Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Jun. 5, 2008
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News from the SJC: Decisions pursuant to Rule 1:28 now available online; Middlesex Law Library temporarily closed

Appeals Court modified long-standing policy prohibiting the citation of its unpublished decisions

On Feb. 25, 2008 the Massachusetts Appeals Court modified its long-standing policy prohibiting the citation of its unpublished decisions. The change was announced in footnote 4 of Chace v. Curran, 71 Mass. App. Ct. 258 (2008), an opinion authored by Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza, in which he stated that “[a] summary decision pursuant to Rule 1:28, issued after the date of this opinion may be cited for its persuasive value but . . . not as binding precedent.”

Since the announcement of the policy change, nearly 300 unpublished Appeals Court decisions have been released. Rapoza stated recently that “thanks to the cooperation of the Reporter’s Office, such decisions are now available in a searchable database to which the public has access.” All unpublished decisions issued since Feb. 25, the effective date of the policy change, have been posted at, the Web site of the office of the Massachusetts Reporter of Decisions. Future summary decisions pursuant to Rule 1:28 will also be available online at that location.

In the past, unpublished Appeals Court decisions were provided to the parties, but were otherwise not widely available, which was one of the reasons for limiting their use. According to Rapoza, the posting of such decisions at the Reporter’s Web site facilitates the court’s change in citation policy because of the broader public access that it provides. Moreover, the decisions are now searchable by docket number, release date, party name, and word or phrase. The service is available at no cost to the public.

Middlesex Law Library closed for move
On Tuesday, May 27, the Middlesex Law Library in Cambridge closed as staff prepares for the move to its new location at 200 Trade Center, 3rd floor in Woburn. An official opening date has not yet been announced.
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