Overall Structure of the Massachusetts Court Systems
Kelly Nicole Huntress
Introduction to Paralegal 1003-21
The Overall Structure of the Massachusetts Court System
The Massachusetts Court System consists of the Supreme Judicial Court, an Appeals Court, and several Trial Courts: The Boston Municipal Court Department, District Court Department, Housing Court Department, Juvenile Court Department, Land Court Department, Probate and Family Department, and the Superior Court Department.
The Supreme Judicial Court is the Commonwealth’s highest appellate court, and consists of a chief justice as well as six associate justices. These justices are appointed by the governor with the consent of executive counsel, and hold office until the mandatory retirement age of seventy-years old; which is true for all Massachusetts judges. The Court hears a wide variety of both civil and criminal cases from the months of September to May, and is responsible for appellate functions, general superintendence of the judiciary and the bar, and also makes or approves rules for operations of all courts within the state. Upon request, the Court also handles provides advisory opinions to the Governor and legislature on various legal issues.
The Appeals Court is the Court of general appellate jurisdiction, and it handles most appeals of the several Trial Court departments, however some appeals are transferred to the Supreme Judicial Court. The Court has jurisdiction over final decisions of three state agencies: the Appellate Tax Board, the Department of Industrial Accidents, and the Commonwealth. There are twenty-five statutory justices in the Appeals Court.
Finally, there are the several departments of the Massachusetts Trial Courts, and their jurisdiction is as follows:
1.) Boston Municipal Court Department: Criminal jurisdiction includes most offenses that do not require the imposition of a prison sentence. It also has original jurisdiction over a number of felonies...