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Massachusetts Uniform Magistrate Rules
Rule 3: Pretrial Conferences

[Disclaimer]

(a) Civil Cases. In each Department, the Administrative Justice, may establish policies and procedures for the scheduling and conduct before a magistrate of pretrial conferences in civil cases. This rule shall not apply to small claims cases. Among the procedures that may be required at such pretrial conferences are: (1) ascertaining trial readiness of the parties; (2) if a court appearance is necessary on a subsequent day, setting the date and specific purpose of such court appearance; (3) filing of stipulations agreed upon by the parties; (4) filing of agreements by the parties as to which motions may be filed; (5) filing of agreements by the parties as to the amendment of pleadings; (6) filing of agreements by the parties as to settlement possibilities; (7) filing of agreements by the parties as to discovery procedures; and (8) identification and simplification of factual and legal issues.

At the conclusion of the conference the magistrate shall enter a report on a form approved by the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court containing the results of the conference.

The civil pretrial conference policy that is adopted by each Department may also govern the scheduling of such conferences in relation to a proposed trial date and in relation to the daily calendar and whether such conferences will be mandatory or voluntary in all or certain types of civil cases.

Notice for all such conferences may include a statement that counsel are to attend with the parties and with authorization for the terms for possible settlement. Where public officials are sued in their official capacity, they shall not be required to attend the pretrial conference. Upon failure of any party to appear for a scheduled pretrial conference, the magistrate may order dismissal or default against the absent party or parties. The court may, upon motion therefor, award costs against the party or attorney whose unjustified absence or lack of preparation prevented the conduct of a pretrial conference.

Trial dates established at a pretrial conference shall be subject to the control of the court.

This rule shall be construed so as to be consistent with Mass. R. Civ. P. 16, Mass. R. Dom. Rel. P. 16, and Dist./Mun. Cts. R. Civ. P. 16. The aforementioned rule 16 shall be read to apply pretrial conferences held before a judge.

(b) Criminal Cases. In appropriate Departments the Administrative Justice may establish policies and procedures for the scheduling and conduct before a magistrate of pretrial conferences in criminal cases. Such policy may include a procedure whereby the court may, at the time of arraignment, schedule cases for pretrial conference before a magistrate.

Among the procedures that may be required at such pretrial conferences are: (1) ascertaining trial readiness of the parties; (2) if a court appearance is necessary on a subsequent day, reporting the case to a judge for the setting of a date for such court appearance; (3) filing of stipulations and admissions between the prosecution and the defense; (4) filing of agreements between the prosecution and the defense as to which motions may be filed; (5) filing of agreements between the prosecution and defense as to the amendment of pleadings; and (6) filing of agreements between the prosecution and defense as to discovery procedures.

At the conclusion of the conference the magistrate shall enter an appropriate report on a form approved by the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court containing the results of the conference.

Other aspects of the pretrial conference policy that may be considered by each appropriate Department are the scheduling of such conferences in relation to a proposed trial date and in relation to the daily calendar and whether such conferences will be mandatory or voluntary in all or certain types of criminal cases for which they are permitted under this rule.

The magistrate shall not take part in plea negotiations.

No pretrial conference policy established pursuant to this rule shall permit the disposition of any case without appearance before a judge.

This rule shall be construed so as to be consistent with Mass. R. Crim. P. 11.