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Supreme Judicial Court Single Justice Practice and Procedure

The Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County, also known as the single justice session, is that part of the court's business in which an associate justice acts as a trial judge-as was the function of the first justices-or as an administrator of the court's supervisory power under G. L. c. 211, §3. The county court, as it is often called, has original, concurrent, interlocutory and appellate jurisdiction conferred by the Massachusetts Constitution, statutes, rules of court and case law. Practice before the single justice is governed by the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, SJC Rule 2:01 et seq. and pertinent Standing Orders. In reality, however, the practice has diverted from strict compliance with the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure and is presently governed by a hybrid of formal rules and historic customs and practices.

In addition to the single justice caseload, the single justice also sits on bar docket matters, which include attorney discipline and administrative matters affecting members of the bar. The single justice also presides over formal bar admission ceremonies twice a year.

Contact Information:
Supreme Judicial Court for the County of Suffolk, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Suite 1300 (First Floor),
Boston, MA 02108-1707; Phone: 617-557-1100; Fax: 617-557-1117

Table of Contents


Filing the Single Justice Case

Single justice practice is similar to practice before the superior court. As set forth in Mass.R.Civ.P. 1, practice before the single justice is governed by the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure and not the more formal Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure. Cases are opened upon the filing of one original petition, application or complaint, together with the requisite filing fee of $315.00 payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In the event of indigence, a motion to waive the filing fee and a supporting affidavit of indigence must be filed in lieu of the filing fee. Under no circumstance may a single justice case be opened without either a filing fee or a motion to waive the fee. If the petitioner has been appointed counsel in the lower court, a copy of the Notice of Appearance of Counsel form issued by the lower court should be filed as well.

A petition or application should set forth with specificity the lower court procedural history including the name of the court and justice, the docket number, trial date, or next scheduled trial court event (if applicable), a brief discussion of the order subject to review, the grounds upon which review is necessary and the relief sought. The petition should be accompanied by photocopies of the lower court's docket sheet and relevant papers, including the written findings and rulings if any, together with a memorandum of law in support of the requested relief.

In the event of a request for emergency relief, as often is the case in review of bail determinations and summary process (eviction) orders, the title of the petition should reflect the emergency nature of the petition. A party seeking emergency relief should inform the clerk or an assistant clerk at the earliest possible stage that an emergency petition will be filed. A ruling cannot be obtained from a single justice until papers are actually filed with the court. In limited instances where time is of the essence, a facsimile or a scanned e-mail of the emergency petition will be accepted by the clerk's office so long as the original petition is filed forthwith. The filing party should first telephone the clerk's office to request leave to file the emergency petition by fax or scanned e-mail and to notify the office of the impending emergency petition by fax or scanned e-mail. If the petitioner is indigent, the clerk's office will accept a motion to waive the filing fee by facsimile or scanned e-mail. Otherwise, the clerk's office will open the file after receiving the fax or scanned e-mail but will require the filing fee to be paid as soon as possible.


All pleadings filed in the single justice session may be served by first class mail, hand delivery or, in the case of emergencies, via facsimile or scanned and e-mailed to an assistant clerk. Because many matters before the single justice require speedy disposition, the formal application of the rules regarding service of process is relaxed. The petitioner or plaintiff is not required to serve a summons with the original pleading. However, a certificate of service is required with every pleading. It must set forth the method and date of service and the name and address of each party served. If counsel is served on behalf of a party, the name of the attorney and the particular party represented by the attorney must be included.

If the petitioner or plaintiff chooses to serve an opposing party with a summons, despite the relaxed service requirement, summonses are available through the clerk's office for a nominal fee of $5.00.

Responsive Pleading

There is no strict adherence to Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(1) requiring a party to serve a responsive pleading within twenty days of service. Instead, the clerk and the assistant clerks coordinate a date for filing the response with opposing counsel based on the court's custom, taking into consideration any time constraints imposed by lower court proceedings or the agreed upon date for hearing before the single justice, as well as relevant Standing Orders issued by the Supreme Judicial Court. Responses to applications for interlocutory appeal are required to be filed within fourteen days. If the matter is scheduled for hearing before the single justice, any responsive pleading should be filed at least four to five calendar days prior to the hearing date.


