Direct Appellate Review

A guide to seeking direct appellate review.

After an appeal has been docketed in the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court may grant a party's application for direct appellate review (DAR) where the questions presented by the appeal are: (1) questions of first impression or novel questions of law which should be submitted for final determination to the Supreme Judicial Court; (2) questions of law concerning the Constitution of the Commonwealth or questions concerning the Constitution of the United States which have been raised in a court of the Commonwealth; or (3) questions of such public interest that justice requires a final determination by the full Supreme Judicial Court.

Applications for direct appellate review are governed by the provisions of Rule 11 of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure.

The DAR application should be filed in the Supreme Judicial Court, with a copy to the Appeals Court, within twenty days of the docketing of the appeal.  Requirements for the contents of the application, including no more than ten pages of argument, are set forth at Rule 11(b).  An opposition may be filed, within ten days, limited to ten pages, Rule 11(c).  The covers of the application and opposition should be white, Rule 20(b) and other requirements as to form are also covered in that Rule.

There is no fee required to file a DAR application.

If an application for direct appellate review (DAR) is electronically filed with the Supreme Judicial Court through the Massachusetts Odyssey File and Serve Site, you no longer need to serve a paper or electronic copy on the Appeals Court as set forth in M.R.A.P. 11(d).  The application may also be filed in paper form.  If you file in paper form, an original and seventeen copies are filed in the Clerk's Office of the Supreme Judicial Court for the Commonwealth and a copy is served on each other party.  Rule 11(d).  The assignment of a DAR docket number by the Supreme Judicial Court now triggers automatic notice of the filing and the DAR docket entry's creation to the Appeals Court.  Therefore, in lieu of sending a paper or electronic copy of a DAR to the Appeals Court, please ensure that you have received a corresponding docket number from the Supreme Judicial Court.

If the application is allowed, the time for serving and filing briefs is set forth at Rule 11(g).



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