Who we serve
The Appeals Court is a court of general appellate jurisdiction, which means that the justices review decisions that the trial judges from the several Departments of the Trial Court have already made in many different kinds of cases. The Appeals Court also has jurisdiction over appeals from final decisions of three State agencies: the Appellate Tax Board, the Industrial Accident Board and the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board. The Appeals Court consists of a chief justice and twenty-four associate justices.
Appeals Court COVID-19 Announcements
Oral Argument Maskless Policy and Attestation: Effective September 1, 2021, for oral arguments held in person, the Appeals Court will allow lawyers and self-represented litigants who are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 Coronavirus to remove their mask to argue while standing at the advocate’s podium, if the advocate so desires. Any lawyer or self-represented litigant who removes their mask to argue is attesting to the Court that they are fully vaccinated. See Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.3(a)(1) (candor toward the tribunal). All attorneys and self-represented litigants will be required before arguing to sign an attestation form that they are aware of and will follow this policy. For the purposes of this policy, a person is considered "fully vaccinated" if it has been at least 14 days since the person received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or one dose of the Janssen (Johnson &Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine.
Notice to Self-Represented Filers and Visitors to the Court: The Clerk’s Office is open to the public for telephonic, electronic, and in-person business. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clerk’s Office continues to endeavor to conduct business virtually to the extent possible. Before making an in-person visit to the Clerk's Office, please call or email the office to see if you can be assisted virtually. The Clerk's Office staff will make every effort to provide assistance (including accepting filings and fulfilling records requests) in a manner that eliminates the need for persons to visit the John Adams Courthouse. All visitors to the John Adams Courthouse must comply with any orders of the Supreme Judicial Court regarding health and safety protocols regarding public access to state courthouses and court facilities.
Appeals Court Administrative Order 21-1. On August 1, 2021, the Appeals Court Administrative Order 21-1 became effective. The order and this website detail the Appeals Court’s operating procedures.
Updates to Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-3. On August 1, 2021, the Appeals Court amended Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-3. Significantly, the amendments eliminate automatic expedited appeals of all orders on transferred petitions from the Supreme Judicial Court and Mass. R. A. P. 6(b) motions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Appeals Court or a single justice may order an expedited appeal in a particular case sua sponte or on motion of any party.
Oral Argument Sessions
Oral Argument Maskless Policy and Attestation. Effective September 1, 2021, for oral arguments held in person, the Appeals Court will allow lawyers and self-represented litigants who are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 Coronavirus to remove their mask to argue while standing at the advocate’s podium, if the advocate so desires. Any lawyer or self-represented litigant who removes their mask to argue is attesting to the Court that they are fully vaccinated. See Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.3(a)(1) (candor toward the tribunal). All attorneys and self-represented litigants will be required before arguing to sign an attestation form that they are aware of and will follow this policy. For the purposes of this policy, a person is considered "fully vaccinated" if it has been at least 14 days since the person received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or one dose of the Janssen (Johnson &Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine.
- Oral Argument In-Person Sessions. The Appeals Court will resume in-person oral arguments before panels of the justices commencing in September 2021. Further updates will be posted on this web page.
- Oral Arguments by Zoom. To the extent any oral arguments are scheduled to be conducted remotely, those arguments will utilize the Zoom video conference platform with a live stream to the Appeals Court’s YouTube channel. The Clerk’s Office has prepared a Guide to Zoom Oral Arguments for attorneys and self-represented litigants that may be read online or downloaded as a PDF.
Appeals Court Summary Process (Eviction) Educational & Help Materials. Click here to find new resources for tenants and landlords regarding summary process/eviction appeals.
Clerk's Guide to Electronic Briefs. The Appeals Court has posted a new Clerk's Guide to Electronic Briefs with step by step instructions and illustrations for how to assemble an electronic PDF brief and record appendix for submission through the Appeals Court's eFileMA system. The guide is available as a PDF download here.
Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-6. Effective November 30, 2020, this order creates specific procedures for filing a motion to stay an eviction when the eviction is imminent. Read the order here for more details.
Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-5. Effective November 20, 2020, this order authorizes filers in Appeals Court cases to use online templates and forms provided by the Suffolk University Law School's Legal Innovation and Technology Lab (“LIT Lab”). The Appeals Court and the LIT Lab jointly produced the forms and templates to assist filers in creating documents for filing, and in some instances these documents can be filed with the court directly from the LIT Lab website. Read the order here for more details. To get to the LIT Lab forms site click here.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: If you are appealing your unemployment benefits decision, please see https://www.mass.gov/how-to/appeal-your-unemployment-benefits-decision for information about how to request and proceed with an appeal, and for contact information for the Department of Unemployment Assistance Hearings Department and Board of Review. Please note that the Massachusetts Appeals Court does not have direct appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the Department of Unemployment Assistance.
Amendments to Electronic Filing Rules and Changes to E-filing Fee Structure. The Supreme Judicial Court has issued an order amending the Massachusetts Rules of Electronic Filing (SJC Rule 1:25) effective June 1, 2020. As discussed in the accompanying press release, as of June 1, 2020, the fee charged by the e-filing provider (currently Tyler Technologies) will apply on a “per case” basis, rather than a “per envelope” basis. A one-time provider fee of $22 will apply, replacing the per envelope fee of $6. The fee will be paid by an appellant when a civil appeal or petition is e-filed, unless the initial filing fee has been waived.
- Amendments to Appeals Court Rules and Standing Orders and Repeal of Standing Orders. The Supreme Judicial Court approved substantive and organizational amendments to the Appeals Court rules and standing orders. The amendments are now effective, as of July 1, 2020. The new rules are available here, and the court's standing orders are repealed. (You can read the Supreme Judicial Court's order of approval here). The Appeals Court is also making available a strikethrough version of the rules that shows the changes from the prior rules and standing orders. The strikethrough version is available here.
Updated Docketing Statements. The docketing statement forms have been updated to include new case natures and to eliminate conversion issues that some filers encountered. Please download and replace these forms in your library for future filings. See Appeals Court Rule 10.0: Docketing Statements for All Appeals (Civil and Criminal). Docketing statements must be filed in all cases other than appeals by self-represented inmates. You can download and fill out the forms here (Civil and Criminal).
- Register for the Appeals Court Listserv. Click here to register for the Appeals Court listserv to receive updates from the Appeals Court and the Appeals Court's quarterly newsletter, The Review.
- Guide to Creating PDFs with Bookmarks and Internal Links. Although not required, the Appeals Court encourages all e-filed briefs and record appendices to contain bookmarks and internal links. The Appeals Court has posted a guide that explains the benefits of these features and how to add them to a brief and record appendix. The guide is available here.
- Announcement of Greater Access to Oral Argument Recordings. Beginning with appeals argued in January 2019, recordings of oral argument will be available on the appellate courts' website. To read the announcement and learn how to access oral argument recordings online, click here.
- Announcement of New Court Administrator. Chief Justice Mark Green recently announced the selection of Attorney Gina L. DeRossi to serve as the Court Administrator for the Appeals Court. Read the entire press release here.
- Staggered Start Times for Oral Argument. Following a successful pilot program, the Appeals Court is pleased to announce staggered start times for oral argument for all panel sittings of the Appeals Court. For more information about what time parties should arrive for oral argument, click here.
- Amicus Briefs. The Appeals Court is currently soliciting amicus briefs. Click here to view amicus invitations.
Key Procedural Information
- Appeals Court Help Center. Visit the Appeals Court Help Center for a collection of guides, informational pages, and other resources providing information about how the appeals process works.
- Appeals Court Frequent Appellate Process Questions. Get answers to the most frequently asked questions about the appeals process.
- Electronic Filing at the Appeals Court. See this page for instructions, guidance, and updates regarding electronic filing at the Appeals Court.
Key Legal Resources
- Appellate Opinion Portal - The Appellate Opinion Portal is maintained by the Office of the Reporter of Decisions and contains links to view both recent decisions and the archives of Massachusetts published opinions and unpublished decisions.
- Appeals Court Rules
- Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure
- Massachusetts Rules of Electronic Filing