Eight jurisdictions are seeking to add circuit court judges to their ranks through bills cross-filed last week in the General Assembly.
Requested by the Maryland Judiciary, House Bill 70 and Senate Bill 117 would add a total of 11 circuit court judges across the state as well as two district court judges in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
The legislature has not approved any additional judges since 2013, when two were added to the Court of Special Appeals and five were added to circuit courts throughout the state.
The circuit courts seeking additional judges this year are: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties as well as Baltimore city.
According to the annual analysis of the need for judgeships submitted in October for fiscal year 2017, no additional trial court judgeships were created in the last two years “despite demonstration and certification of need, accompanied by requests for additional judgeships.”
The Judiciary certified a need for 31 additional judgeships in trial courts and two additional Court of Special Appeals judges, but only requested a total of 12 trial court judges for fiscal year 2017. The proposed bills include one more trial-court position than was requested in October.
According to an analysis of 2015 legislation proposing additional judges – which did not pass – the chief judge of the Court of Appeals annually certifies any need for additional judges to the General Assembly. In 2011, the judiciary was directed to develop a multiyear plan to address judgeship needs.
“The annual certification is prepared based upon a statistical analysis of the workload of the courts and the comments of the circuit court administrative judges and the Chief Judge of the District Court,” the report states.
Since 2002, the Judiciary has used a “weighted caseload methodology,” which weighs cases based on complexity associated with certain case types and the required time.