Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Superior Court Rule 9A

The Massachusetts Superior Court has amended Rule 9A effective March 2, 2009. The new rule includes substantial changes, particularly in its incorporation of new technologies. For example, the new rule requires parties to include email addresses on papers, and requires that "the statement of material facts shall be contemporaneously sent in electronic form by email to all parties against whom summary judgment is sought in order to facilitate the requirements of the following paragraph. The statement of material facts in electronic form shall be sent as an attachment to an email and shall be in Rich Text Format (RTF) unless the parties agree to use another word processing format."

This and all other Mass. court rules can be found at Massachusetts Rules of Court.

Criminal Jury Instructions Online

The Massachusetts District Court criminal model jury instructions are now available online in their entirety.  You can find a link to the instructions and other criminal procedure resources at our Mass. Law About Criminal Procedure page.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Uniform Probate Code

Last week, Massachusetts adopted the Uniform Probate Code, St.2008, c.521, resulting in major changes to current probate laws.  The new law repeals current chapters 189, 190 and 190A. According to the Mass. Bar Association,

"The reforms increase uniformity with other states, add protections for those under guardianship and the beneficiaries of trusts, eases the administration of probate matters for judges and court personnel and reduce delays for citizens. Among the changes are:
  •  Mandating courts to monitor guardianships and requiring guardians to issue annual reports.
  •  Shorten to seven days after the date of death (from as long as five months) the length of time it takes to appoint an estate administrator
  •  In the case of no will, the spouse gets the entire estate if the children are all of the marriage.
  •  Trustees will be required to notify beneficiaries of accountings and acceptance of appointment."
While some changes are effective July 1, 2009, most do not take effect until July 1, 2011. 

You can find links to this and other probate laws at Mass. Law About Wills and Estates. Remember, too, that you can always locate laws by name by using our Mass. Law by Popular Name table. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Self-Represented Litigants Report

The Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee on Self-Represented Litigants has released their report: Addressing the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants in Our Courts. The report focuses on six areas: (1) expanding access to legal representation ; (2) developing judicial guidelines and training programs ; (3) developing a resource and referral guide for self-represented litigants; (4) creating a handbook written by and for court staff that sets out principles for distinguishing legal information from legal advice; (5) investigating data collection methods; and (6) investigating physical and programmatic improvements that would make our courthouses more "user friendly."

This and other sources for and about self-represented litigants are linked from our Law About Self-Represented Litigants.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Marijuana Possession Law Effective Today

The new law decriminalizing the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, St.2008, c.387,  is effective today.  A great site provided by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security summarizes the law:

"As of January 2, possession of an ounce or less of marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) will be a civil offense, punishable by a civil penalty of $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana under a new Section 32L of chapter 94C of the Massachusetts General Laws.  Additional provisions apply to violators under the age of 18.  Records of this new civil offense (a “Section 32L violation ”) will not be entered into the criminal offender record information, or “CORI,” system. "

We've linked to this and several other  sources that explain or analyze the law on our  new page, Massachusetts Law About Marijuana Possession.