According to SJC Rule 2:18, regular sittings of the single justice "shall be on Wednesday, unless the single justice otherwise directs." The court calendar lists Wednesdays as being available for single justice hearings; however, in practice the single justice schedules hearings at any time that is mutually convenient to the parties and the justice, or as dictated by the needs of a particular case. Hearings are held in the Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Courtroom (Courtroom 2, John Adams Courthouse). Hearings are digitally recorded.

The single justice has the discretion to decide any matter on the papers without a hearing. Parties may request a hearing, and the single justice will determine whether a hearing would help in deciding the matter. A joint request for hearing may be filed by the parties with a proposed date for hearing. If a hearing is scheduled by the single justice, a response to the petition is due one week prior to the scheduled hearing. If the joint request for hearing is denied by the single justice, the matter will be decided on the papers.

Where time is of the essence of it is impractical for counsel to travel to Boston, telephone conference call hearings are available to the parties.

Certain matters are not granted a hearing by the single justice. For example, hearings are not held on complaints for corporate dissolution and motions for payment in receivership cases. Unless ordered by a single justice, applications for leave to appeal pursuant to Mass.R.Crim.P. 15(a)(2) are no longer marked for hearing. (See SJC Standing Order entitled, "Applications to a Single Justice Pursuant to Mass.R.Crim.P. 15(a)(2)," effective February 1, 1997, amended effective August 1, 2016.)


The single justice is vested with the power to dispose of matters before the county court in a variety of ways. The single justice may:

  • decline to act;

  • determine the issue presented;

  • allow the relief requested;

  • allow the relief sought in part and deny it in part;

  • deny the relief sought;

  • transfer the case to a lower court for determination pursuant to G. L. c. 211, §4A when concurrent jurisdiction exists; or,

  • remand the case to the trial court to establish a record or advise the trial court to proceed in a certain manner.

The single justice may also reserve ruling and report the matter to the full court. Matters most often reserved and reported are public utility and board of registration appeals. Novel questions of law may also be grounds for the single justice to reserve and report the matter. See, e.g., Cablevision Systems Corp. v. Department of Telecommunications and Energy, 428 Mass. 436 (1999)(public utility appeal); Krochta v. Commonwealth, 429 Mass. 711 (1999)(defensive collateral estoppel and double jeopardy issues); Veksler v. Board of Registration in Dentistry, 429 Mass. 650 (1999)(board of registration appeal).


A party aggrieved by a final judgment of the single justice may appeal therefrom to the full court of the Supreme Judicial Court. See G. L. c. 231, §114. As a general rule, the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure govern all such appeals. The exception occurs where the single justice denies G. L. c. 211, §3 relief from an interlocutory ruling of the lower court. In this instance, SJC Rule 2:21 governs the appellate procedure. Under Rule 2:21, the petitioner must file a notice of appeal with the clerk within seven days. The record on appeal consists of the papers before the single justice and a memorandum, not to exceed ten pages, which the appellant must file with the clerk for the full court explaining why review of the adverse ruling cannot otherwise by obtained after the entry of final judgment. In most instances, the full court will not reverse an order of the single justice in the absence of an abuse of discretion or clear error of law. Milton v. City of Boston, 427 Mass. 1016, 1016-1017 (1998).The full court will review rulings of law made by the single justice in a bill of equity proceeding de novo. See Gates v. Reilly, 453 Mass. 465-66 (2009).

Single Justice

The Supreme Judicial Court for the County of Suffolk, also known as the single justice session, is that part of the court's business in which an associate justice essentially acts as a trial judge, as was the function of the first justices, or as an administrator of the court's supervisory power under G. L. c. 211, §3. The county court has original, concurrent, interlocutory and appellate jurisdiction conferred by the Massachusetts Constitution, statutes, rules of court and case law. Practice before the single justice is governed by the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, SJC Rules 2:21 and 2:22, and pertinent Standing Orders.

