Massachusetts Laws

Massachusetts Regulations

Federal Laws


Selected Case Laws

Record Retention Schedules

Web Sources

Print Sources

Massachusetts Laws

St.2016, c.121 (H4333) Act to Improve Public Records. Provides sweeping changes to public records law. Most provisions are effective January 1, 2017.
MGL c.4 s. 7 cl. 26 Definition of Public Records
MGL c.66 Public Records
MGL c.66A Fair Information Practices Act

Massachusetts Regulations and Guidelines

940 CMR 11 pdf format of 940 CMR 11
 Fair Information Practices Act
950 CMR 32 pdf format of 950 CMR 32
Public Records Access Regulations
950 CMR 33 pdf format of 950 CMR 33
Information Practices Regulations

Public Records Response Guidelines for Executive Branch Secretariats and Agencies pdf format of Public Records Requests Memo
, Gov. Baker, July 30, 2015.
Memo to cabinet secretaries outlines requirements for responses to requests, including standardized charges and more.

Federal Laws

5 USC 552 Freedom of Information Act


Freedom of Information Forms

Selected Case Law

Champa v. Weston Public Schools , 473 Mass. 86 (2015). 
A "settlement agreement, regarding a public school's placement of a student who required special education services in an out-of-district private educational institution, between the public school and the parents of the student was exempt from the definition of “public records” ... and therefore not subject to disclosure... without a redaction of personally identifiable information..."

Comm. v. Fremont Investment and Loan , 459 Mass. 209 (2011)
Massachusetts "public records law does not abrogate judicial protective orders."

Comm. v. Fujita , 470 Mass. 484 (2015)
A list of jurors must be "retained in the court file of the case and be made available to the public in the same manner as other court records; further, this court concluded that only on a judicial finding of good cause, which may include a risk of harm to the jurors or to the integrity of their service, may such a list be withheld."

General Electric Co. v. Department of Environmental Protection , 429 Mass. 798 (1999)
Materials privileged as work product are not protected from disclosure under the public records statute, unless they fall within the scope of an express statutory exemption

Hull Municipal Lighting Plant v. Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. , 414 Mass. 609 (1993)
Public records are broadly defined and include all documentary materials made or received by an officer or employee of any corporation or public entity of the Commonwealth unless one of the nine statutory exemptions is applicable

Lambert v. Judicial Nominating Council , 425 Mass. 406 (1997)
In concluding that the records of the Judicial Nominating Council are not public records, the court said, in part, " Neither the Legislature nor the Judiciary are expressly included in G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth... Likewise, the Governor also is not explicitly included in clause Twenty-sixth. 'Like the Legislature and the Judiciary, the Governor possesses incidental powers which he can exercise in aid of his primary responsibility.' "

Peckham v. Boston Herald, Inc. , 48 Mass. App. Ct. 282 (1999)
Judicial records are not within the law's definition of "public records," and so that law's privacy exemption did not apply in an invasion of privacy suit arising from a newspaper's reporting on a paternity action

Suffolk Construction v. Dept. of Capital Asset Management , 449 Mass. 444 (2007)
In distinguishing the work-product doctrine (see General Electric, above) from attorney-client privilege, the court ruled that documents covered by the attorney-client privilege are not subject to Massachusetts' public records law

Worcester Telegram & Gazette v. Chief of Police of Worcester , 58 Mass. App. Ct. 1 (2003)
"[M]aterials in an internal affairs investigation are different in kind from the ordinary evaluations, performance assessments and disciplinary determinations encompassed in the public records exemption for 'personnel [file] or information.'"

Record Retention Schedules

MGL c. 66, § 8 : Preservation of Certain Books, Papers and Records; Destruction of Certain Original Instruments
Law gives the timeline for keeping state, county, city and town records

Massachusetts Records Retention Schedules , Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Searchable database of municipal and statewide records retention schedules, providing detailed guidance in the storage and disposal of records

Massachusetts Trial Court Record Retention Schedule, Administrative Office of the Trial Court
Outlines requirements for each court department.


Massachusetts Secretary of State Public Records Division
1 Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, MA 02108

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
1815 N. Ft. Myer Drive, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22209

Web Sources

Police Records

Other Public Records

Print Sources

Last update: November 7, 2016

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