Consumers and the Courts
Judiciary Takes Next Steps to Launch Consumer-Friendly “Paper on Demand” Case Management System

"Not only are

people accustomed to

online services, they

are demanding them

more and more."

Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn,
District Court of Maryland

The Maryland Judiciary has been moving forward with a project that will change the way our courts receive, send and keep forms, filings and case records. What does that mean for “consumers,” the citizens and residents of Maryland who use the courts? Better access, more options, and improved convenience.

Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC, pronounced “Em-Deck”) is a single Judiciary-wide integrated case management system that will be used by all the courts in the state court system. Courts will collect, store, and process records electronically, and will be able to instantly access complete records as cases travel from District Court to Circuit Court and on to the appellate courts. The new system will ultimately become “paper-on-demand,” that is, paper records will be available when specifically asked for. (The last issue of Justice Matters included an introductory article about MDEC, as well.)

“People are shopping, paying bills, even dating online. They’re doing everything online except for matters that have to do with our courts,” explains Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn of the District Court of Maryland. Judge Clyburn leads the advisory committee that is working to implement MDEC. “Not only are people accustomed to online services, but they are demanding them more and more.” MDEC will make it convenient for people to access court services and records online, with 24/7 availability.

The new electronic case management system should make it easier to file lawsuits and keep track of cases within any part of the court system. Cases can be filed, and files can be viewed, anywhere and at any time, with a keystroke rather than a trip to the courthouse. With electronic storage, critical records will be kept safer and not subject to destruction from disasters like fires or floods, or even simply misfiling or misplacing of paper.

Even though many states have been changing over to electronic systems, no court system has completely done away with paper, and neither will Maryland. Plans call for keeping records and doing business electronically, and using paper only when it's requested. If lawyers and people representing themselves want to file paper, they will be able to, and court clerks will digitize the documents. There are also times when papers are necessary, such as protection orders that people need to carry with them. “There will always be some paper,” Judge Clyburn said.

Next Steps Have Been Taken
The Judiciary has taken a significant step forward in the multi-year, multi-phase project by selecting Tyler Technologies as the vendor for the new system. “This is an incredibly complex project, and we believe that this vendor will help us meet both our short- and long-term objectives,” Judge Clyburn said. “Our initial goal is to replace the legacy systems and 22 court applications that our courts currently operate with a single system that will enable the efficient and accurate electronic exchange of judicial information. Longer term, the Maryland Judiciary wants to transform the way justice information is processed and shared among all participants.”

The multi-year, fixed-price contract between Tyler and the State of Maryland includes software licensing fees, professional services and a multi-year maintenance agreement.

The state's selection committee chose Tyler after a comprehensive and competitive bidding process. The committee chose Tyler for several reasons, including the company's significant and successful track record of implementing its “Odyssey” case management system statewide in several states.

Tyler has successfully deployed Odyssey statewide in Indiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota. In May 2011, the State of Oregon selected Odyssey for statewide implementation. In addition to statewide clients, Odyssey serves counties in eight other states. Including Maryland, Odyssey will serve more than 500 counties with a combined population of over 50 million.

"Tyler is proud that Maryland chose Odyssey as the cohesive system that will allow its courts to electronically manage cases from initiation through disposition, and to quickly share comprehensive court data to help the Judiciary make the best decisions possible," said John S. Marr Jr., Tyler's president and chief executive officer. "We believe that Odyssey is the best and most innovative platform available for the Maryland Electronic Court both now and into the future. We look forward to working with Maryland to deliver judicial efficiencies that will benefit the state and its residents."

What’s Next?
The Judiciary’s Project Management Office has been in intensive planning sessions with Tyler Technologies experts to begin an initial implementation of the system. At the same time, focus groups of District Court judges, Circuit Court judges and subject matter experts from several courts are helping the MDEC Advisory Group implement the system by providing input on:

  • In-chambers workflows;
  • In-courtroom case processing, including forms, in-court filings, exhibits and orders;
  • Issues and concerns they gather from their courts.

These focus group members serve as vital links for questions and concerns from their courts, and advise Judge Clyburn and the MDEC Advisory Group throughout the implementation. “The success of this project depends on the involvement and support of all our courts and court personnel,” Judge Clyburn said. “We want to make sure that we are all communicating, back and forth, throughout this whole process. We are shaping this system to meet the needs of many diverse groups. It’s a complex challenge, and we are all working hard to listen to and respond to concerns and specific needs as they arise throughout this process.”

The vendor system is being tested at JIS and in a specially designed facility at the Judiciary Education and Conference Center (JECC) by trained court personnel to identify gaps between what the vendor’s software provides and what the software needs to do before it can move forward to a pilot program. The next stage will be to refine the operating details, fix initial glitches and move into a pilot test period. A pilot program is planned to begin in 2013 in Anne Arundel County. Once that pilot is successful, the system will be put into place county by county with full statewide implementation planned by the end of 2016.

collage of phone, paper binders & worker on laptop

About Tyler Technologies, Inc.

Tyler Technologies, Inc.About Tyler Technologies, Inc.
From Tyler Technologies’ website:
Based in Dallas, Tyler Technologies is a leading provider of end-to-end information management solutions and services for local governments. Tyler partners with clients to empower the public sector - cities, counties, schools and other government entities - to become more efficient, more accessible and more responsive to the needs of citizens. Tyler's client base includes more than 10,000 local government offices throughout all 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom. Forbes has named Tyler one of "America's Best Small Companies" four times in the last five years. More information about Tyler Technologies can be found at the company’s website.