The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Supreme Judicial Court was established in 1692 and is the oldest appellate court in continuous existence in the Western Hemisphere. The Supreme Judicial Court was originally called the Superior Court of Judicature. After Massachusetts Constitution came into effect in 1780, the name of the Court was changed to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). The SJC still functions under the oldest written Constitution in the world. The Court consists of seven Justices including a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices. Theses Justices are appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts with the consent of the Executive Council. The retirement age of the Justices is seventy years.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has jurisdiction to hear appeals from both criminal and civil cases. Apart from its appellate functions, the SJC is responsible for the general superintendence of the judiciary and of the bar. This Court has the power to make and approve rules for the operations of all the courts, and in certain instances, provides advisory opinions, upon request, to the Governor and Legislature on various legal issues. Moreover, SJC also has supervisory responsibility in varying degrees, according to statutes, with several affiliated agencies of the judicial branch, such as the Board of Bar Overseers, the Board of Bar Examiners, the Clients’ Security Board, the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the Massachusetts Mental Health Legal Advisors’ Committee, and Correctional Legal Services, Inc.