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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:03: Uniform Certification of Questions of Law

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Section 1. Authority to Answer Certain Questions of Law.

This court may answer questions of law certified to it by the Supreme Court of the United States, a Court of Appeals of the United States, or of the District of Columbia, or a United States District Court, or the highest appellate court of any other State when requested by the certifying court if there are involved in any proceeding before it questions of law of this State which may be determinative of the cause then pending in the certifying court and as to which it appears to the certifying court there is no controlling precedent in the decisions of this court.

Section 2. Method of Invoking.

This rule may be invoked by an order of any of the courts referred to in Section 1 upon that court's own motion or upon the motion of any party to the cause.

Section 3. Contents of Certification Order.

A certification order shall set forth

(1) the question of law to be answered; and

(2) a statement of all facts relevant to the questions certified and showing fully the nature of the controversy in which the questions arose.

Section 4. Preparation of Certification Order.

The certification order shall be prepared by the certifying court, signed by the judge presiding at the hearing, and forwarded to this court by the clerk of the certifying court under its official seal. This court may require the original or copies of all or of any portion of the record before the certifying court to be filed with the certification order, if, in the opinion of this court, the record or portion thereof may be necessary in answering the questions.

Section 5. Costs of Certification.

Fees and costs shall be the same as in civil appeals docketed before this court and shall be equally divided between the parties unless otherwise ordered by the certifying court in its order of certification.

Section 6. Briefs and Arguments.

Proceedings in this court shall be those provided in these rules, the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure or statutes governing briefs and arguments, so far as reasonably applicable.

Section 7. Opinion.

The written opinion of this court stating the law governing the questions certified shall be sent by the clerk under the seal of this court to the certifying court and to the parties.

Section 8. Power to Certify.

This court on its own motion or the motion of any party may order certification of questions of law to the highest court of any State when it appears to the certifying court that there are involved in any proceeding before the court questions of law of the receiving State which may be determinative of the cause then pending in the certifying court and it appears to the certifying court that there are no controlling precedents in the decisions of the highest court or intermediate appellate courts of the receiving State.

Section 9. Procedure on Certifying.

The procedures for certification from this State to the receiving State shall be those provided in the laws of the receiving State.

Section 10. Uniformity of Interpretation.

This rule shall be so construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law of those states which adopt it; or enact a uniform certification statute.

Section 11. Short Title.

This rule may be cited as the Uniform Certification of Questions of Law Rule.