Guide SJC Clerk's Office for the County of Suffolk FAQs During the COVID-19 Crisis

Frequently Asked Questions during the COVID-19 health crisis related to matters before the SJC Clerk's Office for the County of Suffolk.

Table of Contents

General

Q: Is the Single Justice Clerk's Office open?

A: Yes, the Clerk's Office is open. However, there is currently no physical, public access to the Clerk's Office. During the coronavirus public health crisis, a limited number of staff are working in the Clerk's Office from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday to docket and process any filings, including any new petitions, complaints and applications.  Please be advised that processing times may be impacted by staff reductions related to the ongoing crisis. You may contact Clerk Doyle's Office's main number at (617) 557-1100, or reach one of the assistant clerks here: SJC County of Suffolk Clerk's Office contact information.

All new cases being submitted electronically for the Single Justice Session must be emailed to: newsjcsinglejusticecase@jud.state.ma.us. Please do not email new cases directly to an assistant clerk.

Single Justice Matters

Q: Is the Clerk's Office accepting documents electronically for filing?

A: Yes, the Clerk's Office is accepting new cases for filing, as well as new pleadings and existing cases by email.

All new cases being submitted electronically for the Single Justice Session must be emailed to: newsjcsinglejusticecase@jud.state.ma.us. Please do not email new cases directly to an assistant clerk. Also, please be certain to insert the name of the case in the subject line of any email.

Note: Due to the reduced staffing, docketing and processing of filings in non-emergency cases may be delayed and take longer to appear on the public on-line docket at https://www.ma-appellatecourts.org/

Q: How may I file a new petition/complaint/application?

A: The procedure for filing new petitions/complaints/applications during the coronavirus public health crisis differs for emergency and non-emergency cases.

  1. Emergency cases: Pleadings should be emailed to the Clerk's Office at newsjcsinglejusticecase@jud.state.ma.us. If necessary, you may also call the Clerk's Office temporary COVID-19 emergency telephone line at (857) 275-8036 to explain the nature of the emergency.
  2. Non-emergency cases: Pleadings may either be emailed to newsjcsinglejusticecase@jud.state.ma.us or mailed via U.S. Postal Service. 

Q: May I submit sealed documents via e-mail?

A: No. You may send sealed documents via mail. You may also send it by fax, directed to an assistant clerk, at (617) 557-1117.

Q: What documents are required for a G.L. c.211 s.3 petition filed relative to the coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis?

A: The single justice requires only five documents in order to review any Trial Court ruling in a COVID-19 presumption of release case.

  1. Petition;
  2. Motion to Waive Filing Fee, if applicable, (or check by mail);
  3. Trial Court Findings & Rulings;
  4. CORI / CARI record (labeled Impounded); and
  5. Opposition that was filed in the Trial Court.

Please be sure that all new cases being submitted electronically for the Single Justice Session are emailed to: newsjcsinglejusticecase@jud.state.ma.us. Please do not email new cases directly to an assistant clerk.

The single justice will request additional documents, including any medical records, if deemed necessary.

Note: When attaching the documents identified above, please be sure that you attach each as a separate document AND name each document as one of the five types designated.

Q: If I file a new petition/complaint/application and characterize it as an "emergency," when can I expect a ruling?

A: The Clerk's Office works expeditiously to prioritize, docket and process emergency filings as soon as possible for consideration by the Single Justice.  Please note, however, that the nature of the emergency must be explained in the pleading, and the Clerk's Office will determine whether the proffered explanation sufficiently sets forth credible emergency circumstances warranting prioritization over existing cases and expedited processing.

Q: Are wet signatures required on the pleadings?

A:  No, electronic signatures are acceptable. The electronic signature can take the form of either a scan of the attorney's or self-represented party's handwritten signature, an electronically inserted image intended to substitute for a signature, or a "/s/ name of signatory" block.  See Supreme Judicial Court Order authorizing use of electronic signatures by attorneys and self-represented litigants. [Supreme Judicial Court Order authorizing use of electronic signatures by attorneys and self-represented parties]

Q: How do I pay the $315 filing fee?

A: The $315 filing fee check, made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, should be mailed to the Clerk's Office the same day you email your pleadings to an assistant clerk or mail your pleadings to the Clerk's Office.

Q: Can I file an Affidavit of Indigency by email?

A:  No. Affidavits of Indigency pursuant to G.L. c. 261, §27A-G or c. 261, §29 are impounded documents. Self-represented litigants must mail these document to the Clerk's Office.

Q: Do I need to motion for an extension if my pleading is filed late under the applicable statute, rule or standing order?

A: No, you do not currently need to motion for an extension because the Supreme Judicial Court has issued an order, effective on May 4, 2020 which states, " Unless otherwise ordered by the applicable court, all deadlines set forth in statutes or court rules, standing orders, tracking orders, or guidelines that expired or will expire between March 16, 2020, and June 1, 2020, are tolled until June 1, 2020..." [Supreme Judicial Court Order regarding court operations under the exigent circumstances created by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Section 11: Statutes of limitation       

Q: Is the single justice holding hearings and if so, how?

A: Yes, the Single Justice is holding hearings telephonically as needed.  Hearings, however, remain at the discretion of the Single Justice and may or may not be scheduled depending on the circumstances. If a hearing is scheduled, the assistant clerk assigned to the case will contact you with instructions as to how to participate in the telephone hearing on the scheduled date.

Q: Can I speak to an assistant clerk if I still have questions?

