Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:11

Superior Court Department

  1. Permanent Records: Records that may not be destroyed
  • Records prior to 1860.
  • Records in Barnstable, Dukes, Essex and Nantucket Counties.
  • Dockets and extended records.
  • Records in periods when both docket books and extended records are missing.
  • Divorce and naturalization records.
  • Records in periods in which there has previously been destruction of some records.
  • Transcripts or microforms of transcripts of cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court.
  1. Records that may be destroyed: Records that are not permanent or restricted may be destroyed provided the designated samples are retained

Ten Years from the date of disposition

Civil and criminal cases may be destroyed, subject to the restrictions detailed below and after a sample is taken following the procedures outlined in Section 3.
Restriction: Cases must have been audited and the Clerk must certify to the Chief Justice of the Superior Court Department that docket entries contain:

  • Court-appointed counsel or waiver of counsel information
  • Information in civil cases to allow execution of judgement 20 years from the date of disposition.

Restriction: Criminal cases in which an imposed sentence exceeds 10 years shall be retained for the length of the sentence.

Twenty years from the date of disposition

Civil and criminal cases may be destroyed, subject to the restriction detailed below and after a sample is taken following the procedures outlined in Section 3.
Restriction: Criminal cases in which an imposed sentence exceeds 20 years must be maintained for the length of the sentence.

Note: Any case that has been pending for 20 years or more is considered finally disposed of for more than 20 years.

  1. Sampling Procedures by County

Hampden, Norfolk, Plymouth, Worcester Counties

1860-1889: 20% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "0" and "5".

1890-1919: 10% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "0".

1920-1969: 5% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "00", "20", "40", "60" and "80".

1970 onward:
2% sample retained. Retain case papers with numbers ending in "00" and "50".

Bristol, Middlesex, and Suffolk Counties

1860-1889: 20% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "0" and "5".

1890-1919: 10% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "0".

1920-1969: 5% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "00", "20", "40", "60" and "80".

1970 onward: 2% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "00" and "50".

Equity cases filed separately: 30% sample retained. Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "3", "6", and "9".

Bristol - 1897 to 1974.
Middlesex and Suffolk - 1892 to 1974.

Berkshire, Franklin, and Hampshire Counties

1860-1969: 10% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "0".

1970 onward: 2% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "00" and "50".

Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, and Nantucket Counties

The records of these counties shall be retained permanently and may not be destroyed or selectively sampled.

  1. Oversample: Cases Not Selected Under the Above Sampling Procedures But Retained Because of Their Presumed Importance
  • Files of cases appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court.
  • 1860-1889: Files with a thickness of 1 1/2 inches or more.
  • 1890-1919: Files with a thickness of 1 3/4 inches or more.
  • 1920 onward: Files with a thickness of 2 inches or more; if flat filed, files with a thickness of 1 inch or more without depositions.
  • Oversamples shall be retained separately from other samples. Stamp "OVERSAMPLE" on each case folder.
  1. Labeling Cases Retained in the Sample
  • Stamp "SAMPLE" on each case file folder in the sample.
  • Mark storage cartons "SAMPLED - SEE SELECTION CRITERIA IN CLERK'S OFFICE."
  • Copies of the selection criteria (i.e., this Schedule or SJC Rule 1:11) shall be kept where the records are stored, the Clerk's office, and the Trial Court Records Storage Centers.
  1. Public Notice Requirements

Before eligible records may be destroyed, 30 days public notice is required. The notice shall be printed in a single edition of a general circulation newspaper published in the county in which the court is located and publicly posted in the Clerk's office.

  • The destruction notice shall identify the record type(s) and applicable years being destroyed (e.g. Civil Case Files from 1970 through 1974, Criminal Case Files from 1958 through 1974).
  • Before its publication, the notice shall be submitted to the Chief Justice of the Superior Court Department for approval.
  • A copy of the approved notice shall be sent to the Chief Justice for Administration and Management and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.
  1. Destruction of Records

The Clerk shall notify the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of any responses to the notice.

