Journalist's Guide

MDEC is a Judiciary-wide integrated case management system that will soon be used by all state courts. Court records are filed, processed, and stored electronically. To determine whether the courthouse you are visiting has MDEC, call the clerk’s office before visiting.

Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) The Judiciary has been phasing in the Maryland Electronic Court, known as “MDEC”, intended to modernize court administration into a near paperless system. At the time of printing this Guide , 21 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions require electronic filing of case documents, which are then stored and processed by the court which can instantly access them. The system will be fully implemented when Baltimore City courts come onboard in 2021. The official court record will be maintained electronically on the court’s servers.

MDEC provides self-represented litigants and attorneys greater access to courts with the ability to quickly and easily e-file and e-serve court documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from anywhere with an internet connection.

The Judiciary is working with the Maryland Archives to save paper court records in which journalists and researchers in particular may have interest. Unlike the public Case Search database, access to the MDEC database is restricted to official users by Maryland rules, however, journalists will be able to request paper copies of the same court records they currently have access to through the clerks’ offices. Accessing Records in Non-MDEC Courts Become familiar with the public access computers that are available in most if not all courthouses. They tell you what kinds of documents you'll find in the file, give you a quick chronology of the case, and provide the names and addresses of parties and attorneys. If you can't understand some of the abbreviations or codes, the clerk should be able to translate them for you. Please be mindful in this day and age of increased victim and witness intimidation to treat any personal information with great discretion. Be aware that the information in the computer may be incomplete or incorrect. Court files are public-except for the envelopes that are sealed, because they may contain psychiatric, juvenile and related information, medical or financial information or other details a court believes should be off-limits to the public, including reporters. The files can be viewed at the clerk's office, depending on the type of case. If you are interested in a case, you should physically review the file periodically to read new documents, or at the very least check the latest computerized docket entries. Court clerks' offices routinely charge for photocopies of desired material. It is not always inexpensive. As a courtesy, clerks may copy reasonable amounts of material but don't abuse this kindness. You can also contact a party's attorney who might provide a copy of what you need. In


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