Many people have questions about how the appeals process works. Review the frequently asked questions for some general guidance.

Guides for Lawyers and Self-Represented Litigants

  • Appeals Court Briefs
    Many appeals are determined solely on the briefs filed by the parties, without oral arguments.
  • Appeals Court Decisions
    All decisions and opinions of the Massachusetts Appeals Court are issued in writing. Generally, they will state whether or not the trial court’s judgment will be upheld and explain the reasons why. This is a guide to understanding how, where, and when the Appeals Court Justices deliver their rulings.
  • Direct Appellate Review
    Direct Appellate Review (DAR) is appropriate where the questions presented by the appeal are: (1) questions of first impression or novel questions of law which should be submitted for final determination to the Supreme Judicial Court; (2) questions of law concerning the Constitution of the Commonwealth or questions concerning the Constitution of the United States which have been raised in a court of the Commonwealth; or (3) questions of such public interest that justice requires a final determination by the full Supreme Judicial Court.
  • Electronic Submissions
    The Appeals Court requires that certain filings be made by e-mail and requires that others be made on paper. This page lists the required filing methods.
  • Entering the Appeal (Civil)
    Civil appellants must pay a $300 fee to the Appeals Court within ten days of receiving the notice from the trial court clerk to have a case entered on the docket.
  • Frequently Asked Questions
    Many people have questions about how the appeals process works. Review the frequently asked questions for some general guidance.
  • Further Appellate Review
    Within twenty days after the decision issues from the Appeals Court, any party to an appeal may file an application for leave to obtain further appellate review of the case by the full Supreme Judicial Court. Applications for further appellate review are governed by the provisions of Rule 27.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure.
  • Guide to Oral Arguments in the Appeals Court
    A guide for attorneys, self represented parties, and court visitors that discusses how, where, and when the Appeals Court conducts its oral arguments.
  • Impoundment Procedures in the Massachusetts Appellate Courts: An Introduction
    A guide to impoundment procedures including a general overview of governing authorities and some practical tips.
  • Motion Practice in the Appeals Court
    Requests for procedural relief should be submitted in the form of a motion, as governed by Rule 15 of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure.  The guidance provided here is not a substitute for a careful reading of Rule 15.
  • Overview of Standing Order Governing Electronic Notification of Court Orders, Notices, and Decisions in Lieu of Paper Notice
    Counsel and self-represented parties may register with the Appeals Court to receive e-mail notification of actions, orders, and decisions entered by the Appeals Court.
  • Pilot Program Requires Filing of Docketing Statements for All Appeals (Civil and Criminal)
    The docketing statement is due within fourteen days after the Appeals Court issues the “Notice of Entry” of the appeal.
  • Pro Hac Vice Procedures
    In Massachusetts, admission pro hac vice requires permission of the court. Importantly, the trial court's allowance of a pro hac vice motion does not qualify the out-of-state counsel to file papers with the Appeals Court.
  • Procedures Governing Appeals With "Moffett Issues" Filed in the Appeals Court
    Procedures addressing an appointed counsel's duty to represent an indigent criminal defendant on appeal when counsel believes the appeal to be frivolous.
  • Rule 6 Motions (to Stay)
    A guide to complying with Massachusetts Rule of Appellate Procedure 6 for Motions to Stay (or Injunction Pending Appeal).
  • Self-Representation in the Appeals Court
    Self-represented parties are held to the same standard, and bound by the same rules, as are attorneys when proceeding in the Appeals Court.
  • Single Justice Practice
    In addition to its appellate, or "panel," jurisdiction, the Appeals Court runs a continuous single justice session, with a separate docket.
  • Transcript Request Guide
    A guide on how to request transcripts for an appeal.