  • Records may be destroyed only upon the order of the Chief Justice.
  • Records shall be burned, shredded, or torn so that NO document or paper can be restored or reconstructed.
  • The Trial Court Records Management Coordinator (617) 742-8383 x344 may arrange the pickup and destruction of records.
  1. Destruction of Transcripts
  • Transcripts of proceedings may be destroyed 2 years from the date of final disposition.
  • Restriction: Transcripts or microforms of transcripts of cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court shall be retained permanently. (see section 1, above)
  1. Destruction of Excess Case Papers

Upon final disposition of a case, excess case papers (e.g., transmittal letters or duplicate copies) may be destroyed at the Clerk's discretion.

Clerk-Magistrates and Presiding Justices are encouraged to retain permanently those case records of known historical significance not otherwise required to be retained under this rule.


Boston Municipal, District, Housing, and Juvenile Court Departments

  1. Permanent Records: Records that may not be destroyed
  • Records bearing a date or known to have been filed earlier than 1800.
  • Docket books and extended records.
  • Records in periods when both docket books and extended records, if any, are missing.
  • Guardianship of a minor records (G.L. c. 201).
  • Naturalization, divorce and paternity records (G.L. c. 209C).
  • Adoption, termination of parental rights, and care and protection records filed on or after January 29, 1993 in which a termination of parental rights decree was entered (G.L. c. 210).
  • Transcripts or microforms of transcripts of cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court.
  1. Records that may be destroyed: Records that are not permanent or restricted may be destroyed provided the designated samples are retained

Cases may be eligible for destruction after a sample has been taken at the end of 2, 5, 10, or 20 years from the date of final disposition depending on subject matter and stated restrictions. In those courts where docket sheets have been stored in the case jackets, the docket sheets must be pulled and docket books assembled before sampling and destruction of case papers can begin.

Note: Small Claims cases, whether docketed or not, are treated as any other civil case.

Restricted Case Types

The following case types may not be destroyed until the retention requirements have been met and a sample retained following the procedures detailed in Section 3.

Case TypeRetention Requirements
Care and Protection (G.L. c. 119 s.24) filed before January 29, 1993 and filed on or after that date, if no termination of parental rights decree was entered.Until youngest child is 20 years old.
CHINS (G. L. c.119 s. 39)5 years after last docket entry.
Separate Support (G. L. c.209 s. 32F)Separate Support (G. L. c.209 s. 32F) 10 years after last docket entry, court appearance, order entered or other activity in the case.
Family Support (G. L. c. 209D)10 years after last docket entry, court appearance, order entered or other activity in the case.
URESA (G.L. c. 273A) where Mass. Is the responding state10 years after last docket entry or final case activity.


Five years from the date of disposition
Civil and criminal cases may be destroyed, subject to the restriction detailed below, and after a sample is taken following the procedures outlined in Section 3, below.

Restriction: Cases must have been audited, and the Clerk must certify to the Administrative Justice of the Department that docket entries contain:
Court-appointed counsel or waiver of counsel information. Information in civil cases to permit execution of judgment 20 years from the date of disposition.

Twenty years from the date of disposition
Civil and criminal cases may be destroyed after a sample is taken following the procedures outlined in Section 3, below.

Note: Any case that has been pending for 20 years or more is considered disposed of for more than 20 years.

Guardian ad litem reports, including those of Family Services may be destroyed 20 years after the last docket entry or final case activity.

  1. Sampling Procedures for Case Papers Identified Above

1800-1969: 5% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "00", "20", "40", "60" and "80".

1970 onward: 2% sample retained.
Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "00" and "50".

Where no case papers exist for a sampled folder.
Retain the card (folder).

  1. Case Papers not Subject to the above Guidelines
    The following subject matter case papers are NOT subject to the retention, restriction, or sampling procedures detailed in Sections 2 and 3. Audited case papers are eligible for destruction after 2 years and sampling provided that they have been sampled as described below.

Case Type

  • Bicycle Violations
  • Civil Motor Vehicle Infractions
  • Decriminalized Regulatory Offenses
  • Decriminalized Municipal Ordinances or By-Law Violations
  • Littering Violations
  • Motor Vehicle Parking Violations
  • Municipal Dog Control Violations
  • Pedestrian Violations

Sampling Procedure: Prior to destruction, 20 random cases from each year and case type shall be selected and retained permanently.

