This month, the Anne Arundel County Courts go very “high tech” with the launching of a new program called the Maryland Electronic Court System (MDEC). Anne Arundel is the first of Maryland’s jurisdictions to participate in the MDEC; eventually all Maryland’s counties and Baltimore City will be required to participate in the MDEC.
As envisioned by the Maryland Judiciary, the MDEC will achieve several important objectives: eliminate paper files; support the judiciary’s case management system by allowing for greater flexibility than is now currently available; and reduce processing delays. Another overall goal of the MDEC is to create electronic case records as official court records.
One critical aspect of the MDEC is the mandatory requirement for attorneys to file pleadings on behalf of a client electronically. Specific procedures related to e-filing are contained in Title 20 of the Maryland Rules for Civil Procedure, and the Maryland Judiciary is also offering tutorials through its website for attorneys. Failure to comply with mandatory e-filing will have serious consequences because after November 10, paper filings will no longer be accepted by the Anne Arundel County courts.
As we can expect when transitions occur in our individual lives or in business matters, there will likely be several bumps in the road before the goals of the MDEC are achieved. Persistence and patience by attorneys and members of the public who must access the Maryland court system will be necessary in the coming days.