March 31, 2023, 7:02 pm
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General Information About Massachusetts Court Records and Laws
Massachusetts was one of the first states in America; in addition, it also has one of the more venerated and venerable court systems. Justice in the state of Massachusetts is dispensed through a tiered system topped with the oldest appellate court in the Western Hemisphere.
To Open or Not To Open
There are not any laws or court policies require Massachusetts court records to be posted online. In fact, the Supreme Judicial Court in the state has determined that for the time being less information online is best and that the majority of the information should be kept at the courthouse.
On the other hand, the court does recommend that some information from every case be made available online, including some docket entries, docket numbers, case captions, case types, party names except for criminal defendants, assigned judges and attorney information. The official website for the Appeals Court of Massachusetts and the Supreme Judicial Court feature information pertaining to the opinions of those courts, court calendars, docket information such as the brief filed by the involved parties, in addition to webcasts of oral arguments.
Some categories of Massachusetts court records are typically not open for review by the public, including records of dismissed controlled substance cases, grand jury records and records from care and protection cases. In addition, certain financial statements are not open to the public.
Other records that may or may not be available to the public include the names of sexual assault victims, commitment records and adoption records. Searching the Supreme Judicial Court Guidelines on the website will provide you with a complete list of the records that are open or closed, as well as those that are left up to the discretion of the court controlling the records.
In addition, if the court finds good reason, it may issue an order to impound court records upon the consideration of "the nature of the parties and the controversy, the type of information and the privacy interests involved, the extent of community interest, and the reason(s) for the request," according to the Supreme Judicial Court Guidelines.
Understanding Massachusetts Court
In order to make your quest for Massachusetts court records more successful, it is best to have a strong understanding of the court system in this state.
The trail court system in the state of Massachusetts consists of district courts, superior courts, probate and family courts, juvenile courts as well as housing courts, in addition to the land court and the Boston municipal court. The judicial system in Massachusetts is unified, which means that even though each court has a jurisdiction of its own, a certain amount of jurisdiction is shared with other courts on some cases.
The superior courts have general jurisdiction over all criminal and civil cases, yet it also hears cases that go beyond the jurisdiction of the other courts. In addition, the superior courts hear civil cases valued at over $25,000 as well as serious cases that may result in more than five years of imprisonment.
District courts can be found throughout the state of Massachusetts, with the exception of Boston. Civil cases under $25,000 and criminal cases, such as misdemeanors, felonies, ordinance violations and preliminary felony hearings are all under the jurisdiction of the district courts. In Boston, similar cases are heard by the municipal court.
Massachusetts Court Records
  • Legislation Records

    State House
    Beacon St, Room 428 (Document Room)
    Boston, MA 021332133
    p (617) 722-2860
  • Statewide Court Records

    2 Center Plaza, Room 540
    Boston, MA 021082108
    p (617) 742-8575
    f (617) 742-0968

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