Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Comments Sought on Proposed Amendment to Appellate Procedure Rule 4

The SJC 's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure seeks comments by April 27 on a  proposed amendment to Mass. R. A. P. 4(a) dealing with post judgment motions.  
"The proposed amendment addresses the motions that toll the time period for appeals.  The amended section states that motions to alter or amend judgment under Rule 59 or motions for relief from judgment, however titled, would stay the time for taking an appeal as long as the motions are served within ten days after entry of judgment.  The amendment makes clear that the substance and not the title of the motion should control.  As stated in the Reporter's Notes, "a post-judgment motion seeking to correct an error of law, whether titled as a motion to alter, amend, or vacate, for relief from judgment, or for reconsideration, if served within ten days, will extend the running of the time period to file a notice of appeal." 
"The Committee solicits and welcomes comments from the bar prior to presenting its recommendation to the Rules Committee of the Supreme Judicial Court .  Comments should be directed to Christine Burak, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston 02108 or to christine.burak@sjc.state.ma.us on or before April 27, 2012. " 

Mass. Guide to Evidence Ebook

We heard you! After requests from many readers, we have added another ebook to the Mass. Court Rules collection: the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence. This is the complete text of the Guide to Evidence formatted for your mobile device or ebook reader. If you haven't used one of our ebooks before, start with the directions. If you already know how it works, just get the file. We hope you'll find it useful, and as always, feel free to send us questions or comments.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Comments Sought on Proposed Changes to Civil Rules 5, 54, 55

The Supreme Judicial Court is soliciting comments on proposed changes to Mass. Rules of Civil Procedure 5, 54, and 55. The proposed amendments are a response to the SJC's decision in Hermanson v. Szafarowicz, 457 Mass. 39 (2010).

"The Hermanson case dealt with G.L. c. 231, § 13B, which prohibits a demand for a specific monetary amount in a complaint (unless the damages "are liquidated or ascertainable by calculation and a statement under oath" accompanies the complaint) and the first sentence of Mass. R. Civ. P. 54(c), which provides that a default judgment may not exceed the amount requested in the demand for judgment.
"The Court ruled that there was an "irreconcilable conflict" between the statute and the court rule, and accordingly, the statute prevailed over the rule. As a result, the language of Rule 54( c) that provided for a ceiling on the amount of a default judgment that may enter against a defendant was rendered ineffective. The Court noted, however, that the ineffective first sentence of Rule 54( c) served the "sound" policy of allowing a defendant, served with a complaint, to make a reasoned decision whether it might be financially worth a default rather than defending the case."
 After review, the Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure
"recommended to the Court, and the Court adopted, an approach that requires the party seeking a default judgment to provide advance notice to the defendant of the nature and type of damages sought that are not a sum certain. This approach required amendments to three rules: Rules 5(a), 54(c), and 55(b)(2)."
Comments on the proposed amendments should be sent to Christine Burak, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston 02108 or to christine.burak@sjc.state.ma.us on or before April 27, 2012.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mass. Rules of Court in E-Book Format

We are delighted to announce that we have reformatted Massachusetts court rules as eBooks, so that you can use them even when you don't have Internet access. Thus far, we have the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Appellate Procedure and Domestic Relations Procedure. The files are available for no charge in both epub and kindle formats.  See our eBooks page for links to the rules and directions for downloading.

Because this is a new project for us, we are asking for feedback. In particular, we need information on the installation process. While we have installed the files on our own personal devices (and those of our family members), the process has been slightly different in each situation, so we need more data points to help us improve directions for the public. Please send comments to meg (dot) hayden (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks!