News from the courts/agencies

Thursday, Mar. 2, 2017
2017 edition of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence now available
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The Supreme Judicial Court and its Executive Committee on Massachusetts Evidence Law recently announced the release of the 2017 edition of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence. The justices of the Supreme Judicial Court recommend use of the guide by the bench, bar and public.

"The Executive Committee has updated and expanded the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence to reflect new legal developments, and I am most appreciative of their excellent work," Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants said. "The Guide is an invaluable practical research tool and important resource for understanding Massachusetts evidence law. Attorneys, judges, and self-represented litigants rely on the Guide daily in courts throughout the Commonwealth."

The 2017 edition is the ninth annual edition of the Guide. An electronic version is available without charge on the court's website, where it can be searched and downloaded. The Official Print Edition of the 2017 edition of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence is available for purchase here from the Flaschner Judicial Institute, which is again providing a complimentary copy to every sitting judge in the commonwealth. The Massachusetts Guide to Evidence assembles existing Massachusetts evidence law in an easy-to-use document organized similarly to the Federal Rules of Evidence. The Guide includes extensive explanatory notes and citations to pertinent authorities.

The 2017 edition of the Guide reflects developments in Massachusetts evidence law that occurred between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016. In addition to incorporating dozens of new opinions issued in 2016 by the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court, the 2017 edition contains substantial revisions, including: (1) addition to Section 102 of different types of cases where the new abuse of discretion standard has been used; (2) changes to Section 103 (Rulings on Evidence, Objections, and Offers of Proof) to reflect changes in the requirement that a party objecting to a ruling on a pretrial motion in limine must restate the objection at trial; (3) a new addition to the Note to Section 403 addressing cases involving evidence of similar occurrences; (4) an overhaul of Section 1114 (Restitution); and (5) a new Section 1116 on the use of, and objections to, peremptory challenges of potential jurors.

In 2006, the Supreme Judicial Court established the Advisory Committee to prepare a Massachusetts Guide to Evidence at the request of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys.  In 2008, the Supreme Judicial Court appointed the Executive Committee of the Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Evidence Law to monitor and incorporate new legal developments and produce annual new editions of the Guide. Appeals Court Judge Peter Agnes chairs the Executive Committee and is the editor-in-chief of the Guide.  The other members of the Executive Committee are:  Attorney Elizabeth N. Mulvey (editor); Hon. Mark S. Coven (editor); Clerk of the Appeals Court Joseph F. Stanton (reporter); Hon. Stephen M. Limon; Hon. Barbara Hyland; Supreme Judicial Court Senior Attorney A.W. "Chip" Phinney; New England Law Boston Professor Philip K. Hamilton; Boston University School of Law Professor Mark Petit; Benjamin K. Golden, Esq.; Edmund P. Daley III, Esq.; Appeals Court Law Clerk Anthony Podesta, Esq.; and Supreme Judicial Court Justice David A. Lowy, who has been a member of the Committee since its inception, and now serves as a consulting member.