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 Pilot Program
- June Oral Arguments by Zoom and Guide to Zoom. Oral arguments scheduled for the June 2020 session will 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 from May through July of 2020 via public YouTube channel. It also provides contact information for requesting to have Appeals Court judges speak to educational groups.
- Appeals Court Continues Video Conference Oral Argument Pilot Program. The Appeals Court has posted an update concerning its video conference oral argument pilot program. Read the details here.
- Pilot Oral Argument by Video Conference. On April 2, 2020, at 11:00 a.m., the Massachusetts Appeals Court is piloting a remote oral argument by video conference. A panel of Justices Peter Rubin, Amy Blake, and Dalila Wendlandt will hear arguments presented by three attorneys in 19-P-1490, a child welfare appeal. All participants will be remote. The oral arguments will be held via a Zoom video conference that will be live streamed to the Appeals Court's new YouTube page at this link. At this time, this is a pilot case. No decision has been made as to any additional video conference hearings. The Appeals Court anticipates that the oral arguments for its May session of 96 cases will be held by video or telephone conference.
Appeals Court COVID-19 Announcements
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 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.
Revised COVID-19 FAQs. The Appeals Court has also posted answers to FAQs regarding filing emergency matters during the COVID-19 pandemic. See: Appeals Court FAQs Regarding COVID (Revised May 4, 2020)
Civil Appeals Clinic. The Volunteer Lawyers Project has launched a remote Appeals Clinic Project. The remote clinic will be on Wednesdays from 12-4. The first remote clinic date will be April 29th, but the VLP is currently intaking cases for the clinic. To sign up for the clinic, litigants may call 617-603-1700 or complete an online intake here. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in person services at the Pro Bono Civil Appeals Clinic have been suspended until at least May 6, 2020. Do not come to John Adams Courthouse to visit the clinic at this time.
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. On March 5, 2020, the Supreme Judicial Court approved a proposal that includes substantive and organizational amendments to the Appeals Court rules and standing orders. The amendments are effective July 1, 2020. Read the Supreme Judicial Court's order of approval and the new rules 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.
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 from May through July of 2020 via public YouTube channel. It also provides contact information for requesting to have Appeals Court judges speak to educational groups.
"The Review" newsletter, Winter 2020. "The Review" is the quarterly newsletter of the Appeals Court. Click here for the latest edition, Winter 2020 (vol. 2, issue 1). Prior issues are also available: Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Summer 2019, and Fall 2019.
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. The forms page is available here.
Expanded Business Hours. Effective Tuesday, September 3, 2019, the Clerk's Office will be open for business from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- 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.
- Appeals Court Standing Order Concerning 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).
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 and Standing Orders
- Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure
- Massachusetts Rules of Electronic Filing