Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Decisions

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is one of the oldest state supreme courts in the U.S. It was known as the Superior Court of Judicature when it was founded in 1692. Three of its chief justices have served on the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court has the authority to review appeals of criminal and civil cases, and it holds the unusual power to provide advisory opinions. The executive branch or the legislative branch may request these opinions. The site of the Court is the John Adams Courthouse in Boston.

There are no specific requirements for becoming a justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. A justice simply must be under 70 years old and maintain good behavior while serving on the Court. The Governor of Massachusetts appoints each of the seven justices on the Court, although they also must be approved by the executive council. In contrast to the supreme courts in many other states, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court does not impose term limits on its justices. Once they are appointed, they may serve until they turn 70, at which age they are required to retire. The same rules apply to the appointment and tenure of the Chief Justice as to the six Associate Justices.

However, a judge may face removal from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for reasons related to misconduct or a disability. The Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct will investigate any complaint of misconduct by a justice, and it will hold a formal hearing and provide a recommendation on whether the justice should be removed or face other discipline. A justice who engages in misconduct also may face removal by impeachment in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and conviction in the Massachusetts Senate. In other situations, the Governor may remove a justice with the approval of the Governor’s Council and with the joint address of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Browse Opinions From the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Recent Decisions From the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Commonwealth v. Evelyn
Date: September 17, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12808
Tinsley v. Town of Framingham
Date: September 17, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12826
Commonwealth v. Long
Date: September 17, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12868
Commonwealth v. Weidman  
Date: September 10, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12612

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for murder in the first degree on theories of deliberate premeditation and felony murder, holding that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant's motion...

Commonwealth v. Adams  
Date: September 9, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12709

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction, after a second jury trial, as a joint venturer in vaginal and anal rapes committed by his two coventurers, holding that subjecting Defendant to a second trial d...

Commonwealth v. Rosa-Roman  
Date: September 8, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12504

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for murder in the first degree and declined to grant extraordinary relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E, holding that there was no basis to set aside...

In re Grand Jury Investigation  
Date: September 8, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12869

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the trial judge authorizing the disclosure to defense counsel of a discovery letter written by a district attorney describing misconduct by Petitioners, two police officer...

NextEra Energy Resources, LLC v. Department of Public Utilities
Date: September 3, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12886
Walsh v. Commonwealth  
Date: September 2, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12648

Justia Opinion Summary: In these consolidated cases, the Supreme Judicial Court held that a delay in providing counsel to Defendants did not entitle them to release from pretrial detention under Lavallee v. Justices in the Hampden Superior Cour...

Doe v. Board of Registration in Medicine  
Date: September 1, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12817

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court held that the board of registration in medicine may use a sealed criminal record as a basis for discipline but that the board is statutorily prohibited from making the contents of that record a...

Grossman v. Secretary of the Commonwealth  
Date: August 26, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12996

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the existing September 1, 2020 deadline for the receipt of mail-in primary election ballots is constitutional. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature passed an em...

Commonwealth v. Mason  
Date: August 25, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-09070

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for murder in the first degree, armed assault with intent to murder, and animal cruelty, and declined to grant extraordinary relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 27...

Commonwealth v. Sanchez  
Date: August 25, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12778

Justia Opinion Summary: In this case involving procedures and remedies for impermissible peremptory challenges the Supreme Judicial Court adopted the language of the Federal standard for the first step of a challenge pursuant to Batson v. Kentu...

Commonwealth v. Lopez  
Date: August 20, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12007

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of murder in the first degree on a theory of extreme atrocity or cruelty, holding that there was no error that resulted in a substantial likelihood of a miscarri...

Tallage Lincoln, LLC v. Williams  
Date: August 19, 2020
Docket Number: SJC-12847

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Land Court judge ruling that the statutory scheme set forth in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 60, 52 did not permit assignees of tax title accounts to include their own subseq...

The opinions published on Justia State Caselaw are sourced from individual state court sites. These court opinions may not be the official published versions, and you should check your local court rules before citing to them. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site, or the information linked to on the state site.