Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court


Established in 1692, the Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court of Massachusetts. The "SJC" enforces the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, the oldest written constitution in the world still in effect.


The Supreme Judicial Court consists of seven justices, the Chief Justice and six associate justices. The Supreme Judicial Court hears a limited number of cases on direct appeal, such as first degree murder cases. The remainder of its docket is accepted at the Court's discretion, primarily on direct appellate review or on further appellate review from the Appeals Court.


A decision rendered by the Supreme Judicial Court becomes final if not challenged. A challenge is made by filing a petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States. Further review is discretionary, not as a matter of right.


Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

The rules of appellate procedure are strict and often unforgiving. The primary source of argument is in writing, in appellate briefs. The content and form of an appellate brief typically decides the case. The standard of appellate review applied to each issue is critical. Experienced appellate counsel presents oral argument through a legal discussion with the justices, not at them. First impression matter. There is no substitute for appellate experience.