This is the "Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure" page of the "Civil Procedure Research Guide" guide.
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This research guide is designed to provide research starting points for 1Ls doing civil procedure research at the Northeastern University School of Law.
Last Updated: Aug 21, 2014 URL: http://lawlibraryguides.neu.edu/civilprocedure Print Guide RSS Updates

Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure Print Page
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Massachusetts Judicial System

 Massachusetts has a three-tier court system and a two-tier appellate system.  The highest court of Massachusetts is the Supreme Judicial Court, which was established by the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.  Lower courts are established by the legislature; there are the Appeals Court, an intermediate appellate court, and the Trial Court.  The Trial Court has seven departments including Boston Municipal Court, District Court, Housing Court, Juvenile Court, Land Court, Probate and Family Court, and Superior Court. 

·         Sources: The Massachusetts Constitution, General Laws of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules of Appellate Procedure, and the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court.

<Available at http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/structure_color.pdf>

 

The following information will help you to find Massachusetts cases relating to procedural issues:

Case Reporters (in Print)

Supreme Judicial Court:

o    Massachusetts Reports (official)

o    North Eastern Reporter & Massachusetts Decisions

Appeals Court:

o    Massachusetts Appeals Court Reports (official)

o    North Eastern Reporter & Massachusetts Decisions

Trials Courts (The Appellate Divisions of the District court and the Boston Municipal court Departments):

o    Reports of Massachusetts Appellate Division (1936-1950; 1980-date)

o    Massachusetts Reports Supplement (1980-1983)

o    Massachusetts Appellate Decisions (1941-1977)

o    Appellate Division Advance Sheets (1975-1979)

Databases:

Westlaw (Mass. State Trial Court Orders from 2001) , Lexis (Mass. Superior Court Cases from 1993, MA District Court, Appellate Division Cases from 1990, Massachusetts Land Court from 1993), Lois Law, VersusLaw, and Casemaker.

Free Internet:

o    Office of Reporter of Decisions: http://www.massreports.com/

  • The official web site of the office of the Reporter of Decisions of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) and the Appeals Court. This web site contains slip opinions, Opinion Archive (2001-), unpublished decisions, and Advance Sheets— (1) the opinions of the two appellate courts with head; (2) the SJC orders; (3) Rule 1:28 decisions; and (4) the amendments to the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules of Appellate Procedure, and the Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court. Advance Sheets are available to subscribers only.  You can search decisions by release date, parties, docket number, and key words with Boolean connectors.

 

 

Primary Sources

Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure are available in print, in subscription databases such as Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg, and on internet websites free of charge.

Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure freely available at:

  • Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries: http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/source/mass/rules/civil/index.html        
    • This website is the most useful free portal and database for Massachusetts law research.  It provides links, .pdf, and .text documents of Mass. General Laws, regulations (CMR), cases, court rules and fees, Massachusetts courts, executive orders, state agency opinions, city and town bylaws, etc.  You can search for laws by subject and by source. 
 

Secondary Sources

Massachusetts Law Research Guides

The following research guides contain sections devoted to Massachusetts procedural rules:

  • Mary Ann Neary et al., Handbook of Legal Research in Massachusetts (2009).
  • E. Joan Blum, Massachusetts Legal Research (2010).
  • Massachusetts Practice Guide (“Mass. Practice”) in print (also available on CD-ROM and on Westlaw).
    • This multi-volume set includes commentary on the law, citations to authority, forms, etc. In order to find pertinent sections, use the table of contents at the front of each volume or the general index at the end of the set, or use the index and tables located at the end of each subject title.  Mass. Practice is updated with pocket parts and supplemental pamphlet.

Law Reviews and Law Journals

The following Law Reviews and Law Journals will be useful to find the articles on cutting-edge issues relating to Massachusetts Procedural rules : Northeastern University Law Journal, Boston College Law Review, Boston University Law Review, Harvard Law Review, New England Law Review, Suffolk University Law Review, Western New England Law Review, etc.

Current Awareness: Legal Newspapers

  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly: http://masslawyersweekly.com/ (also available on Westlaw)
    • Need to subscribe. Reports decisions issued by all the state and federal courts in Massachusetts including the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as well as rulings from state and federal trial courts in Massachusetts and state agencies, changes to court rules, verdict & settlement reports, bar-discipline notices, etc.  The Archives goes back to 1993.
  • Also look at Continuing Legal Education materials, published by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) (also available on Westlaw), Massachusetts Bar Association, Boston Bar Association, etc.

Treatises:

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Massachusetts Practice Series: Civil Practice, 3d (Vols. 9 & 9A) - West
Call Number: Law Stacks, KFM2930 .M38; also available at Westlaw
This multi-volume encylopedic set contains articles written by experienced Massachusetts attorneys, judges, and law professors and forms. MAPRAC is a complete practice guide for the Massachusetts practitioner.

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Massachusetts Superior Court Civil Practice Manual - MCLE
Call Number: Law Stacks, KFM2930 .M384
It offers a broad-based, intensive and practical grounding in the topics vital to trial practice in the Superior Court. You will benefit from the expertise of dozens of lawyers and judges, on topics such as developing top-notch trial advocacy techniques, navigating Rule 9 and its many details, perfecting discovery through your motions practice, presenting and excluding evidence at trial, and understanding the many requirements of dispositive motions. Ethics commentary, judicial insight, ADR perspectives are featured.

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Massachusetts Basic Forms - MCLE
Call Number: Law Compact, KFM2480 .M266 2007 (CD)
This forms manual is intended to accompany the Massachusetts Basic Practice Manual.

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Massachusetts Basic Practice Manual - MCLE
MCLE's Massachusetts Basic Practice Manual gives you immediate access to your own instant law library in the most important areas of solo and small firm practice—over 1,200 pages of substantive law and practice guidance. Compiled for attorneys who practice in multiple areas, this includes citations to the most important statutes and cases, procedural requirements, checklists, step-by-step explanations of how to handle problem areas, sample forms, and much more.

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Massachusetts Pleading and Practice: Forms and Commentary - LexisNexis
Call Number: Law Stacks, KFM2930 .S95; available in Lexis
This looseleaf covers all aspects of civil practice in the Massachusetts courts, with special emphasis on the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure. The publication is organized numerically by Rule, and Rules are set out in their entirety. Each of the Rules is thoroughly analyzed and explained. Expert commentary provides practical guidance and practice pointers for day-to-day implementation. Corresponding forms and commentary are grouped together allowing all relevant forms and authorities to be found in one research step. Forms cover every aspect of legal practice, complaints, defenses, counterclaims, cross-claims, verdicts and more. Includes complete Massachusetts case and statutory authority, with useful comparisons to federal practice First published in 1974.

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Handbook of Civil Procedure in the Massachusetts District Court - Marc G. Perlin
Call Number: Law Compact, KFM2930 .P48 1990
2013 4th edition is available through inter-library loan. It provides all the details of District Court civil procedure at your fingertips. It allows you to take advantage of all the procedural options that can speed your plaintiff's case – or maximize your defense, to avoid missteps that can cause procedural confusion, unproductive delays and needless trips to court and to effectively navigate your way to the best result possible for your client.

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