Massachusetts law about time

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on computation of time.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.4, § 7 Definition of statutory terms; Statutory construction
"Nineteenth, "Month'' shall mean a calendar month, except that, when used in a statute providing for punishment by imprisonment, one "month'' or a multiple thereof shall mean a period of thirty days or the corresponding multiple thereof; and "year'', a calendar year."

MGL c.4, § 9 Time for performance of acts performable on Sunday or holiday
"Except as otherwise provided, when the day or the last day for the performance of any act, including the making of any payment or tender of payment, authorized or required by statute or by contract, falls on Sunday or a legal holiday, the act may, unless it is specifically authorized or required to be performed on Sunday or on a legal holiday, be performed on the next succeeding business day."

MGL c.4, § 10 Daylight Saving Time

MGL c.260 Statute of limitations; time after which civil claims cannot be filed.

Federal laws

15 USC §§ 260-267: Time
Federal law covering time zones and daylight saving time.

Court rules

Time standards and court orders

Supreme Judicial Court seventh updated order regarding court operations under the exigent circumstances created by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.  Includes amendments and info on suspension of trials and continuances.

Time standards and case management
Time standards and case management for court cases ensure the timely attention necessary to secure a just and expeditious determination of each case or claim. Links to each court’s time standards and case management procedures.

Selected case law

Bemis v. Leonard, 118 Mass. 502 (1875)
"In this Commonwealth, the general rule, as applied in a variety of circumstances, and now well established, is, that in computing time from the date, or from the day of the date, or from a certain act or event, the day of the date is to be excluded, unless a different intention is manifested by the instrument or statute under which the question arises."

Booker v. Chief Engineer of the Fire Department of Woburn, 324 Mass. 264 (1949)
"The word 'day' when not qualified means a calendar day...And a calendar day is the space of time that elapses between two successive midnights."

Comm. v. Melo, 65 Mass.App.Ct. 674 (2006)
Defendant challenged length of incarceration, arguing that the extra days in leap years must be counted. The court determined that "Simply stated, the defendant was sentenced to a term of years, not to a term of days or months, and a calendar year is one year of the defendant's sentence regardless of the number of days which comprises any particular year."

Leach v. Burr, 188 U.S. 510, 23 S. Ct. 393, 47 L. Ed. 567 (1903).
"A week is a definite period of time, commencing on Sunday and ending on Saturday."

Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. v. Melendez, 488 Mass. 338 (2021)
Court applied plain meaning of the word “all” in interpreting Supreme Judicial Court, Third Updated Order Regarding Court Operations Under the Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic (June 24, 2020) which tolled “all civil actions statutes of limitations”  to mean each and every civil statute of limitations, not just those where the statutory period of limitation expired between March 17, 2020, and June 30, 2020.

Stevenson v. Donnelly, 221 Mass. 161 (1915)
"In computing any period of time less than a week, Sunday is to be excluded ." Also: unless there is specific evidence to the contrary, days means full days and not "a projection of the exact hour of the first day permitted by the earlier statute to the same hour" on the final day

Thayer v. Felt, 21 Mass. 354 (1826)
Where a time period is longer than one week, Sundays are counted unless they are expressly excluded

Thornton v. Civil Service Commission, 80 Mass.App.Ct. 441 (2011)
The requirement for a hearing prior to a suspension of more than five days in the civil service laws, MGL c.31, s.41, "we conclude that the words "a period of five days" must be read... to describe a single, continuous period covering five twenty-four hour days."

Web sources

Official US time 
Find out what time it is right now anywhere in the country.

Print sources

Black’s law dictionary, 11th ed. West Group. Defines week as: 

“A period of seven consecutive days beginning on either Sunday or Monday. 2. Any consecutive seven-day period.”

Civil practice, 3rd ed. (Mass. Practice v. 9-9A), West Group, 2004 with supplement. Sec. 52:29 Computation of time in Federal Courts.

Criminal practice and procedure, 4th ed. (Mass. practice v.  30-30B), West Group, 2014 with supplement. Section 58:3 Computation of time.

Procedural forms annotated, 6th ed.  (Mass. practice v.  10-10C), West Group, 2009 with supplement. Chapter 8 Extension or enlargement of time.

Restatement of the law, second, contracts, 2d. West Group, with supplement. Sec. 63. Time when acceptance takes effect.

Rules practice, 2nd ed. (Mass. Practice v. 6-7) West Group, 2006 with supplement. Chapter 6 Time.

Timetable for Massachusetts civil practice, LexisNexis, Annual.



Law library locations and phone numbers Library locations 
Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email
Last updated: August 9, 2022