Appeals: Not All Courts Are Created Equal

On a day like today, this is where I want to be.
On a day like today, this is where I want to be.

Hi there,

I hope you are all staying cool. It’s brutal out there today!

The court system is hierarchical. Each court has authority to render judgments and decisions but until you hit the Supreme Judicial Court, those judgments can be appealed only if the judge somehow did not comply with the rules that govern hearings and trial and the underlying laws.

Most family law cases end up at the Probate and Family Court. All trials are conducted without a jury through what is known as a bench trial, with the judge hearing the evidence and rendering a decision.

If one side, or both as sometimes happens, feels the decision is wrong and believes that the court made an error then a party may appeal. The appeals go from the Probate and Family Court to the Appeals Court. The Appeals Court process, without continuances, can take at least a year to a year and a half. Once the case has been briefed and heard and decided by the Appeals Court, and a party still believes the Court is wrong the losing party may seek to appeal to the highest Massachusetts Court the Supreme Judicial Court. The Supreme Judicial Court does not have to hear a case, they can pick and chose. Currently they do seem to be hearing a number of cases on the new Alimony Reform Act.

The Appellate process is both technical and intellectual. My articulate partner Robin Lynch Nardone will be posting on it later this week.