last updated 5/12/17
The Appeals Court accepts electronic filing in all non-impounded cases, using the Odyssey File and Serve system at http://efilema.com. The Clerk's Office will post updates and responses to frequently asked questions (FAQs) here that relate to electronic filing, so please check back periodically as this material will be updated from time to time.
Massachusetts Interim Electronic Filing Rules
The Supreme Judicial Court published the Interim Electronic Filing Rules to govern e-filing generally. Participants are expected to be aware of the provisions in these rules before registering for electronic filing.
Appeals Court Order Concerning Electronic Filing Pilot Project
The Appeals Court has published an order governing generally the scope and procedures of electronic filing in the Appeals Court. Please review the order for requirements specific to the Appeals Court. To the extent that any court rules or standing orders are inconsistent with this E-filing order, the E-Filing Rules, or the E-filing FAQ guidance provided here, the E-filing order, E-filing Rules, and/or the E-filing FAQ guidance shall control. Please note that the eligibility for e-filing stated in the standing order has been expanded, in accordance with the the order which describes an "initial scope" and states that additional eligibility may be added at a future date. Currently all attorneys and self-represented parties are eligible to e-file in any panel case (civil or criminal) that is not fully impounded.
- Cases Eligible for Electronic Filing
- Types of Documents Eligible for E-Filing into an Existing Case Through eFileMA
- Registration for E-Filing through eFileMA
- No Paper Filing is Required
- How to Enter a Civil Appeal and Pay the $300 Docketing Fee Through eFileMA
- How to File Documents Into Existing Civil and Criminal Cases through eFileMA
- What Happens to My Filing After I Submit it?
- Payment and Waiver of eFileMA Fees
- Specifications for PDF Files
- Filing Size Limits
- Formatting E-Filed Motions with Supporting Materials
- Formatting E-Filed Briefs, Addenda, and Appendices for the Appeals Court
- Why Was My Filing Rejected?
- Date of Filing Shall Be Determined By Court Hours
- FAR/DAR Courtesy Copies when E-Filing
- Further E-Filing Questions
1. Cases Eligible for Electronic Filing
The Appeals Court accepts e-filed documents in all non-impounded civil and criminal cases through eFileMA. This includes the ability to enter a civil appeal through the site if you are paying the $300 entry fee. The Court cannot accept motions to waive entry fee or affidavits of indigency through eFileMA.
The Appeals Court does accept electronic filing of documents in partially impounded cases, but you may not e-file any impounded documents through eFileMA.
2. Types of Documents Eligible for E-Filing into an Existing Case Through eFileMA
The following types of filings are allowed through eFileMA:
- Civil Appeal Entry Form
- Corporate disclosure statement
- Docketing Statement (civil or criminal)
- Letter pursuant to MRAP 16(l)
- Motion for additional transcripts
- Motion for attorney's fees
- Motion for law student to argue
- Motion for leave to file amicus brief
- Motion to extend date for filing brief and/or appendix
- Motion to admit counsel pro hac vice
- Motion to consolidate
- Motion to file non-conforming brief
- Motion to file supplemental appendix
- Motion to stay appellate proceedings
- Motion to waive additional entry fee(s)
- Motion to withdraw as counsel
- Notice of appearance
- Notice of change of address of attorney
- Notice of change of counsel
- Petition for rehearing
- Status report
All other filings must continue to be filed in accordance with other rules and orders.
3. Registration for E-Filing through eFileMA
To e-file, first a user must register with the Court's e-filing vendor at http://efilema.com. The e-filing vendor has produced short, instructional videos that walk you through the process of registering your law firm, registering individual user accounts, and setting up payments accounts, all of which are essential first steps that must be completed prior to being able to e-file into a case. To view the videos, go to this page and click "Getting Started Videos."
Please note that sole practitioner attorneys, and attorneys working for non-firm entities such as in-house counsel for corporations must still register as a "firm." Currently, we cannot accept registrations from out-of-state attorneys that do not have a Massachusetts BBO number.
