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Negron v. Commissioner of Correction

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

January 13, 2020

JOSÉ L. NEGRÓN
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION.

         Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts. Indigent. Practice, Civil, Costs.

          Jose L. Negr6n, pro se.

         Jose L. Negr6n appeals from a judgment of the county court denying, without a hearing, his petition for relief under G. L. c. 211, § 3. We affirm.

         Negr6n is the plaintiff in a civil action pending in the Superior Court in which he is challenging certain regulations of the Department of Correction.[1] A judge in the Superior Court determined that Negr6n was indigent and waived the filing fee for the Superior Court action, but denied his motion to make service of process on the defendants via regular mail; the judge ordered him to make service on all defendants by certified mail at his own expense and to return the green receipt card for each defendant. The judge also denied Negr6n's subsequent motion for reconsideration.

         Negr6n then sought review from a single justice of the Appeals Court of the judge's order requiring service of process by certified mail, and he requested a waiver of the Appeals Court's filing fee for his single justice petition. A single justice of the Appeals Court, after reviewing Negr6n's affidavit of indigency and other information provided pursuant to G. L. c. 261, § 29, ordered that Negr6n pay a significantly reduced filing fee for his petition. Negr6n's motion for reconsideration of this order was denied, as was his motion for leave to appeal from the denial of reconsideration. Contending that the reduced amount was nonetheless too high, Negr6n then filed the instant G. L. c. 211, § 3, petition. A single justice of this court denied all relief without a hearing.[2]

         The case is before us pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 2:21, as amended, 434 Mass. 1301 (2001), which requires a party challenging an interlocutory ruling of the trial court to "set forth the reasons why review of the trial court decision cannot adequately be obtained on appeal from any final adverse judgment in the trial court or by other available means."[3] Negr6n has not done so. To the extent that he is challenging the underlying interlocutory ruling of the Superior Court requiring him to make service by certified mail, his remedy lies with a single justice of the Appeals Court, and indeed, as described supra, he is pursuing such a remedy.[4] To the extent that he is challenging the ruling of the single justice of the Appeals Court requiring him to pay a reduced filing fee in connection with his petition in that court, rule 2:21 does not apply. Nonetheless, it is clear that Negr6n has an adequate remedy in the ordinary appellate process from the single justice's ruling, "namely an appeal to a panel of the Appeals Court from the order[] of the single justice[] of the Appeals Court" declining to waive the fee outright or to reduce it further.[5] See Hunt v. Appeals Court, 444 Mass. 460, 463 (2005) (litigant aggrieved by order of Appeals Court single justice refusing to waive or reduce filing fee has right to appeal single justice's order to panel of Appeals Court) .

         Because Negr6n has these remedies in the ordinary appellate process, the single justice did not err or abuse her discretion by denying extraordinary relief.

         Judgment affirmed.

         The case was submitted on the papers filed, accompanied by a memorandum of law.

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Notes:

[1] The Superior Court case originated as a G. L. c. 211, § 3, petition filed by Negr6n in the county court. A single justice -- not the one who denied relief in the instant case -- ordered that the matter be transferred to the Superior Court. That petition is not before us.

[2] Action on the petition before the Appeals Court single justice, i.e., the request for review of the Superior Court order requiring service of process by certified mail, has been stayed.

[3] Negr6n's papers in this court are styled as an "application for further appellate review" and a "further appellate review brief." Further appellate review is inapplicable here, however, where he is appealing from a judgment of the county court rather than seeking further review after a decision of an Appeals Court panel. We treat his papers as a memorandum and ...


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