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Basic Law Reference Tips from the Maryland State Law Library for Maryland AskUsNow! March 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Basic Law Reference Tips from the Maryland State Law Library for Maryland AskUsNow! March 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Basic Law Reference Tips from the Maryland State Law Library for Maryland AskUsNow! March 2008

2 What do we mean by “the law”? BLR 3/2008

3 Types of Law BLR 3/2008 Regulations (Issued by executive agencies) Statutes (Passed by the legislature) Cases (Decisions from the courts)

4 Levels of Law Federal Legislative: U.S. Congress Regulatory: Federal Agencies Judicial (Case): Federal Courts State (Maryland) Legislative: General Assembly Regulatory: State Agencies Judicial (Case): Court of Appeals Court of Special Appeals Local Legislative: County Council Regulatory: Rare Judicial (Case): none BLR 3/2008

5 Terminology Glossary at: Black’s Law Dictionary or other legal dictionary BLR 3/2008 Don’t get thrown off by the vocabulary – look it up! COMMON TERMS: Judicial (case) law: case, docket, decision, opinion, reported, unreported Statutory law: legislation, bill, act, statute, code Regulatory law: regulation, rule, agency, register

6 The Maryland Court System District Court Circuit Court Court of Special Appeals Court of Appeals Other courts BLR 3/2008

7 District Court BLR 3/2008 Created in 1970 to replace municipal and people’s courts Administered on a State level (Chief Judge) Criminal jurisdiction: all misdemeanors and some felonies Civil jurisdiction:  landlord-tenant cases  small claims ($5000 and below)  some domestic violence  some civil claims between $5000 and $25,000 Arguments are before a judge only; no juries Issues a DECISION, but not a written OPINION

8 Circuit Court BLR 3/2008 One in each county; administered on a county basis Civil jurisdiction:  amounts over $25,000  jury trials  divorce Criminal jurisdiction: serious felony cases such as murder Appeals: from District Court, Orphans’ Court and certain administrative agencies

9 Court of Special Appeals BLR 3/2008 Appeals from the Circuit Court, and others Hears ALL appeals presented to it There are thirteen (13) judges; cases are heard before a panel of three (3) Oral arguments are presented by each side; no witnesses; no facts argued Issues a written OPINION, but not all opinions are REPORTED

10 Court of Appeals BLR 3/2008 Highest (“supreme”) court in Maryland Selective about the cases it hears – writ of certiorari (“cert”) or by choice, except death penalty cases which they must hear There are seven (7) judges; every case is heard by all seven No facts are argued Adopts rules of procedure for all Maryland courts

11 The Legal Reference Question Interpretation vs. Information Process vs. Theory Identifying the level and type of law required Primary vs. Secondary Sources BLR 3/2008

12 Forms A note on forms: though there are official forms from the Maryland District Courts for many issues (garnishment, peace orders, etc.), there are very few actual forms for the Circuit Courts (with the exception of family law matters). Filings submitted to the Circuit Courts follow format rules provided in the Maryland Rules. Some of the Rules have nice specific formats, some just inform the filer of the content necessary. There are many, many commercially-published forms books with samples for litigants to follow. These are available in law libraries, and probably a few public libraries. There is also an online database, available from Gale, of suggested forms. The State Law Library is currently evaluating this product with the idea of purchasing a subscription for patron use. BLR 3/2008

13 Primary vs. Secondary Sources Primary: comes from or is designated as official by the actual body creating the law:  Legislative – codes, statutes, legislation  Executive – regulations, orders  Judiciary – cases, court rules Secondary: provided or generated by a non- primary-creating source, such as a commercial publisher or non-profit legal agency:  Legal encyclopedias (AmJur, CJS, MLE)  American Law Reports (ALR)  Treatises (textbooks)  Law reviews and journals  Locating tools: digests and citators (Shepard’s, KeyCite) BLR 3/2008

14 Annotated Code of Maryland  Annotated simply means added notes that are a secondary source  Code means that the statutory language has been organized (codifed) by topic  Black volumes vs. Red volumes  The 1957 Code  Replacement volumes  Pocket parts BLR 3/2008

15 A word on Code organization… “Annotated” means containing research and case notes to aid in further research. These notes are added by the publishers and are therefore copyrighted, and only available in the print version of the Code or the fee databases “Article” refers to the breakdown by topic within the Code. An older edition of the Code (1957 ed.) used number designations to break up topics. Beginning in the 1970s these numbered breakdowns have been “recodified” – rewritten for clarity, reorganized and renamed by topic rather than number. “Title” refers to the breakdown within each Article. “Subtitle” further breaks down the topics See citation slides for breakdowns… BLR 3/2008

16 Law Citations: Codes & Statutes BLR 3/2008 Ann. Code Md. Family Law (a) Annotated Code of Maryland ArticleTitle Subtitle / Section Ann. Code Md. Family Law §13-102(a) Ann. Code Md. Family Law (a) Annotated Code of Maryland ArticleTitle Subtitle / Section Ann. Code Md. Family Law §13-102(a)

17 Law Citations: Court Rules BLR 3/2008 Md. Rule Maryland Rules of Procedure TitleChapter Md. Rule 6-301

18 Law Citations: Regulations BLR 3/2008 COMAR COMAR Code of Maryland Regulations Title Subtitle Chapter Regulation

19 Law Citations: Cases BLR 3/2008 Batson v. Shiflett, 325 Md. 684, 602 A. 2d 1191 (1992) Batson v. Shiflett 325 Md A. 2d 1191 (1992) Parties to the case VolumePage Parallel citation Date Reporter

20 Print Resources: Best Bets Annotated Code of Maryland Maryland Rules (accompany the Code set) Maryland Law Encyclopedia Nolo / Sphinx publications Other key Maryland titles: Maryland Recommended Titles list for Maryland Circuit Court Libraries available at: BLR 3/2008

21 Law on the Internet: Website Reliability What does the domain name indicate? (.edu,.gov,.us,.com,.net,.org) Are references cited and documented? Is the content updated and up-to-date? Is there contact information for owner(s), editors and/or authors? Has the site been recommended by a reliable source? BLR 3/2008

22 Web Resources (Maryland) Maryland Judiciary Maryland State Law Library Maryland People’s Law Library Maryland General Assembly University of Maryland Thurgood Marshall Law Library web site has very good in- depth material on doing legal research BLR 3/2008

23 Web Resources (Federal) U.S. Government Printing Office GPO Access Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute BLR 3/2008

24 Referrals: Where and How? Maryland State Law Library (410) County Law Libraries State Judiciary Government Agencies Non-profit Organizations BLR 3/2008

25 MSLL Favorite Referrals GENERAL AND PROCEDURAL Clerk’s Offices: LANDLORD / TENANT Baltimore Neighborhoods FAMILY LAW Women’s Law Center: Circuit Court Family Law Clinics CONSUMER ORIENTED Attorney General’s Consumer Protection LAND DEEDS AND RECORDS Registers of Wills: BLR 3/2008


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