4. No Paper Filing is Required
All documents that are e-filed through eFileMA will be submitted electronically only. Neither a paper original nor duplicate need be filed unless specifically requested by the Court.
5. How to Enter a Civil Appeal and Pay the $300 Docketing Fee Through eFileMA
Complete the Civil Appeal Entry Form found here . Download the PDF form, fill in all the fields, and save it. A separate form must be filled out for each appealing party, even if represented by the same attorney. Follow the prompts on eFileMA to "Start a New Case" and e-file the Civil Appeal Entry Form along with providing payment. After review and acceptance by the Appeals Court, you will receive notice of the case entry with a new docket number (e.g., 2016-P-1234). Once the new case has been entered, you may then file and serve additional documents by following the instructions for filing into an existing case.
At this time, when entering a new civil appeal through the site, no additional documents beyond the Civil Appeal Entry Form are allowed to be e-filed. The Civil Appeal Entry Form does not need to be served on opposing parties, as it is akin to a cover letter attached to a check paying the appeal entry fee, which is not traditionally accompanied by a certificate of service. Notwithstanding, you are encouraged to send a copy of the form to the opposing party either by mail or email to alert them to sign-up as a service contact for the new appeal.
Please note that there is no need to enter a criminal appeal, because criminal appeals are automatically entered. For all filings in criminal cases, see the instructions for filing into an existing case.
6. How to File Documents Into Existing Civil and Criminal Cases through eFileMA
Follow the prompts on eFileMA to "File into Existing Case." Select "Appeals Court" for the location, and find the case by docket number or party name. Click the "Actions" arrow at the right-hand side of the correct case, and select "File into Case".
The case and party information will fill in automatically. Then, select the filing code for your document from the dropdown menu and fill in the fields. The "Related Parties" field means the party on whose behalf you are filing the document. Under "Lead Document", click the upload button and select the document. You may then add additional documents by scrolling up to the "Filings" heading, and clicking "Add Another Filing" on the right-hand side.
7. What Happens to My Filing After I Submit it?
After you file a document, it goes into "Submitted" status, and you will receive a confirmation email. Next, a member of the Clerk's Office must review your filing. Based on this review, your filing will either be accepted or rejected.
If your filing is accepted, you will receive an email stating that it was accepted. A copy will also be emailed to anyone you added to the "courtesy copies" field, as well as anyone you selected as a service contact. Your filing will then be docketed in your case. Note that an accepted filing is not the same as a granted motion; a filing being accepted merely means that it complied with the formatting rules. It is possible for an e-filed motion to be accepted and then subsequently denied.
If your filing is rejected, it is most likely because it did not conform to the formatting or filing rules. You will receive an email stating the reason why the filing was rejected.
8. Payment and Waiver of eFileMA Fees
The Supreme Judicial Court has authorized the e-filing vendor (Tyler Technologies) to charge fees for use of the site. Each time that you submit documents through eFileMA there is an associated fee payable to Tyler Technologies. This fee is typically $7.
The $7 fee is applied to each submission, regardless of the number of included documents, and will not be charged until your filing is accepted by the Court.
You may waive this fee by using a "waiver account" set up as a "payment method" in the eFileMA system. You may use a waiver account if:
- You represent the Commonwealth.
- Your client was determined indigent by the Appeals Court at the initiation of the case you are filing into.
- You are CPCS-appointed counsel in a criminal case.
- Your submission consists exclusively of documents otherwise required to be filed by email (and not paper) by the standing orders regarding docketing statements and post-panel motions and letters.
- Your submission consists of subsequent volumes of a filing that was broken up to comply with the size limitations (e.g. Appendix Volume II of III).
Use of a waiver account outside the above situations will result in a rejection of your filing.
