How: Filing a notice of appeal in the District Court's Clerk's Office.

When: Within ten days of the entry of the judgment or final order on the docket of the District Court.

Where: For almost all cases, the appeal is to the Appellate Division of the District Court, where you must follow the Appellate Division's Rules of Procedure . See detailed information below. 

Decisions on unemployment appeals and zoning cases are appealed to the Appeals Court, and are commenced by filing a notice of appeal within thirty days of entry of the decision on the docket.  For appeals to the Appeals Court, you must comply with the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure. See the Appeals Court Help Center for information on the appeals process.

What is the Appellate Division?
When and how do I appeal a decision of the District Court?
What is a notice of appeal? 
What are the different types of appeal?
What are the Appellate Division rules about briefs? 
What are the Appellate Division rules about service? 
Motions for extension of time for filing briefs.
Will there be a hearing on my motion? 
Procedure for filing an opposition.
What is an appellee? 
May the appellee file a record appendix? 
Hearings before the Appellate Division
Appeals from the Appellate Division 


What is the Appellate Division? 

The Appellate Division of the District Court Department hears appeals from certain District Court civil actions, including actions for money damages, summary process cases, and mental health proceedings. The Appellate Division is divided into three geographic districts: Northern District (for Essex and Middlesex counties, and Chelsea District Court); Western District (for Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties); and Southern District (for Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, and Plymouth counties). Five District Court judges are assigned to each district of the Appellate Division. You can download a list of the judges on the District Court Appellate Division and the address of the clerk’s office pdf format of Appellate Division Members
. The Boston Municipal Court has its own Appellate Division. 

The procedure for appeal in civil actions to the Appellate Division is governed by the District/Municipal Courts Rules for Appellate Division Appeal (Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A.). 

In addition to appeals from civil actions, the Appellate Division’s jurisdiction extends to appeals in civil motor vehicle infraction cases (See Civil Motor Vehicle Infractions FAQ for more information); in civil infraction cases (see G.L. c. 277, § 70C ); in victim compensation actions under G.L. c. 258C (see Dist./Mun. Cts. Supp. R. Civ. P. 151); from summary process appeal bond orders (see G.L. c. 239, §§ 5 and 6 ); from the denial of a fee waiver based on indigency (see G.L. c. 261, § 27D ); from the denial of a petition for relief from disqualification from owning a firearm on the basis of a civil commitment (see G.L. c. 123, §§ 35 and 36C[d] ); and from civil commitments under G.L. c. 123, § 35

When and how do I appeal a decision of the District Court? 

A case is ready for appeal when a judgment has entered as to all issues and all parties so that there is nothing left to litigate. You must file a notice of appeal, together with the $180.00 filing fee, with the clerk of the District Court division in which your case was heard within 10 days after the date of the judgment. See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 3(a) and 4(a). If you have timely filed and served certain post-judgment motions, the 10-day period for filing the notice of appeal runs from the date of entry of the court’s order on the motion. See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 4(a)

If a District Court judge has made an order or ruling that is not a final judgment in your case and you believe that the judge has committed an error of law or an abuse of discretion, you may appeal that order or ruling to the Appellate Division, but only where (1) the order or ruling was on a request for equitable relief, see G.L. c. 231, § 118A , or (2) the judge has elected to report the issue to the Appellate Division. See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 5

What is a notice of appeal? 

A notice of appeal is a written statement prepared by you that includes the name of your case and the District Court docket number, and that states your intention to appeal. The notice must include: (1) the name of the party taking the appeal; (2) a concise statement of the issue of law presented for review; (3) the judgment, ruling, finding, or decision being appealed; and (4) in the case of rulings, a copy of the motion or proof of evidence giving rise to the ruling. Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 3(c). The notice may also include a request for the clerk to order the audio recording of the proceedings, set forth on the required court form and accompanied by the $50.50 fee. Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 3(c)(5)

The notice must be filed in the clerk’s office of the District Court division where your case was heard, and a copy of the notice must be served on all other parties. See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 3(a) and 4(a).  

See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 4(c) if you have missed the filing deadline. 

What are the different types of appeal? 

Once the appellant has timely filed a notice of appeal and filing fee in the District Court, the next step for the appellant is to select a method of appeal. There are three options: an expedited appeal under Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 8A, an agreed statement of the case under Rule 8B, or an appeal on the record of proceedings under Rule 8C. 

Expedited Appeal. The expedited appeal under Rule 8A is the fastest and least expensive method of appeal, as it provides for a streamlined form of trial court record and shorter filing periods. An expedited appeal is not appropriate, however, where a transcript of the trial proceedings is necessary for appellate review. 

To pursue an expedited appeal, the appellant must file in the trial court, within 20 days after filing the notice of appeal, a document captioned, “Expedited Appeal.” The appellant is required to include within the expedited appeal, among other items, a summary of the undisputed facts and so much of the evidence as may be necessary for the Appellate Division to decide the questions of law presented. Rule 8A(a) includes a full listing of the documents that must be included in the expedited appeal. The appellant must serve a copy of the expedited appeal on the other parties and on the trial judge within the same 20-day deadline. 

