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Boston Municipal Court Standing Order 1-88: Civil Caseflow Management

(Superseded by Joint Standing Order 1-04 for cases filed on or after August 31, 2004)


I. Authority.

This Order is promulgated by the Chief Justice of the Boston Municipal Court Department pursuant to his statutory responsibility over caseflow management. G.L. c. 211B, s. 10 and G.L. c. 218, s. 51A.

II. Purpose.

The purpose of this Order is to establish procedures and principles to meet the requirements of the time standards for civil cases adopted by the Supreme Judicial Court on April 7, 1986, providing for the disposition of civil cases filed on or after July 1, 1988 (other than family law cases) within 24 months of filing, and to provide for pretrial conferences to assist in the resolution of civil cases pending as of January 1, 1997 and thereafter.

III. General.

A. Responsibility for Caseflow Management. The responsibility for effective caseflow management is shared by the Bar and the Court. This order provides for the completion of case preparation by counsel within one year, and meaningful control of the case by the Court thereafter.

B. Case Priorities. While addressing the importance of effective civil caseflow management as a means of meeting the civil time standards, this Order acknowledges the necessary priority that the hearing of cases involving the public safety, persons at risk, family disruption and other important public interests must take over general civil matters.

IV. Required Procedures.

It is hereby ORDERED as follows:

A. Applicability. The following procedures shall apply to civil actions originally filed in the Boston Municipal Court Department pursuant to G.L. c. 218, s. 54, civil actions transferred to this Court pursuant to G.L. c. 231, s. 102C. All said cases shall hereinafter be referred to as "civil cases." For purposes of this Order, the filing date of a case transferred pursuant to G.L. c. 231, s. 102C or G.L. c. 218, s. 24 shall be the date it is received in the Boston Municipal Court Department.

1. Notice. A copy of this Order, which may be viewed by members of the Bar and by the general public, shall be posted in the Office of the Civil Clerk. Additional copies of this Order shall be made available to counsel at the Office of the Civil Clerk. A copy of this Order shall be provided to each pro se plaintiff by first class mail.

2. Non-joinder of Issues. If any civil action has remained on the docket for a period of eight months, without issues having been joined, the Clerk/Magistrate or the Clerk/Magistrate's designee shall enter a Nisi Order advising the plaintiff that the action will be dismissed thirty days from the date of the Nisi Order, unless the plaintiff takes remedial action.

3. Discovery and Motions. Except as otherwise provided in this Order, all discovery shall be completed and all motions, including discovery motions and motions pursuant to Rules 12, 15, 19, 20 and 56, shall be filed, marked and caused to be heard, by the end of the twelfth full month after filing of the action, unless the Court, after hearing upon notice and motion, shall, for good cause shown, otherwise permit.

4. Request for Pretrial Conference. No later than the last day of the twelfth month after the case was filed, counsel shall file with the Court a Request for Pretrial Conference, seeking the establishment of a pretrial conference. All cases must be assigned a Pretrial Conference date before being assigned for trial. The Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure applicable to captions, signing and other matters of form of pleading shall apply to the Request for Pretrial Conference, and the Request shall be served in accordance with the provisions of Mass.Rule Civ.P. 5.

5. Absence of Request for Pretrial Conference. Any case in which a Request for Pretrial Conference has not been filed in accordance with the Order shall be assigned a date on a Status Review List by the Clerk/Magistrate on the first (lay of the thirteenth month after filing or as soon thereafter as is practicable. Parties who fail to appear at the call of said Status Review List will be subject to sanctions including default or dismissal. All cases not disposed of at or before the call of the Status Review List will be assigned a date on a Pretrial Conference List by the Clerk/Magistrate as soon thereafter as is practicable.

6. Scheduling and Continuance of Pretrial Conferences, Trials and Status Reviews. The scheduling and continuances of pretrial conferences, trials and status review shall be under the control of the Court. Requests for continuances shall be only by written motion. Continuances shall be granted only by the Court, or Clerks authorized to do so by the Chief Justice. Every continuance shall be to a date certain. No case shall be continued generally or "taken off the list" for any reason.

7. Management. The Chief Justice, in consultation with the Clerk/Magistrate, shall designate an Assistant Clerk as civil case manager to assume responsibility for carrying out the relevant terms of this Order under the immediate supervision of the Clerk/Magistrate and the ultimate supervision of the Chief Justice, and to perform other related duties as required.

Adopted May 23, 1988, effective July 1, 1988. Amended October 25, 1989, effective November 1, 1989; amended effective January 1, 1997.