Mass. R. Civ. P. 64
(1996): The 1996 amendments to Rule 64 create new sections (a) and (b). Rule 64(a) contains the pre-existing language of Rule 64 of the Mass. R. Civ. P., while Rule 64(b) contains the language of Rule 64 of the now-repealed Dist./Mun. Cts. R. Civ. P. as it existed effective July 1, 1994. Rule 64(b), applicable to the District Court and Boston Municipal Court, merely refers to Rule 5 of the District/Municipal Courts Rules for Appellate Division Appeal, which sets forth the procedures for a report to the Appellate Division.
Prior to July 1, 1994, Rule 64 of the Dist./Mun. Cts. R. Civ. P. dealt with "Preservation of Issues and Appeal to the Appellate Division." Effective July 1, 1994, these matters can be found in the District/Municipal Courts Rules for Appellate Division Appeal. It should be noted, however, that the pre-July 1994 version of Dist./Mun. Cts. R. Civ. P. 64 may still have application to appeals of matters occurring before July 1, 1994. See Rule 1A of the District/Municipal Courts Rules for Appellate Division Appeal.
(1973): Rule 64 preserves the former report procedure which gives a trial judge discretionary power to obtain appellate court determination of controlling questions of law without the necessity of a prior judgment in the trial court. Amended Mass.G.L. c. 231, §§ 111, 112 provide the statutory foundation for this procedure. Cases must be reported to the appeals court, except that a case pending before a single justice may be reported to either appellate court. This accords with former Mass.G.L. c. 214, §§ 31, 31A. An important aspect of the rule is its provision for the report of an interlocutory order. This provision is drawn from former Mass.G.L. c. 214, §§ 30, 30A; Mass.G.L. c. 231, § 111. Since there is no procedure for appeal of an interlocutory order, compare the federal practice, 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), a judge's authority to report a decisive order is the only effective way to obtain appellate review at an early stage of litigation, regulating and perhaps even obviating further proceedings in the trial court.
Rule 64 must be read in conjunction with Appellate Rule 5 which provides that a report is the equivalent of a notice of appeal for purposes of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure.