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Extensions of Court Orders Regarding Impact of COVID-19 in Massachusetts

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| Legal Advisory

Yesterday, the Supreme Judicial Court issued an order updating the status of operations of the state courts. This order confirms that the judiciary will continue to grapple with the implications of the worldwide pandemic as we head into the summer months. We will continue to monitor the various orders that relate to the impact of COVID-19 on both state and federal courts here in the Commonwealth. Summarized below are some of the key current restrictions on access to our courts.

Massachusetts Trial Courts

  • All trials—in both criminal and civil cases—scheduled to begin between March 13 and July 1, 2020 are continued to a date no earlier than July 1, 2020, unless the trial is a bench trial in a civil matter and may be conducted otherwise than in person by agreement of the parties and the court.
  • At least until June 1, 2020, the only in-person proceedings being held in Massachusetts state courthouses will be to address emergency matters that cannot be resolved through a videoconference or telephonic hearing.
  • The trial courts will identify categories of non-emergency matters that they will attempt to address virtually where it is practicable to do so.
  • It should be noted that the Supreme Judicial Court has tolled all statutes of limitation from March 17 through May 31, 2020. Moreover, all deadlines set forth in statutes or court rules, standing orders, or guidelines that would expire on or before June 1, 2020 have been extended to a date no earlier than June 1, 2020.

Massachusetts Court of Appeals

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

  • All jury trials and all trial-specific deadlines in criminal matters scheduled to begin before May 29, 2020 have been continued until further notice.
  • Criminal proceedings, except those where personal liberty and/or public safety issues are immediately implicated, have been continued for 60 days.
  • Certain criminal proceedings may be conducted by videoconferencing or, if necessary, telephone conferencing.
  • In civil matters, video and teleconference hearings are highly encouraged. These hearings are being made available to the public by signing up through an automated sigh-up tool through the court’s website.

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

  • There are currently no oral arguments calendared for May 2020.
  • The First Circuit appears to be handling extensions of deadlines on a case-by-case basis.

This advisory was prepared by Heather Repicky and Haley Grissom in the Litigation Department. For more information, please contact Heather, Haley, or your Nutter attorney at 617.439.2000.

This update is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. Under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered as advertising.

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