court are usually appointed by the Governor from a list of judicial applicants nominated by a judicial selection commission. For more than fifty years, Maryland Governors have appointed judicial selection commissions to review all judicial applicants, to find those most highly qualified to serve as judges, usually three to seven nominees for each position from among the many applicants. The Governor then selects and appoints a new judge from among those nominees.
An appointed judge must take an oath of office before beginning to serve as a judge, and continues under that appointment until the first statewide election occurring at least one year after the judge’s appointment. However, a judge may face opposition in that election from anyone Constitutionally qualified to serve as a Circuit Court judge. The winner of that election then holds the position of Circuit Court judge for a term of fifteen years.
Today, the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County includes twenty-three judges, assisted by seven Family Division masters, fifteen retired judges, recalled for service, and about one hundred employees—to serve a growing County population of about 750,000 people in an increasingly complex society. Together, the Circuit Court provides a fair forum for justice, and welcomes all!