Massachusetts Court Records

Why Massachusetts Court Records are Available to the Public?

In 1851, the Massachusetts State Legislature passed a law named the Massachusetts Public Records Law. The first statutory provision was enacted in 1851 and established the public’s right to access governmental documents. Revisions in the 1970s expanded public access to all documents that were not exempt by narrowly construed exceptions. It aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public.

What Court Records Access Means To You?

The law is similar to the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted at the Massachusetts Public Records Law intent is that all records maintained by state and local government entities be available for public access and copying. It is located at Part I, Title X, Chapter 66 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Accountability to the Public

When the legislature enacted Massachusetts Public Records Law, it expressively declared that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state, Chapter 66: Public Records. Indeed, in Massachusetts, access to the government and court records, in particular, has been deemed a fundamental interest in citizenship and has emphasized that maxim disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations [is] to be promoted by the act. By promoting prompt public access to government records, the Massachusetts Public Records Law is intended to safeguard the accountability of government to the public.

How the Massachusetts Court Process Functions?

Most cases in Massachusetts courts begin in one of the 14 superior or trial courts located in each of the state’s 14 counties.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the Court of Appeals. Most cases before the Court of Appeals involves the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party involved in the case.

The Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state and has the discretion to review decisions of the Court of Appeals in order to settle important questions of law and to resolve conflicts among the Court of Appeals.

Some differences between Civil Court and Small Claims Court below

 Court

Small Claims

Civil

Appeal

Only the party who was sued can file an appeal. The person who filed the claim cannot appeal.

Either party can appeal.

Attorney Representation

You cannot have a lawyer file your papers or go to court with you – except for an appeal.

You can have a lawyer file your papers and go to court for you.

Filling fee for either the defendant or the plaintiff’s claim

$30 -$100 per claim

$180 - $320 per claim

Pretrial Discovery allowed

No

Yes

How long to complete your case

30-70 days after the complaint

120 days after you file the complaint

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you do not speak English well, bring someone who speaks English and asks the judge if that person can serve as your interpreter. The court cannot provide you an interpreter.

You can find an interpreter by using the Massachusetts Courts Interpreter Search page. Also, see the webpage with interpreter information on this website Court Interpreter Services.

How Massachusetts Court Records Are Structured?

The court records category is made up of civil and small claims matters.

Civil cases are matters where the petitioner is seeking more than $150,000. Close to 150,000 civil court records are filed with the courts annually. Civil cases also include other types of disputes that do not involve money, like cases to resolve (or “quiet”) title to real property, cases asking for civil restraining orders and requests to change your name or your child’s name.

  • Auto Torts
  • Other Personal Injury / Property
    Damage / Wrongful Death
  • Other Tort
  • Other Civil
  • Contracts
  • Real Property
  • Employment
  • Enforcement of Judgment
  • Unlawful Detainers
  • Judicial Review
  • Complex Litigation
  • Small Claims Appeals

Small Claims Court filings are cases where the petitioner is seeking $7,000 or less and is not represented by counsel. Close to 150,000 of small claims cases are filed statewide every year.

Here are some examples of common Small Claims Court cases:

  • Your former landlord refuses to return the security deposit you paid.
  • Someone dents your fender and refuses to pay for the repairs.
  • Your new TV does not work, and the store will not fix it.
  • Your tenant caused damage to the apartment, and the repairs cost more than their security deposit (Note: You cannot use small claims court to evict someone.).
  • You lent money to a friend, and he/she refuses to pay you back.
  • Small Claims Court can also order a defendant to do something, as long as the claim is also asking for money. For example, the court can cancel a contract or the court can order your neighbor to pay you for your lawn mower or order them to return it to you right away. 
Massachusetts State Archives

State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Case Number
  • Case Summary
  • Docket
  • Police Report
  • Court Documents
  • Legal Records
  • Case File
  • Statements
  • Transcripts
  • Legal Forms
  • Case Notes
  • Disposition
  • Trial Records
  • Arbitration
  • Case Evidence
  • Witnesses
  • Interviews
  • Descriptions
  • Mugshots
  • Charges
  • Legal Motions
  • Attorney Records
  • Prosecution Records
Massachusetts Bristol County Courthouse 1826

Massachusetts Bristol County Courthouse 1826

  • State Archives holds over 35,000 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of Courts: trial and appellate.
  • Superior Court has exclusive original jurisdiction in first-degree murder cases and original jurisdiction for all other crimes.
  • District Courts are often called “The People’s Court.” There are 62 separate courts and buildings.
  • The highest Court in Massachusetts is Massachusetts Supreme Court. It was established in 1692 and is the oldest appellate court in continuous existence in the Western Hemisphere.
  • 344CRWA
  • HandReach
  • tbflogo
  • Ipswich River
  • MEDCLogo
  • stateseal
  • Massachusetts