Skip to main content

About Us

CIRCUIT COURT ADDRESS:   50 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850

Administrative Judge's Message

Welcome to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. Our court is a court of general jurisdiction, with authority to hear certain types of civil and criminal cases. It is the only court in the county authorized to conduct jury trials, and is part of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, comprising Montgomery and Frederick counties.

The goal of this website is to provide the public with helpful information about our justice system. In addition to specific court information, the reader will find links to the offices of the Montgomery County Sheriff, State’s Attorney , Register of Wills, Maryland State Department of Probation, other Maryland courts, and Sailor (Maryland Online Public Information Network).

Thanks for visiting our website. We hope you find it to be useful and that you will visit again whenever you have questions about local court practices or procedures.


Sincerely,
Robert A. Greenberg
Administrative Judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit and County Administrative Judge

Mission

The mission of the Circuit Court is to serve the Sixth Judicial Circuit residents in the determination of litigation in serious criminal matters, substantive civil cases, domestic, and child support cases in accordance with the Constitution while administering justice in an honest, fair, and efficient manner.

Jurisdiction

There is a Circuit Court in each Maryland County and Baltimore City. The Circuit Courts of Maryland are divided into eight individual geographical Circuits. The Sixth Judicial Circuit is comprised of Montgomery and Frederick Counties. Montgomery County Circuit Court is located at 50 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850.

Montgomery County Circuit Court has 24 judges who are appointed by the Governor and then must stand for election. The County Administrative Judge of Montgomery County Circuit Court is also the Administrative Judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which includes Montgomery and Frederick Counties. The duties of the Circuit and County Administrative Judge fall under Rule 16-101 of the Maryland Rules of Procedure. The Administrative Judge is responsible for the administration of justice and the administration of the Circuit Court and the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

The Circuit Court is a trial court of general jurisdiction. Its jurisdiction is very broad but generally covers major civil cases and more serious criminal matters. The Circuit Court also may decide appeals from the District Court and certain administrative agencies. If a person is entitled to or elects a trial by jury, the Circuit Court is the only court to do so in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Circuit Court
Additional links about the court

Judges & Magistrates - Biographies and contact information for Judges, Family Magistrates, the Special Magistrate, and Senior Judges

Clerk of the Court - Biography and responsibility of the keeper of the court record

Court Administration - Biography and responsibilities of the administrator of the court.

Departments - Overview and contact information for each of the Circuit Court's departments.

Courthouse policies - Closure policies and Administrative Orders.

Newsroom - Procedures relating to media requests, press releases, and other court happenings.

Reports & Statistics - Statistical information about court filings.

Careers - paid and internship opportunities for County and State positions.

Information Desk - Information about the Court's Information Desk and frequently asked questions about the court

Contact us - Phone and building directories.

History of Our Court


Download the Montgomery County Historical Society's Montgomery County, Maryland: Our History and Government (PDF)

Montgomery County was created on September 6, 1776, when Dr. Thomas Sprigg Wootton, a member of the Maryland Constitutional Convention, introduced a bill, which was ultimately passed, to divide Frederick into three counties---Frederick, Montgomery, and Washington.1  In the same year, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention named commissioners who were responsible for purchasing the necessary land and erecting a courthouse in the county. Until construction was finished, the commissioners chose to hold legal proceedings at Leonard Davis' Tavern between 1777 and 1779. The court then moved to Thomas Owen Williams’ house, which was eventually remodeled to accommodate the demand of the court. Court was held in this converted house between late 1779 and early 1783.

By 1835 the demand for a new courthouse resulted in a petition to the General Assembly asking for an authorization to levy up to $10,000 for this purpose. This petition was granted, as was another the following year, which permitted the Levy Court to borrow up to the full sum allowed in advance of the collections of the levy. A new courthouse was constructed in 1840, just west of the current Red Brick Courthouse. No description of the building, its cost, the architect, or builder was recorded. However, it had two one-story wings based on the only known picture of the structure. Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly from 1872 revealed an authorization to Montgomery County “to raise the two wings of the Court House {of said county, in Rockville,} to the square of the main building, and to finish the same suitable to be occupied as rooms for the County Commissioners, the Grand Jury or such other purposes as the public interest may require ....” (Chapter 76). This courthouse was used from 1840 to 1891.

By the late 1800's, facing the demand for a new courthouse, the General Assembly granted permission to demolish the old courthouse and the building occupied by the county school commissioners in order to build a new fireproof courthouse that would also accommodate the school commissioners. For this purpose a bond issue of $50,000 was authorized, as well as an expenditure of any proceeds derived from the materials of the two old buildings. The contractor was to be the lowest bidder and was to agree to have the building ready for occupancy by October 1, 1891. This third courthouse in Rockville is still standing and forms an annex to the fourth courthouse. Frank E. Davis was the architect and Thomas P. Johns the contractor. It is a three-story red brick building surmounted by a tower.

The courthouse changed with the times, in use, as well as appearance. In 1899, steam heat replaced the inefficient Smead heating system. Gas lighting was converted to electricity in 1913. By the 1920's, Montgomery County experienced an increase in its population, the issuance of building permits, and new suburban development. Montgomery County’s first police officers were installed in a ceremony at the Red Brick Courthouse, and Rockville's fire engine was parked at the courthouse.

