Superior Court Jurisdiction Cases

To be certified to accept Superior Court cases (that is, any charge beyond the final jurisdiction of the District Court as set out in G.L. c.218, §26) attorneys must be individually approved by the Chief Counsel of CPCS.

Attorneys who seek to obtain approval of the Chief Counsel must meet the minimum requirements set forth below.  In addition, the Chief Counsel may consider all additional information deemed relevant to an appropriate decision on each application. Please see the Superior Court-Murder List Application.

Training Requirement: None (No training prerequisite for initial certification. 8 hours per fiscal year CLE requirement for re-certification).

Minimum Requirements:

  1. Applicants who meet the criteria described in any one of the following categories are eligible to apply to the chief counsel for approval for Superior Court cases.
  2. Meet the minimum requirements for certification in murder cases (see p. 1); OR
  3. Have tried at least six jury of Six or Superior Court criminal jury trials to verdict in the last six years as lead defense counsel; OR
  4. Have other significant experience including substantial criminal jury trial experience that demonstrates one is qualified to accept Superior Court assignments and demonstrates familiarity with the practice and procedures in the Massachusetts criminal courts.

Application Procedure:

The applicant should submit a letter and the application form (on pages 3 and 4) to the CPCS Chief Counsel explaining in detail why s/he meets each of the requirements listed above.

Applicants should fully describe the cases which meet requirements, giving the names of the cases, indictment numbers and charges, names of judges and prosecutors, dates of trial, and a short statement of each case which includes a description of the major issues, as well as the names and addresses of 3 criminal defense practitioners familiar with applicant’s work.  The letter and attachments should be sent to:

[email protected]

The applicant will be notified when a decision has been made.

Assignment of Cases:

Superior Court certified attorneys may be assigned Superior Court jurisdiction cases in District Court as bar advocates or may receive assignments from bar advocate programs immediately after arraignments handed by bar advocate duty attorneys who are not Superior Court certified, Superior Court certified attorneys may also be assigned cases in Superior Court after direct indictment.

Performance Requirements:

Attorneys who accept Superior Court cases must represent their clients at all stages of the criminal proceedings except the appeal of a conviction to the Appeals Court or Supreme Judicial Court. In the event of a conviction however, it remains the responsibility of the trial attorney to file a Notice of Appeal, a Motion to Withdraw, a Motion to Appoint Substitute Counsel and to notify CPCS of the need for appellate counsel to be assigned.

In addition to representing the client in Superior Court, the attorney who accepts a Superior Court case must provide representation at the probable cause hearing or other District Court proceedings and any sentence appeal before the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.

By accepting assignments on Superior Court cases, attorneys agree to abide by the CPCS Performance Guidelines Governing Representation of Indigents in Criminal Cases. A copy of the Guidelines may be obtained from the Training Unit. The Guidelines may also be found in the Assigned Counsel Manual.