At arraignment in Massachusetts District Court, the judge will set a pretrial hearing for the case and order to the prosecutor and defense attorney to engage in a pretrial conference.
The conference must take place prior to the pretrial hearing—even if both events happen on the same day.
The subjects to be addressed during the pretrial conference include:
- Discovery matters that will be the subject of pretrial motions,
- Whether the case can be disposed without trial, and
- If trial is likely, the parties need to (1) set a date, (2) estimate the length of the trial, (3) determine the availability of witnesses, and (4) stipulate to facts that are uncontested.
The results of the conference will be written down in a pretrial “conference report” (see for Form DC CR-23) which will be signed by both sides and submitted to the clerk’s office, along with a certificate of discovery compliance, before the pretrial hearing.
In some courts, a magistrate may be appointed to oversee the pretrial conference.
If the attorneys fail to comply with the pretrial conference order, the judge may require them to attend a compliance hearing.
During this supervised hearing, the prosecution and the defense attorney will be compelled to satisfy the pretrial conference order originally issued at arraignment.
 See Mass. R. Crim. P. 11 and Dist./Mun. Cts. R. Crim. P. 3(c)