Among the most common matters received are petitions filed pursuant to G. L. c. 25, §5 (public utility appeal), G. L. c. 112, §64 (board of registration appeal), G. L. c. 156B, §99 (dissolution of deadlocked corporation), G. L. c. 180, §11A (dissolution of not-for-profit charitable corporation), G. L. c. 211, §3 (superintendence), G. L. c. 214, §1 (equity), G. L. c. 231A, §1 (declaratory judgment), G. L. c. 233, §20E (witness immunity), G. L. c. 249, §4 (certiorari), G. L. c. 276, §58 (bail review), G. L. c. 278, §28E and Mass.R.Crim. P. 15(a)(2) (interlocutory appeal), and G. L. c. 278, §33E (gatekeeper).

Filing Information

The fee for filing a Single Justice matter is a non-refundable check made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $315. The filing fee can be waived upon showing of indigency. A motion to waive the fee must be filed, as well as an affidavit in support of the motion. 

Only the original document is required to file a Single Justice matter. A certificate of service reflecting the mode of service is required for all papers filed. In original actions, the clerk will accept a certificate of service for complaints. A summons, available for $5.00, is not required.

For the convenience of parties in distant venues or in emergent situations, a hearing by telephone is available.


Maura S. Doyle, Clerk
Supreme Judicial Court for The County of Suffolk
John Adams Courthouse, 1st Floor
One Pemberton Square, Suite 1300
Boston, MA 02108-1707
Phone: 617-557-1100
Fax: 617-557-1117
Hours: Weekdays (except holidays), 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Review of Interlocutory Orders

The single justice has jurisdiction over all interlocutory orders in criminal cases pending in the Superior Court, District Court, and in Juvenile Proceedings. In civil cases, with few exceptions, the single justice has jurisdiction over interlocutory orders of the District Court. The power of the single justice to review these orders is codified in. G. L. c. 211, §3. The first paragraph of G.L. c. 211, §3, gives the single justice general superintendence power over "all courts of inferior jurisdiction to prevent and correct errors and abuses." The second paragraph provides general superintendence of "the administration of all courts of inferior jurisdiction." As illustrated below, the first paragraph provides for review on a case-by-case basis. Matters under the second paragraph typically involve practices and procedures beyond a single case and may have an impact on courts and cases statewide.

Before filing a petition pursuant to G.L. c. 211, §3, the petitioner must thoroughly examine

  • whether the actions of the court below has resulted in a substantial violation of a substantive right,

  • whether another effective remedy is available, and

  • whether review may be made in the normal course of appeal

See Care and Protection of Lydia, 430 Mass. 1002,1003 (1999). It is well-settled that review under G. L. c. 211, §3 is not a substitute for the normal appellate process. In most cases, interlocutory orders can be adequately reviewed on direct appeal after a final judgment has entered in the case.

In civil cases, interlocutory orders from the Superior Court, the Land Court, the Housing Court, the Probate and Family Court, and the Juvenile Court, must first be reviewed by a single justice of the Appeals Court pursuant to G. L. c. 231, §118. Thereafter, further review may be obtained by a panel of the Appeals Court. In limited circumstances, where panel review is not an effective remedy, the petitioner may then seek review under G. L. c. 211, §3, to a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. See generally Ashford v. MBTA, 421 Mass. 563 (1995).

The second paragraph of G. L. c.211 §3 provides the court with the extraordinary power to address administrative matters throughout the court system. The effect of decisions under paragraph two reaches beyond the case at bar and has an impact on the practices and procedures of lower courts in the Commonwealth. See, e.g., Bradford v. Knights, 427 Mass. 748, 750 (1998) (raised an important issue "with implications for the administration of justice, and one that is not likely to be presented in the ordinary course of litigation," which permitted review to exercise "general superintendence of the administration of all courts of inferior jurisdiction"); Commonwealth v. Flebotte, 417 Mass. 348, 355 (1994) (invoked superintendence power to require certain questions during jury selection); Brantley v. Hampden Division of the Probate and Family Court Dept., 457 Mass. 172, 186 n.15 (2010) (order under G. L. c.211, §3 provides relief at least as extensive as class action).

A discussion of those superintendence petitions most frequently reviewed by the single justice and practical guidance with respect to these matters follows.


