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Maryland Research Guide   Tags: maryland  

This guide is intended to be used as a basic resource for Maryland legal research.
Last Updated: Oct 5, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Local Law in Maryland

Local government organization in Maryland consists of 23 counties and Baltimore City.  The beginnings of the county structure can be traced back to early Maryland (1637).  County governments are organized under two general forms:  Commission and Home-Rule. Depending upon which form of government a county has chosen, the source of local legislation can be a code, a charter or a code of  public local laws.   For instance, as an incorporated city, Baltimore City has both a city charter and a home-rule charter, and city legislation can found in the Charter, the Code of Public Local Laws and the City Code, see more below.  

Cities and towns in Maryland are known as municipal corporations.  A Compilation of Municipal Charters has been published by the Department of Legislative Reference in a multi-volume loose-leaf set. The Thurgood Marshall Law Library owns a paper copy of this title  [KFM 1631.5.A73M8 2008].   This work publishes and continually updates the municipal charters of Maryland. The Charters are also available online through the General Assembly web page


Maryland Local Law Statutory Sources

Counties and Baltimore City:

All counties and Baltimore City publish their legislation and most of these codifications can be found in electronic format on the Internet.  One source is the Maryland State Law Library's Gateway to Maryland Law, which contains a list of online City and Municipal Codes.  The Maryland Municipal League offers a list of Municipal Charters Online.  Links to electronic versions of the codes are also available on individual county web pages. You can find the links by either Googling the name of the county plus putting maryland and code in the search string.  The Thurgood Marshall Law Library keeps in print the County Codes for the surrounding counties of Baltimore, but the Maryland State Law Library  provides print access to all Maryland County Codes.

Counties and Baltimore City are also governed by Public Local Laws.  Public Local Laws are statutes passed by the General Assembly that impact on a single jurisdiction.  The bills are introduced by the county delegation and passed by the General Assembly. The Annotated Code of Maryland available to users in both paper and electronic form is a compilation of the Public General Laws. The Public Local  Laws have not been published as part of the Maryland Code since 1930.  To find information on changes in the Public Local Laws, a user must go to the Compilation of Changes in the Public Local Laws of Maryland and use it in conjunction with the latest statutory compilation published by the county in question. The Compilation is updated annually.  The print edition of the compilation can be found in the Law Library [KFM1631.5.A46]. The Department of Legislative Services has also made the Compilation available online

Municipal Charters and Codes:

Cities and towns in Maryland  fall under the term "Municipal Charters."  Copies of the charters can be found in print in the Maryland section of the library - A Compilation of Municipal Charters [KFM 1631.5.A73.M8 2008].  In addition to print sources, there are a number of online sites that give access to city and municipal codes:



Maryland Local Law: Baltimore City

Baltimore City Legislation

Baltimore City is a special entity.  As an incorporated city, Baltimore has both a city charter and a home-rule charter.  It is governed by a Charter, a Code, and a Code of Public Local Laws.

The Charter sets out the basic powers and structure of government for Baltimore City.  The current edition of the Charter was ratified in 1994 and last amended by Ch. 624 of the Acts of 2013.  The Thurgood Marshall Law Library owns a paper copy of the Charter [KFM 1799.B5B6 1996] but the most up-to-date information will be found online.  Once this link is accessed, use the drop-down box a the top of  the screen to find the Code articles.

The Baltimore City Code is published by the Baltimore (City) Dept. of Legislative Reference.  It is available in both print [KFM 1799.B5A1 2000] and electronic versions.  In addition to 31 numbered articles there are three topical articles:  Building, Fire & Related Codes, Health Code and Zoning Code.  The Building, Fire & Related Codes article contains the Baltimore City adaptions of the uniform codes/standards published by the International Code Council..The most current Baltimore City Code can be found online. Use the drop-down box at the top of the screen to access the TOC for this publication.

Before being codified, Baltimore City legislation can be found in the Bills introduced in City Council and signed by the Mayor.  But watch the numbers! When legislation is introduced, it is called a bill and it is given a bill number.  Once a bill has gone through the legislative process and is signed into law, it becomes an ordinance and the number changes.  For example The Plastic Bag Reduction Program bill was introduced on September 20, 2010 and it was given the number Council Bill 10-0601.  When the bill was enacted, the number changed to Ordinance 10-373.  The bill/ordinance numbering systems are different and do not overlap.  The Thurgood Marshall Law Library has the Baltimore City Ordinances & Resolutions in print from 1813 to 1999 [KFM 1799.B5B3]  The Baltimore City Archives has scanned older volumes of the Ordinances & Resolutions.  These scanned volumes cover the years 1797-1922.  

