(ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND) —The Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) case management system is now operational in Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. The launch of MDEC in a county makes e-filing mandatory for attorneys representing clients in civil and criminal cases in the Circuit Court and the District Court, as well as in appeals filed in the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals. Self-represented litigants may also e-file, but are not required to do so. This latest expansion completes the migration of all Eastern Shore counties. MDEC is now operational in more than 40 percent of Maryland’s state courts.
“The Maryland Judiciary has made great progress in bringing electronic filing and case management to all Maryland state courts,” said Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera. “Modernizing systems and streamlining processes are key parts of the Judiciary’s strategic plan for improving services for all who enter the courts. I appreciate the dedication and commitment demonstrated by every Judiciary employee throughout the design and implementation of this important project to benefit the people of Maryland.”
MDEC simplifies court processes, making filing court actions and pleadings more convenient for litigants. Maryland attorneys first began filing electronically in October 2014, when MDEC launched as a pilot in Anne Arundel County. The new system eliminates most paper-based filing.
“Our team of subject matter experts and local leadership on the Eastern Shore has made this a seamless transition, and I am grateful for their enthusiasm and commitment to advance one of the Judiciary’s top priorities,” said District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John P. Morrissey. “Our transition to MDEC has gone well overall, and I am encouraged by the results we have seen so far in improving how court records are managed and the feedback we have received from jurisdictions already utilizing MDEC. Our next phase will be to bring MDEC to Southern Maryland in June 2017.”
As part of the preparation for MDEC’s launch on the Lower Eastern Shore, the Judiciary has been scheduling informational events at several locations to help attorneys learn about the new system, how to register and use the tool, and how to e-file. Self-represented litigants may also register to e-file, but are not required to do so.
“A tremendous amount of planning and effort are required to transition from a paper-based court filing process to an electronic case management system, and I commend the work ethic and attention to detail given by each member of our local MDEC teams for their contributions and for continuing the track record of success of teams from our earlier MDEC jurisdictions,” said State Court Administrator Pamela Harris.
Courts no longer will accept paper filings from attorneys in areas where MDEC has launched. Maryland Rule 20-106(b), however, sets out the circumstances in which a person may be excused from the e-filing requirement. Nonpayment of rent cases filed under Maryland Code, Real Property, Section 8-401, will continue to be exempt from mandatory electronic filing until further notice.
Brett W. Wilson, Administrative Judge for the First Judicial Circuit and County Administrative Judge for Dorchester County, said, “Circuit Court leadership in each of the four lower Eastern Shore counties is looking forward to the launch of the Maryland Judiciary’s new electronic case management system. It will be a sea change in the way we conduct the business of the people and will enhance the public’s access to justice and each court’s ability to efficiently process cases. I extend my great appreciation to Chief Judge Barbera, Chief Judge Morrissey, State Court Administrator Pamela Harris, and other staff of the AOC and the local Circuit Courts for the devotion of fiscal and human resources to make this initiative a reality.”
The Honorable Gerald V. Purnell, District 2 Administrative Judge for the District Court of Maryland, said, “We are excited to bring MDEC to the First Judicial Circuit. The support we have received from Chief Judge John Morrissey could not have made for a more ideal transition. The system is not only more environmentally friendly, but will provide a secure and cost effective e-filing process. I’m looking forward to using the system and seeing the benefits for those working in our system and the public at large.”
MDEC launched on the Upper Eastern Shore, including Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties on July 18, 2016.