Issue February 2010

Change to Supplemental Rules of Civil Procedure

The Supreme Judicial Court approved the repeal of Rules 116, 140 and 150 of the District/Municipal Courts Supplemental Rules of Civil Procedure effective Jan. 1, 2010.

District Court Chief Justice Lynda M. Connolly and Boston Municipal Court Chief Justice Charles R. Johnson proposed the changes in October, stating that they were no longer needed because there are no pending legacy cases to which the rules would apply.

Proposed amendment to Mass. Rules of Criminal Procedure

The Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure invites comments on proposed amendments to Rule 14 and Rule 23 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The proposal eliminates Rule 23 on the ground that the 2004 revision of Rule 14 has made it largely irrelevant. It incorporates what remains of Rule 23's discovery obligation into Rule 14 by expanding the definition of a statement in Rule 14(d).

The proposal also updates Rule 14 in two respects to conform to case law that has created additional discovery obligations. Subsection 14(b)(2) has been expanded to include defenses raising an issue of the defendant's mental condition outside of the context of a defense of lack of mental responsibility, in line with Commonwealth v. Ostrander, 441 Mass. 344, 352 (2004), Commonwealth v. Contos, 435 Mass. 19 (2001) and Commonwealth v. Diaz, 431 Mass. 822 (2000).

In addition, a new subsection, Rule 14(b)(4), has been added to implement the requirement of Commonwealth v. Adjutant, 443 Mass. 649 (2005) that imposes a discovery obligation when the defense intends to introduce evidence of the victim's specific acts of violence to support a claim that the victim was the first aggressor.

The committee welcomes all comments pertaining to the issues raised by this proposal and will make recommendations to the SJC after reviewing the comments submitted.