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Civil Procedure: Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure

This research guide is designed to provide research starting points for 1Ls doing civil procedure research at the Northeastern University School of Law.

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.  These lower courts are the Appeals Court, an intermediate appellate court, and the Trial Court.  The Trial Court has seven departments, including the 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.

 

Secondary Sources

Primary Sources

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

Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure freely available at:

  • Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries:        
    • ​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, and city/town bylaws.  You can search for laws by subject and by source. 
  • Office of Reporter of Decisions
    • The official website of the Report of Decisions of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) and the Appeals Court.  This website contains slip onions, Opinion Archive (1002-), unpublished decisions, and Advance Sheets - (1) the opinions of the two appellate courts with head; (2) the SJC orders; (3) Rule 1:28 decisions; and (4) the amendments to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, Criminal Procedure, Appellate Procedure, and SJC.  Advance Sheets are available to subscribers only.  You can search decisions by release date, parties, docket number, and keywords with Boolean connectors.

Cases

The above databases contain many cases from MA courts regarding civil procedure.  Below are some print materials, including court reporters, that you might find useful as you research issues on MA civil procedure law.

Legal Newspapers

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly: (also available on Westlaw)

  • Subscription required. 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, and bar-discipline notices.  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, and the Boston Bar Association.

Law Reviews and Journals

The following Law Reviews and Law Journals will be useful to find 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, and Western New England Law Review.  You can search for specific issues, topics, or browse using the above databases.  In addition, the following publications contain Massachusetts-specific information.