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Massachusetts Civil Procedure Rule 64: Report of Case

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(a) Courts Other Than District Court. The court, after verdict or after a finding of facts under Rule 52, may report the case for determination by the appeals court. If the trial court is of opinion that an interlocutory finding or order made by it so affects the merits of the controversy that the matter ought to be determined by the appeals court before any further proceedings in the trial court, it may report such matter, and may stay all further proceedings except such as are necessary to preserve the rights of the parties. The court, upon request of the parties, in any case where the parties agree in writing as to all the material facts, may report the case to the appeals court for determination without making any decision thereon. In an action commenced before a single justice of the supreme judicial court, the court may report the case in the circumstances above described to either the appeals court or the full supreme judicial court; provided further that a single justice of the supreme judicial court may at any time reserve any question of law for consideration by the full court, and shall report so much of the case as is necessary for understanding the question reserved.

(b) District Court. Report of a case or a ruling by the court to the Appellate Division shall be governed by District/Municipal Courts Rules for Appellate Division Appeal 5.

Amended May 3, 1996, effective July 1, 1996.

Reporter's Notes (1996) The 1996 amendments to Rule 64 create new sections (a) and (b). Rule 64(a) contains the pre-existing language of Rule 64 of the Mass.R.Civ.P., while Rule 64(b) contains the language of Rule 64 of the now-repealed Dist./Mun.Cts.R.Civ.P. as it existed effective July 1, 1994. Rule 64(b), applicable to the District Court and Boston Municipal Court, merely refers to Rule 5 of the District/Municipal Courts Rules for Appellate Division Appeal, which sets forth the procedures for a report to the Appellate Division.

Prior to July 1, 1994, Rule 64 of the Dist./Mun.Cts.R.Civ.P. dealt with "Preservation of Issues and Appeal to the Appellate Division." Effective July 1, 1994, these matters can be found in the District/Municipal Courts Rules for Appellate Division Appeal. It should be noted, however, that the pre-July 1994 version of Dist./Mun.Cts.R.Civ.P. 64 may still have application to appeals of matters occurring before July 1, 1994. See Rule 1A of the District/Municipal Courts Rules for Appellate Division Appeal.

(1973) Rule 64 preserves the former report procedure which gives a trial judge discretionary power to obtain appellate court determination of controlling questions of law without the necessity of a prior judgment in the trial court. Amended Mass.G.L. c. 231, §§ 111, 112 provide the statutory foundation for this procedure. Cases must be reported to the appeals court, except that a case pending before a single justice may be reported to either appellate court. This accords with former Mass.G.L. c. 214, §§ 31, 31A. An important aspect of the rule is its provision for the report of an interlocutory order. This provision is drawn from former Mass.G.L. c. 214, §§ 30, 30A; Mass.G.L. c. 231, § 111. Since there is no procedure for appeal of an interlocutory order, compare the federal practice, 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), a judge's authority to report a decisive order is the only effective way to obtain appellate review at an early stage of litigation, regulating and perhaps even obviating further proceedings in the trial court.

Rule 64 must be read in conjunction with Appellate Rule 5 which provides that a report is the equivalent of a notice of appeal for purposes of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure.