Rules of Appellate Procedure

Rules of Appellate Procedure  Appellate Procedure Rule 24: Justices' participation

Effective Date: 03/01/2019
Updates: Effective July 1, 1974 Amended October 31, 2018, effective March 1, 2019, 481 Mass. 1601

Table of Contents

(a) Other justices may participate without reargument.

Whenever the justices before whom a case has been heard so desire, others of the justices may be called in to take part in the decision, upon a review of the record and briefs, and the recording of any oral argument, without reargument.

(b) Replacement of justices.

If a justice who has participated in a case becomes unable to participate further, then the Chief Justice of the appellate court may substitute another justice.

(c) Justice may review own ruling in certain cases.

No justice shall sit on the hearing of any proceeding in the nature of a review of any judgment, decree, order, or ruling made by that justice; provided, however, that this shall not apply where it is necessary to secure a quorum or where the other justices of the court shall be equally divided in opinion.

Reporter’s notes


Rule 24(a) was revised to clarify that the recording of any oral argument is part of the record for review of a justice called in to take part in a decision after oral argument. The word “perusal” was replaced with “review.” Although the terms have nearly identical meanings, “review” is more commonly used today.

Rule 24(b) is a new subdivision and, conformably with current practice, allows for the replacement of a justice should that justice become unable to participate in the case. The Chief Justice of the appellate court has the authority to make the substitutions as needed. Prior Rule 24(b) was re-lettered Rule 24(c).

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.


Rule 24 is unchanged, but in criminal cases supersedes former Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court Rules 1:18 (1972: 1 Mass.App.Ct. 892, amended, 1975: 3 Mass.App.Ct. 801. 1967: 351 Mass. 731, amended, 1975: 366 Mass. 853) and 1:19 (1975: 3 Mass.App.Ct. 804. 1967: 351 Mass. 741-42, amended, 1975: 366 Mass. 853).


Appellate Rule 24(a) permits the participation in a decision of a justice who has not heard argument. Appellate Rule 24(b) regulates a justice’s participation in review of his own ruling. The rule codifies prior practice, S.J.C. Rule 1:181:19; Appeals Court Rule 1:18.

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