The seminal case with regard to the review of bail matters is Commesso v. Commonwealth, 369 Mass. 368 (1975). A single justice has jurisdiction under G.L. c. 211, §3 to review bail determinations made by a lower court pursuant to G. L. c. 276, §58. The scope of review depends upon whether the bail was first set in the Superior Court or the District Court. On review of a Superior Court bail, the single justice may consider the bail de novo and even consider newly presented facts. Conversely, single justice review of a District Court bail, which must first be reviewed by the Superior Court, is limited to whether there was an abuse of discretion or clear error of law by the Superior Court. Under section 58, the judge may also revoke bail under certain conditions and the judge is required to make specific findings to determine "whether release of the person would seriously endanger any person or the community." If so, the judge may detain the person for a period "not to exceed sixty days." There is no right to Superior Court review of a District Court bail revocation order. Review of a District or Superior Court bail revocation order may be made pursuant to G.L. c. 211, §3.

Double Jeopardy

Ordinarily, a defendant does not have the right to interlocutory review of the denial of a motion to dismiss. The exception is where the motion was based upon double jeopardy grounds. A defendant may seek review of the trial court order under the court's general superintendence power because "[t]he guaranty against twice being exposed to the risk of conviction, regardless of whether the conviction actually results, would be seriously weakened if appellate review of a claim of double jeopardy were delayed until after a second trial." Costarelli v. Commonwealth, 374 Mass. 677, 680 (1978). See also Hanlon v. Commonwealth, 419 Mass. 1005, 1006 (1995)(request for review is made in the lower court and, if unsuccessful, by means of a petition under G. L. c. 211,§3).

Stay of Sentence

General Laws c. 279, §4 and Mass.R.Crim.P. 31 confer discretionary power to stay the execution of a sentence pending appeal. If a stay is denied by the trial judge, the defendant should seek review by a single justice of the Appeals Court. If the stay is denied by the Appeals Court single justice, the defendant may seek an expedited review by a panel of the Appeals Court. While under panel review, a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court may, though rarely will, exercise G. L. c. 211 §3 jurisdiction to allow a limited stay to facilitate the panel review. After denial by the panel, or the refusal of a request for panel review, a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court may consider a petition seeking a stay of execution. The standard of review is whether the defendant has a reasonable likelihood of success on appeal and whether the defendant presents a danger to the community and might commit further criminal acts while the appeal is pending. See Commonwealth v. Allen, 378 Mass. 489, 497-98 (1979). See also Lewis v. Commonwealth, 429 Mass. 1007 (1999).

Summary Process

Summary process petitions are ordinarily filed in emergency situations wherein the petitioner seeks to stay an eviction. The petitioner must first seek review before a single justice of the Appeals Court pursuant to G. L. c. 231, §118. If relief is denied in the Appeals Court, the petitioner may seek a stay of eviction from a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.

Requests for Leave to Appeal

There are two occasions when a petitioner may request that the single justice grant leave to appeal a lower court order. The single justice serves as a gatekeeper and may grant permission for the appeal to go forward (open the gate to the Supreme Judicial Court) or decline the request for leave to appeal (keep the gate closed).

A party aggrieved by an adverse ruling from a motion to suppress determined either in the District Court, Superior Court, or Juvenile Court "shall have the right and opportunity to apply to a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court" for leave to appeal an order determining a motion to suppress evidence prior to trial. Mass.R.Crim.P. 15 (a)(2). Moreover, the rule provides that the case shall be stayed and the defendant should not be placed in jeopardy "until interlocutory review has been waived or the period specified (thirty days) for instituting interlocutory procedures has expired." See Mass.R.Crim.P. 15(c), 15(e). Both the Commonwealth (in the event a motion to suppress is allowed) and the defendant (in the event a motion to suppress is denied) are given the opportunity under the rule to file an application before a single justice pursuant to Mass.R.Crim.P. 15(a)(2) seeking leave to appeal the order on the motion to suppress.

The 2016 amendments to Mass.R.Crim.P. 15, effective August 1, 2016, respond to the Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Jordan, 469 Mass. 134 (2014). Under the amended Mass.R.Crim.P. 15(b)(1), the applicant must file a notice of appeal in the trial court and an application for leave to appeal in the county court within thirty days of the date of entry of the order being appealed, or such additional time as either the trial judge or the single justice of the Supreme Judicial court shall order.

