Massachusetts Legal Overview
The Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with a chief justice and six associate justices. The appeals court has a chief justice and 13 associate justices for hearing appeals from the district and municipal court system. The main trial court with general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases is the superior court, with a chief justice and 79 associate justices. All told, there are nine chief justice and 401 associate justice positions. There are separate courts for land, housing, juvenile cases, and probate and family matters. All judicial appointments are made by the Governor.
1. Capital punishment was abolished by Massachusetts in 1982. Progressive Massachusetts law and the courts have historically been one step ahead of other state courts and the federal law. In Commonwealth v. Nathaniel Jennison (1783), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that slavery was unconstitutional and slaves should be allowed to file suit against their owners for freedom. In Commonwealth v. Hunt (1842), the court legalized the existence of non-violent trade unions. Based on the court's ruling on Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (2003), Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to allow same-sex couples to get married legally.
2. A Jesuit preist now residing in Massachusetts is facing a lawsuit involving sexual abuse over a former student of a school.
3. A judge in Massachusetts has recommended a $235,000 monetary awarded in a lawsuit against a partner with a lobster distribution company.
Trending Massachusetts Legal Topics: The Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) was founded in 1910 as a voluntary organization. The MBA now has 18,500 members, which is less than half of almost 42,000 lawyers licensed to practice law in Massachusetts. Bar exams are administered by the Supreme Judicial Court's Board of Bar Examiners. Attorney-client fee disputes are resolved through the fee arbitration board. Judicial misconduct complaints are investigated by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.