CIVIL PROCEDURE IN MASSACHUSETTS
Civil Practice and Procedure in Massachusetts refers to the progress of civil matters through the state court system. It is mainly governed by the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure. In addition, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapters 223-232 also treat civil procedure in the courts:
Chapter 223 - Commencement of actions, service of process
Chapter 223A - Jurisdiction of courts of the commonwealth over persons in other states and countries
Chapter 224 - Arrest on mesne process and supplementary proceedings in civil actions
Chapter 227 - Proceedings against absent defendants and upon insufficient service
Chapter 228 - Survival of actions and death and disabilities of parties
Chapter 229 - Actions for death and injuries resulting in death
Chapter 230 - Actions by and against executors and administrators
Chapter 231 - Pleading and practice
Chapter 231A - Procedure for declaratory judgments
Chapter 231B - Contribution among joint tortfeasors
Chapter 232A - Tender
Chapter 233 - Witnesses and evidence
Chapter 234 - Juries
Chapter 234A - Office of the jury commissioner for the commonwealth
Chapter 235 - Judgment and execution
Chapter 236 - Levy of executions on land.
Litigation Research App (Suffolk Law School's Institute on Law Practice Technology)
Links to Federal, State and Legal Research sources.
Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure - The Rules
There are databases of Massachusetts Court Rules on Westlaw, Lexis, and LOIS. There is also a "Rules of Court" database on the Social Law Online Databases site. On Westlaw, the Court Rules database is MA-RULES. To isolate the Rules of Civil Procedure, include the following in your search : CI("Rules of Civil Procedure"), where CI is the field name for Citation. So, for example, to find Rule 28 on Westlaw, search: CI("Rules of Civil Procedure" & 28). On Lexis, go into the Massachusetts Rules of Court database and isolate the rules of civil procedure by entering: heading("Rules of Civil Procedure"). In order to find Rule 28 on Lexis, you should enter heading("Rules of Civil Procedure") and Cite(28). On both the Social Law database and the LOIS databases, you can select a "Rules of Civil Procedure" database and search the text, or by rule number.
Massachusetts Rules of Court – State . St. Paul, MN : West Publishing. Annual.
This is one of the more familiar places to find the rules. There are two volumes in this "Set," a state and a federal volume. The state volume collects all of the Massachusetts Rules of Court, including the Rules of Civil Procedure. It also includes copies of the more important forms for civil practice and procedure. There is a consolidated index for all of them.
Massachusetts Civil Actions and Procedure. St. Paul, MN : The West Group. Annual
Includes the Rules of Civil Procedure, supplemental rules and special rules for the district courts and the appellate division, and a number of other rules significant to Civil Procedure. It, too, includes copies of the more important civil practice forms. Finally, it includes copies of the Massachusetts General Laws that deal with civil matters, specifially chapters 223-236.
The Rules : a rules service for Massachusetts, containing civil and criminal rules for state and federal courts . Edited by Marc Perlin. Boston, Mass. : Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Looseleaf, updated several times per year.
This looseleaf service collects all of the Massachusetts Rules of Court, both state and federal. It is updated several times per year, and so it can be more current than the annual paperbound copy. It also provides a substantial forms appendix, which includes forms for civil practice in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts General Laws Annotated : Court Rules volumes. St. Paul, MN : The West Group, 1992, updated by annual pocket parts.
The rules contained in MGLA have the advantage of being extensively annotated. The current hardcover volumes were published in 1992, with 2001 pocket parts, and include a detailed index to the rules.
Annotated Laws of Massachusetts – Court Rules Supplement . Charlottesville, VA : Lexis Law Publishing, annual
Like the West volumes noted above, the rules contained in ALM are extensively annotated. These volumes are updated annually, and include a consolidated "Rules of Court" index.
Rules Practice by James Smith and Hiller Zobel. St. Paul, MN : The West Group, 2006 with 2009 pocket part. Volumes 6-8A of Massachusetts Practice.
This is really reprint of the Massachsuetts Rules of Civil Procedure and Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure extensively annotated, including practice commentaries, reporters notes, law review and case references.
Civil Practice and Procedure Guides - General
Handbook of Civil Procedure in the Massachusetts District Courts, 4th edition . By Marc G. Perlin and John M. Connors. Boston, Mass. : Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, 2009.
One of the best guides to Civil Practice in Massachusetts. The book is divided into three main parts: Part one deals with Tort and Contract actions, Part Two deals with other types of civil matters, e.g. zoning appeals, summary process, etc. Part Three consists of 20 appendices, including selected forms, a variety of civil rules, selected statutes and regulations, and standing court orders. It is clearly and concisely written, exceptionally well indexed, and kept up to date by regular, annual supplements. A truly invaluable guide to Civil Practice in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Superior Court Civil Practice Manual, 2d ed. Edited by Hon. Paul A. Chernoff and Bruce T. Eisenhut. Boston, Mass. MCLE, 2008.
