Massachusetts Appeals Court

Massachusetts Appeals Court

The Massachusetts Appeals Court is the intermediate appellate court of Massachusetts. It was created in 1972 as a court of general appellate jurisdiction. The court is located at the John Adams Courthouse at Pemberton Square in Boston, the same building which houses the Supreme Judicial Court and the Social Law Library.


The court hears most appeals from the departments of the Trial Courts of Massachusetts, including the Massachusetts Land Court, the Department of Industrial Accidents, the Appellate Tax Board, and the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission.

Some types of appeals are not heard before the Appeals Court. For example, an appeal from a conviction of first degree murder goes directly to the Supreme Judicial Court. The Supreme Judicial Court can also elect to bypass review by the Appeals Court and hear a case on "direct appellate review." In the District Court Department, appeals in certain civil cases are made first to the Appellate Division of the District Court. After a decision by the Appeals Court, parties may seek "further appellate review" by requesting review by the Supreme Judicial Court.


The Appeals Court usually hears cases in three-judge panels, which rotate so that every judge has an opportunity to sit with every other judge. However, single judges will often hear interlocutory appeals from such things as court orders, stays of civil proceedings, and awards of attorney's fees. The Appeals Court consists of twenty-five active justices as well as several recall justices who despite having retired continue to assist the Court with its case load. Appeals are heard from September through June at the John Adams Courthouse as well as at special sessions held at various locations such as law schools throughout Massachusetts.

The current Chief Justice of the Appeals Court is Phillip Rapoza.

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Coordinates: 42°21′34″N 71°03′40″W / 42.359343°N 71.061160°W / 42.359343; -71.061160

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