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Recent Changes to Superior Court Rule 9A

Friday, January 22, 2016

By: Curtis B. Dooling

Superior Court Rule 9A governs the service and filing of all civil motions in the Massachusetts Superior Court. A thorough understanding of Rule 9A is essential to a successful litigation practice.

A recent change to Rule 9A that went into effect on January 1, 2016 has simplified the manner in which reply memoranda can be filed. Under the pre-January 1, 2016 version of Rule 9A(3), a moving party was required to seek leave of court to file a reply memorandum after receiving the opposition papers.

Under the newly enacted version, the moving party may file a reply brief without seeking leave of court in order to address “matters that were not and could not reasonably have been addressed in the moving party’s initial memorandum.” The reply memorandum is limited to five pages and is to be filed with the Rule 9A package.

Parties must still seek leave of court to file sur-replies, but the procedure to request leave of court has also been slightly changed. A request for leave of court to file a sur-reply must be in the form of a pleading, can be no longer than one page, and must be addressed to the session clerk.

These changes were put in place in an attempt to remove some confusion surrounding the correct way to request leave of court to file reply and sur-reply memoranda. Under the pre-January 1, 2016 version of the rule, it was unclear whether the moving party needed to provide the proposed reply memorandum to the court when requesting leave of court to file the reply. Some clerks and judges required this, while others didn’t.

Under the pre-January 1, 2016 version of the rule, it was also somewhat unclear to whom the request for leave of court should be addressed, resulting in delays in the filing of motions. If no response came from the judge before the Rule 9A filing deadline, reply memoranda were often filed after the Rule 9A package and were not received by the judge in a timely manner.

This change to Superior Court Rule 9A, although not monumental, nevertheless is important for litigators to understand and to follow. The change to the reply memorandum procedure is also an important step in streamlining Superior Court motion practice.


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