The requisite form and manner of the application for leave to appeal is set forth in the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Order Regarding Applications to a Single Justice Pursuant to Mass.R.Crim.P. 15(a)(2), effective August 1, 2016. Pursuant to the Standing Order, the application is required to include the following:

  • the docket number of the trial court case;

  • a copy of the trial court case docket;

  • the findings and rulings by the trial court;

  • a brief memorandum of law, including an explanation of how the administration of justice would be facilitated by the grant of leave to appeal;

  • an estimate of the length of the trial;

  • the scheduled trial date or next scheduled trial court event;

  • an affirmative representation of whether the application and notice of appeal are timely under Mass.R.Crim.P. 15(b)(1);

  • if the application or notice of appeal is untimely, a motion to enlarge the time for filing with a supporting affidavit setting forth in meaningful detail the reasons for the delay; and

  • in an application by the Commonwealth, a statement whether the Commonwealth has a viable case without the suppressed evidence, and the strength of that case, if viable.

The Standing Order also requires any response to an application for leave to appeal to be filed within fourteen days of the filing of the application. Depending on the circumstances, the Single Justice may permit some additional time for the responsive filing.

As set forth in detail in Commonwealth v. Jordan, 469 Mass. 134 (2014), if the applicant files a motion to enlarge the time for filing the notice of appeal and/or application, the single justice will first rule on this threshold procedural motion.

If that motion is denied, the application for leave to appeal will then be summarily denied as well, because of the noncompliance with the timing requirements. The single justice will proceed to rule on the substantive merits of the application for leave to appeal if, and only if, he or she first allows the motion to enlarge or suspend time. The single justice will then determine, as Mass.R.Crim.P. 15(a)(2) requires, whether allowing the interlocutory appeal "will facilitate the administration of justice."

Commonwealth v. Jordan, 469 Mass. at 148, quoting Commonwealth v. Cavanaugh, 366 Mass. 277, 279 (1974).

Administrative Appeals

There are a number of specific statutes that confer appellate jurisdiction to the single justice over administrative decisions. A discussion of the most frequently filed appeals follows.

General Laws c. 112, §64, provides, in pertinent part, that the "supreme judicial court, upon petition of a person whose certificate, registration, license, authority has been suspended, revoked or canceled, may enter a decree revising or reversing the decision of the board in accordance with the standards for review provided in [G. L. c. 30A, §14(7)]." See Friedman v. Board of Registration in Medicine, 414 Mass. 663 (1993). These matters involve a wide variety of orders affecting the status of professional licenses. After the petition is filed, the record must be assembled and filed by the board of registration with the clerk. The parties often work with the clerk's office in setting a briefing schedule after the record is filed.

General Laws c. 25, §5, in pertinent part, allows an appeal to the county court from the final decision of the Department of Telecommunications and Energy (formerly the Department of Public Utilities). It is incumbent upon the department to file the record of proceedings with the clerk. As in appeals from boards of registration, the parties will set a briefing schedule with the assistance of the clerk's office.

Other statutes granting appellate jurisdiction in administrative appeals include those involving certain decisions by the commissioner of insurance. See G. L. c. 175, §113B; G. L. c. 175E, §13; G. L. c. 176A, §5.

Original Actions

This section presents a discussion of select statutes involving original actions. First, there is a discussion of those statutes where the court has exclusive jurisdiction, and second, where there is concurrent jurisdiction.

General Laws c. 190B §3-803(e) gives the Supreme Judicial Court the authority to enter judgment in favor of an estate creditor if "justice and equity require it" and upon a showing that the creditor "is not chargeable with culpable neglect in not prosecuting his/her claim within the time so limited." The "time so limited," set forth in G.L. c. 190B, §3-803(a) and (b), is one year from the date of death. A claimant is required to file a notice in the proper registry of probate upon filing the complaint at the Supreme Judicial Court. Any judgment shall not affect any payment or distribution made before the filing of such complaint and notice. In cases where there is a dispute as to facts, the single justice will ordinarily transfer the matter to the Probate Court for further proceedings. General Laws c. 180, §11A, provides for single justice review and determination of a complaint requesting dissolution of a nonprofit charitable corporation. It is important to note that before the single justice will allow motions for the entry of an interlocutory order or for entry of judgment, the Office of the Attorney General must also endorse the motions.

