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Self-Representation in the Appeals Court

Self-represented parties are held to the same standard, and bound by the same rules, as are attorneys when proceeding in the Appeals Court.

A person has the right to proceed as a self-represented party in the Appeals Court, which means the party represents himself or herself without a lawyer.  Self-represented parties are held to the same standard, and bound by the same rules, as are attorneys when proceeding in the Appeals Court.  Commonwealth v. Jackson, 419 Mass. 716, 719 (1995).  However, the court does recognize that it takes an enormous amount of effort and resources to work through the appeals process.  Here are some resources to get you started.

The online Appeals Court Help Center.  See also information on Civil Appeals and other basic information provided through this website's Self-Help Center.

Use the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries to find books and online materials that will guide you through the legal process.

Check out MassLegalHelp for practical, easy to understand information about your legal rights in Massachusetts.

Look at MassLegalServices to find extensive legal advocate materials about laws affecting low income residents in Massachusetts.

The Reporter of Decisions office has published the opinions of the SJC since 1804.  The Reporter's office has also published the opinions of the Appeals Court since its establishment in 1972. 

Depending upon your income and legal problem, you may be able to get free legal services.  Check out the Legal Resource Finder provided by Mass Legal Help or try calling a local lawyer referral service:

Massachusetts Bar Association: 866-627-7577

Boston Bar Association: 617-742-0625

National Lawyers Guild: 617-227-7008

You may also be able to get assistance from the Civil Appeals Clinic.  The Civil Appeals Clinic is run by the Volunteer Lawyers Project and held at the Appeals Court Clerk’s Office on Wednesdays between 12:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.  The clinic is staffed by volunteer attorneys and is limited to low-income persons who qualify for services.  At the clinic, free attorneys can explain the process for appealing a judgment or decision and answer questions about it.

In general, it is your responsibility to find the resources necessary to make your case to the Appeals Court.  The links presented on this page are just supposed to help you get started.

The staff and Assistant Clerks at the Appeals Court Clerk’s Office are available to answer some of your procedural questions, but they do not provide legal advice.  You are responsible for doing your own legal research and for finding answers to your legal questions.