Massachusetts Court Records
One of the most interesting things about Massachusetts court records is that they have been around for centuries longer than other states’ records. The original appellate court was established in the 17th century and these court records have accumulated ever since. Coalitions between the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries and the state courthouse offer public access to a wide variety of Massachusetts court records.
If you plan to represent yourself in court, accessing court procedures, rules and forms are vital to your cause. Checking on the disposition of a case is quite easy if you have a party name to search or attorney involved. Most court records are deemed public unless they involve minors or contain very personal identifying information. Otherwise, you must be an involved party to request them formerly from the court.
History of Massachusetts Court Records
Massachusetts court records are likely the oldest in the country, as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is the oldest appellate court in the entire Western Hemisphere. It was established in 1692 as the Superior Court of Judicature, and was changed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1780 when the state’s constitution was written.
Massachusetts Court Records Availability
The Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries are spread throughout the state and serve as the primary source of Massachusetts court records. There are seventeen libraries total, and they offer access to Massachusetts laws and town ordinances, past court cases, legal forms and court rules. Court opinions are also maintained at these libraries, as well as historical documents and archives from the court system.
Many cases that are considered public are searchable online through the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries’ and courthouse resources. Court dockets and appellate cases are searchable by party name, attorney name, judge, lower (originating) court name and docket number. Appellate opinions are vital for attorneys and anyone preparing to represent themselves in court, as case histories are often utilized in arguments.
Civil and criminal court records, small claims, estate cases, business litigation, indictments, real property and tort cases are all available for review through the Massachusetts Judicial System. These Massachusetts court records originate from the Boston Municipal Court, District Court, Housing Court, Land Court, Probate & Family Court and Superior Court.
Main Court Information
There are seven justices sitting on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which meets in Boston at the John Adams Courthouse. It is the highest appellate court in the state, and hears appeals from lower trial courts.
The full bench hears cases from September through May, though single justices hear cases on a weekly basis.
Caseloads for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court typically only total a couple of hundred cases per year. In 2008, there were 214 filings and 222 dispositions. In 2014, there were 228 filings and 205 dispositions. However, these numbers are for full bench decisions. Individual justices may issue decisions in up to 600 cases per year.