Current Baltimore City Bills and Ordinances can be found on the City Council web page. Click the Legislation link at the top of the screen and select "search legislation".  Legislation can be searched by words or by number.  Information covers the time period 2000 to the present.

The Code of Public Local Laws of Baltimore City (Art. 4 of the Code of Public Local Laws of Maryland) contains laws passed by the Maryland General Assembly that apply only to Baltimore City.  The most recent edition of this Code is 1979 with periodic supplements.  Paper copies of the Code are located on Level 2 of the Thurgood Marshall Law Library [KFM 1799.B5.B5 1979].  An up-to-date electronic version is available.

The Baltimore City Legislative Record is a source for Council Meeting Agendas and Journals.  This information is available on the council web page.  Information from 2003 to the present is available.

Baltimore City Courts

The courts of Baltimore City are part of the Maryland Court system.  They are the District Court of Maryland, the Circuit Court (8th Circuit) and the Orphan's Court.  The District Court began operating as a court of record in July, 1971 when various local courts were consolidated under one court with statewide jurisdiction.  Housing, traffic matters and minor civll and criminal issues are handled at the District Court level.  The District Court (First District) has juridsdiction in Baltimore City.

In November of 1980, the six courts operating under the umbrella of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City were consolidated and they began operating as  the Circuit Court (Eighth) on January 1, 1983.  As a trial court of general jurisdiction, the Circuit Court handles major civl and criminal cases and cases in which parties are entitled to jury trials.

The Orphan's Court of Baltimore City has jurisdiction over judicial administration of estates.  Judges are elected to 4-year terms.

Judgments of the District and Circuit Courts are usually not reported.  A few of the opinions of the Circuit Court are published in the Daily Record.  Case records of the Maryland District and Circuit Courts can be found on the Maryland Judiciary web page - in the Maryland Judiciary Case Search section. 

Court Forms

Each of the courts for Baltimore City has its own practice forms.  You can find forms for the Baltimore City courts in a number of treatises.  Three titles that help with research are:

   Robert D. Klein, Maryland Civil Procedure Forms with Practice Commentary [3d ed 2000 & 2016 [ Supp.]
      The majority of Circuit and District Court formss can be found in this title. [Maryland Reference KFM1730.65 D542 2000] LEXIS

   George Liebmann, Maryland Practice:  Civil Procedure Forms [2016-2017]
      Forms for the Circuit Court are in vols. 3 & 4 of Maryland Practice [Maryland Reference KFM 1715.A73M32]

   Civil Practice and Procedure in the District Court of Maryland (2010 ed.)
      A selected list of forms is reproduced in Appendix A [KFM 1714..C58 2010 ]

The forms for the District Court can also be found online.  The Baltimore City Circuit Court has posted civil forms.  Both Lexis Advance and WestlawNext offer a number of Maryland sources with practice forms.

Contact Information

The Baltimore City Depart of Legislative Reference is the best place to find information on Baltimore City legislation. This department is located in Room 626 of  the Baltimore City Hall.  The telephone number is 410-396-4730.

One of the most complete collections of materials on Baltimore history is located in the main library of Enoch Pratt in the Maryland Department.  The African-American collection is part of the department.  This collection contains local newspapers, directories, and biographical files.  The main library is at 400 Cathedral Street and the telephone number is 410-396-1789.

The Baltimore City Archives is a collection of documents and records concerining the history of Baltimore City.  The Archives are located at 2615 Matthew Street (21218) and the telephone number is 410-396-3884.


Maryland Inter-County & Regional Agencies

Some problems involve more than one jurisdiction.  Counties then join together in inter-county or regional agencies to solve these issues.  There are a number of these multi-county agencies in existence.  A current list - with links - has been posted in the Maryland Manual.    A link to information on defunct inter-county agencies is also available on this site.

The Law Library also subscribes to eCode360, a database that provides access to nearly 2,000 American municipal codes as well as searching across multiple codes.


= TMLL Restricted Access


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