This section presents a discussion of select statutes involving original actions. First, there is a discussion of those statutes where the court has exclusive jurisdiction, and second, where there is concurrent jurisdiction.
General Laws c. 197, §10 gives the Supreme Judicial Court the authority to enter judgment in favor of an estate creditor if justice and equity require it and upon a showing that the creditor is not chargeable with culpable neglect in not prosecuting within the time so limited." The "time so limited," set forth in G.L. c. 197, §9, is one year from the date of death. It is settled that "[a] claimant has not 'prosecuted' a claim under §10 unless the claimant has met both requirements under §9 for timely institution of the action (i.e., filing a complaint and providing notice to the executor as provided in the statute)." Tamulevich v. Robie, 426 Mass 712, 714 (1998); See Also Hastoupis v. Gargas, 9 Mass. App. Ct. 27, 32 (1980).
General Laws c. 180, §11A, provides for single justice review and determination of a complaint requesting dissolution of a nonprofit charitable corporation. It is important to note that before the single justice will allow motions for the entry of an interlocutory order or for entry of judgment, the Office of the Attorney General must also endorse the motions.
Practice Note: The first step in the dissolution process should be to contact the Public Charities Division of the Attorney General's Office. The Public Charities Division will provide information about the process by which nonprofit charitable corporations are dissolved.
There are a number of statutes in the general laws providing concurrent jurisdiction with the Supreme Judicial Court and lower courts. This section discusses the most commonly filed matters. Unless specifically proscribed by statute, the majority of these cases are transferred to the Superior Court pursuant to G. L. c. 211, §4A.
General Laws c. 248, §1 allows an imprisoned or restrained person to "prosecute a writ of habeas corpus . . . to obtain release from such imprisonment or restraint, if it proves to be unlawful . . . ." The writ may be issued "by the supreme judicial or the superior court, by a probate or a district court or by a judge of any of said courts." G. L. c. 248, §2.
Certiorari is a civil action that may be filed in the Supreme Judicial Court or the Superior Court. Such an action provides a remedy to correct errors in proceedings not otherwise subject to review by motion or appeal and must be commenced within 60 days after the complained of proceeding. G. L. c. 249, §4. Review by the Supreme Judicial Court "will correct only 'substantial errors of law apparent on the record adversely affecting material rights'." Murray v. Second District Court of Eastern Middlesex, 389 Mass. 508, 511 (1983)(quoting Commissioners of Civil Serv. v. Municipal Court of the City of Boston, 369 Mass. 84, 90 (1975)). The court will correct "only those errors which have resulted in manifest injustice to the plaintiff or which adversely affected the real interests of the general public." Murray, 389 Mass. at 511.
While the writ of mandamus was formally abolished by Mass.R.Civ.P. 81 (b), "[a] civil action to obtain relief formerly available by writ of mandamus may be brought in the supreme judicial or superior court." G. L. c. 249, §5. Mandamus is a remedy for administrative inaction and is not available where action has already been taken. Doherty v. Retirement Board of Medford, 425 Mass 130, 134 (1997). A petitioner must have no other adequate or effective remedy. Coach & Six Restaurant, Inc. v. Public Works Comm'n, 363 Mass. 643, 644 (1973). Other statutes in which original and concurrent jurisdiction with the superior court is granted are G. L. c. 214, §1 (equity) and G. L. c. 231A, §1 (declaratory judgment).
Practice Note: In matters in which there is concurrent jurisdiction, the petitioner or plaintiff is encouraged to file the matter in the Superior Court. The single justice session does not engage in discovery and will transfer matters where there is a dispute as to the facts.