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Massachusetts Appellate Procedure
Rule 19: Filing and Serving of Briefs and Motions

[Disclaimer]

(a) Time for Serving and Filing Briefs. Except as provided in section (d) of this rule, and in Rule 11(g)(4) concerning the filing of briefs on direct appellate review, and in Rule 27.1(f) concerning the filing of briefs on further appellate review, the appellant shall serve and file his brief within 40 days after the date on which the appeal is docketed in the appellate court. The appellee shall serve and file his brief within thirty days after service of the brief of the appellant. The appellant may serve and file a reply brief within fourteen days after service of the brief of the appellee, but, except by leave of the appellate court or a single justice, for good cause shown, a reply brief must be filed at least three days before the first day of the sitting at which the case is in order for argument.

(b) Number of Copies to Be Filed and Served.

(1) Appeals Court. On appeals to the Appeals Court, seven copies of each brief shall be filed with the clerk, unless the court by order in a particular case shall direct a lesser number, and two copies shall be served on counsel for each party separately represented.

(2) Supreme Judicial Court. On appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court, an original and seventeen copies of each brief shall be filed with the clerk, unless the court by order in a particular case shall direct a lesser or greater number, and two copies shall be served on counsel for each party separately represented.

(3) Appeals transferred to the Supreme Judicial Court from the Appeals Court. In any appeal transferred to the full Supreme Judicial Court, in which briefs have already been filed in the Appeals Court, eleven additional copies of each brief shall be promptly filed with the clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court, unless the court by order in a particular case shall direct a lesser or greater number.

(c) Consequence of Failure to File Briefs. If an appellant fails to file his brief within the time provided by this rule, or within the time as extended, an appellee may move for dismissal of the appeal. If an appellee fails to file his brief, he will not be heard at oral argument except by permission of the appellate court.

(d) Rule for Appeals Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 278, sec. 33E.

(1) In the case of a direct appeal by an appellant who has been convicted of first degree murder, the appellant shall within one hundred and twenty days after the date on which the appeal is docketed in the Supreme Judicial Court: (1) serve and file the appellant's brief; (2) serve and file a motion for new trial; or (3) for good cause shown, seek a further enlargement of time for filing a brief or a motion for new trial. The commonwealth shall serve and file its brief within ninety days after service of the brief of the appellant. The appellant may serve and file a reply brief within the thirty days after service of the brief of the Commonwealth.

(2) If a motion for new trial is remanded to the Superior Court, the direct appeal of the conviction shall be stayed pending decision on the motion for new trial. The matter shall be heard and determined expeditiously in the Superior Court. The appellant shall file with the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for the Commonwealth status reports at thirty-day intervals. An appeal by the defendant from the denial of a motion for new trial shall be consolidated with the direct appeal. An appeal by the Commonwealth or by the defendant from the determination of a motion for new trial shall have the same docket number as the direct appeal. The Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for the Commonwealth shall establish a briefing schedule.

Amended May 15, 1979, effective July 1, 1979; amended effective February 1, 1991; July 1, 1991; amended October 30, 1997, effective January 1, 1998; amended July 28, 1999, effective October 1, 1999; amended February 26, 2004, effective April 1, 2004.