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
Doe, SORB No. 339940 v. Sex Offender Registry Board  
Date: July 20, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-12908

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court affirming the decision of the Sex Offender Registry Board classifying Plaintiff as a level three sex offender, holding that the sex offender registra...

Commonwealth v. Vigiani  
Date: July 20, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13087

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 233, 20, Fourth - which applies to the testimony of a parent of minor child against the other in criminal, delinquency, and youthful offender proceedings where the victim is...

Randolph v. Commonwealth  
Date: July 16, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13033

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the superior court requiring Leroy Randolph to submit a saliva sample for DNA testing to establish whether DNA found on a murder weapon belonged to him, holding that there...

Commonwealth v. Lowery  
Date: July 13, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13050

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for trafficking of persons for sexual servitude and unlawful possession of marijuana, holding that the superior court judge did not err denying Defendant's motio...

Moore v. Executive Office of the Trial Court  
Date: July 8, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-12966

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the single justice of the court denying Plaintiff's petition for relief after she was suspended without pay from her position as an assistant clerk-magistrate in the su...

Cassouto-Noff & Co. v. Diamond  
Date: July 6, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13026

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court recognizing an Israeli judgment under the Massachusetts Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 235, 23A, thus allowing...

Commonwealth v. Rand  
Date: July 6, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13047

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of assault and battery and strangulation, holding that admitting the victim's statements did not violate Defendant's right to confrontation under the Sixth Amen...

Commonwealth v. West  
Date: July 2, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-12489

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 Defendant's allegations of error were unavailing. Specifically, the Supre...

Commonwealth v. Jenks  
Date: July 2, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13016

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court held that Defendant did not meet the threshold under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278A, 3 to be entitled to a hearing on his motions for postconviction forensic testing. Defendant was convicted of prem...

Commonwealth v. Donald  
Date: July 2, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13040

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the order of the superior court judge denying Defendant's eighth motion for postconviction forensic testing of certain evidence from his 1999 trial, holding that Defendant satisfied th...

Commonwealth v. Fernandes  
Date: July 1, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-11586

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for murder in the first degree but remanded for resentencing in accordance with Diatchenko v. District Attorney for the Suffolk District, 466 Mass. 655 (2013),...

Pinney v. Commonwealth  
Date: July 1, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13100

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner's petition for relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his...

Ardaneh v. Commonwealth  
Date: July 1, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13104

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner's petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discre...

Vilbon v. Commonwealth  
Date: July 1, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-13113

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner's petition for relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his...

Commonwealth v. Louis  
Date: June 28, 2021
Docket Number: SJC-11512

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of murder in the first degree on the theory of felony-murder, unlawful possession of a firearm, and attempted armed robbery, holding that there was no error. S...

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.