Massachusetts State Courts

Courts – State Courts – Massachusetts

Highest Court

Supreme Judicial Court
The Supreme Judicial Court consists of 5 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Mandatory Jurisdiction in civil, criminal, judge disciplinary, advisory opinion, and original proceeding cases. (2) Discretionary jurisdiction in civil, criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, and interlocutory decision cases.

Intermediate Courts

Appeals Court
The Appeals Court consists of 14 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) mandatory jurisdiction in civil, criminal, administrative agency,  juvenile, and interlocutory decision cases.

General Courts

Superior Court
The Superior Court consists of 80 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) tort, contract, real property rights, civl appeals, miscellaneous civil. (2) Felony, and miscellaneous criminal.
Jury trials are overseen by this court.

District Court
The District Court consists of 172 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) tort, contract, real property rights ($0/no maximum), small claims ($2,000), support/custody, paternity, domestic violence, mental health, civil trial court appeals, and miscellaneous civil. (2) Felony, misdemeanor, SWI/DUI, and  criminal appeals. (3) Traffic/other violation. (4) Juvenile. (5) Preliminary hearings.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Boston Municipal Court
The Boston Municipal Court consists of 11 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) tort, contract, real property rights ($0/no maximum), small claims ($1,500), support/custody, paternity, domestic violence, mental health, civil trial court appeals, and miscellaneous civil.(2) felony, misdemeanor, SWI/DUI, and criminal appeals. (3) traffic/other violations.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Limited Courts

Juvenile Court
The Juvenile Court consists of 39 judges.  It has jurisdiction over juvenile.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Housing Court
The Housing Court consists of 9 judges.  It has jurisdiction over (1) real property rights and small claims ($1,500) (2) Misdemeanor. (3)  preliminary hearings.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Land Court
The Land Court consists of 4 judges.  It has jurisdiction over real property rights.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Probate and Family Court
The Probate and Family Court consists of 49 judges. It has jurisdiction over support/custody, paternity, domestic violence, and miscellaneous civil. Exclusive marriage dissolution, adoption, and  estate jurisdiction.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Additional Information

Conferences of judges
The Supreme Judicial Court Justices may order the holding of a conferences of the judges of the various court and invited members of the bar to consider matters relating to judicial business, the improvement of the judicial system, and the administration of justice.
(Mass. General Laws  Chapter 211: Section 3B)

Questions of law; hearing by full court
The full court shall be hear and determine questions of law arising form exceptions, report, or appeal.
(Mass. General Laws  Chapter 211: Section 5)

Judgment or rescript after decision
After answering submitted questions, the full court  may:   (1) make and enter a proper order, direction, or judgment for the further disposition of the case,  (2) cause a rescript  to be filed therein, (3) remand the record to the trial court to carry the judgment into effect, (4)order a new trial or further proceedings of the bar of the supreme judicial court, or (5)order sentence to be awarded or executed in the said court.  (Mass. General Laws  Chapter 211: Section 8)

Leave of absence for study, research, etc.; restrictions
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court may grant a leave of absence for study, research, teaching, or other appropriate reason to a Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. The Chief Justice, in consultation with the other justices, shall establish the standards and procedures for such leaves.  The leave is limited to one year, in which the justice will not receive pay, but the absence shall be counted toward retirement.  The justice may not take this leave until their seventh year as a justice and only one year for every seven years served afterward. The justice is unable to take the said leave within a year of retirement.   Also, the justice shall be considered an active employee concerning life insurance and health plans and will still be under the statutory requirements and rules of court pertaining to justice.  (Mass. General Laws  Chapter 211: Section 28)

Special jury sittings for criminal business
A special jury may be ordered by the chief justice for criminal business.  A written order to the sheriff shall outline the time and location it is the be held.  No person under recognizance to answer to an indictment or criminal complaint shall appear at the special jury, unless duly notified by written summons from the clerk. (Mass. General Laws  Chapter 212: Section 21)

Change of venue
If before the final judgment or decree in a proceeding pending in a probate court, it is discovered that the proceeding began in the wrong county, the court may move the proceeding to the correct county and all prior proceedings shall still be valid. (Mass. General Laws  Chapter 215: Section 8A)

Qualifications; exemptions
A juror is a person of either sex that is qualified to vote for a representative to the general court, whether registered to vote or not, except in the following cases or situations:  the person is a governor; lieutenant governor; members of the council; state secretary; members and officers of the senate and house of representatives during a session of the general court; judges and justices of a court; county commissioners; clerks of courts and assistant clerks and all regularly appointed officers of the courts of the United States and of the commonwealth; registers of probate and insolvency; registers of deeds; sheriffs and their deputies; constables; marshals of the United States and their deputies, and all other officers of the United States; attorneys at law; settled ministers of the gospel; officers of colleges; preceptors and teachers of incorporated academies; registered practicing physicians and surgeons; superintendents, officers and assistants employed in or about a state hospital, psychiatric hospital, jail, house of correction, state industrial school or state prison; teachers in public schools; enginemen and members of the fire department of Boston, and of other cities and towns in which such exemption has been made by vote of the city council or the inhabitants of the town; Christian Science practitioners and readers, respectively; trained nurses; assistants in hospitals; attendant nurses; members of religious orders.
Also, a parent or person that is responsible for the daily supervision of a child less than 15 years of age may have their name omitted from the list.  A person 70 or over may also choose not to be on the list of jurors. (Mass. General Laws  Chapter 234: Section 1)


Inside Massachusetts State Courts