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(Applicable to Norfolk County)
A Pilot Program shall be implemented in accordance with the provisions of this Order applicable to civil money damage actions in the five District Courts in Norfolk County:
The Pilot Program shall consist of (1) the division of civil money damage cases into two separate categories, each with differing procedural requirements, and (2), for cases in one such category, the establishment of Designated Civil Sessions (DCSs) dedicated exclusively to the conduct of all necessary proceedings in such cases, including jury and jury-waived trials.
The Pilot Program shall be implemented effective May 31, 2016, and shall apply to actions commenced on and after that date, as provided in Section V, below, provided that it shall also apply to cases commenced as small claims action which, on or after May 31, 2016 are transferred to the regular civil docket pursuant to G.L. c. 218, s. 24 .
The purpose of the Pilot Program is to determine whether the procedures it requires are feasible and effective in reducing costs and delay in the disposition of civil money damage actions in the District Court.
The procedures required in this Standing Order shall supersede the otherwise applicable provisions in court orders, including District Court and Boston Municipal Court Joint Standing Order 1-04, with which they conflict. In all matters not affected by the procedures required in this Standing Order, the otherwise applicable procedural requirements shall continue to govern.
Two Designated Civil Sessions (DCSs) shall be established: One at the Quincy District Court for cases commenced at that court; and one at the Dedham District Court to which cases may be transferred pursuant to Section V below following commencement at the Dedham, Brookline, Stoughton and Wrentham District Courts.
Each DCS shall be devoted exclusively to the disposition of the civil actions transferred to it. Likewise, the judge assigned to each DCS shall devote his or her attention, during the term of that assignment, exclusively to the management and disposition of the civil cases transferred to that session.
Civil money damage cases shall be divided into the following two categories to which different procedures shall apply:
“Consumer credit debt actions” shall be defined as those cases in which the defendant is an individual, and in which the claimed debt involves the purchase of consumer goods or services by the defendant based on credit extended to the defendant by the plaintiff or by the entity whose ownership of the rights regarding said debt have been obtained by the plaintiff by assignment.
The plaintiff in each money damage case shall indicate the category of the case, as provided above, on the Statement of Damages form, in the version of that form amended for use in cases governed by this Standing Order. The Statement of Damages form must be filed and served with the complaint, as provided by G.L. c. 218, § 19A (a) . Failure to properly categorize a case on the Statement of Damages form shall not be grounds for dismissal or other sanction.
Consumer credit debt actions shall proceed in accordance with otherwise applicable procedural requirements, except as follows:
Consumer credit debt actions shall proceed to disposition in the court in which the case was commenced, or, where necessary, in the appropriate jury session, in accordance with the same procedures in effect prior to the effective date of this order, except as provided below regarding discovery.
The Notice of Case Management Conference shall include:
(a) a provision requiring the Plaintiff to serve on the Defendant, no later than 14 days prior to the date of the Case Management Conference, copies of any documents constituting evidence of the debt and of the assignment of the debt to the Plaintiff, if any, and requiring the Plaintiff to bring copies of such documents to the Case Management Conference, and
(b) a provision requiring the Defendant to serve on the Plaintiff, no later than 14 days prior to the date of the Case Management Conference, copies of any documents constituting evidence that the debt is not owed by the Defendant, or that Defendant has paid the alleged debt in part or in full, and requiring the Defendant to bring copies of such documents to the Case Management Conference.
All other actions commenced on or after May 31, 2016, shall proceed in accordance with otherwise applicable procedural requirements, except as follows:
Upon the filing of an Answer or Pre-Answer Motion by the defendant, the court shall promptly issue to the parties a Notice of Pretrial Conference or Notice of Hearing on Motion, as appropriate, which shall indicate that the next court event will proceed in the DCS. No Case Management Conferences, as would otherwise be required by Joint Standing Order No. 1-04, shall be scheduled or conducted in these cases.
The Notice of Pretrial Conference shall include the location of the DCS, the date and time of the conference, and the courtroom in which it will be conducted, and shall include a provision requiring discovery to be completed no later than 14 days prior to the Pretrial Conference. The Pretrial Conference shall be scheduled on a date no earlier than six months from the date on which the Answer was filed by the Defendant.
The Notice of Hearing on a Pre-Answer Motion shall include the location of the DCS and the courtroom in which the hearing will be conducted. As necessary, the court shall contact the parties to confirm the date for which the hearing has been marked up or to adjust the date.
Upon issuance of a Notice of Pretrial Conference or a Notice of Hearing on a Pre-Answer Motion, the case shall be transferred to the DCS. Following such transfer, all further proceedings in the case shall be conducted at the DCS, up to and including the order for entry of judgment.
The DSC Court shall enter judgment on each case transferred to the DCS. After the entry of judgment is made the case shall be returned to the court in which the action was commenced. Post-judgment matters, including motions for relief from judgment, appeal and issuance of execution that arise after the entry of judgment shall be the responsibility of the court in which the action was commenced.
Cases in which an Answer or Pre-Answer Motion is not filed by the Defendant shall proceed to disposition in the court in which they were commenced, provided that if a default or default judgment is entered, but later set aside or vacated, and the Defendant allowed to file and serve a late Answer or Pre-Answer Motion, the case shall be transferred to the appropriate DCS as provided above in Section V. 1. All proceedings relating to the entry of default and default judgment and any proceedings involving relief therefrom shall be conducted in the court in which the action was commenced.
The judge assigned to a DCS, may, as a matter of his or her discretion, order any DCS case commenced before May 31, 2016 to proceed in the DCS.
In jury trials conducted in a DCS under the provisions of this Standing Order, the court, upon motion of any party, may allow counsel for such party to examine prospective jurors, subject to reasonable limitations imposed by the court upon the questions and the time allowed during such examination, including, but not limited to, requiring pre-approval of the questions.
Summary of District Court Standing Order No. 1-16
Announcement of District Court Pilot Program for Civil Money Damage Actions in Norfolk County