The Supreme Judicial Court Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure solicits comments on proposed amendments to the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Rules of Appellate Procedure became effective in 1974, and while many amendments have been adopted over the years, no full-scale review of the Rules has occurred in over four decades. Accordingly, the Standing Advisory Committee appointed an Appellate Subcommittee to identify proposals that would:
- make the rules more easily understood;
- facilitate the just and expeditious resolution of appeals;
- clarify and simplify filing and formatting requirements;
- eliminate arcane language and incorporate consistent style and terminology;
- incorporate existing practices and procedures; and
- facilitate the appellate and trial courts’ development of paperless processes.
Where possible, the Subcommittee sought to preserve the language and related procedures of the current rules so as not to disrupt established practices that, for the most part, operate well. The Subcommittee also compared the rules to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and the recent Federal “restyling” amendments designed to make those rules more comprehensible. Consequently, many proposed amendments are merely stylistic or organizational, and would require minimal change to current procedures. Other proposed amendments are substantive and are intended to improve a rule or procedure consistent with the Subcommittee’s charge.
The Subcommittee Report, which includes a blacklined version of the proposed amendments and the rationale for the proposed revisions, appears at the link below. Comments should be directed by email to AppellateRules@jud.state.ma.us or in hard copy to Joseph Stanton, Chair, Appellate Rules Subcommittee, Massachusetts Appeals Court, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108, on or before August 31, 2017. Comments received will be made available to the public. The comment due date has been extended to October 2, 2017.