Rules of Appellate Procedure Appellate Procedure Rule 15: Motions
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(a) Content of motions; response; reply
Unless another form is elsewhere prescribed by these rules, an application for an order or other relief shall be made by filing a motion for such order or relief with proof of service upon all other parties. The motion shall comply with Rule 20(b)(2) and shall contain or be accompanied by any matter required by a specific provision of these rules governing such a motion, shall state with particularity the grounds on which it is based, shall set forth the order or relief sought, and, if known, should state whether the motion is assented to, or that no other party is in opposition, or if any party intends to file an opposition or other response. If a motion is supported by briefs, affidavits, or other documents, they shall be served and filed with the motion. Any party may file a response to a motion other than for a procedural order (for which see Rule 15(b)) within 7 days after service of the motion, but motions authorized by Rule 6 may be acted upon after reasonable notice, and the appellate court or a single justice may shorten or extend the time for responding to any motion.
(b) Determination of motions for procedural orders
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding paragraph as to motions generally, motions for procedural orders, including any motion under Rule 14(b), may be acted upon at any time, without awaiting a response thereto. Any party adversely affected by such action may request reconsideration, vacation, or modification of such action.
(c) Power of a single justice to entertain motions
In addition to the authority expressly conferred by these rules or by law, a single justice may entertain and may grant or deny any request for relief which under these rules may properly be sought by motion, except that a single justice may not dismiss or otherwise determine an appeal or other proceeding, and except that the appellate court may provide by order or rule that any motion or class of motions shall be acted upon by the appellate court. The action of a single justice may be reviewed by the appellate court.
(d) Motions for new trial in capital cases
After the docketing of an appeal in a “capital case” as defined in G. L. c. 278, § 33E, and until the issuance of a rescript by the appellate court, any motion for a new trial pursuant to Massachusetts Rule of Criminal Procedure 30 shall be filed in the appellate court and may be remitted to the trial judge for hearing and determination at such time as the appellate court may direct.
Rule 15(b) continues to allow an appellate court or a single justice to act on motions for procedural orders at any time without awaiting a response thereto. Notwithstanding this authority, text was added to Rule 15(a) to express the appellate courts’ preference for knowing, at the time a motion is filed, whether the motion is assented to or if it is known that any party opposes the motion, and, if so, whether the party intends to file an opposition or other response. The amendment is intended to encourage the parties to communicate about whether a response will be filed prior to the filing of a motion to avoid the unnecessary consumption of time, effort, and expense to both the parties and the appellate court. See Reporter’s Note to Rule 1(a).
Rule 15(d) was revised to replace “murder in the first degree” with “‘capital case’ as defined in G. L. c. 278, § 33E” to encompass the statute’s definition of a “capital case” as including certain habitual offender convictions in addition to convictions of murder in the first degree.
Further organizational and stylistic revisions were made to this rule in 2019 in accordance with a global review and revision of all of the Appellate Rules. These revisions are described in the 2019 Reporter’s Notes to Rule 1.
With regard to the preparation of the 2019 Reporter’s Notes to this Rule, see the first paragraph of the 2019 Reporter’s Notes to Rule 1. For an overview of the 2019 amendments to the Rules and a summary of the global amendments to the Rules, see 2019 Reporter’s Notes to Rule 1, sections I. and II.
Subdivision (d), drawn from G.L. c. 278, § 33E (as amended) merely recognizes that while after docketing, a motion for a new trial (Mass.R.Crim.P. 30) is required to be filed in the appellate court, it should ordinarily be heard and determined by the trial judge (unless disabled, see Mass.R.Crim.P. 38[c]), since he is in a better position to weigh its merits. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Grace, 370 Mass. 746 (1976). The need for familiarity with the trial proceedings may vary, however, as a function of the grounds asserted (e.g., newly-discovered evidence as opposed to a verdict allegedly against the weight of evidence).
Appellate Rule 15 governs motion practice. Appellate Rule 15(c) permits a single justice to dispose of any motion except a motion to dismiss an appeal (and, of course, except as otherwise provided by the Appellate Court). For the required number of copies see Appellate Rule 19(b); for the form of motions, see Appellate Rule 20(b).
Downloads for Appellate Procedure Rule 15: Motions
|Amended May 15, 1979, effective July 1, 1979 Amended October 31, 2018, effective March 1, 2019, 481 Mass. 1601