Print Print
  • PART III COURTS, JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND PROCEEDINGS IN CIVIL CASES
  • TITLE I COURTS AND JUDICIAL OFFICERS
  • CHAPTER 218 DISTRICT COURTS
  • Section 19B District court or Boston municipal court; trial by jury of six; appeals

Section 19B. (a) Except as otherwise provided by law, all civil actions for money damages, or summary process actions, filed in a district court or the Boston municipal court shall be subject to 1 trial, with or without a jury of 6, in the district court department or in the Boston municipal court department. Any party may demand a trial by jury of 6 of any issue triable of right by a jury by serving upon the other parties a demand therefor in writing after the commencement of the action. The demand may be endorsed upon a pleading of the demanding party. The failure of a party to serve and file a demand for jury trial shall constitute a waiver by that party of trial by jury. In any case in which a party has filed a timely demand for a jury trial, the action shall not be designated upon the docket as a jury action until after the completion of a pretrial conference, a hearing on the results of the conference and until the disposition of any pretrial discovery motion and compliance with any order of the court pursuant to the motions.

(b) The district court and Boston municipal court departments may hold jury of 6 sessions for the purpose of conducting jury trials of summary process cases and of civil actions for money damages proceeding in those courts pursuant to the provisions of section 19. The chief justice for the district court department shall designate at least 1 district court in each county for the purpose of conducting jury trials; but, with the approval of the chief justice for the superior court department, facilities of the superior court may be designated by the chief justice of the trial court for the conduct of jury trials in cases commenced in the district courts or in the Boston municipal court. If necessary, facilities of any department of the trial court may be designated by the chief justice for trial by jury of civil cases from the district court or the Boston municipal court. The chief justice for the district court department may also designate 1 or more district courts in any county for the purpose of conducting jury waived trials of cases commenced in any district court of the county consistent with the requirements of the proper administration of justice. Persons in district courts who waive their right to jury trial shall be provided a jury waived trial in the same district court if the jury waived trial session has been established in the court. If the jury waived trial session has not been so established, the parties shall be provided a jury waived trial in a court as hereinbefore designated. Parties in the district courts who claim a jury trial shall be provided a jury trial in a jury of 6 session in the same court if a jury of 6 session has been established in that court. If a jury of 6 session has not been so established, the parties shall be provided jury trials in a jury of 6 session as hereinbefore designated. In cases where the parties claim a jury trial, the clerk shall, subject to subsection (a), forthwith transfer the case for trial in the appropriate jury session. The transfer shall be governed by procedures to be established by the chief justices of the district court and Boston municipal court departments.

(c) The justice presiding over a jury of 6 session shall have and exercise all powers and duties which a justice sitting in the superior court department has and may exercise in the trial and disposition of civil cases including the power to report questions of law to the appeals court. Trials by juries of 6 shall proceed in accordance with the law applicable to trials by jury in the superior court; but the number of peremptory challenges shall be limited to 2 to each party. Jurors shall be provided for the jury of 6 session by the office of the jury commissioner in accordance with chapter 234A. If necessary, the superior court shall make available jurors from the pool of jurors for the jury sessions in either civil or criminal sessions in the superior court. The chief justices of the district court and Boston municipal court departments shall arrange for the sittings of the jury sessions and shall assign justices thereto, so that speedy trials may be provided. Review may be had by the appropriate appellate division pursuant to section 108 of chapter 231, and thereafter by the appeals court.

(d) The justice presiding at the jury of 6 session may, upon the request of a party, appoint a stenographer; provided, however, that where the party claims indigency, the appointment is determined to be reasonably necessary in accordance with chapter 261; and provided, further, that the court electronic recording system is not available or not properly functioning. The stenographer shall be sworn, shall take stenographic notes of all the testimony given at the trial and shall provide the parties thereto with a transcript of the notes or any part thereof taken at the trial or hearing for which the stenographer shall be paid by the party requesting it at the rates fixed by the chief justices for the district court or Boston municipal court departments; but the rate shall not exceed the rate provided by section 88 of chapter 221. The chief justices may make regulations consistent with law relative to the assignments, duties and services of stenographers appointed for sessions in their respective departments and any other matter relative to stenographers. The compensation and expenses of the appointed stenographers shall be paid by the commonwealth. The request for the appointment of a stenographer to preserve the testimony at a trial shall be given to the clerk of the court by a party, in writing, no later than 48 hours before the proceeding for which the stenographer has been requested. The party may file with such request an affidavit of indigency and request for payment by the commonwealth of the cost of the transcript and the court shall hold a hearing on the request before appointing a stenographer in those cases where the party will be unable to pay the cost. The hearing shall be governed by chapter 261 and the cost of the transcript shall be considered an extra cost as provided therein. If the court is unable, for any reason, to provide a stenographer, the proceedings may be recorded by electronic means. The original recording of proceedings in a district court or in the Boston municipal court made with a recording device under the exclusive control of the court shall be the official record of the proceedings. The record or a copy of all or a part thereof, certified by the appropriate chief justice or his designee, to be an accurate electronic reproduction of the record or part thereof, or a typewritten transcript of all or a part of the record or copy thereof, certified to be accurate by the court or by the preparer of the transcript, or stipulated to by the parties, shall be admissible in any court as evidence of testimony given whenever proof of the testimony is otherwise competent. A party may request payment by the commonwealth of the cost of the transcript subject to the same provisions regarding a transcript of a stenographer as hereinbefore provided.

(e) Any party who files in a district court or in the Boston municipal court an appeal to the appellate division, in a civil action subject to this section, within 10 days of the entry of judgment or within the further time as the justice orders for cause shown allows, shall also file a bond executed by the party or attorney of record on such party’s behalf, payable to the appellee in a reasonable sum and with surety or sureties approved by the appellee or by the justice or clerk or assistant clerk of the district court or Boston municipal court, conditioned to satisfy any judgment for costs which may be entered against the appellant upon the appeal. Any party, in lieu of filing the bond required for an appeal to the appellate division, may deposit with the clerk, within the time required for filing a bond, a reasonable amount to be fixed by the clerk or justice, as security for the prosecution of the appeal and the payment of costs. A certificate of the deposit shall be issued to the depositor by the clerk of the court who shall hold the deposit until the final disposition of the case when the clerk shall apply the deposit to the satisfaction of any costs awarded against the depositor and pay the balance, if any, to the depositor or the depositor’s legal representative. A bond or deposit shall not be required of the commonwealth or any officer or employee thereof represented by the attorney general, or of a county, city, town or other municipal corporation, or of a board, officer or employee thereof represented by the city solicitor, town counsel or other officer having similar duties, or of a political subdivision, or of a party who has given bond according to law to dissolve an attachment or of a defendant in an action of tort arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, control or use of a motor vehicle or trailer as defined in section 1 of chapter 90 if the payment of any judgment for costs which may be entered against him is secured, in whole or in part, by a motor vehicle liability bond or policy or a deposit as provided in section 34D of said chapter 90 and the court may, in any case, for cause shown, after notice to adverse parties, order that no bond be given.