Updated September 15, 2020.
Among the most common motions filed with the Massachusetts Appeals Court are those seeking additional time to file briefs. Under Mass. R. App. P. 19(a), the appellant must file a brief within 40 days after the date on which the appeal is docketed. The appellee’s brief must be filed within 30 days after service of the brief of the appellant. Thereafter, a reply brief for the appellant may be filed within 14 days after service of the brief of the appellee or 7 days prior to oral argument, whichever is earlier.
A party needing additional time to file a brief or reply brief must seek an extension from the Appeals Court. Mass. R. App. P. 14(b) provides that, upon motion and for good cause shown, the Appeals Court may enlarge the time for doing any act prescribed by the rules. A party seeking an extension of time for an appellate brief should file a motion, supported by an affidavit, which establishes good cause for the extension. The Appeals Court’s guide to “Frequent Appellate Process Questions,” https://www.mass.gov/guides/appeals-court-frequent-appellate-process-questions, states that such a motion, “must explain your reasons for the requested extension, provide a date certain by which the brief will be filed, and be accompanied by a certificate of service….” It further warns that,
[i]t is the policy of the Court to grant no more than one motion for enlargement of time per side, the enlargement sought not to exceed 120 days, and then only on the basis of an affidavit setting forth: (a) good cause to warrant the requested enlargement, and (b) an explanation why the particular time period requested is reasonable. Further enlargements of time will ordinarily not be granted absent genuine emergency, such as a death, illness, or serious injury.
The Appeals Court has indicated that such motions should be filed at least one week before the brief’s due date.
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