ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) case management system launched today in Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties. The implementation of MDEC in a county makes electronic filing mandatory for attorneys representing clients in civil and criminal cases in District Court, Circuit Court, and any appellate filings that start in that county. Electronic filing remains optional for self-represented litigants.
MDEC modernizes court processes and makes case filing more convenient for litigants. Maryland attorneys have been filing electronically, or “e-filing,” since October 2014, when MDEC launched as a pilot in Anne Arundel County. The Judiciary is expanding the automated system, allowing attorneys to transition from a paper-based process to a technology-based electronic filing system.
The launch in North Central Maryland brings more than 83 percent of the jurisdictions in Maryland aboard MDEC. The Judiciary is on track to reach its goal to bring MDEC to every court by 2021.
“I commend the judges and staff in the courts in Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties for their commitment and hard work during the implementation process,” said Mary Ellen Barbera, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. “It has taken a coordinated and intensive effort to implement MDEC behind the scenes while maintaining full daily operations. The result will be improved service for the public, a commitment to which is embraced by these jurisdictions and those that have preceded them in launching MDEC. These teams have much to be proud of and to celebrate today. They have made a giant technological leap on behalf of the people of Maryland.”
“The people behind the launch, including administrative and associate judges, court leadership, and staff members, have been working for months to get ready for this day,” said John P. Morrissey, Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland. “Thanks to their dedicated efforts, including updating court facilities and taking part in crucial training, the changeover to the new system has been seamless.”
Courts in MDEC jurisdictions do not accept paper filings from attorneys. Maryland Rule 20-106(b) 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, continue to be exempt from mandatory electronic filing until further notice.
As part of the preparation for MDEC’s launch in North Central Maryland, the Judiciary held informational training sessions in all three counties and offered online instructions to help attorneys learn about the new system, how to register to use it, and how to e-file.
The Judiciary website has more information about MDEC and instructions for attorneys and staff on how to register to e-file, as well as for self-represented litigants who would like to e-file.
Attorneys and staff who are registered to e-file also may register for webinars and training. Attorneys will also be able to use court-provided public Wi-Fi when using MDEC in the courthouses.
As of April 16, MDEC is operational in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.
The next launch of MDEC will be in Baltimore County and is scheduled to take place in February 2019. That launch will include a pilot of electronic filing for landlord-tenant cases. Baltimore County will be the largest jurisdiction yet to implement MDEC.
“The efficiencies that electronic filings will offer to the public, the bar, and our justice partners are exciting,” said Howard County District Judge Pamila J. Brown, administrative judge for District 10 (Carroll and Howard counties). “With our new system of electronic court filings, we welcome the opportunity to take another step forward in this era of expanding technology.”
“From our perspective, the most important thing is how much better MDEC will make it for our court to serve the public,” said Harford County Circuit Judge Angela M. Eaves, county administrative judge. “I think it will make the process easier and more responsive to those who need the court system to resolve their matters – from filing cases and having them heard, and for more expedient responses to families in crisis, criminal case resolutions for community safety, and civil case conflict resolution.”
“Howard County is proud and excited to join other Maryland courts in launching MDEC,” said Howard County Circuit Judge Lenore R. Gelfman, county administrative judge. “Our county has long been considered a leader in technology. MDEC will allow Howard County Circuit Court to modernize, improve efficiency, and conserve materials and storage space. Most importantly, the public will benefit by being able to have a court system with up-to-date technology and improved access.”
“We are very excited about the opportunity to serve the public and our justice partners more efficiently by going to an electronic case management system,” said Harford County District Judge Susan H. Hazlett, administrative judge for District 9 (Harford County). “Our staff is working hard, and we are looking forward to a smooth transition.”
“All of us in the Circuit Court for Carroll County are eager to implement the increase in efficiency, transparency, and quality that MDEC will bring,” said Carroll County Circuit Judge J. Barry Hughes, county administrative judge. “While there will be a short-term learning curve, our dedicated employees are quick learners. I predict that it won’t be long before we are wondering how this court operated without MDEC.”
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