Within 10 days of the appellant’s filing of the expedited appeal, an appellee may file with the trial court and serve upon the other parties a statement of objections to the contents of the expedited appeal. The trial judge may also enter an order terminating the expedited appeal within the same 10-day period. If the appellee objects or the trial judge enters an order of termination, the expedited appeal is terminated, and the appellant must then use one of the remaining appeal methods under Rule 8B or Rule 8C (see below). 

Where there is no timely objection to the expedited appeal or no termination by the trial judge, the appellant must file in the trial court six additional copies of the expedited appeal and six copies of its brief. This filing must be made within 25 days after filing the expedited appeal. The appellant must also serve a copy of its brief on every other party within the same 25-day deadline. The appellee must serve one copy, and file six copies, of its brief within 15 days after service of the appellant’s brief. The appellant may then serve one copy, and file six copies, of a reply brief within 10 days of service of the appellee’s brief. 

Upon the expiration of 60 days from the filing of the expedited appeal, the trial court clerk sends to the Appellate Division six copies of the docket entries, six copies of the expedited appeal, and six copies of the briefs of each party. Upon receipt of the appeal from the trial court, the Appellate Division will send you notice of receipt of the appeal, which will include your Appellate Division docket number. Such notice may also include the date of oral argument. 

See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 8A

Agreed Statement of the Case. An appeal on an agreed statement of the case under Rule 8B requires the mutual agreement of the parties and the approval of the trial judge to frame the issues for appeal. To pursue this method of appeal, the parties must jointly prepare, sign, and file in the trial court an “agreed statement of the case.” Any agreed statement must contain: (1) a copy of the notice of appeal; (2) a statement of how the issues presented by the appeal arose and were decided in the trial court; and (3) a statement of facts necessary for a decision on the case. The parties must file the agreed statement in the trial court within 30 days of the appellant’s filing of the notice of appeal, or, if the appellant’s expedited appeal under Rule 8A was terminated, within 30 days after the date of termination. 

The agreed statement must be approved by the trial judge. It is deemed to be approved unless the trial judge enters an order of disapproval within 15 days of the filing of the agreed statement. In an order of disapproval, the judge may condition his or her approval of the agreed statement upon the parties making changes to the statement. 

If the judge enters an order of disapproval or approves the agreed statement with conditions that any party finds unacceptable, the procedure under Rule 8B can be considered terminated, and the appellant may proceed with an appeal under Rule 8C (see below). As an alternative, a party may move for a hearing in the trial court to formulate an agreed statement that would be acceptable to the parties and the trial judge. Failure to achieve an agreed statement that is acceptable to the parties and approved by the court results in a disapproval, and the appellant may proceed under Rule 8C. 

If the agreed statement is approved by the trial court, the appellant must file six additional copies of the agreed statement and six copies of its brief in the trial court within 25 days after receipt of notice of approval from the trial court clerk. The appellant must also serve a copy of its brief on every other party within the same 25-day deadline. The appellee must serve one copy, and file six copies, of its brief within 15 days after service of the appellant’s brief. The appellant may then serve one copy, and file six copies, of a reply brief within 10 days after service of the appellee’s brief. 

Upon the expiration of 60 days from the date of approval of the agreed statement, the trial court clerk sends to the Appellate Division six copies of the docket entries, six copies of the agreed statement, and six copies of the briefs of each party. Upon receipt of the appeal from the trial court, the Appellate Division will send you notice of receipt of the appeal, which will include your Appellate Division docket number. Such notice may also include the date of oral argument. 

See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 8B

Appeal on the Record of Proceedings. An appeal on the record of proceedings under Rule 8C is an appeal in which you may include a transcript. To pursue this method of appeal, the appellant must file in the trial court a document captioned, “Appeal on the Record of Proceedings.” This document must contain a statement that the appellant intends to proceed under Rule 8C and, if a transcript will be necessary, a request for the audio recording of the trial proceedings, unless this request for the recording was previously made in the notice of appeal. The request for the recording must be set forth on the required court form and be accompanied by the $50.50 fee. The appellant must file and serve the appeal on the record of proceedings within 30 days after filing the notice of appeal, or, if an appeal has been unsuccessfully attempted under Rule 8A or Rule 8B, within 30 days after termination of those proceedings. 

Within 15 days after receiving notice from the clerk that the recording is available, or, if the recording was previously obtained, within 15 days of filing the appeal on the record of proceedings, the appellant must file and serve a document captioned, “Designation for Transcription.” This document must include, among other items, a designation of the specific portions of the recording to be included in the transcript and the transcriber selected by agreement of the parties or, absent agreement, a request for the clerk to select the transcriber. Rule 8C(c)(1) includes a full listing of the information that must be included in the designation for transcription. 

If the appellant has designated the entire recording for transcription, the appellant must send the copy of the recording to the transcriber within the same 15 days required for filing and serving the designation for transcription, with an order to transcribe the entire recording. The order must include, among other items, a statement that the original copy of the transcript should be sent to the trial court clerk and indicate the number of copies to be sent to the appellant. The appellant must promptly file with the trial court clerk and serve on the other parties a copy of the order. If the appellant has not designated the entire recording for transcription, Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 8C(c)(1)-(2) provides a procedure for the appellee to counter-designate additional portions to be transcribed. 