9. Specifications for PDF Files
All documents submitted for e-filing must be in searchable Portable Document Format (PDF). Documents must be submitted as electronically converted PDFs rather than scanned PDFs whenever possible. Scanned PDFs must be made searchable using an optical-character-recognition software. Some office copier/scanners can do this automatically by setting them to text mode, or by enabling character recognition. To make a PDF searchable after scanning, use "Recognize Text" in Adobe Acrobat's "Tools" pane, or use another tool such as FineReader Online or Smart OCR. Minimize the file size of your PDFs by following these steps .
Documents shall not be locked or otherwise password protected.
Each document submitted for e-filing may contain electronic links, but only to navigate within the same document. For example, a table of contents may contain a hyperlink to the corresponding page later in the same document.
A PDF may contain multiple documents related to the same filing. For example, a single PDF document might include a motion, supporting affidavit, and certificate of service. However, multiple motions and different types of pleadings should be not merged in a single PDF; each different pleading should be a separate PDF. Multiple PDF files may be e-filed in one envelope, even if they are separate pleadings, as long as they relate to the same case and comply with the file size limitations.
Unlike documents that are emailed to the Court, there is no required PDF naming convention for documents e-filed through eFileMA. However, avoid using special characters in the names of your files, such as square brackets [ ].
You must verify the legibility and orientation of all PDF documents before e-filing them.
EFileMA imposes size limits on filings. No individual PDF document may be more than 25 MB in size, and no "envelope" (which can contain multiple PDF documents) may be more than 35 MB in size.
If your PDF files are too large, follow these steps to make them smaller.
11. Formatting E-Filed Motions with Supporting Materials
A motion and any supporting documents (such as an exhibit, affidavit, and certificate of service) should be saved as a single PDF. Any additional pleading, such as a status report or notice of appearance, must be saved and e-filed as a separate PDF.
You must verify the legibility and orientation of all PDF documents before e-filing them.
12. Formatting E-Filed Briefs, Addenda, and Appendices for the Appeals Court
E-filed briefs, addenda, and appendices shall be formatted in accordance with the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure 16, 18(a),(b),(d), and 20(a)(1–3) governing formatting of paper documents, including organization, margins, page limits, and font style and size. No color cover is required. The Court has produced a set of quick tips and more comprehensive checklist summarizing the formatting requirements.The Court has also created a Brief Template and an Appendix Template that can help you meet the formatting requirements.
The Brief, Addendum, and Certificates of Service and Compliance must be saved and submitted as a single PDF file. The Appendix must be saved and submitted as a separate PDF file.
Documents larger than the size limits may be submitted for e-filing only if they are broken up into separate segments, each below the size limit. You must indicate both on the cover of the document and in the "Description" field in eFileMA that the filing is one of multiple volumes (for example, after loading an Appendix volume, you should put in its Description field "Volume I of II" or “Volume II of II”).
All briefs and appendix volumes should start with the cover as page 1, so that the PDF-file page numbers match the actual page numbers. Any blank page should be marked "Intentionally Blank" or similar, and should have a page number to continue correct numbering.
To facilitate reading multi-volume appendices in electronic form:
(a) Each volume of the appendix shall be designated by a roman numeral on the cover and shall be separately paginated beginning with the cover as page one. All subsequent pages should be numbered consecutively, including the table of contents. Do not continue page numbers across multiple volumes. Thus, your brief should cite to both the volume and its page number (for example “App. I at 155” or “R.A. II at 49”).
(b) The first volume of the appendix shall include a complete table of contents referencing all volumes of the appendix, and each individual volume shall include a table of contents for that volume.
Due to size limitations, you may need to submit multiple envelopes to e-file all of your appendices. You may use a "waiver account" to waive the filing fee for any additional envelopes necessary to submit multiple parts of that same filing. To minimize PDF file size, follow these instructions .
You must verify the legibility and orientation of all PDF documents before e-filing them. Any reproduction of an exhibit in an appendix should be of high quality to ensure a legible and accurate representation of the exhibit, including color if color is relevant. A color photograph marked or admitted as an exhibit in the lower court and included in the appendix must be in color. Lower court color-coded forms need not be included in color.
