The SJC Court Order for the MA Courts, given the continuing COVID-19 crisis, was posted on Tuesday April 28. The specific orders by each court division have not yet posted, so MAAPL will amend this information once we get the specifics. Appeals Court has now posted as well:
We do know that Housing Court is functioning quite differently because of the Moratorium on evictions (for 120 days or 45 days after state COVID crisis is declared over — see our post on the Moratorium). We will also be posting an update on Registry of Deeds filings because of the postponement of nonjudicial foreclosures.
For the overall functioning of the MA courts, administratively they’re still moving forward. The courthouses are basically closed except for emergency matters. The deadlines for all non-emergency filings have been moved to June 1, 2020. This includes Appeals Court deadlines — some of these will now commence on June 1st; some are “tolled”:
Therefore all briefs or responses to filings are postponed until at least June 1; it may be longer if they fall under the tolling requirements. Tolling is the stopping of a clock on something until a future date restarts the clock. For motions and filings that are covered by the new COVID tolling rule, you’ll take the date that it was due and then, if the clock for counting when it was due started before March 16, you’ll count how many days up until March 16 and then at June 1 that clock will restart with whatever remaining days existed in the time period.
If you’re uncertain about a deadline, feel free to contact MAAPL for help in figuring it out. You can also file a status update to the court in your case (several people have done this) letting the court know what you understand the next deadline to be if it’s looming shortly and you’re not sure.
BEWARE, given the stoppage of all non-emergency eviction cases, we would consider an attempt to evict you without court process, either by pressure or by monetary enticement illegal. Or a post-foreclosure bank or investor may create a violation of a sanitary code (the code for health conditions in your home) to go un-repaired so that it is dangerous. All of these are also an emergency violations. CONTACT MAAPL IMMEDIATELY if any of these happen.In terms of eviction/summary process cases, there should be no forward movement in any of the cases, and the delay cannot be used by the lawyer or the other side to try to pressure you into a resolution. They are simply going to have to wait.
This time period will give you time to research and beef up your legal arguments and get your evidence in order. We strongly suggest you use this time for this purpose; it will help you be stronger and get ahead of the legal issues. We are also continuing to make legal inroads, so the longer you can delay the more likely you are to win in the long run.
One significant concern is that the Housing Court has shut down the e-file system, and some the other courts seem to have done that as well. If you need to file something, 1. try to file it through the e-file system (see directions below), and 2. if you receive a notice that you can’t file it that way then call the Clerk of the respective court. They have been allowing people to email their filings.
Federal Court cases are continuing, BUT also true of bankruptcy court filings, your can e-mail or fax you materials if you contact the Clerk and prearrange it.
Many of the courts and the Registries of Deeds have drop boxes where you can leave documents. Make sure you record the leaving of such documents by taking a picture of the box so that the phone/picture will have a time and date stamp on it.MAAPL will try to keep updated information here on our home page, so please keep returning here to check for new information.