Supreme Judicial Court Delays Decision on Acton CPA Lawsuit

January 24, 2018: Last September, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) heard oral arguments concerning the ongoing CPA lawsuit in the town of Acton. This case, which began in 2016, will determine the legality of using CPA funds to rehabilitate an active house of worship, even when those funds are used exclusively for historic preservation purposes. After the hearing, Tad Heuer from Foley Hoag provided the Coalition with a summary of the proceedings, noting that the usual "practice of the SJC is to issue written decisions within 130 days of the oral argument," meaning that a ruling should have been released by mid-January 2018."

However, on Thursday, January 18th, the SJC granted itself an extension by issuing an order to waive the 130-Day rule on this case. Extensions of this type are rare, but they do occur, and very few definite conclusions can be drawn from it. According to a legal representative familiar with the SJC, "the 130-Day rule was waived probably a dozen times last term." There could be for a number of reasons for the delay. It could be due to the complicated nature of a case, or it could merely be to allow additional time for the judge writing the decision. This Boston Globe article from 2003 summarizes a similar situation regarding a high profile SJC decision that was delayed, and explains several of the reasons that can result in an extension.

In any case, what this means for the world of CPA is that we won't know the outcome of the case until the decision is formally issued. And with the 130-Day rule waived, this could mean a matter of days, or we may be waiting several months. The Coalition will provide an update as soon as it is available.

Further Resources

>> Case Docket for GEORGE CAPLAN & others vs. TOWN OF ACTON, SJC-12274

>> Previous Coalition Coverage: Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4

>> Review of the Supreme Judical Court Hearing on the Acton CPA Lawsuit