An amendment to Massachusetts Superior Court Rule 9A(a)(3), effective January 1, 2016, allows litigants to file certain reply memoranda without first obtaining the court’s permission, and changes the procedure for obtaining leave of court where permission is still required.
Under the current Rule 9A, a party seeking to file a reply memorandum must seek leave of court to do so, “within 5 days of service of a memorandum in opposition” by sending, “a letter to the Session Judge setting forth the grounds to support the request” and serving that letter on all other parties. Any such reply must, “be limited to addressing matters raised in the opposition that were not and could not reasonably have been addressed in the moving party’s initial memorandum.”
Amended Rule 9A(a)(3) no longer requires a party to obtain the court’s permission before filing a reply memorandum if: (1) “the opposition raises matters that were not and could not reasonably have been addressed in the moving party’s initial memorandum”; (2) the reply is “limited to addressing such matters”; and (3) the reply does not, “exceed five typed double-spaced pages.”
The amendment states that “[n]o other reply or surreply shall be allowed without leave of court, which is strongly disfavored,” and changes the procedure for requesting such leave. First, a request for leave is no longer in the form of a letter but must, instead, be captioned as a pleading. The amendment also limits the length of the request to, “not more than one double-spaced page.” Finally, the request must be addressed to “Session Clerk, ATTN: Session Judge,” rather than directly to the judge.
A reply memorandum is most appropriate when the moving party seeks to respond to new matters (factual or legal), raised by the party opposing the motion. The 2016 amendment to Rule 9A(a)(3) simplifies the process for filing such a reply.