( G. L. c. 221, § 27A , as amended)

A. Superior Court Department. Case papers or records of the Superior Court Department under the custody of clerks of the Superior Court Department may be selectively retained pursuant to the following requirements:

(1) In Berkshire, Franklin and Hampshire counties, a systematic sample of case papers consisting of 10% (docket numbers ending in "0") for the period from 1860 to 1969 and 2% (docket numbers ending in "00" and "50") after 1969 shall be retained. Except as provided in paragraphs (4) and (5) of section A of this rule, all other papers and records may be destroyed pursuant to the procedures established in Section A.

(2) In Hampden, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Worcester counties, a systematic sample of case papers consisting of 20% (docket numbers ending in "0" and "5") for the period from 1860 to 1889, of 10% (docket numbers ending in "0") from 1890 to 1919, of 5% (docket numbers ending in "00", "20", "40", "60", and "80") for the period from 1920 to 1969 and 2% (docket numbers ending in "00", and "50") after 1969 shall be retained. Except as provided in paragraphs (4) and (5) of section A of this rule, all other papers and records may be destroyed pursuant to the procedures established in Section A.

(3) In Bristol, Middlesex and Suffolk counties, a systematic sample of case papers consisting of 20% (docket numbers ending "0" or "5") for the period from 1860 to 1889, of 10% (docket numbers ending in "0") from 1890 to 1919, of 5% (docket numbers ending in "00", "20", "40", "60", and "80") for the period from 1920 to 1969 and 2% (docket numbers ending in "00", and "50") after 1969 shall be retained. In the period when law and equity files are separate a 30% (docket numbers ending in "3", "6", and "9") systematic sample of equity files shall be retained. (i.e. Bristol-entered 1897 to June 30, 1974; Middlesex and Suffolk-entered 1892 to June 30, 1974). Except as provided in paragraphs (4) and (5) of section A of this rule all other papers and records may be destroyed pursuant to the procedures established in Section A.

(4) All case papers in the following categories not already retained pursuant to the basic sample of paragraphs (1), (2) or (3) shall be retained separately and prominently stamped "Oversample":

(a) Files with a thickness of 1 1/2 inches or more for the period of 1860 to 1889; 1 3/4 inches or more for the period of 1890 to 1919; 2 inches or more after 1919. (If flat-filed, one inch or more excluding depositions.)

(b) All files of cases appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court.

(5) Case papers or records in the following categories shall be completely retained:

(a) All records in Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, and Nantucket counties.

(b) All divorce and naturalization records.

(c) All docket books and extended records.

(d) All records in periods when both docket books and extended records are missing.

(e) All records in periods in which there has previously been destruction of some records.

(f) All records prior to 1860.

(g) All records filed in or related to proceedings which have not been finally disposed of for more than twenty years, except that case papers or records may be destroyed, subject to the sampling and other provisions of this rule, ten years after the final disposition of a case provided that the auditor has completed an audit of these papers or records and the clerk certifies to the Administrative Justice of the Superior Court Department that the dockets for any such papers or records to be destroyed contain essential information including entries, in those cases in which counsel is required, indicating representation by counsel or waiver of counsel and including, in civil cases, information sufficient to permit execution on a judgment within twenty years after the date of the judgment. Unless the clerk is otherwise notified, any case which has been pending for twenty or more years shall be deemed to have been finally disposed of for more than twenty years. In any criminal case in which a defendant has been sentenced to more than ten years' imprisonment, the case papers or records shall be retained for a period corresponding to the sentence imposed in that case.

(6) All cases retained pursuant to this rule shall be stamped so as to be clearly visible on the front, "SAMPLED". All containers for such cases shall be labeled so as to be clearly visible on the front, "SAMPLED-SEE SELECTION CRITERIA IN CLERK'S OFFICE." Copies of the selection criteria shall be available in the vault containing records, in the clerk's office, and in the State Archives.

