Massachusetts Appellate Procedure
Rule 22: Oral Argument
(a) Notice of Argument; Postponement. The clerk shall advise all parties of the time and place at which oral argument will be heard. A request for postponement of the argument must be made by motion filed reasonably in advance of the date fixed for hearing.
(b) Time Allowed for Argument. Unless otherwise enlarged or limited by the appellate court, each side will be allowed 15 minutes for argument, except in a criminal case in which the defendant is appealing a conviction of murder in the first degree, in which case each side will be allowed twenty minutes for argument. If counsel is of the opinion that additional time is necessary for the adequate presentation of the argument, counsel may request additional time for good cause shown. Requests may be made by letter addressed to the clerk reasonably in advance of the date fixed for the argument. The appellate court may terminate the argument whenever in its judgment further argument is unnecessary.
(c) Order and Content of Argument. Except as otherwise provided in Rule 27.1(g), the appellant will argue first and shall include a fair statement of the case. Counsel will not be permitted to read, except briefly, from briefs, records, prepared statements, records or authorities. The party making the opening argument on request may be allowed the opportunity to reply in writing to new matter in the arguments of his adversary.
(d) Cross and Separate Appeals. A cross or separate appeal shall be argued with the initial appeal at a single argument, unless the appellate court otherwise directs. If a case involves a cross appeal, the plaintiff in the action below shall be deemed the appellant for the purposes of this rule unless the parties otherwise agree or the court otherwise directs. If separate appellants support the same argument, care shall be taken to avoid duplication of argument.
(e) Non-appearance of Parties. If the appellee fails to appear to present argument, the appellate court will hear argument on behalf of the appellant, if present. If the appellant fails to appear, the court may hear argument on behalf of the appellee, if his counsel is present. If neither party appears, the case will be decided on the briefs unless the appellate court shall otherwise order.
(f) No Oral Argument by an Attorney Who Has Been a Witness Except by Leave of Court. No attorney shall be permitted to take part in the argument of a case in which he has been a witness for his client; except by special leave of court.
(g) Submission on Briefs. By agreement of the parties, a case may at any time be submitted for decision on the briefs, but the appellate court may direct that the case be argued. At any time, any party may, by written notice filed and served, waive his right to oral argument. No criminal case in which the defendant was convicted of murder in the first degree may be submitted for decision on the briefs without oral argument unless the full appellate court or a justice thereof shall have approved the submission prior to the week the case has been scheduled for argument.
(h) Use of Physical Exhibits at Argument; Removal. If physical exhibits other than documents or chalks are to be used at the argument, counsel shall arrange to have them placed in the court room before the court convenes on the date of the argument. After the argument, the exhibits shall be left with the clerk unless the court otherwise directs. If exhibits are not reclaimed by counsel within a reasonable time after notice is given by the clerk, they shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the clerk shall think best.
Amended May 15, 1979, effective July 1, 1979, December 2, 1983, effective January 1, 1984; amended effective May 1, 1994; November 1, 1994; amended May 3, 2002, effective September 3, 2002.