Interim Electronic Filing Rule 5 allows the Clerk to reject any e-filed document for any technical nonconformance and to allow resubmittal of a conforming document. The following list is a sample of potential reasons why a document that you attempt to e-file may be rejected:
- Case is impounded and therefore not eligible for e-filing.
- Improperly included impounded material.
- Brief/Appendix is non-compliant. Make sure it complies with all the formatting rules (see this checklist ), and see the court-issued notice of rejection for details.
- Appellant's brief filed without an appendix.
- Filing code selected does not match document.
- The document is missing a certificate of service.
- Improper use of Waiver Account. Payment required.
- Payment was incomplete or failed.
- Document is illegible or locked.
- Document is not signed.
- Documents or pages are out of order or missing.
- Document has extra pages (repeated pages or extra document attached).
- Document was filed in wrong case or court.
- Document filed by a non-party.
- Document attributed to the incorrect party.
- Failed to redact personal identifying information pursuant to SJC Rule 1:24 (social security numbers, etc.).
- Attempt to enter a new appeal beyond the 10 days allowed for docketing. Mass. R. App. P. 10(a)(1).
- Attempt to enter a new appeal when you are not the appellant.
- Attempt to enter a new appeal when no assembly has been received from the lower court.
- Attempt to enter a new appeal that has already been entered by another party.
- Attempt to enter a new appeal in a criminal case, which are automatically entered.
Accordingly, prior to submission, it is important to double-check that your submission does not contain one of the deficiencies listed above. If your submission is rejected, you will receive an email containing the reason and you will not be charged the associated e-filing fee until the submission is accepted for e-filing by the Court.
By registering for eFileMA, you have consented to receipt of all Appeals Court notices by email only and service of all documents e-filed through eFileMA by email only. It is your responsibility to ensure that the court, opposing parties, and the eFileMA Site all have your current and correct email address.
Upon registering for eFileMA, you are required to add yourself to the public service list. To do this, use the orange "Actions" dropdown in the upper-right corner, and select either "Firm Service Contacts" if using a firm account, or "Service Contacts" if using an individual account. Click the "Add Service Contact" button, and fill in your information. Be sure that the "Make This Contact Public" box is checked, and click "Save Changes."
Serve other parties using e-filing by adding their service contact to a case. When the system prompts you for service contacts, select "Add From Public List" from the actions dropdown, and search the public list for the attorney or party to receive service. You can also add yourself to the case at this time to ensure you receive e-service of future e-filings by other parties.
15. Date of Filing Shall Be Determined By Court Hours
Pursuant to SJC Interim E-Filing Rule 4(c), a document will be considered filed if it is submitted through eFileMA before the close of regular business hours on the day it is submitted unless it is rejected by the court. A document submitted after 4:30 p.m. or on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday shall be considered filed the next business day unless it is rejected by the court.
16. FAR/DAR Courtesy Copies when E-Filing
If an application for direct appellate review (DAR) or application for further appellate review (FAR) is electronically filed with the Supreme Judicial Court through eFileMA, you no longer need to serve a paper or electronic copy on the Appeals Court as set forth in Mass.R.A.P. 11(d) and 27.1(d). The assignment of a DAR/FAR docket number by the Supreme Judicial Court now triggers automatic notice of the filing and the DAR/FAR docket entry's creation to the Appeals Court. Therefore, in lieu of sending a paper or electronic copy of a DAR or FAR to the Appeals Court, please ensure that you have received a corresponding docket number from the Supreme Judicial Court. The timely filing of a FAR in the Supreme Judicial Court will stay the Appeals Court's issuance of the rescript pursuant to Mass.R.A.P. 23.
The eFileMA website has a Self Help area in the lower right-hand corner with links to a variety of useful information.
Should you need further technical assistance with efileMA, please call (800) 297-5377.
Should you need further assistance with procedural questions related to e-filing with the Appeals Court through efileMA, please call (617) 725-8725.