(7) At least thirty days before any papers or records are destroyed, notice that it is proposed to destroy papers or records pursuant to this rule shall have been given to the public by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the office of the clerk is located and by posting a copy of such notice in the office of the clerk. The notice need not list specific cases but should identify the types of cases and the beginning and ending dates of the cases to be sampled (e.g. "civil cases 1900 through 1950"). Before publication the notice shall be approved by the Administrative Justice of the Superior Court Department. A copy of such notice shall also be sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court or his designee, and to the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court.

(8) No papers or records shall be destroyed without an order of the Administrative Justice of the Superior Court Department. Such order may be general in nature as provided for the notice in paragraph (7) of Section A of this rule. Before destroying any papers or records, the clerk shall notify the Administrative Justice of the Superior Court Department of the responses received, if any, as a result of the publication of such notice.

(9) Exceptions from any general description of papers to be destroyed may be made by the clerk or Administrative Justice of the Superior Court Department at any time.

B. District Court, Boston Municipal Court, Juvenile Court and Housing Court Departments. Case papers or records of the District Court, Boston Municipal Court, Juvenile Court and Housing Court Departments under the custody of the clerks of these departments may be selectively retained pursuant to the following requirements:

(1) A systematic sample of case papers consisting of 5% (docket numbers ending in "00", "20", "40", "60", and "80") for the period from 1800 to 1969 and 2% (docket numbers ending in "00" and "50") after 1969 shall be retained. Except as provided in paragraphs (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7) and (8) of Section B of this rule, all other papers and records may be destroyed pursuant to the procedures established in section B. If a case included within the 5% or 2% samples has no papers but has a card indicating that it was filed separately or was sent to the Superior Court, the card shall be retained as part of the sampled file.

(2) Case papers with a thickness of at least two inches (one inch, excluding depositions, if flat-filed) shall be retained regardless of whether they are part of the 5% or 2% samples described in paragraph (1). All such cases with a thickness of at least two inches (one inch, excluding depositions, if flat-filed) which are part of the 5% or 2% samples shall be maintained within the numbered sequence of retained sample cases. All other cases with a thickness of at least two inches (one inch, excluding depositions, if flat-filed) shall be retained separately from the main docket number sequence of sampled cases.

(3) All docket books and extended records (if any) shall be retained; and all records in periods when both docket books and extended records (if any) are missing shall also be retained.

(4) All records of any kind bearing date or known to have been filed earlier than the year eighteen hundred shall be retained.

(5) All naturalization and divorce (if any) records, and records of cases, acknowledgments and agreements filed pursuant to G. L. c. 209C shall be retained.

(6) Except as otherwise provided in this paragraph and in paragraphs (7) and (8) of Section B of this rule, in order to be eligible for destruction, any case to which the papers relate shall have been finally disposed of for more than twenty years. Case papers or records may be destroyed, subject to the sampling and other provisions of this rule, five years after the final disposition of a case provided that the auditor has completed an audit of these papers or records and the clerk certifies to the Administrative Justice of the appropriate department that the dockets for any such papers or records to be destroyed contain essential information including entries, in those cases in which counsel is required, indicating representation by counsel or waiver of counsel and including, in civil cases, information sufficient to permit execution on a judgment within twenty years after the date of the judgment. Unless the clerk is otherwise notified, any case which has been pending for twenty or more years shall be deemed to have been finally disposed of for more than twenty years.

(7) All papers filed in or relating to a care and protection case filed pursuant to G. L. c. 119, § 24 , shall be retained until the youngest child named on the petition has attained the age of twenty years.

All papers filed in or relating to a child in need of services case filed pursuant to G. L. c. 119, § 39E , shall be retained until five years after the last docket entry, court appearance, order entered or other activity in the case.

All papers filed in or relating to cases filed pursuant to G. L. c. 209, § 32F , G. L. c. 209D , or G. L. c. 273A (repealed by St. 1995, c. 5), in which Massachusetts is the responding State, shall be retained until ten years after the last docket entry, court appearance, order entered or other activity in the case.

(8) The following papers are not subject to the 5% or 2% sampling provisions of paragraph (1) of Section B of this rule nor to the twenty year requirement of paragraph (6) of Section B of this rule:

Any papers filed in or relating to a proceeding involving the alleged violation of laws, rules or regulations relating to civil motor vehicle infractions, motor vehicle parking, littering, bicycles, pedestrians, municipal dog control, or the decriminalized disposition of municipal ordinance or by-law violations or other decriminalized regulatory offenses may be destroyed two years after the final disposition of such a case provided that the auditor has completed an audit of these papers.