The Red Brick Courthouse housed smaller offices and lesser courts. In the 1960's, the Council allocated funds to demolish the Red Brick Courthouse, but citizens protested. When the Montgomery County Circuit Court opened in 1982, the old courthouse closed with an uncertain future. Peerless Rockville, a nonprofit historic preservation group, worked with Montgomery County to document the history of the courthouse. When the county began renovations in 1990, Peerless formed "Friends of the Red Brick Courthouse" and raised the funds necessary to restore the original courtroom to its 1891 appearance. Work was completed in 1995. The courthouse returned to use with a Circuit Court trial on January 18, 1996. On February 15, 1996, the courtroom was rededicated for its original use.

Old Red Brick Courthouse Building

For most of Montgomery County's history, a single building, familiarly known as "The Courthouse," served all functions of local government. The Red Brick Courthouse is the County's third on this site, constructed in 1891 at a cost of $50,000.

The Red Brick Courthouse reflects the image and aspirations of rural Montgomery County in 1891. Roads were crude, daily trains connected county commuters and farmers with the nation's capital, and trolley tracks were planned between Rockville and Georgetown. The county's 27,185 residents visited the "Richardsonian Romanesque" style courthouse as litigants and jurors, to pay taxes, buy dog tags, probate wills, obtain marriage and business licenses, record deeds, speak to County Commissioners, and request law enforcement from the Sheriff.

The courthouse changed with the times, in use as well as appearance. In 1899, steam heat replaced the inefficient Smead heating system. Gas lighting was converted to electricity in 1913. By the 1920s, Rockville's volunteer firemen responded to a siren in the tower, and our six county police officers met daily on the front steps to exchange information and see citizens.

Local government expanded with the population. The Gray Courthouse opened in 1931, followed by county buildings in Bethesda and Silver Spring. The Red Brick Courthouse housed smaller offices and lesser courts. The grand courtroom was divided for smaller spaces, the vaulted ceiling "dropped" to conserve heat, and the stained glass covered with plywood. In the 1960s, the Council allocated funds to demolish the courthouse, but citizens protested. When the Judicial Center opened in 1982, the old courthouse closed with an uncertain future.

Peerless Rockville, a nonprofit historic preservation group, worked with Montgomery County to document the history of the courthouse. When the county began renovations in 1990, Peerless formed "Friends of the Red Brick Courthouse" to raise funds to restore the grand courtroom to its 1891 appearance. "Friends" held auctions and Victorian Balls, sold posters and dog tag jewelry, and celebrated the Centennial. Private donations and public funds removed the unsympathetic alterations and restored original materials.

Work was completed in 1995. The grand courtroom returned to use with a Circuit Court trial on January 18, 1996.

Furnishings in the Grand Courtroom

...."On the second floor are rooms for the school board and state's attorney, judge's consulting room, apartment for female witnesses and petit jury room. Upon this floor is also the main courtroom - 50 x 60 feet - with vaulted ceiling 24 feet high and lighted by two immense stained glass windows. The judge's bench, clerk's desk, and seats are all ash, finished in hard oil, and present a neat and rich appearance....The entire building presents a fine appearance and is quite an ornament to the town and a credit to the county." Montgomery County Sentinel, October 2, 1891

Trusses

The huge oak trusses and vaulted ceiling accentuate what longtime Rockville attorney Barnet Welsh calls a "cathedral-like atmosphere." The corbel bases are of cast stone, each a slightly different pattern. For many years, these architectural features hid under a dropped ceiling and layers of paint.

Stained Glass Windows

The original windows have been cleaned and repaired. Much of the clear glass is original. A third stained glass window is located in the anteroom.

Orientation of the Courtroom

The Courtroom orientation now is reversed from the original plan. In 1891, citizens reached the second floor via a double stairway at the main (north) entrance of the building. They paused at the landing, passed a stained glass window, and walked through an anteroom before entering the courtroom. Then, the public entered the doorway through which the judge comes in today. Early judges entered the courtroom through a doorway from chambers (where the elevator is now) and walked directly onto the bench at the end of the room. The double stairway was removed in the early 1950s.

Anteroom

Two doors led from this area to the tower, one to a spiral stair, the other to a small elevator that transported records to a fireproof room. In 1995, the decorative plaster cornice was rescued from under a dropped ceiling, repaired, and repainted in original colors. This area is now the judge's chambers.

Niche in the wall behind the Bench

Originally, this opening was probably used to permit courtroom spectators to access stairs to a seating gallery below the plaster arch. In the mid-20th century, this opening permitted judges to pass from their chambers onto the bench, located about where it is now.

Wainscot and Doors

These are recreated in oak, in a pattern based upon wainscoting in the anteroom and first floor. None of the doors is original; the two on the south wall were added after removal of 1950s paneling revealed their locations.

