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Massachusetts Civil Procedure Rule 80: Stenographic Report or Transcript

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(a) Courts Other Than District Court: Evidence in Subsequent Trial. Whenever the testimony of a witness at a trial or hearing which was officially stenographically reported is admissible in evidence at a later trial, it may be proved by the transcript thereof duly certified by the person who reported the testimony.

(b) Courts Other Than District Court: Part of Record on Appeal. A transcript, duly certified by the person officially reporting the testimony, shall be considered part of the record on appeal. The trial court need not appoint said person a commissioner to report the evidence.

(c) District Court: Stenographers. The appointment of stenographers in District Court proceedings shall be in accordance with the applicable statute. Whenever the testimony of a witness at a trial or hearing which was officially stenographically reported is admissible in evidence at a later trial, it may be proved by the transcript thereof duly certified by the person who reported the testimony. Subject to the discretion of the court, parties may be permitted to record stenographically the proceedings in civil actions at their own expense.

(d) District Court: Sound Recording Devices. The use of sound recording devices to record civil proceedings shall be governed by Rule 114 of the District/Municipal Courts Supplemental Rules of Civil Procedure.

Amended May 3, 1996, effective July 1, 1996; amended November 28, 2007, effective March 1, 2008.

Reporter's Notes

(2008) Rule 80(c), dealing with stenographic reports in the District Court, has been amended in light of the following language in the statewide one-trial law (see G.L. c. 218, s. 19B(d)):

(d) The justice presiding at the jury of 6 session may, upon the request of a party, appoint a stenographer; provided, however, that where the party claims indigency, the appointment is determined to be reasonably necessary in accordance with chapter 261; and provided, further, that the court electronic recording system is not available or not properly functioning....The request for the appointment of a stenographer to preserve the testimony at a trial shall be given to the clerk of the court by a party, in writing, no later than 48 hours before the proceeding for which the stenographer has been requested....The original recording of proceedings in a district court or in the Boston municipal court made with a recording device under the exclusive control of the court shall be the official record of the proceedings....

(1996) New sections (c) and (d) have been added to Rule 80 as result of the merger of the District Court rules into the Mass.R.Civ.P. and sections (a) and (b) have been retitled. As amended, Rule 80(a) and (b) now are applicable in all courts other than the District Court. Rule 80(c) adopts for District Court proceedings the provisions contained in now-repealed Rule 80(a) of the Dist./Mun.Cts.R.Civ.P., while Rule 80(d) adopts for District Court proceedings the provisions of Rule 80(b) of the Dist./Mun.Cts.R.Civ.P. The "Comments" to now-repealed Rule 80 of the Dist./Mun.Cts.R.Civ.P. explain the significance of the different provisions for District Court proceedings:

This rule totally rewrites Rule 80 of the MRCP. Since no "official" stenographers are used in the District Courts, paragraph (a) [now (c) ] has been revised merely to allow the use of stenographers. The use to which the resulting record may be put is not dealt with by this rule. The swearing of the stenographer may be added merely to formalize the procedure.

Paragraph (b) [now (d)] has dropped the MRCP discussion of how the record may be proved. Instead, paragraph (b) [now (d) ] of this rule deals with the use of mechanical sound recording devices, and does so merely by referring to Rule 114 of the District/Municipal Courts Supplemental Rules of Civil Procedure which covers the topic.

(1973) Rule 80(a) is similar both in wording and import to G.L. c. 233, § 80 and G.L. c. 221, § 91C. It aims to abolish the requirement set forth in G.L. c. 214, § 24 and Super.Ct. Rule 76 (applicable to equity cases) that in order to make the report of the evidence available on appeal to the full bench, the court must formally appoint the stenographer a commissioner to report the evidence. See Thayer Company v. Binnall, 326 Mass. 467, 482-483, 95 N.E.2d 193, 202-203 (1950); Price v. Price, 348 Mass. 663, 665, 204 N.E.2d 902, 904 (1965).