A sample of the types of case papers listed in this paragraph (8) shall be retained by the random selection of twenty of each type of case paper for each year of records to be destroyed.

(9) All cases retained pursuant to this order shall be stamped so as to be clearly visible on the front, "SAMPLED". All containers for such cases shall be labeled so as to be clearly visible on the front, "SAMPLED--SEE SELECTION CRITERIA IN CLERK'S OFFICE." Copies of the selection criteria shall be available in the vault containing the records, in the clerk's office, and in the State Archives.

(10) At least thirty days before any papers or records are destroyed, notice that it is proposed to destroy papers or records pursuant to this rule shall have been given to the public by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the office of the clerk is located and by posting a copy of such notice in the office of the clerk. The notice need not list specific cases but should identify the types of cases and the beginning and ending dates of the cases to be sampled (e.g. civil cases, 1900 through 1950). Before publication, the notice shall be approved by the presiding justice of the division, if any, in which the papers or records are stored and by the Administrative Justice of that Department. A copy of such notice shall be sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court or his designee and to the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court.

(11) No papers or records of the District Court, Juvenile Court or Housing Court Departments shall be destroyed without an order, approved by the Administrative Justice of the Department, of the presiding justice of the division in which the papers or records are stored. No papers or records of the Boston Municipal Court Department shall be destroyed without an order of the Administrative Justice of that Department. Such orders may be general in nature, as provided for the notice in paragraph (10) of Section B of this rule. Before destroying any papers or records, the clerk shall notify the presiding justice of the division, if any, and the Administrative Justice of that Department of the responses received as a result of the publication of such notice.

(12) Exceptions from any general description of papers to be destroyed may be made by the presiding justice, clerk or Administrative Justice at any time.

C. Land Court Department. Case papers or records of the Land Court Department under the custody of the Recorder may be selectively retained pursuant to the following requirements:

(1) A systematic sample of case papers in all miscellaneous cases within the Land Court's jurisdiction, other than proceedings for authority to foreclose a mortgage pursuant to the provisions of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, of 5% (every twentieth case) for the period prior to 1970 and 2% (every fiftieth case) after 1969 shall be retained. Case papers with a thickness of at least five inches, (three inches excluding depositions, if flat-filed) shall be retained regardless of whether they are part of the 5% or 2% samples, within the numbered sequence of retained sample cases. Except as provided in paragraphs (1), (2), (4), and (5), all remaining case papers in all other cases relating to miscellaneous Land Court jurisdiction may be destroyed after the expiration of twenty years from the date of final disposition. Case papers or records may be destroyed, subject to the sampling and other provisions of this rule, ten years after the final disposition of a case provided that the auditor has completed an audit of these papers or records and the Recorder certifies to the Administrative Justice of the Land Court Department that the dockets for any such papers or records to be destroyed contain essential information including information sufficient to permit execution on a judgment within twenty years after the date of the judgment. Unless the Recorder is otherwise notified, any case which has been pending for twenty or more years shall be deemed to have been finally disposed of for more than twenty years.

(2) Any papers filed in proceedings for authority to foreclose a mortgage pursuant to the provisions of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act are not subject to the 5% and 2% sampling provisions of paragraph (1) nor to the twenty year requirement thereof. Such papers may be destroyed five years after the final disposition of such a case, provided that the auditor has completed an audit of these papers. A sample of the type of case papers listed in this paragraph (2) shall be retained by the random selection of twenty case papers for each year of records to be destroyed.

(3) All registration case papers, abstracts, plans and subsequent proceedings to registration shall be retained. All case papers relating to the foreclosure of the right of redemption pursuant to G. L. c. 60, § 65 (tax), shall be retained.

(4) All cases appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court or Appeals Court shall be retained.

(5) All docket books and extended records (if any) shall be retained; and all records in periods when both docket books and extended records, if any, are missing shall also be retained.

