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.
Zoom Oral Argument Program
- Oral Arguments by Zoom and the Appeals Court's Guide to Zoom Arguments. Oral arguments are currently scheduled to be conducted on 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. The Appeals Court has also posted a schedule of practice sessions it is hosting for persons interested in familiarizing themselves with Zoom in advance of oral argument.
- Public access to virtual oral arguments and educational access to Appeals Court justices. Please click here for a flyer describing the public availability of the Appeals Court's virtual oral argument sittings during the 2020 pandemic via the Appeals Court's public YouTube channel. It also provides contact information for requesting to have Appeals Court judges speak to educational groups.
Appeals Court COVID-19 Announcements
Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-4. On July 10, 2020, the Appeals Court issued Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-4. The order details updated operating procedures commencing on July 13, 2020. The order supersedes prior Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-1.
Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-3. On June 8, 2020, the Appeals Court issued Administrative Order 20-3 in response to the Supreme Judicial Court's order dated June 3, 2020, effective June 8, 2020, titled "Order Regarding Transfer of Certain Single Justice Matters During the COVID-19 Pandemic." The Appeals Court's administrative order explains procedures for single justice matters transferred to the Appeals Court's single justice session under the Supreme Judicial Court's order and also procedures related to motions to stay execution of sentence under Mass. R. A. P. 6(b) based on COVID-19, and appeals of single justices' orders under Mass. R. A. P. 6(b). Read the order here.
Appeals Court Administrative Orders 20-1 and 20-2. On May 26, 2020, the Appeals Court issued two administrative orders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The new administrative orders were issued in response to the SJC's May 26, 2020 order in OE-144. Administrative Order 20-1 (which was superseded or replaced by Administrative Order 20-4) describes virtual court operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Administrative Order 20-2 establishes a new schedule for extension of deadlines for filing in the Appeals Court as necessitated by the pandemic and includes a staggered schedule for briefing due dates. Together, the administrative orders supersede earlier Guidelines issued by the Appeals Court on March 19, 2020 and most recently revised April 28, 2020. Read the full text of the administrative orders here. [Please note Administrative Order 20-1 was subsequently superseded by new Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-4]
Civil Appeals Clinic. The Volunteer Lawyers Project has launched a fully online Pro Bono Civil Appeals Clinic. This remote clinic is held on Wednesdays from 12-4. To sign up for the clinic, litigants may call 617-603-1700 or complete an online intake here. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no in-person services for the clinic are occurring. Do not come to John Adams Courthouse to visit the clinic.
Appeals Court Summary Process 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.
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.
"The Review" newsletter, Fall 2020. The Review is the quarterly newsletter of the Appeals Court. Click here for the latest edition, Fall 2020 (vol. 2, issue 3). Prior issues are also available: Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Summer 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020; and Spring 2020.
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