Practice Note: The first step in the dissolution process should be to contact the Public Charities Division of the Attorney General's Office. The Public Charities Division will provide information about the process by which nonprofit charitable corporations are dissolved.

The rehabilitation and, if necessary, liquidation of a domestic insurance company is accomplished through a receivership proceeding. In Massachusetts, only a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court may preside over insurer receiverships. See G.L. c.175, §§6, 180B, 180C.

There are a number of statutes in the general laws providing concurrent jurisdiction to the Supreme Judicial Court and lower courts. This section discusses the most commonly filed matters. Unless specifically proscribed by statute, the majority of these cases are transferred to the Superior Court pursuant to G. L. c. 211, §4A.

General Laws c. 248, §1 allows an imprisoned or restrained person to "prosecute a writ of habeas corpus . . . to obtain release from such imprisonment or restraint, if it proves to be unlawful . . . ." The writ may be issued "by the supreme judicial or the superior court, by a probate or a district court or by a judge of any of said courts." G. L. c. 248, §2.

Certiorari is a civil action that may be filed in the Supreme Judicial Court, the Superior Court, or in limited cases, the Land Court. Such an action provides a remedy to correct errors in proceedings not otherwise subject to review by motion or appeal and must be commenced within sixty days after the complained of proceeding. G. L. c. 249, §4. Review by the Supreme Judicial Court "will correct only 'substantial errors of law apparent on the record adversely affecting material rights'." Murray v. Second District Court of Eastern Middlesex, 389 Mass. 508, 511 (1983)(quoting Commissioners of Civil Serv. v. Municipal Court of the City of Boston, 369 Mass. 84, 90 (1975)); see also State Board of Retirement v. Francis Woodward, 446 Mass. 698, 702 (2006).. The court will correct "only those errors which have resulted in manifest injustice to the plaintiff or which adversely affected the real interests of the general public." Murray, 389 Mass. at 511.

While the writ of mandamus was formally abolished by Mass.R.Civ.P. 81 (b), "[a] civil action to obtain relief formerly available by writ of mandamus may be brought in the Supreme Judicial or Superior Court, "or, in limited cases, in the Land Court. G. L. c. 249, §5. Mandamus is a remedy for administrative inaction and is not available where action has already been taken. Doherty v. Retirement Board of Medford, 425 Mass 130, 134 (1997). A petitioner must have no other adequate or effective remedy. Coach & Six Restaurant, Inc. v. Public Works Comm'n, 363 Mass. 643, 644 (1973).

Other statutes in which original and concurrent jurisdiction with the Superior Court is granted are G. L. c. 214, §1 (equity) and G. L. c. 231A, §1 (declaratory judgment).

Bar Docket

The name of the county court docket that deals with attorney discipline and purely administrative attorney matters is the bar docket.

Administrative matters concerning the bar can include:

  • the appointment of a commissioner in the event of death or disappearance pursuant to SJC Rule 4:01 §14

  • the transfer of an attorney to disability inactive status pursuant to SJC Rule 4:01, §13(1) or 13(2); and

  • the enforcing or quashing of a subpoena in connection with investigative proceedings before the Board of Bar Overseers.

SJC Rule 4:01 of the Supreme Judicial Court grants the county court jurisdiction over bar discipline matters involving "any lawyer or foreign legal consultant admitted to, or engaging in, the practice of law in the Commonwealth" and empowers the Board of Bar Overseers (board) with the responsibility to investigate and prosecute such matters. Those actions most frequently filed by the Office of Bar Counsel (bar counsel) are petitions for suspension (temporary, term or indefinite), disbarment and reciprocal discipline. The grounds upon which bar counsel may petition the single justice for disciplinary action against an attorney include:

  • misuse or loss of client funds,

  • neglect of client interests,

  • fraudulent conduct,

  • sanction in another jurisdiction,

  • conviction of a crime and

  • misrepresentation to the court.

