MASSACHUSETTS APPEALS COURT ANNOUNCES POSTING
OF UNPUBLISHED DECISIONS AT WEBSITE OF THE OFFICE OF
THE REPORTER OF DECISIONS
The Massachusetts Appeals Court announced today that its unpublished decisions pursuant to Rule 1:28 are now available online to both the bar and the public.
On February 25, 2008, the Massachusetts Appeals Court modified its long-standing policy prohibiting the citation of its unpublished decisions. The change was announced in footnote 4 of Chace v. Curran, 71 Mass. App. Ct. 258 (2008), an opinion authored by Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza, in which he stated that “[a] summary decision pursuant to Rule 1:28, issued after the date of this opinion may be cited for its persuasive value but . . . not as binding precedent.”
Since the announcement of the policy change, nearly three hundred unpublished Appeals Court decisions have been released. Chief Justice Rapoza stated today that “thanks to the cooperation of the Reporter’s Office, such decisions are now available in a searchable database to which the public has access.” All unpublished decisions issued since February 25, 2008, the effective date of the policy change, have been posted at www.massreports.com, the website of the office of the Massachusetts Reporter of Decisions. Future summary decisions pursuant to Rule 1:28 will also be available online at that location.
In the past, unpublished Appeals Court decisions were provided to the parties, but were otherwise not widely available, which was one of the reasons for limiting their use. According to Chief Justice Rapoza, the posting of such decisions at the Reporter’s website facilitates the court’s change in citation policy because of the broader public access that it provides. Moreover, the decisions are now searchable by docket number, release date, party name, and word or phrase. The service is available at no cost to the public.