Can you provide an explanation of what MDEC consists of?
The Maryland Electronic Court (MDEC) system will consist of a statewide case management system with e-filing capabilities.
Why does the Judiciary need to consider a new case management system?
Some of the Judiciary’s non-MDEC systems are outdated and up to 30 years old. The legacy systems lack flexibility, functionality, and are challenging to maintain, as well as have a limited capacity for interoperability with the present and future systems of the Judiciary’s criminal justice partners. In addition, county-wide systems do not lend themselves to cross-county communication or statewide reporting.
Will the new case management system be used in all court levels?
Yes, it will be used in all four levels of court, i.e. District, Circuit, Court of Special Appeals and Court of Appeals.
How will the new case management change the way different Courts communicate with each other?
The new case management system will provide a single solution for Appellate, Circuit and District Courts that will facilitate electronic communications of case information between the aforementioned court levels. For the first time, courts in different counties will communicate by using the same system.
What is the timeframe for the project?
Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) implementation began in the fall of 2014 on a county-by-county basis. MDEC is now available in all Maryland counties except for Prince George’s County and Baltimore City.
What is e-filing and e-service?
Electronic filing (e-filing) is the submission of forms and documents to the courts through the Internet. Electronic service (e-service) is the delivery of forms and documents to parties through the Internet.
What are the benefits of e-filing?
Maryland Electronic Court (MDEC) provides self-represented litigants and attorneys greater access to courts with the ability to eFile and eServe court documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from anywhere with an Internet connection. It is a fast, easy, and cost-effective way to file and serve your court documents.
Is e-filing difficult to do?
No. The e-filing system will walk you through the e-filing process, similar to online productivity software, e.g. Turbo Tax. There will be online tutorials available to help you navigate the system.
What hardware/software is needed to file and serve electronically and do I need to change any settings on my computer to use the site?
A computer is required. A user must have Internet access, a web browser, word processing software (e.g., Word or WordPerfect), PDF conversion software, and an email account. The minimum resolution needed to properly view File & Serve is 1024 x 768 pixels.
With e-filing and electronic case records, will paper copies still be available?
Paper copies will be printed on demand.
Is e-filing mandatory?
E-filing for attorneys is mandatory if you are filing in a county that has been converted to the new MDEC system. Self-represented litigants may voluntarily choose to e-file (See Rule 20-106). Paper filings will be scanned and maintained electronically from day one.
If e-filing is optional for self-represented litigants, rules will need to be created to accommodate both the paper and electronic option. Will we always need to have this level of duality?
The ultimate vision for the MDEC system is a fully electronic environment. The manner in which this process is facilitated may vary over time. Ultimately, given the tremendously varied demographics of the Judiciary’s customers, it is likely that the Courts will always retain some means of accepting paper. In the long-term, this capability will be scaled back as paper becomes less prevalent.
What will be done with cases that were initially filed in paper form? Will we continue to use paper until those cases have been closed?
Closed or inactive case files will be converted to electronic format. These files will be retained and managed according to current retention schedules. Previously filed documents, pending or reopened, will be scanned and made electronic at the discretion of the courts (see MD Rule 20-102).
Will transcripts be electronic as well?
Transcripts will still be available for appeals. Transcripts and recordings will most likely remain with the various recording systems that are in use by the courts today.
Is the Judiciary considering charging those who don't e-file, a charge for not using the system?
Will e-filing submissions be reviewed on the spot (as to not have an effect on deadlines)?
Because e-filing can be submitted 24-7, the filing will be reviewed during normal court business hours (See Rule 20-203). As long as the clerk does not reject the filing, the date of the filing is the date of the e-filing (See Rule 20-202).
If I e-file, will I need to serve the other party in paper?
For any electronic service, the initial service must be done in paper. Subsequent filings can be electronic if the other party is a registered e-filer. Otherwise, all service will continue to be served in paper.
How will the system work with the Public Information Act if someone wants to see an electronic record/case?
Case search will continue to provide online access to case information. However, availability and access to these records will be subject to security and privacy considerations.
What type of access will be available for criminal records?
Access will be based on a number of factors: applicable Maryland Rules; present availability of electronic case information to the public; any agreements reached between the Judiciary and its criminal justice partners; identity or role of the entity making the inquiry (case party, attorney, general public, etc.) as determined by authentication and authorization rules.
Who is overseeing the project?
The project is being overseen by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland and the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland. From a tactical perspective, the project is being managed by the Maryland Judiciary’s Administrative Office of the Courts.
Is there any discussion about the retention of the records?
Ensuring proper retention, archiving, and disposition of records are critical concerns. The Judiciary has been working with the State Archives to ensure that proper retention of records is addressed with the system.
Will this system allow someone to file online from home?
Yes, once registered, attorneys and self-represented litigants will be able to electronically file from home or anywhere they have Internet access.
Can I get a copy of a document if I am not a party on a case?
Yes. You can come to the courthouse and get a printed copy for a fee.
How will I be notified of a hearing?
If you are a party to a case and have elected to be electronically notified, you will receive an email notification. Otherwise, you will be notified via U.S. mail.
Will those without computers be able to access the system?
Those without computer access will be able to go to the courthouse and view documents there. Self-represented litigants will still be able to file in paper and can continue to communicate via U.S. mail.
Will the system protect confidential information?
The new rule (See Rule 20-203) requires that the filer redact confidential information from documents. If by court rule or order, information is deemed to be hidden, the system will restrict access to that information.
Will citizens still have the capacity to view the case in the clerk’s office?
We will have public access terminals in each clerk’s area where citizens can look at the electronic file.
In order to e-file, will the public have to set up an account?
Yes, you must register through the MDEC e-filing portal. The link will be made available on the Judiciary’s website.
Will I be able to electronically pay traffic tickets?
This service is available today and will not change. A traffic ticket provides details for paying fines.
In the courthouse, will I be able to pay fees with a credit card?
As part of the implementation of MDEC, there will be statewide functionality that will allow credit cards to be accepted for case related payments.
Will there be job loss?
No. Job functions will change, yet no job loss is expected from the implementation of the new case management system.
What happens if the system goes down?
Courtrooms should not have system outages. The infrastructure of the system will be set up to redirect computers in the event of a system malfunction. E-filing outages may occur occasionally for maintenance (See Rule 20-501). The Judiciary will notify the public in advance via the Judiciary website.
What is the plan for the Appellate Courts?
E-filing is available for filing into the Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals. E-filing is mandatory for attorneys but optional for self-represented litigants. See MD Rule 20-106.