What is MDEC?
Commonly pronounced "em-deck" stands for Maryland Electronic Courts.
MDEC is simply Maryland's electronic filing system or e-filing system, and is currently available in almost all of Maryland's jurisdictions, except for Baltimore City and Prince George's County Courts (at the time of this posting). MDEC launched in 2014 beginning with the District Court and Circuit Courts of Anne Arundel County, and the Court of Special Appeals and Court of Appeals. At the time it made Maryland the first state to use the case management system in the appellate courts. Since then and over the past seven years, MDEC has been enrolled gradually in other jurisdictions including the Eastern Shore, then Southern Maryland, then Western Maryland, then North Central Maryland, then Baltimore County, and the last county to be added was Montgomery County in 2021. They have saved two of the larger court systems in the State for last, including Baltimore City and Prince George's County. And is still a work in progress.
Currently, E-filing is available if your case is in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Queen Anne's, Somerset, St. Mary's, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.
Who can e-file?
If an attorney is representing a party, in an MDEC jurisdiction, an attorney must utilize e-filing. As an attorney, e-filing has its benefits as it allows for filing 24/7, and takes out the step of taking a document to the courthouse, waiting in a line, filing, paying a fee (when necessary), and waiting for the documents to be processed. These steps can be completed faster with e-filing. Also with e-filing, payments can be made by credit card, which is necessary to process payments through MDEC's system.
If a party is representing themselves as self-represented litigants (SRL), or pro se, e-filing is available but not mandatory. However, if a party starts e-filing, then you have to continue to e-file all future documents and in all future cases. In order to e-file, an SRL must register by filling out some information online. Pro se parties can review the MDEC Polices & Procedures Manual to assist with making a decision.
If a SRL is comfortable with technology, able to PDF all documents and upload filings to MDEC, then it could become incredibly efficient instead of driving to the courthouse for all filings. If technology is scary or not available, then filing the old-fashioned way is also available, or still necessary in Baltimore City and Prince George's County as e-filing is not currently available.
PROS and CONS for E-Filing
Pros for E-filing
- Can file from anywhere with a computer and access to the internet
- Do not need to print a document, make multiple copies, take a physical document(s) to court, stand in line, wait or get documents file stamped
- Documents are stamped as "E-filed" at the time of filing
- Can pay with a credit card, instead of cash or money order
- Can serve other parties if also registered through MDEC
- Efficient, takes less time to file
Cons for E-filing
- Have to PDF documents, then upload to MDEC and follow several prompts before filing
- Documents can be rejected for not following MDEC procedures
- Additional documents may need to be filed for E-filing
- Once your e-file one time, you have to always e-file in the future
- Requires extensive use of technology
- Must comply with Rule 20-101
E-filing v. Viewing Documents
You do not have to register for e-filing, to see or view documents of the case file online. There is a separate registration for viewing documents online. You can Register for Online Access to Case Documents when you do not have lawyer here: Steps for Registering
Ultimately, any SRL or pro se party will need to determine what's right for their case or cases, and choose if e-filing is a good fit. When representing yourself in court, you can consult with an unbundled attorney or hire an attorney for a limited service for legal assistance as you proceed with your case, contact an Unbundled Attorney when you require legal assistance for parts of your case. Call the law office of Jerry Williams III for an unbundled attorney today (410) 415-3617.