In addition, the rule gives the single justice discretion to accept an attorney's resignation or to place an attorney on disability inactive status.

A final order or judgment of the single justice in a bar discipline case entered on the county court docket before April 1, 2009, is appealable to the full court and is governed by the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure. The standard by which the sanction is imposed is reviewed is whether the sanction is "markedly disparate from those ordinarily entered in similar cases." Matter of Kerlinsky, 428 Mass. 656, 664 (1999).

A final order or judgment of the single justice in a bar discipline case entered in the county docket after April 1, 2009 is appealable to the full court and is governed by SJC Rule 2:23.

Miscellaneous Single Justice Statutes

There are many actions conferring jurisdiction on the single justice that are filed in the county court. As noted below, these statutes confer exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction. Those matters having concurrent jurisdiction are customarily transferred to the lower court pursuant to G. L. c. 211, §4A.


Statutes conferring exclusive jurisdiction on the single justice included the following:

  • G. L. c. 167, §36A - equity jurisdiction over the appointment of a conservator by the commissioner of banks.

  • G. L. c. 175, §6, 180B, 180C - application of insurance commissioner for injunction against and receivership of domestic stock insurance company.

  • G. L. c. 176G, §20 - application of insurance commission for injunction against and receivership of health maintenance organizations by operation G.L. c.175, § 6 et seq.

  • G. L. c. 204, §12 - sale or transfer of real or personal property held for churches, cemeteries or other like trusts.


Statutes conferring concurrent jurisdiction are as follows:

  • G. L. c. 54, §103 - equity jurisdiction to require certification of any application for absentee ballot the registrars unreasonably refused to certify; order counting of any rejected ballot; enjoin counting of a ballot of a person not lawfully entitled to vote.

  • G. L. c. 55, §30 - authority to compel filing of report or conforming report by a candidate for elective office.

  • G. L. c. 56, §59 - civil actions challenging the division of the Commonwealth into congressional, councillor, senatorial and representative districts.

  • G. L. c. 62F, §7 - taxpayer suit for enforcement of allowable state revenues

  • G. L. c. 64F, §13- actions to restrain collection of levies exempted by federal law.

  • G. L. c. 111, §5G - enforcement of orders regarding water treatment facilities.

  • G. L. c. 111, §25G - enforcement of provisions regarding health care facilities.

  • G. L. c. 130, §26 - enforcement of certain prohibitions on the discharge of oil or other poisonous substances.

  • G. L. c. 148, §17 - restraint of the use and occupancy of buildings storing explosive and inflammable materials.

  • G. L. c. 155, §5 - misleading use of name or title for public service corporations.

  • G. L. c. 157, §8 - penalty for use of word "co-operative" in connection with other businesses.

  • G. L. c. 166, §15 - violations of regulations concerning lines for television, telephone and electricity transmission.

  • G. L. c. 184, §14 - appointment of trustee for sale of timber standing on land used by one other than owner.

  • G. L. c. 185, §1 - certain matters involving title to real property.

  • G. L. c. 221, §46B - restraint of the unauthorized practice of law.

  • G. L. c. 233, §20C - immunization of witness.

  • G. L. c. 233, §59 - issuance of commission to take the deposition of a witness for use against all persons.

  • G. L. c. 248, §2 - habeas corpus

  • G. L. c. 249, §4 - action in the nature of certiorari

  • G. L. c. 249, §6 - action in the nature of quo warranto.

  • G. L. c. 253, §50 - enforcement of certain laws regarding mills, dams and reservoirs.

Contact Information

Contact Information for Supreme Judicial Court for the County of Suffolk Clerk's Office:

Mailing Address

John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square, Suite 1-300
Boston, MA 02108

Main Contact Information

Telephone: 617-557-1100
Fax: 617-557-1117

Attorney Services Department

Telephone: 617-557-1050
Fax: 617-557-1055
Email: sjcattorneyservices@jud.state.ma.us

Clerks' Direct Contact Information

Clerk Maura S. Doyle

1st Assistant Clerk Amy Stewart

2nd Assistant Clerk Stephen Cronin

3rd Assistant Clerk Vincent Tofani

Clerks' direct fax: 617-557-1117

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