You can appeal an adverse decision by The Department of Children and Families (DCF) Fair Hearing Officer to the Superior Court.
- You file a complaint with the Superior Court. This complaint must be filed within thirty (30) days of the Fair Hearing officer supported decision or you may have waived your right to such. You must file this complaint in the county that you reside or in Suffolk County Superior Court. The Superior Court may extend the time for filing the complaint beyond the thirty (30) days for good cause.
- The complaint MUST be served upon DCF and the Attorney General’s Office. DCF, through the Attorney General’s Office, must respond to the complaint with an answer and with the original or a certified copy of the administrative record. This will occur within ninety (90) days.
- The DCF record will consist of (a) the entire records, or (b) such portions thereof as the agency and the parties may stipulate, or (c) a statement of the case agreed to by DCF and you. DCF is defending its decision that is supported against you and it has an obligation to provide The Superior Court with a copy of the transcript, or portion thereof, which supports its position against you.
- You must request a copy of the transcript of the DCF Fair Hearing. This must be requested by you within thirty (30) days from the DCF Fair Hearing date. The transcript shall be made part of the Superior Court record. The Superior Court has the discretion to assess the expense of preparing the record as part of the costs of the case. The Superior Court may also require or allow corrections or additions to the record. The Superior Court Rule 9A states that preliminary motions must be raised not later than twenty (20) days after service of the record by DCF.
Motions allowed by Mass. R. Civ. P. 12 (b) or 12(e):
- Improper venue.
- Insufficiency of process.
- Failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
- Failure to join a necessary party under Mass. R. Civ. P. 19.
Other motions include but are not limited to:
- A motion for leave to present testimony in court regarding alleged irregularities in the administrative procedure not shown on the record.
- Motion for leave to present additional evidence material to the issues in the case when there is good cause shown for not presenting it at the administrative hearing.
Failure to serve the motions within the twenty (20) day time limit, or within the Superior Court ordered extension of time, will result in you waiving this right.
Motion for leave to present additional evidence is allowed by the reviewing Superior Court; all further court proceedings stay until DCF hears the additional evidence. DCF may modify its findings and decisions after hearing the additional evidence. DCF must file the additional evidence with any modified or new findings with the reviewing Superior Court, to become part of the record. Most matters to the Superior Court are resolved by a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The memorandum and supporting affidavits must be served together with the motion.
The Superior Court will schedule a hearing for oral arguments. The oral argument is confined to the record. Any party may waive oral argument by filing a written notice with the Superior Court Clerk. The waiver does not affect the right of any other person to appear and present oral arguments in court.