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Standing Orders

Superior Court Rules Superior Court Standing Order 4-21: Seventh updated protocol governing Superior Court operations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Adopted Date: 07/06/2021
Effective Date: 07/12/2021
Updates: Issued July 6, 2021, effective July 12, 2021

Rescinding and Superseding Standing Order 3-21, effective July 12, 2021

Applicable to all courts

Table of Contents

Standing Order 4-21

Pursuant to the Supreme Judicial Court’s Seventh Updated Order Regarding Court Operations Under the Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID–19 Pandemic, effective July 12, 2021, and the Supreme Judicial Court’s Fourth Order Regarding Access to State Courthouses & Court Facilities, effective July 12, 2021, the Superior Court issues this standing order to update its protocols governing court operations. This standing order is effective July 12, 2021, and rescinds and supersedes Standing Order 3–21, which became effective May 1, 2021. This standing order shall remain in effect until further order of the court. 

The Superior Court shall resume normal operations as of July 12, 2021, subject to the SJC’s July 12 Orders referenced above; any supplemental Trial Court policy to protect health and safety; and the following protocols.  

Consistent with Superior Court Standing Order 1–20: Videoconferencing of Court Events, effective February 1, 2020 (S.O. 1–20), and constitutional, statutory, and other applicable rights, certain civil and criminal proceedings shall continue to be conducted virtually, i.e., by videoconference or telephone. Under S.O. 1–20, hearings are presumptively held by videoconference for bail reviews, non-testimonial hearings for reviews of G. L. c. 276, § 58A dangerousness determinations, and non-evidentiary hearings in civil matters concerning incarcerated persons. See S.O. 1–20(2). Proceedings in other civil or criminal matters may be held virtually, in the judge’s discretion, consistent with constitutional, statutory, and other applicable rights, and in consideration of the factors set forth in S.O. 1–20(3), and the rules outlined in Parts 6 & 7 of the SJC’s Seventh Updated Order referenced above.  

For any videoconference hearing involving a self-represented litigant (SRL) with limited access to, or limited facility with, videoconference technology, the court shall assist the litigant to enable participation by videoconference or shall offer an alternative means of participating virtually.  

A “hybrid” proceeding may be held, that is, one consisting of some participants appearing in person and some appearing virtually, on request and in the discretion of the court, and consistent with constitutional, statutory, and other applicable rights. Any participant who requests to appear virtually at an in-person proceeding shall have no grounds to object to any other participant appearing in person. 

Public access to virtual proceedings shall be available through designated telephone lines provided on the websites of the Superior Court Clerks’ Offices, unless, in a particular case, access is provided by some other means authorized by the court.

Downloads for Superior Court Standing Order 4-21: Seventh updated protocol governing Superior Court operations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

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