(6) At least thirty days before any papers or records are destroyed, notice that it is proposed to destroy papers or records pursuant to this rule shall be given to the public by publication in a newspaper published in Suffolk County and by posting a copy of such notice in the office of the Recorder. The notice need not list specific cases, but should identify the types of cases and the beginning and ending dates of the cases to be sampled. Before publication, the notice shall be approved by the Administrative Justice of the Land Court Department. A copy of such notice shall also be sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court or his designee and to the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court.

(7) No papers or records of the Land Court Department shall be destroyed without an order approved by the Administrative Justice of the Land Court Department. Such order may be general in nature as provided for the notice in paragraph (6) of Section C of this rule. Before destroying any papers or records, the Recorder shall notify the Administrative Justice of the Land Court Department of the responses received, if any, as a result of the publication of such notice.

(8) Exceptions from any general description of papers to be destroyed may be made by the Administrative Justice or the Recorder at any time.

D. Probate and Family Court Department.

(1) Except as otherwise provided under this rule, case papers or records filed in or related to cases in the Probate and Family Court Department which have been finally disposed of for more than twenty years, and in which microimage copies have been made pursuant to Section E(1) of this rule, may be destroyed under the procedures established in Section D of this rule.

(2) The following types of documents may be destroyed under this rule without the need for a microimage copy:

(a) Guardian ad litem reports, including those of Family Service;

(b) Fiduciary account subsidiary schedules, but not cover pages, twenty years after allowance of the account in question;

(c) Financial statements filed under Rule 401 of the Supplemental Probate Court Rules.

(d) Transcripts of proceedings pursuant to Section E(3) of this rule.

(3) Case papers or records in the following categories shall be retained:

(a) All docket entries and record books;

(b) All records in periods when both docket entries and extended records are missing;

(c) All records prior to 1900;

(d) All case papers or records in any cases appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court;

(e) All probate case papers or records, except as enumerated in paragraphs (1) and (2) of Section D;

(f) All adoption case papers or records.

(4) At least thirty days before any papers or records are destroyed, notice that it is proposed to destroy papers or records pursuant to this rule shall have been given to the public by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the office of the register is located and by posting a copy of such notice in the office of the register. The notice need not list specific cases but should identify the types of cases and the beginning and ending dates of the cases to be destroyed (e.g. "divorce cases 1923 through 1950"). Before publication, the notice shall be approved by the Administrative Justice of the Probate and Family Court Department. A copy of such notice shall also be sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court or his designee, and to the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court.

(5) No papers or records shall be destroyed without an order of the Administrative Justice of the Probate and Family Court Department. Such order may be general in nature as provided for the notice in paragraph (4) of Section D of this rule. Before destroying any papers or records, the register shall notify the Administrative Justice of the Probate and Family Court Department of the responses received, if any, as a result of the publication of such notice.

(6) Exceptions from any general description of papers to be destroyed may be made by the register or Administrative Justice of the Probate and Family Court Department at any time.

E. General Provisions.

(1) With the exception of the case papers or records which must be retained pursuant to Section E(2) of this rule, all case papers or records subject to this rule may be destroyed after final disposition of the case if an approved process of microimaging the case papers or records has been completed. The process of microimaging, the storage of the microimages, and the destruction of papers and records shall be in accordance with procedures established by the Administrative Justice of the Department and approved by the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court. All microform copies must be consistent with the "Standards and Procedures for the Production of Microform Copies of Court Records" established pursuant to the order of the Supreme Judicial Court of July 28, 1987.

(2) All case papers and records in the following categories must be retained in their original form even if microform copies are available:

(a) All docket books and extended records;

(b) All records, except probate records, prior to 1860;

(c) Probate records listed in Section D(3) of this rule.

(3) Transcripts of proceedings may be destroyed two years after the final disposition of the case; provided, however, that if the case was decided by the Supreme Judicial Court, the transcript, or a microform copy of the transcript, shall be permanently retained.

(4) Irrespective of any other provision of this rule, upon final disposition of a case any excess papers, such as transmittal letters and duplicate copies, may be destroyed. The process of disposing of excess papers shall be within the discretion of the clerk, register, or recorder, as appropriate.