Guide Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Supreme Judicial Court During the COVID-19 Pandemic (updated May 29, 2020)

Frequently asked questions about the Supreme Judicial Court's emergency measures in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Is the Supreme Judicial Court conducting business during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) is open for business, but is conducting all business virtually (i.e., by telephone, videoconference, email, or comparable means, or through the electronic filing system) except in emergency matters that cannot be addressed through such means. 

Is the John Adams Courthouse open to the public?

The John Adams Courthouse, the home of the SJC, will be temporarily closed to in-person public access until at least until at least Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Nevertheless, the SJC is still conducting business virtually.  

Are both SJC clerks' offices still accepting filings?

Yes, the Clerk’s Office for the Commonwealth, which handles matters before the full court, and the Clerk’s Office for the County of Suffolk, which handles matters before the single justice, administrative and disciplinary matters affecting members of the bar, and bar admissions, are accepting filings electronically and by mail.

For information on filing documents electronically with the full court through the Clerk’s Office for the Commonwealth, see SJC E-Filing.

Emergency filings with the Clerk’s Office for the County of Suffolk may be submitted by mail, or by emailing newsjcsinglejusticecase@jud.state.ma.usFor additional information on procedures during this pandemic, please consult the FAQs for the Clerk for the County of Suffolk.

If you have an emergency matter requiring immediate attention, please call the Clerks’ COVID-19 temporary emergency line at 857-275-8036.

Is the SJC continuing to hear oral arguments?

Yes, oral arguments are proceeding before the full court and single justice, but arguments are being conducted by telephone rather than in person.  Some cases are being decided on the briefs without oral argument.  The SJC Clerks’ Offices are contacting counsel or self-represented parties to discuss whether and how oral arguments will proceed and any necessary changes in scheduling.

Because oral arguments are not being conducted in person, video webcasts of oral arguments are not available.  However, you can still hear oral arguments live at: https://boston.suffolk.edu/sjc/.

Has the SJC taken any steps to extend court deadlines in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Please contact the Clerk’s Office for the Commonwealth concerning any extensions of deadlines for briefing and other filings in cases pending before the full court.

In general, unless otherwise ordered by the court, all deadlines established by statute or court rule that expired or will expire at any time from March 17, 2020, through June 30, 2020, are tolled until July 1, 2020. Similarly, all deadlines established by the full court or a single justice of the SJC in a particular case prior to March 17, 2020, that expire at any time from March 17, 2020, through June 30, 2020, are tolled until July 1, 2020, unless otherwise specifically ordered by the court or justice. These tolling periods shall end on July 1, 2020, and they will not be further extended unless there is a new surge in COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth and the SJC determines that a new or extended period of tolling is needed.*(see footnote)

The new deadline in each instance is calculated as follows: determine how many days remained as of March 17, 2020, until the original deadline, and that same number of days will remain as of July 1, 2020, until the new deadline. For example, if a rule set a thirty (30) day deadline and fourteen (14) days remained as of March 17 before that deadline would have been reached, then fourteen (14) days will continue to remain as of July 1, before the new deadline is reached (i.e., July 15). If the thirty (30) day period commenced after March 16, then thirty (30) days remain as of July 1 before the new deadline is reached (i.e., July 31).

Has the SJC taken any action to extend injunctions and similar orders?

Yes, unless otherwise ordered by the court, all orders in a particular case that were issued prior to March 17, 2020, after an adversarial hearing (or the opportunity for an adversarial hearing), that enjoined or otherwise restrained or prohibited a party from taking some act or engaging in some conduct until a date at any time from March 17, 2020, through June 30, 2020, shall remain in effect until the matter is rescheduled and heard.*(see footnote)

Where can I get answers to my questions?

For emergency matters, please contact the Clerks’ COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Hotline: 857-275-8036

For more information concerning matters pending before the full court and applications for direct or further appellate review, please contact:

Supreme Judicial Court Clerk’s Office for the Commonwealth
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square, Suite 1400
Boston, MA 02108
Telephone: 617-557-1020
Email: sjccommclerk@sjc.state.ma.us
Web: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/sjc-clerks-office-for-the-commonwealth

For more information concerning matters before the single justice, bar discipline and administrative matters, and admission of attorneys, please see the FAQ page here. For additional information, you may also contact:

Supreme Judicial Court Clerk’s Office for the County of Suffolk
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square, Suite 1-300
Boston, MA 02108
Clerk's Office: 617-557-1100
Attorney Services: 617-557-1050
Fax: 617-557-1117
Email: sjccountyclerk@jud.state.ma.us
To File New Single Justice Cases: newsjcsinglejusticecase@jud.state.ma.us
Web: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/sjc-clerks-office-for-the-county-of-suffolk

Footnote

*The SJC’s May 4, 2020 Order referred to deadlines that expire(d) "between [X date] and [X date]," while the SJC’s June 1, 2020 Order refers to deadlines that expire(d) "from [X date] through [X date]."  The changeof language was for purposes of consistency throughout the order and does not result in any change to either the applicable date range or resulting new deadline.  For example, reference to deadlines that expire(d) from March 17 through June 30 is not intended to be any different in purpose or effect from reference to deadlines that expire(d) between March 16 and July 1.

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