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Joseph Cacace offers expert analysis on pending appeal to SJC on evidentiary time limits

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is considering an appeal raising the issue of under what circumstances evidentiary time limits imposed by a trial judge denies a party’s right to a fair trial.

Jospeh M. Cacace, in a news article published by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, suggested that the SJC, who transferred the case from the Massachusetts Appeals Court, is looking for an “opportunity to provide clarity in this area and guidance to trial judges as to how they should be managing trials.”  He noted that most Massachusetts case precedents on this topic are from lower courts.

The products liability plaintiff in the case before the SJC is arguing that the trial judge, by limiting the time for presenting evidence to 28 hours, denied her a fair trial.

Mr. Cacace, who is not involved in the case, indicated that trial judges typically have broad discretion on evidentiary time limits.

To establish a denial of a fair trial, “You would have to demonstrate real prejudice like the inability to call key witnesses or to introduce key evidence essentially excluded from trial because of time limits,” he told the publication.  “The argument is much stronger if the [imposition of a time limit] is unexpected or occurs mid-trial.  If the ruling occurs before trial and both sides have the ability to plan how to present their cases within the time limits, then it’s harder to overturn a ruling imposing time limits.”

Mr. Cacace, a partner at the firm, handles complex civil litigation matters and appeals in a wide range of areas, including matters involving business disputes, civil rights, defamation, and employment law.