Consists of individually authored chapters that deal with practical matters before the Superior Court. The Manual serves as a guide to the practical application of the Rules of Superior Court, and the Rules of Civil Procedure. The chapters are specific and succinct - in all, a very useful manual. NB: there is a companion volume to this text : Massachusetts Superior Court Civil Practice Forms , which follows the same outline, and provides copies of essential forms.
Civil Practice by Joseph R. Nolan. St. Paul, MN : The West Group, 3rd ed.2004, with a 2008 pocket part. Volumes 9 and 9A of Massachusetts Practice.
A very well done practical guide to all aspects of civil procedure basesd on the statues, court rules, and caselaw. The text is broken into ten broad parts: The Court System, Jurisdiction and Venue, Parties, Process, Pleadings and Motions, Depositions and Discovery, Trial Procedure, Appellate Review, Probate and Divorce Proceedings, and Miscellaneous Proceedings. These parts are broken into 52 very specific, practice-oriented chapters.
Civil Practice and Procedure Guides - Summary Judgment
Massachusetts Summary Judgment and Related Termination Motions. by Erin Carlson. Massachusetts Practice Volume 55, Thomson/West, 2008.
Contains a very good overview of the tactical considerations in moving for Summary Judgment, as well as a thorough guide to the procedure.
Civil Practice and Procedure Guides - Deposition Practice
Massachusetts Deposition Practice Manual by Edited by Hon. Peter M. Lauriat. Boston, Mass. : MCLE, 2006.
Consists of individually authored articles dealing with a variety of aspects of taking depositions, including pre- and post-deposition motions, using depositions in civil litigation, audiovisual depositions, and deposing medical experts, technical experts and accountants. Includes a number of sample motions within the text, and on an accompanying disk.
Civil Practice and Procedure Guides - Jury Instructions
Massachusetts Superior Court Civil Practice Jury Instructions edited by Hon. Patrick F. Brady…et al. Boston, Mass : MCLE, 2d ed. 2008. CD-ROM contains forms on disc.
Includes sample jury instructions for over 24 different situations including employment discrimination, wrongful death, product liabiliyt, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The sample instructions are varied and get very specific. They are also well annotated. The disk includes the instructions, and a number of sample forms. The entire text is also available in Westlaw, Lexis, and the subscription MCLE Library.
Massachusetts Jury Instructions - Civil by John M. Greaney..et al. Charlottesville, VA : Lexis Law Publishing, 1997 Supplemented 1999.
Very similar to the above text, though this one contains more sample Voir Dire questions. There is more editorial information and commentary in this volume, including a good introduction which discusses Voir Dire, and jury empanelment generally. The entire text is also available on Lexis.
Civil Practice and Procedure Guides - Forms
Massachusetts Pleading and Practice - Forms and Commentary, 1990 with 2008 supplement. One copy on Reserve and one set in Massachusetts Reading Room.
Arranged by Civil Rule number, includes many many standard forms for complaints, motions, pleadings, etc., with good, succinct analysis. In addition to being arranged by civil rule, there is also a very good index. This is an outstanding forms book, with good commentary, convenient arrangement, and a wide variety of sample forms. It is available on Lexis, under: Massachusetts/Treatieses and analytical Materials/Matthew Bender.
Massachusetts Litigation Forms and Analysis , 1995 with 2006 supplement. One Copy on Reserve, One in the Massachusetts Reading Room
Another Massachusetts forms book that includes over 900 forms, and commentary on each. Again, there is an enormous variety of forms, from complaints to motions to orders, each with commentary. The commentary is also very good - similar to Mass. Pleading and Practice Forms. Though it is not arranged by civil rule number, there is a pretty good index.
Procedural Forms Annotated by Robert M. Rodman. St. Paul, MN : The West Group, 1990, with 2008 pocket part.
Includes an enormous number of forms covering all Rules of Civil Procedure and related statutes. In addition to the forms, the volume contains the text of the rules, authors comments following the individual forms, and annotations. The volume is also available on Westlaw and the Westlaw Patron Access Terminal.
Massachusets Superior Court Civil Practice Forms . Boston, Mass. : MCLE,
See the description for the Massachusetts Superior Court Civil Practice Manual above.
Last updated June 23, 2009
Compilation of sources and web design by Brian Flaherty, Reference Librarian
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