SCM to Hold Arguments Outside Annapolis Once Per Year
By Tia L. Holmes
On March 2, 2023, the Supreme Court of Maryland issued an Administrative Order declaring that the Court will sit temporarily outside of the City of Annapolis at least one day each term beginning with the September 2023 Term. In the Order, the Supreme Court designates secondary or post-secondary educational institutions within Maryland as their locations of choice. The Court will first sit at an institution located in the Fourth Appellate Judicial Circuit (Prince George’s County), which is represented by Justice Michele D. Hotten, and will rotate in numerical order of the circuits in the future terms. According to the Order, Justice Hotten will recommend an institution to host the oral arguments, and, upon approval of the full Court, the Court will sit at the recommended location.
Prince George’s County has many great locations for the Court’s first temporary sitting, including for example: one of Maryland’s HBCUs, Bowie State University; the County’s community college, Prince George’s Community College; and Maryland’s flagship public university, the University of Maryland, College Park. The County also boasts some spacious and newly renovated secondary institutions where many students could gather to observe the Court’s sitting, like Oxon Hill High School in the south or Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the north. It will be interesting to see where the Court first sits.
Article IV, § 14 of the Constitution of Maryland confers the Supreme Court its authority to temporarily transfer its sittings to another location “upon sufficient cause.” As sufficient cause, the Court cites its intent to:
- “promote public understanding of the Supreme Court specifically and the Judiciary as a whole;”
- “provide educational benefits to students, faculty, and community members who are able to attend oral arguments;”
- “promote positive relationships with communities outside the City of Annapolis;”
- “enhance civics education;” and
- “generally promote the Judiciary’s mission of providing fair, effective, and efficient justice for all[.]”
The Supreme Court’s new Order is in line with the Appellate Court’s tradition of holding oral arguments at Maryland’s law schools. The Appellate Court is also required by law to sit only in Annapolis, but the chief judge may specially set oral arguments at either of Maryland’s law schools. The Appellate Court usually sits at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in the fall and at the University of Baltimore School of Law in the spring. The Appellate Court has carried on this tradition for the past several years.