A: Yes, an assistant clerk is in the office Monday - Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM and is available to speak via telephone if you have additional questions.  Further, all assistant clerks are monitoring their voice mail messages and email communications and are available to respond to any inquiries. [SJC County of Suffolk Clerk's Office contact information]

Bar Docket

Q: How are filings and responsive pleadings to be submitted for Bar Docket matters?

A: They must all be filed through our e-filing system. Instructions on using the e-filing system can be found here: Electronic filing of Bar Docket Cases.

Q: Are there new registration matters (SJC Rule 4:02) appearing on the Bar Docket during this emergency period?

A: With the Board of Bar Overseers, Office of Bar Counsel and the SJC Clerk's Office working remotely or on skeleton staffing, the next new motions for suspension for non-compliance with registration requirements will not be filed with the court until approximately May 15, 2020. 

As to reinstatements of attorneys who have been suspended for their non-compliance, the BBO is processing the required paper work as usual.  However, with the reduced staffing in effect, reinstatement requests may be delayed in being filed in the Clerk's Office.  

Q: Is the Board of Bar Overseers holding hearings?

A: On April 21, 2020, the chair of the Board of Bar Overseers issued an order extending its order of March 16, 2020.  Pursuant to the orders, all evidentiary hearings that were scheduled between the date of the order and May 31, 2020 are cancelled. The board will consider hearings scheduled to take place after May 31 in due course. Updates will be posted on the Board’s web site.  The Board chair also ordered that all in-person prehearing conferences between March 16-May 31, 2020 are cancelled. The Hearing Committee chair, in consultation with the parties and counsel, may convert in-person conferences to telephone or remote conferences.  Prehearings that already are scheduled to take place telephonically or remotely will remain as scheduled.

Attorney Services

Q: Is the attorney services department open? 

A: Yes. You can either call 617-557-1050 or email at sjccountyclerk@sjc.state.ma.us. A limited number of staff are in the office from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday-Friday.

Petitions for Admission to the Bar

Q: Is the Massachusetts Bar Exam still taking place in July 2020?

A: No. The Supreme Judicial Court and the Board of Bar Examiners have announced that the July 2020 Massachusetts bar examination has been rescheduled and will be held on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1, 2020 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston and, if possible, at Western New England University in Springfield.

Q: Can I submit my Petition for Admission for the Fall 2020 Examination? 

A: Not at this time. The Petition for Admission by Examination (and Re-examination) will be made available on or about June 1, 2020 with a filing deadline of July 17, 2020. Petitions already filed for the postponed July 2020 examination will be held and docketed for the new September examination date.

Also, this office is pleased to announce that, for the first time, petitioners for Admission by Examination/Re-examination will be able to submit their application by means of e-filing, using Tyler's Guide and File System. This system is already utilized by the Clerk's office to accept petitions for Admission by Motion and Admission by Transfer of UBE Score.

Q: Can I still submit my Petition for Admission by Motion or my Petition for Admission by Transfer of UBE Score?

A: Yes, you may continue to submit your petition by mail or through e-filing, but the preferred method is by e-filing. Please be advised that processing times may be impacted by staff reductions related to the ongoing crisis. You can find additional instruction for filing these petitions here: Attorney Services.

Q: Will the Court require wet signatures on the letters of recommendation and attorney recommendations required for Petitions for Admission?

A: No. Petitions for Admission for the fall 2020 examination, as well as, Petitions for Admission by Motion and Petitions for Admission by Transfer of UBE Score, will not require wet signatures for attorney recommendations or letters of recommendation. Photocopies and electronic signatures will be accepted. The electronic signature can take the form of either a scan of the attorney's or self-represented party's handwritten signature, an electronically inserted image intended to substitute for a signature, or a "/s/ name of signatory" block. See Supreme Judicial Court Order authorizing use of electronic signatures by attorneys and self-represented litigants. [Supreme Judicial Court Order authorizing use of electronic signatures by attorneys and self-represented parties]

Q: Can my law school send the Law School Certificate (LSC) directly to the Court?   

A: Your law school should send the LSC directly to you. You should attach it to your Petition for Admission.

Formal Admission Ceremonies

Q: Will there be formal admission ceremonies for the February 2020 bar examination? 

A: No. A remote admission procedure, using audio-video conferencing, is in the process of being implemented. More detailed information will be made available after the exam results are released.

Q: What about those individuals who have been reported qualified for Admission by Motion or for Admission by Transfer?

A: Those petitioners who have been reported qualified for admission will also take their oaths remotely, and they will be notified via email by the Clerk's Office as soon as the audio-video conference admission procedure is finalized and ready for implementation.

Certificates of Good Standing and Other Attorney Services

Q: Can I get a Certificate of Admission and Good Standing? 

A: Yes, you can mail the request and fee to the Clerk's office. The request form and additional information can be found at the page Certificate of Admission and Good Standing. Please be advised that processing times may be impacted by staff reductions related to the ongoing crisis.

Q: Can I get a certified copy of my Petition for Admission? 

A: Yes, you can mail the request and fee to the Clerk's office. The request form and additional information can be found at the page Certificate of Admission and Good Standing. Please be advised that processing times may be impacted by staff reductions related to the ongoing crisis.

Q: Can I get licensed as either a Student Practitioner or Foreign Practitioner? 

A: Yes. You can mail or email the forms to the Clerk's office. Please be advised that processing times may be impacted by staff reductions related to the ongoing crisis. Information regarding Student Practitioners can be found here: Student Practitioners. Information regarding Foreign Practitioners can be found here: Foreign Practitioners and Foreign Legal Consultants

Additional Resources for Certificates of Good Standing and Other Attorney Services

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