The Supreme Judicial Court Rules Committee solicits comments on proposed amendments to SJC Rule 1:11, Rule Relative to the Disposal of Old Court Papers and Records. In light of improvements in electronic storage and limited space to store paper records, the Supreme Judicial Court appointed a Committee to review the requirements of Rule 1:11. The Court asked the Committee to consider whether changes were warranted regarding the scope of case records required to be retained permanently and whether any records might be retained electronically.   

Based on the Committee’s recommendations and further modifications as suggested by the SJC Rules Committee, the major proposed revisions to Rule 1:11 would:

  1. Allow courts to maintain most case records electronically, once paper records have been converted to, and stored in, an approved archival digital format;  
  2. Allow every trial court to dispose of and retain records based upon sampling, eliminating the requirement that certain Superior Courts retain all of their records permanently;
  3. Simplify the public notice required before disposing of records by allowing notice to be posted on the Courts' website rather than published in local newspapers;  
  4. Permit the destruction of dockets related to proceedings involving minor offenses, such as civil motor vehicle infractions, as long as minimal sampling rules are followed; and
  5. Bring the disposal of case records in the Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court within the scope of Rule 1:11, which currently only governs Trial Court records.

As amended, Rule 1:11 would remain permissive and not require the destruction of any records.  

The proposed amendments appear at the link below. Comments should be directed to Christine P. Burak, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108 on or before June 23, 2017 (Please note: this reflects an extension of the comment period). Comments may also be emailed to christine.burak@jud.state.ma.us. Comments received will be made available to the public.  

Proposed SJC Rule 1:11 pdf format of Proposed Amendments to SJC Rule 1:11