PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT John Adams Courthouse One Pemberton Square Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Jennifer Donahue/Erika Gully-Santiago (617) 557-1114
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 8, 2018
Supreme Judicial Court Announces Extensive Amendments to the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure
BOSTON, MA -- The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court today announced extensive amendments to the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure. The amendments are effective March 1, 2019 and govern procedures in appeals then pending and those commenced on and after that date. The amendments are intended to facilitate the just and expeditious resolution of appeals; clarify and simplify filing and formatting requirements; eliminate arcane language and incorporate consistent style and terminology; integrate existing practices and procedures; and facilitate the implementation of paperless court processes.
Copies of the Court’s order approving the amendments, the Rules in their amended form, a strikethrough version of the Rules showing all amendments, and the Reporter’s Notes are available online at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/amendments-to-the-mass-rules-of-appellate-procedure.
The amendments are the product of a four-year review of the Rules, conducted by the Appellate Rules Subcommittee of the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure, in conjunction with the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Subcommittee, chaired by Appeals Court Clerk Joseph Stanton, conducted the first full-scale review of the Rules in the four decades since their enactment in 1974. After a period of public comment on the proposed amendments, the final changes amend nearly every rule and are expected to simplify formatting, service, and filing requirements for all appellate court documents.
The Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court, through their respective clerks’ offices, invite parties to, on a voluntary basis, immediately begin formatting and filing their appellate court submissions in compliance with the formatting and filing provisions of the amended Rules, in advance of the effective date. For example, consistent with the amended Rules, parties may now elect to use a word count and proportionally spaced font instead of a page limit, in determining the permissible length of a brief or other filing. Parties may also file 7 copies of a brief instead of an original and 17 copies in the Supreme Judicial Court. The amendments affecting time deadlines, each of which provides more time to perform an act than the existing rules, will not become effective until March 1, 2019. Parties must continue to follow all time deadlines until March 1, 2019.
In addition to Clerk Joseph Stanton, the following served on the Appellate Rules Subcommittee: Donald Bronstein (Director of Criminal Appeals, Private Counsel Division, Committee for Public Counsel Services), Christine Burak (Legal Counsel, Supreme Judicial Court), Sean Connolly, Esq. (Appeals Court), Bessie Dewar (State Solicitor, Office of the Attorney General), Hon. Joseph Ditkoff (Appeals Court), Maura Doyle (Clerk, Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County), Francis Kenneally (Clerk, Supreme Judicial Court for the Commonwealth), Tiffany Knapp, Esq. (Appeals Court), Matthew Lashof-Sullivan, Esq. (Appeals Court), David A.F. Lewis (Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers), Patricia Malone (Assistant Clerk, Appeals Court), Jane Montori (Chief, Appeals Division, Hampden District Attorney’s Office), Marc Perlin, Reporter (Professor of Law, Suffolk Law School), Chip Phinney (Deputy Legal Counsel, Supreme Judicial Court), Randall Ravitz (Chief, Appeals Division, Criminal Bureau, Office of the Attorney General), Hon. Peter Sacks (Appeals Court), Michael Sullivan (Clerk, Middlesex Superior Court), Hon. Gabrielle Wolohojian (Appeals Court), and, Kim Wright (Senior Assistant for Judicial Policy, Executive Office of the Trial Court).