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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Supreme Judicial Court During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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

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SJC FAQs

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 some business virtually (i.e., by telephone, videoconference, email, or comparable means, or through the electronic filing system).

Is the John Adams Courthouse open to the public?

The John Adams Courthouse, the home of the SJC, is open to members of the public who are not prohibited from entry for the reasons set forth in paragraph 2 of the SJC's Fifth Order Regarding Access to State Courthouses and Court Facilities.  

Members of the public who are permitted to enter the courthouse are not required to wear a mask unless they have tested positive, experienced symptoms, or had close contact with someone with COVID-19 within the previous 10 days. However, mask wearing is encouraged inside courthouses, especially by those who are not up to date on vaccinations, have a weakened immune system, are at increased risk for severe disease due to age or an underlying medical condition, or live in the same household as someone who is unvaccinated, has a weakened immune system, or is at increased risk for severe disease.

How are both SJC clerks' offices accepting filings?

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. Both clerk's offices are also open to accept filings in person, but filings should continue to be made electronically or by mail whenever possible.

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

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

Is the SJC continuing to hear oral arguments?

Oral arguments before the full court will be conducted in person. The Clerk's Office will offer attorneys scheduled to argue the opportunity to appear remotely if they do not want to appear in person.

Oral arguments before the single justice are continuing to be held as needed and may be conducted in person, by telephone, or by videoconference, at the discretion of the single justice.

Some cases are being decided on the papers without oral argument.

What steps has the SJC taken to protect participants from COVID-19 when proceedings are conducted in person?

The court continues to take precautions to protect participants during in-person proceedings.  These include prohibiting members of the public from entering Massachusetts state courthouse or court facilities for the reasons set forth in paragraph 2 of the SJC's Fifth Order Regarding Access to State Courthouses and Court Facilities and, in accordance with paragraph 3 of that order, requiring that members of the public who enter the courthouse wear a mask if they have tested positive, experienced symptoms, or had close contact with someone with COVID-19 within the previous 10 days.

What should I do if I do not want to appear in person for an oral argument?

When a case has been scheduled for oral argument in person, an attorney or self-represented litigant who does not want to appear in person should notify the Clerk's Office of that preference within 5 days of receiving the notice of argument availability from the Clerk's Office. The oral argument will then be conducted in the courtroom, but the attorney or self-represented litigant will appear by videoconference or telephone, while other attorneys or litigants will be allowed to argue in person.

Where can I get answers to my questions?

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@sjc.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

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