Notable Decisions

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SJC-12849

IN THE MATTER OF BERTRAND.1

October 22, 2020.

Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts. Child Requiring Assistance.

 

The petitioner, a child who was the subject of a child requiring assistance (CRA) petition, see G. L. c. 119, § 39E, filed by his mother in the Juvenile Court, appeals from the judgment of a single justice of this court denying his petition pursuant to G. L. c. 211, § 3, seeking review of certain orders issued by the Juvenile Court. We affirm.

In addition to seeking review of the Juvenile Court’s orders in the CRA case, the child also sought an order from the single justice directing the Juvenile Court to dismiss the CRA petition. He also requested that a committee be formed to promulgate procedural rules concerning CRA cases. Before filing his petition in the county court, however, the child had already sought and been denied substantially the same relief from a single justice of the Appeals Court by means of an appeal filed pursuant to G. L. c. 119, § 39I. See Millis Pub. Schs. v. M.P., 478 Mass. 767, 775 (2018). The child had thus already pursued the remedy that the Legislature has provided for parties aggrieved by orders in CRA cases. Further, while this matter has been pending before this court, the underlying CRA petition

1 A pseudonym. The parties to this appeal are the child and his mother. The Juvenile Court Department of the Trial Court was also named as a party in the child’s G. L. c. 211, § 3, petition, but it is a nominal party only. See S.J.C. Rule 2:22, 422 Mass. 1302 (1996). was dismissed in the Juvenile Court, on the mother’s motion and with the child’s agreement.2

The single justice did not err or abuse his discretion when he elected not to exercise the court’s extraordinary power of general superintendence in these circumstances. A single justice is not required to employ the court’s extraordinary superintendence power when there is an adequate alternative remedy. Such a remedy existed here, namely, an appeal to a single justice of the Appeals Court as provided by G. L. c. 119, § 39I, and indeed the child pursued it. The fact that he did not win the relief he sought in that appeal does not render the legislatively prescribed remedy inadequate, nor does it entitle him to further review as a matter of right pursuant to G. L. c. 211, § 3. Where the child has failed to demonstrate any inadequacy in the statutory appeal framework, the single justice was warranted in denying review. 3

Judgment affirmed.

The case was submitted on briefs. Michael F. Kilkelly for the child. Rachel Matos for the mother. 2

We need not and therefore do not decide whether a child’s appeal pursuant to G. L. c. 119, § 39I, from a CRA adjudication becomes moot when the CRA petition is dismissed in the trial court during the pendency of the appeal. Cf. Matter of F.C., 479 Mass. 1029, 1029-1030 (2018) (addressing mootness argument in context of appeal from civil commitment order). That is not what happened here. The appeal was decided by the Appeals Court single justice before the parties agreed to dismiss the CRA petition.

3 A single justice of the Appeals Court has the discretion to report to a panel of the Appeals Court any appeal that presents novel, systemic, or otherwise important issues. See, e.g., Millis Pub. Schs. v. M.P., 478 Mass. 767, 775 (2018). The Appeals Court single justice in this case expressly considered but declined to exercise that option; he was well within his discretion to do so.