|Established 1692||Location Boston, Massachusetts|
|Country Massachusetts , United States|
Composition method Executive appointments with quasi-legislative consent
Decisions are appealed to Supreme Court of the United States
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The SJC has the distinction of being the oldest continuously functioning appellate court in the Americas, with a recognized history dating to the establishment of the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature in 1692 under the charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.
- Location and citation
- Landmark cases
- Current composition
- Notable members
- Associate justices appointed by royal governors (1692–1775)
Although it was historically composed of four associate justices and one chief justice, the court is currently composed of six associate justices and one chief justice.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court traces its history back to the high court of the British Province of Massachusetts Bay, which was chartered in 1692. Under the terms of that charter, Governor Sir William Phips established the Superior Court of Judicature as the province's local court of last resort (some of the court's decisions could be appealed to courts in England). When the Massachusetts State Constitution was established in 1780, legislative and judicial records show that the state's high court, although renamed, was a continuation of provincial high court. During and after the period of the American Revolution the court had members who were appointed by royal governors, the executive council of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress (which acted as the state's executive from 1775 to 1780), and governors elected under the state constitution.
Location and citation
The SJC sits at the John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston, Massachusetts 02108, which also houses the Massachusetts Appeals Court and the Social Law Library. The proper legal citation for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is "Mass."
The Court consists of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts with the consent of the Governor's Council. The Justices hold office until the mandatory retirement age of seventy, like all other Massachusetts judges.
The currently serving justices are:
Associate justices appointed by royal governors (1692–1775)
All judges appointed before 1695 were reappointed in that year (except John Richards, who had died) because the legislation creating the court was vetoed in that year by the Privy Council. Several further attempts to legislate the court's existence were vetoed, and it was not until 1699 that the provincial assembly enacted laws creating courts that satisfied the Privy Council.