On Thursday, August 3, 2023, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts approved amendments to the Rules of the Commission on Judicial Conduct. The changes were proposed by the Commission in a letter dated May 25, 2023.
The amendments impact Rules 1, 6, and 13 of the Commission’s regulations. The update to Rule 1 introduces a definition of “impounded” that aligns with the Supreme Judicial Court’s own rules. This change defines impoundment as restricting access to case documents or portions of them from public view.
Rule 6 is being revised to remove the requirement that judges be notified of complaints against them via certified or registered mail. Going forward, the Commission will provide notice through regular mail sent to the judge’s last known home address along with an email to their official judicial email account.
Changes to Rule 13 relate to the concept of impoundment versus submitting documents under seal. The amendments clarify that direct submissions to the Supreme Judicial Court under Rules 13A and 13B will be immediately impounded upon filing until the court issues a further order.
The Commission provided opportunities for public comment on the proposed amendments. A January 25, 2021 press release containing a public notice was distributed to major Massachusetts newspapers and chief justices. The notice was also published in the January 25th edition of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Both communications emphasized a March 5 deadline for submitting input on the changes.
After careful review, the Supreme Judicial Court formally approved and enacted the amendments to Rules 1, 6, and 13 as proposed by the Judicial Conduct Commission. The updated rules will take effect on September 1, 2023.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.