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Massachusetts District Court Joint Standing Order 2-04: Time Standards for Civil Cases



These time standards are promulgated to provide judges and clerk-magistrates with specific maximum time periods within which civil cases (1) should progress between court events and (2) should be disposed. The purpose of these time standards is to promote timely disposition of civil cases and to provide a basis for assessing the movement of civil cases from commencement to disposition in each division of the two departments in which they apply.

The time standards are divided into three categories, each comprised of specific types of civil actions ("casetypes") and each governed by a specific standard for a maximum time to disposition.

In general, these three time standard categories reflect the complexity (or potential complexity) of the casetypes each includes, with the least complex in Category A, the more complex in Category B, and the most complex (or potentially complex) in Category C.

The casetypes in Category A consist mainly of actions that by law must be disposed well within the two-month maximum. For these cases the time standard will provide a basis for periodically confirming that no cases are unaccounted for or overlooked.

Two casetypes in Category B, summary process and small claims, have "staircased" time standards to reflect the fact that significant numbers of these cases should be disposed well before their overall maximum time to disposition.

Category C, which consists of tort and contract actions, also has "staircased" time standards to reflect the fact that most of these cases should be disposed well before the overall maximum time limit.


CATEGORY A — Time to Disposition: Upon Filing or Not more than 2 months from commencement

CATEGORY B — Time to Disposition: Not more than 4 months from commencement

CATEGORY C — Tort and Contract Actions

C-1 Time to Disposition: Not more than 6 months from commencement

75% of Total Dispositions

C-2 Time to Disposition: Not more than 12 months from commencement

20% of Total Dispositions

C-3 Time to Disposition: Not more than 18 months from commencement

5% of Total Dispositions

Maximum Intervals Between Court Events:


Non-Motor Vehicle Civil Infractions (Category B) include:

Judicial Review of Administrative Decisions (Category B) includes:

Other Specialized Civil Actions (Category B) include:

Originally Promulgated: October 1, 2004, to be effective November 1, 2004 Amended: July 1, 2008 for cases filed on and after January 1, 2008.