For Immediate Release - October 06, 2015

Supreme Judicial Court Hears Oral Arguments in Four Cases in Special Sitting in New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD, MA - Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and the six Associate Justices of the Court today heard oral arguments in four cases at a special sitting in the Bristol County Superior Court in New Bedford. The special sitting provided an opportunity for students, media and residents of the local community to view the work of the highest court of the Commonwealth outside of the John Adams Courthouse in Boston, where cases are normally heard.  

As part of the special sitting, Bristol County Superior Court Clerk Marc Santos acted as clerk to the Justices for the day. A group of ninth and tenth grade students from the City on a Hill Charter School in New Bedford and a group of tenth grade students from the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational High School attended the special sitting.

The Justices heard oral arguments in the below cases:

• SJC-11906, Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission v. Edward A. Bettencourt
• SJC-11857, Commonwealth v. Lawrence Moore
• SJC-11877, Commonwealth v. Peter Chamberlin
• SJC-11876, Commonwealth v. Kyle L. Johnson

Following oral arguments, Chief Justice Gants delivered remarks as guest speaker at a luncheon put together and hosted by the Bristol County Bar Association and the New Bedford Bar Association, where he addressed court leaders, local legislators, bar leaders and other Bristol County officials.

The Justices hear appeals on a broad range of criminal and civil cases from September through May. Single Justice sessions are held each week throughout the year for certain motions pertaining to cases on trial or on appeal, bail reviews, bar discipline proceedings, petitions for admission to the bar, and a variety of other statutory proceedings. The Associate Justices sit as Single Justices each month on a rotation schedule.

The Justices issue written opinions generally within 130 days following oral arguments. Court opinions are available online after 10:00 a.m. on the day the opinion is issued, and can be accessed on the Office of the Reporter of Decisions new published opinions page.

The full bench renders approximately 200 written decisions each year; the single justices decide a total of approximately 600 cases annually.