COSA offers optional e-filing in non-MDEC counties during emergency

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Late Sunday, the Court of Special Appeals updated its home page to announce a significant change to mitigate disruptions to Maryland appellate practice during the COVID-19 emergency. The largest volume of appeals come from the three jurisdictions that have yet to transition to Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC): Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County. As a result, appeals from those three circuit courts have been paper-only.

As of March 15, however, the Court will allow filings via MDEC, as an optional alternative to paper filing, in appeals from non-MDEC jurisdictions. Or, because many in those jurisdictions are not yet familiar with MDEC, the Court is allowing filing by email to a designated email address. Filers can also use a drop-box if they wish to stick with paper filing.

The announcement emphasizes that, to commence an appeal, the notice of appeal still must be filed in the circuit court, which means paper filing in non-MDEC jurisdictions.

All filings still must include a certificate of service, and that requirement is crucial when filing your notice of appeal with the circuit court.  See Lovero v. Da Silva, 200 Md. App. 433, 453 (2011) (holding that the court clerk was required to refuse for filing a notice of appeal lacking a certificate of service under Rule 1-323).

I’ve pasted the text of the Court’s March 15 announcement below, and will try to update this post if there are changes. But please make sure to check the Court’s home page for the latest when you’re about to file.


OPTIONAL METHODS FOR FILING PAPERS IN THE COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS DURING THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY
Updated March 15, 2020.

Pursuant to Chief Judge Barbera’s March 13, 2020 Administrative Order, the Court of Special Appeals offices are closed to the public, other than for emergency matters, commencing March 16, 2020.  However, the Court of Special Appeals is continuing operations pursuant to that Administrative Order.  For more information about the current status of operations, please go the our website, which will be updated frequently.

THIS NOTICE DOES NOT APPLY TO FILERS WHO ALREADY FILE PAPERS ELECTRONICALLY IN MDEC CASES.  Those filers should continue to file through MDEC as usual.  Paper copies may be mailed or sent by courier to the court as usual following electronic filing.

The following alternative policies to in-person filing apply to non-e-filers in appeals from MDEC courts and filers in appeals from Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County.  These alternatives to in-person filing apply only during the COVID-19 Emergency, and will not continue after the courts resume normal operations.

To facilitate filing papers with the Court of Special Appeals, while minimizing person-to-person contact, the Clerk Court of Special Appeals is offering three alternative means of filing papers:  (1) e-filing through the MDEC system (even for cases originating in non-MDEC jurisdictions), (2) drop boxes at the entrance of the Courts of Appeal building, or (3) emailing filings to a designated email address.  While the Clerk is offering three means to file papers, please choose just one.

APPELLATE E-FILING

All attorneys and self-represented parties who become authorized users of the MDEC system, are permitted to file briefs, motions and other papers via the MDEC system in all appeals, even from non-MDEC jurisdictions.

Attorneys who are not already registered e-filers can find resources on how to register and e-file on the Judiciary’s webpage. The staff of the Court of Special Appeals are available to provide limited assistance in getting registered and with e-filing.

If you choose to be an e-filer, orders, opinions, and other notifications and communications from the Court will be delivered to you via your registered email address – the Clerk will not provide notices by mail.
Please note that this applies only to appellate filings.  Any papers filed in the Circuit Courts for Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County, must continue to be filed in paper form with those courts.  Accordingly, if you are noting a new appeal in one of those circuit courts, you must file your notice in the circuit court in paper form. Records from those circuit court’s will also continue to be transmitted to the Court of Special Appeals in paper form and will be returned to the circuit courts at the conclusion of the appeal in the same way. At the time you note your appeal in the circuit court, provide a courtesy copy of your notice of appeal via email to COSAfilings@mdcourts.gov. This will facilitate opening an appellate case for you, but THIS IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR FILING YOUR NOTICE OF APPEAL IN THE CIRCUIT COURT.

Title 20 of the Maryland Rules applies to appellate e-filers. Please read these rules carefully.

DROPBOX

The Court of Special Appeals has placed a drop box at the entrance of the Courts of Appeals building. All filings being delivered to the appellate courts in paper form must be placed in the appropriate drop box for filing. You will not be permitted to deliver your filing to the Clerk’s office’s public window.  Filings placed in the drop box by 4:30 p.m. will be docketed as of the day they were placed in the drop box. If you would like a file stamp copy, please provide an additional copy and a self-addressed stamped envelope, and one will be returned to you by mail. Note that the Courts of Appeal building closes promptly at 4:30 p.m. If you arrive after that time, you will need to return the next business day to file your papers.

EMAIL DROP BOX

As an alternative to hand delivering your filing or e-filing, you may send your filing to COSAfilings@mdcourts.gov. Any filing submitted in this manner must:

  1. Be converted to a PDF (portable document format);
  2. Be submitted as an attachment to an e-mail with a subject line containing the caption, case number, and a brief descriptor of the paper you are filing (i.e., “motion for stay,” “appellee’s brief,” etc.).

Any compliant filing received in this manner will be docketed as of the date it is received by the Court.

If you would like confirmation that a filing has been received, activate the delivery or read receipt function of the email program by which it is sent. Instructions for how to activate delivery and read receipts in two common email platforms are: Gmail, Outlook.

While sending your filing to this address satisfies the filing requirement, you must still comply with the obligation to serve the other parties to the case by methods that are compliant with the Maryland Rules.
The COSAfilings@mdcourts.gov email address is for filing only, it is not meant for communicating with the Court.  Call the Clerk’s Office if you have questions.  Orders, opinions and other communications from the Court will be sent via regular mail to the address we have on file.

CERTIFICATES OF SERVICE

Whatever method you choose to file your papers, the paper must contain a certificate of service that states the date and the manner by which you served the other party or parties. See Md. Rule 1-323. You must also actually serve the other parties in the manner you indicate.

CONTACT US The Court of Special Appeals Clerk’s office can be reached by phone at (410) 260-1450.

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