Invitation for Public Comment on the Proposal to Amend and Repeal Appeals Court Rules and Standing Orders and to Establish the Massachusetts Appeals Court Rules

Invitation to Comment - Amend and Repeal Appeals Court Rules and Standing Orders and Establish the Massachusetts Appeals Court Rules

General Laws c. 211A, § 13, authorizes the Appeals Court, subject to the approval of the Supreme Judicial Court, to adopt rules regulating the "practices, procedures and internal administration of the appeals court." The Appeals Court invites public comments on proposed adoption of, amendments to, and reorganization of, its standing orders, rules, and policies.

The Appeals Court proposes the following amendments:

Reorganization, Reformatting, and Establishment of the Appeals Court Rules

Since its establishment in 1972, the Appeals Court has promulgated various rules, standing orders, orders, and other policies that govern procedures in the Appeals Court. The mixed characterization and format of these varied authorities makes them difficult to locate and reference in filings.  Consequently, the Appeals Court proposes to reorganize and reformat many of its rules, standing orders, orders, and other policies into a single set of rules, and proposes to name these authorities the "Appeals Court Rules." 

The Appeals Court proposes to assign each rule, standing order, or policy a new label as an "Appeals Court Rule" and the specific number assigned to each rule is intended to correspond to the most closely applicable Massachusetts Rule of Appellate Procedure ("Mass. R. A. P."). For example, the Appeals Court proposes to relabel its "Standing Order Governing Motions to Stay a Judgment or Execution of Sentence Filed Pursuant to Mass. R.A.P. 6" as "Appeals Court Rule 6: Motions to Stay Execution of a Judgment or Sentence Filed Pursuant to Mass. R. A. P. 6." The standing order is directly relevant to Mass. R. A. P. 6 ("Stay or injunction pending appeal") and by aligning the two provisions the standing order will be easier for attorneys and self-represented litigants to reference. 

In reorganizing these authorities into a single set of rules, the Appeals Court proposes additional technical amendments that are intended to harmonize the formatting of each rule for consistency with the Mass. R. A. P. These proposed amendments include dividing longer rules into distinct and titled paragraphs to facilitate ease of reference; revising citations to the Massachusetts General Laws and Mass. R. A. P. to comply with the 2019 Style Manual prepared by the Reporter of Decisions; and technical revisions (such as replacing the word "paper" with "document," and "first class mail" with "first class mail or its equivalent") for consistency with extensive amendments to the Mass. R. A. P., effective March 1, 2019. See Reporter's Note (2019) to Mass. R. A. P. 1. Language referencing standing orders is uniformly revised to "Appeals Court Rules."

Details about the specific proposals can be found here. In general, the proposal includes the following topics:

  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 1: Practice Before A Single Justice
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 6: Motions to Stay Execution of a Judgment or Sentence Filed Pursuant to Mass. R. A. P. 6
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 10: Docketing Statement for All Appeals (Civil and Criminal)
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 13: Electronic Filing
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 15: Review of Action on Motions Requesting Procedural Relief
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 19: Dismissals of Appeals and Reports for Lack of Prosecution
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 20: Form of Petitions to the Single Justice Pursuant to G. L. c. 231, § 118 (first paragraph) or Rule 12(a) of the Uniform Rules on Impoundment Procedure
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 22: Oral Argument
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 23: Summary Disposition (formerly known as Appeals Court Rule 1:28)
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 31: Electronic Notification of Court Orders, Notices, and Decisions in Lieu of Paper Notice
  • Adoption of Appeals Court Rule 32: Title
  • Repeal of Appeals Court Rule 2:03, Special Masters and Commissioners

Invitation for Public Comment

The Appeals Court welcomes all comments on the proposed amendments. Comments should be directed to Joseph Stanton, Clerk, Massachusetts Appeals Court, One Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108, or to AppellateRules@jud.state.ma.us, on or before October 31, 2019. The comments received will be made available to the public.

Proposal to Amend and Repeal Appeals Court Rules and Standing Orders and to Establish the Massachusetts Appeals Court Rules.

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