Focus: Technology in the Courts

Shifting to Paperless – Maryland’s Courts Go Green

MDEC - Maryland Electronic Courts

The Maryland Judiciary is laying the groundwork to go paperless at every court level throughout the state. “Today, you have to go to court and ask to see a paper file,” says Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn of the District Court of Maryland. “Soon, you’ll be able to see the file online instead.”

The overall goals of the Maryland Electronic Courts initiative (known as MDEC) are to:

  • Increase access to Maryland’s courts
  • Improve public safety
  • Decrease costs
  • Improve efficiency and timeliness

MDEC is being developed now. A pilot program is planned to begin in 2013 in Anne Arundel County. After that, the system will be put into place county by county with full statewide implementation planned by the end of 2016.

Read the full article here

I’m on the Jury: Why Can’t I Google, Tweet, Facebook or Blog About the Trial?

Man on phone
Instant electronic communications and social media are everywhere. But the new technology – which encourages us to stay constantly connected to friends, families, and online acquaintances – does not always mesh with jury rules. These rules include:

  • Don’t talk about a case with anyone, even fellow jurors, until you are told by the judge to do so.
  • Don’t talk to your friends, family or anyone else about the case or anyone involved in the case.
  • If you have a question, get your information from official court sources, not from anywhere else.

Read the full article here, including draft jury instructions about social media and electronic communications by retired Judge Dennis M. Sweeney.

People’s Law Library Launches Redesigned Site

The People’s Law Library is a website that offers free legal information and self-help resources to help with legal issues, including housing and family law. And now, it’s redesigned to include expanded, updated and easy-to-find information about legal issues.

The Maryland State Law Library manages the People’s Law Library website, which is supported by Maryland’s non-profit legal services providers. Several legal aid programs, public interest attorneys and community advocacy groups have provided information. Last year, more than two million visitors used the website.

Full Article

Visit the updated and redesigned People’s Law Library website www.peoples-law.org.


Cell Phones Allowed in Court

Cell Phones

You can now bring cell phones, laptops or other electronic devices to court in Maryland. The new Maryland Rule (16-110) took effect last January 1, and allows cell phones, camera, personal computers and other electronic devices in court facilities.

However, these devices may be inspected by security officers, and can be used only in accordance with the rule and the court's orders. Electronic devices are not allowed in jury deliberation rooms.

Links

Maryland Rule 16-110 about cell phones and electronic devices mdcourts.gov/reference/rule 16-110.pdf

The Rules Committee notice mdcourts.gov/reference/cellphonenotice.html

What is a Maryland Rule? mdcourts.gov/reference/faq.html#rules

Law Librarians Ask Us Now! imageLaw Librarians are “Live” Online

The Maryland State Law Library has gone “live with a popular statewide online help service. The Law Library now provides real-time help through the state’s public library system’s AskUsNow! chat sessions. A law librarian is available for chat sessions each Tuesday from 9-11 a.m. and 2-9 p.m., and Thursday from 2-4 p.m. During other hours, questions for the Law Library that come in through AskUsNow! are answered by email, usually the next day.

Innovations streamline jury service

Technology is making it easier to serve on a jury. Many of the larger counties in Maryland have used specialized computer software for several years to help in the random selection, notification, and management of jurors. The Administrative Office of the Courts is now providing support for the majority of jurisdictions in Maryland. When this roll-out is complete by the end of next year, all 24 jurisdictions will have modern jury management systems.

Read the full article here

More information about jury service, including individual court information, visitwww.mdcourts.gov/juryservice/