Lights

No records exist of the earlier artificial lighting in the courtroom (presumably kerosene and/or gas), but the County Commissioners decided in 1910 to equip the building with electric lights. These appear in a 1913 photo of a room on the first floor of the courthouse, providing the earliest pictoral evidence available. The chandeliers and sconces in the courtroom and anteroom were recreated with this information.

Judge's Bench

The new bench was recreated from historic records and photographs, and adapted for 1995 needs. Like the original, the wood is ash.

Smead System

The Red Brick Courthouse was designed around this warming and ventilation system. Coal furnaces in the basement heated air, which rose through four chimneys to all parts of the courthouse. Occupants turned valve regulators to admit the amount of heat desired through grilles. Unused heat exited through the cast iron grille in the courtroom ceiling. When the Smead system was abandoned in 1899, some chimneys served as trash pits; "Friends" sold discarded 1917 dog tags to raise funds. In restoring the courthouse, regulators were brought in from other rooms, as were the grilles on the east side; grilles on the west side are reproductions.

Paint Colors

Paint analysis revealed vibrant colors on the four plaster arches in the courtroom, and in the plaster cornice of the anteroom.

Bar and Jury Railing

These have been recreated for the courtroom, based upon photos of the other courthouses of the period. The oak public benches are less ornate than the originals, but were available from court storage.

Interpretive Plaques

The plaques were installed in 1996 to commemorate the courtroom's return to active use, and to indicate the major contributors who made the restoration possible.

Sources of Information

Contemporary descriptions in the Montgomery County Sentinel newspaper; photographs (earliest of courtroom is 1952); recollections; WPA drawings (1939); architectural investigation; paint analysis; Minutes of the County Commissioners. Peerless Rockville has published a Centennial history of the Red Brick Courthouse, and offers an exhibit at the Courthouse Square entrance of the building.

Information regarding the Redbrick Courthouse was provided by Peerless Rockville.

The Red Brick Courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, and designated in a City of Rockville Historic District in 1979 (both designations also encompass the 1931 Courthouse). An exterior and partial interior easement is held by the Maryland Historic Trust.

Fourth Montgomery County CourthouseIn 1929 a bond issue was authorized for a new building and for the purchase of additional land next to the old courthouse in order to meet the growing demand of the county government, which had again outgrown its available space. With the help of supplementary funds authorized by the General Assembly, the courthouse was built in 1931 at a cost exceeding $500,000. It was designed by Delos H. Smith and Thomas R. Edwards of Washington and built by the J. J. McDevitt Company of Charlotte, North Carolina. It is constructed of Indiana limestone in the classic tradition with the use of columns, cornice and the regular repetition of piers or pilasters. 
(Montgomery County Circuit Court)

Currently, the Montgomery County Circuit Court is located in the County Government complex in Rockville bounded by Jefferson Street to the south, Maryland Avenue to the west, and Monroe Street to the east. The Judicial Center building, completed in 1980, is comprised of nine stories above grade and two levels of below grade parking. The Executive Office Building (EOB) is located southeast of the Current Montgomery Circuit Court and is connected at the Terrace level and underground parking levels. The Montgomery County Circuit Court houses courtrooms on the upper four levels, with Court Administration, Family Division Services, the Clerk of Court, Register of Wills, State’s Attorney, and Sheriff occupying the Terrace level through the fifth floor. Due to the severe space limitations, however, the Court expanded out of the current building and currently conducts its daily operations in two additional buildings, including part of the District Court building and the Red Brick Courthouse.

Increased case filings spurred by significant population growth mandated jurisdiction changes, advances in courtroom technology, as well as additional services provided to the court’s clients, particularly in divorce cases, were the primary reasons for increases in staff and the associated need for a new Montgomery County Circuit Court Annex.

The analysis of the future facility needs of the Montgomery County Circuit Court started in late 1995 and lasted for almost 15 years. Between 1998 and 2003, at least three separate studies to examine the court’s current and future judicial needs and associated planning efforts were conducted. These studies resulted in an updated Facilities Magistrate Plan for the Circuit Court. The second study performed in 2000 forecasted that the court would need 31 judges by FY2020 and proposed three alternative solutions to meet those future needs. The County Council approved a preferred solution on May 13, 2002 as the best alternative for expanding facilities on the basis of cost, operational issues, ease of construction, and timeliness. The preferred option envisioned a two-phase Annex located to the south of the existing Montgomery County Circuit Court. In late 2002, the 2000 Facilities Magistrate Plan was reexamined and updated by feedback from the court and an in-depth analysis of court staffing needs, and conceptual designs were prepared for the design of the two-phase Annex project. In 2003, the third needs analysis study was conducted to project the court’s judicial and spatial needs through FY2025. Accordingly, the Magistrate Plan was revised with new target dates for Phases I (2015) and II (2025) in January 2004. It was not until FY2009 that funding through the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) became available and was provided to the Circuit Court by the Montgomery County Council to begin design and construction. The Annex (known as the South Tower) opened officially on April 28, 2014. The Annex's 10 courtrooms and 8 hearing rooms are in use as well as additional office space for projects such as the Family Law Self Help Center and Kids Spot Child Waiting Area.

Not Seeing What You Are Looking For? Need Some Help?

View
Our FAQs
Give Us
a Call
Go Top