Within 30 days after notice from the trial court clerk that the original transcript has been received, the appellant must file 6 additional copies of the appeal on the record of proceedings in the trial court. Upon receipt of those copies, the clerk sends those six copies, along with six copies of the docket entries, to the Appellate Division. Upon receipt of the appeal from the trial court, the Appellate Division will send you notice of receipt of the appeal and a briefing schedule. The briefing schedule will include your Appellate Division docket number. 

The briefing schedule instructs the appellant to serve one copy on the other parties, and file six copies in the Appellate Division, of its brief and appendix (including any transcript) within 30 days of the notice. The appellee must serve one copy, and file six copies, of its brief within 20 days after service of the appellant’s brief. The appellant may then serve one copy, and file six copies, of a reply brief within 14 days after service of the appellee’s brief. The Appellate Division will send the parties notice of the time and place of oral argument. 

See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 8C

What are the Appellate Division rules about briefs? 

Briefs are required in each of the three methods of appeal (Rule 8A, Rule 8B, and Rule 8C). In appeals under Rule 8A and Rule 8B, the parties file their briefs in the trial court. In appeals under Rule 8C, the parties file their briefs in the Appellate Division. 

Detailed requirements regarding the content, length, and format of briefs are set forth in Rule 16 and Rule 20 of the Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. Notably, the appellant’s brief and appellee’s brief may not exceed 50 pages of standard type, exclusive of any addendum. The appellant’s reply brief may not exceed 25 pages of standard type. Page margins of 1 inch to 1.25 inches are acceptable. The briefs must be bound. 

There is no color requirement for the front cover to the briefs or appendix (if separately bound), and so a white cover is acceptable. Parties may elect, however, to follow the color requirements set out for appeals to the Massachusetts Appeals Court. In that case, the cover of the brief of the appellant is blue; that of the appellee is red; that of any reply brief is gray; and the cover of the appendix (if separately bound) is white. 

What are the Appellate Division rules about service? 

Every motion, brief, and other paper filed in the trial court or Appellate Division in connection with the appeal must also be served by first-class mail or by hand upon counsel for the opposing party or upon the opposing party if he or she is unrepresented. As proof of this, each filing must be accompanied by a certificate of service that specifies the date, manner of service, and the name and address of the person served. See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 13

Motions for extension of time for filing briefs. 

If for some reason you cannot meet the prescribed deadline in which to serve and file your brief, you may file in the trial court (for Rule 8A or Rule 8B appeals) or in the Appellate Division (for Rule 8C appeals) a motion asking for more time. The motion must explain your reasons for the requested extension, provide a date certain by which the brief will be filed, and be accompanied by a certificate of service. A copy of the motion must be served on all other parties to the appeal. 

It is the policy of the Appellate Division to grant no more than one motion for enlargement of time per side, and then only on the basis of the motion setting forth “good cause” to warrant the requested enlargement. See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 14(b). Further enlargements of time will ordinarily not be granted absent genuine emergency, such as death, illness, or serious injury. 

Will there be a hearing on my motion? 

No. In general, the Appellate Division does not hold hearings on motions. Motions are decided on the papers that have been filed. 

Procedure for filing an opposition. 

Any party may file a response in opposition to a motion within 7 days after service of the motion. Procedural motions (such as a motion to enlarge time) may be acted upon by the Appellate Division without waiting for an opposition. The Appellate Division may shorten or extend the time for responding to any motion. See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 15

What is an appellee? 

If you were the prevailing party in the District Court and are responding to the appeal, and you did not file a cross appeal, you are designated as the appellee. An appellee is permitted, but not required, to file a brief. If the appellee does not file a brief, you will not be permitted to argue your side at oral argument before the Appellate Division. See Dist./Mun. Cts. R. A. D. A. 19(c)

May the appellee file a record appendix? 

An appellee is not permitted to file its own appendix (referred to as a “supplemental appendix”) on a Rule 8C appeal without permission from the Appellate Division. If you think the appellant has left out important parts of the record below that you want the Appellate Division to consider when deciding the appeal, you must file a Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Appendix, explaining what additional documents you wish to include. You may submit this motion before you file your brief in the Appellate Division, or at the time you file your brief and supplemental appendix. 

Hearings before the Appellate Division 

The Appellate Division will send notice to the parties of the time and place of oral argument. Typically, the Northern District hears oral argument at the John Adams Courthouse in Boston; the Western District hears oral argument at East Brookfield District Court; and the Southern District hears oral argument at Plymouth District Court. Oral argument takes place before a 3-judge panel, and each side will be allowed 15 minutes for argument. 

Appeals from the Appellate Division 

You may appeal a final decision of the Appellate Division to the Appeals Court. See G.L. c. 231, § 109. The appeals process is governed by the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure (Mass. R.A.P.). You must file your notice of appeal of the Appellate Division decision with the clerk of the originating District Court, not with clerk of the Appellate Division. See Mass. R.A.P. 4(a). For more information, see the Appeals Court Help Center’s Frequently Asked Questions.