Massachusetts Civil Procedure Rule 27: Depositions Before Action or Pending Appeal
(1) Petition. A person who desires to perpetuate his own testimony or that of another person regarding any matter that may be cognizable in any court where these rules apply may file a verified petition in the Superior Court in the county or District Court in the judicial district, as the case may be, of the residence of any expected adverse party. The petition shall be entitled in the name of the petitioner and shall show: 1, that the petitioner expects to be a party to an action cognizable in a court where these rules apply but is presently unable to bring it or cause it to be brought, 2, the subject matter of the expected action and his interest therein, 3, the facts which he desires to establish by the proposed testimony and his reasons for desiring to perpetuate it, 4, the names or a description of the persons he expects will be adverse parties and their addresses so far as known, and 5, the names and addresses of the persons to be examined and the substance of the testimony which he expects to elicit from each, and shall ask for an order authorizing the petitioner to take the depositions of the persons to be examined named in the petition, for the purpose of perpetuating their testimony.
(2) Notice and Service. The petitioner shall thereafter serve a notice upon each person named in the petition as an expected adverse party, together with a copy of the petition, stating that the petitioner will apply to the court, at a time and place named therein, for the order described in the petition. At least 20 days before the date of hearing the notice shall be served either within or without the Commonwealth in the manner provided in Rule 4 for service of summons; but if such service cannot with due diligence be made upon any expected adverse party named in the petition, the court may make such order as is just for service by publication or otherwise, and shall appoint, for persons not served in the manner provided in Rule 4, an attorney who shall represent them, and, in case they are not otherwise represented, shall cross-examine the deponent. If any expected adverse party is a minor or incompetent, or an incapacitated person as defined in G.L. c.190B the provisions of Rule 17(b) apply.
(3) Order and Examination. If the court is satisfied that the perpetuation of the testimony may prevent a failure or delay of justice, it shall make an order designating or describing the persons whose depositions may be taken and specifying the subject matter of the examination and whether the depositions shall be taken upon oral examination or written interrogatories. The depositions may then be taken in accordance with these rules; and the court may make orders of the character provided for by Rules 34 and 35. For the purpose of applying these rules to depositions for perpetuating testimony, each reference therein to the court in which the action is pending shall be deemed to refer to the court in which the petition for such deposition was filed.
(4) Use of Deposition. If a deposition to perpetuate testimony is taken under these rules or if, although not so taken, it would be admissible in evidence in the courts of the Commonwealth, it may be used in any action involving the same subject matter subsequently brought in such a court, in accordance with the provisions of Rule 32(a).
(b) Pending Appeal. If an appeal has been taken from a judgment of a court of this Commonwealth or before the taking of an appeal if the time therefor has not expired, the court in which the judgment was rendered may allow the taking of the depositions of witnesses to perpetuate their testimony for use in the event of further proceedings in that court. In such case the party who desires to perpetuate the testimony may make a motion in that court for leave to take the depositions, upon the same notice and service thereof as if the action was pending in that court. The motion shall show (1) the names and addresses of persons to be examined and the substance of the testimony which he expects to elicit from each; (2) the reasons for perpetuating their testimony. If the court finds that the perpetuation of the testimony is proper to avoid a failure or delay of justice, it may make an order allowing the depositions to be taken and may make orders of the character provided for by Rules 34 and 35, and thereupon the depositions may be taken and used in the same manner and under the same conditions as are prescribed in these rules for depositions taken in pending actions.
Amended May 3, 1996, effective July 1, 1996; amended June 24, 2009, effective July 1, 2009.
Reporter's Notes (2009): The 2009 amendments reflect changes resulting from the adoption of the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code.
(1996) Rule 27(a)(1) has been amended to add a reference to the District Court in the relevant judicial district to take into account the applicability of the Rules to the District Court and Boston Municipal Court.
(1973) Rule 27, substantially tracking Federal Rule 27, regulates the taking of depositions for a purpose other than discovery, i.e., for preservation of testimony before an action is commenced, or for a similar purpose after trial, but during the pendency of an appeal. Rule 27 supersedes GL c. 233, §§ 46- 63. Rule 27 contains no provision for recording the deposition in the Registry of Deeds (or anywhere else); compare practice under GL c. 233, § 50. The major substantive difference between Rule 27 and prior practice is that under Rule 27(a) (3), a deposition may not be taken unless a court determines that the perpetuation of testimony "may prevent a failure or delay of justice". Under GL c. 233, § 46, no similar determination had to be made; the person desiring to perpetuate testimony merely applied in writing to a justice of the peace and a notary public (or any two justices or notaries) requesting them to take the deposition.