  1. Oversampling: Cases Not Selected Under the Above Sampling Procedures but retained because of their Presumed Importance
  • Retain case files 2 inches thick or more. If flat-filed, excluding depositions, retain case files 1 inch thick or more.
  1. Labeling Case Retained in the Sample
  • Stamp "SAMPLE" on the front of each case folder.
  • Mark containers "SAMPLED - SEE SELECTION CRITERIA IN CLERK'S OFFICE".
  • Copies of the selection criteria (i.e., this Schedule or SJC Rule 1:11) shall be kept where the records are stored, the Clerk's office, and the Trial Court Records Storage Centers.

Public Notice Requirement

  • Before eligible records may be destroyed (except as noted below), 30 days public notice is required. The notice shall be printed in a single edition of a general circulation newspaper published in the county in which the court is located and publicly posted in the Clerk's office.
    Note: Since the following records types are impounded and not available to the general public, thirty days public notice is not required before their destruction - Guardian ad litem reports, including those of Family Services.
  • The notice shall identify the record type(s) and applicable years being destroyed (e.g. Civil Case Files from 1970 through 1974, Criminal Case Files from 1958 through 1974).
  • Before its publication, the notice shall be submitted to the Presiding Justice of the Division, if any, and the Chief Justice of the Department for approval.
  • A copy of the approved notice shall be sent to the Chief Justice for Administration and Management and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.
  1. Destruction of Records
  • The Clerk shall notify the Presiding Justice of the Division, if any, and the Chief Justice of the Department of any responses to the published notice.
  • Records may be destroyed only upon the order of the Presiding Justice of the Division, if any, and the Chief Justice of the Department.
    Note: In the Boston Municipal Court Department, the order permitting destruction comes from the Chief Justice of the Department.
  • Records shall be burned, shredded, or torn so that NO document or paper can be restored or reconstructed.
  • The Trial Court Records Management Coordinator (617) 742-8383 x344 may arrange the pickup and destruction of records.
  1. Destruction of Transcripts
  • Transcripts of proceedings may be destroyed 2 years from the date of final disposition.
  • Restriction: Transcripts or microforms of transcripts of cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court, shall be retained permanently. (see part 1, above)
  1. Destruction of Excess Case Papers
  • Upon final disposition of a case, excess case papers (e.g. transmittal letters or duplicate copies) may be destroyed at the Clerk's discretion.
  • Clerk-Magistrates and Presiding Justices are encouraged to retain permanently those case records of known local historical significance not otherwise required to be retained under this rule.

Land Court Department

  1. Permanent Records: Records That May Not Be Destroyed
  • Registration case papers, abstracts, plans and subsequent proceedings to registration
  • Case papers relating to the foreclosure of the right of redemption pursuant to G. L. c. 60, s. 65 (tax).
  • Cases appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court or the Appeals Court.
  • Docket books and extended records.
  • Records in periods when both docket books and extended records, if any, are missing.
  • Transcripts or microforms of transcripts of cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court.
  1. Records that May Be Destroyed: Records that are not permanent or restricted may be destroyed provided the designated samples are retained

Restricted Case Types

Cases under the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act are not eligible for sampling or destruction under this part or Parts 3 and 4. (See section 5 for specific instructions.)

Ten years from the date of disposition
Cases may be destroyed, subject to the restriction detailed below and after a sample is taken following the procedure outlined in Section 3.

Restriction: Cases must have been audited, and the Recorder must certify to the Administrative Justice of the Land Court Department that the docket entries contain information to permit the execution of judgment 20 years from the date of disposition.

Twenty years from the date of disposition

Cases may be destroyed after a sample is taken following the procedures outlined in Section 3.

Note: Any case that has been pending for 20 years or more is considered disposed of for more than 20 years.

  1. Sampling procedures for a case papers identified above
  • Up to 1969: 5% sample retained Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "00", "20", "40", "60" and "80".
  • 1970 onward: 2% sample retained Retain case papers with docket numbers ending in "00" and "50".
  1. Oversampling: Cases not selected under sampling procedures (Part 3) but retained because of their presumed importance
  • Retain case files 5 inches thick or more. If flat-filed, retain cases 3 inches thick or more, excluding depositions.
  1. Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act
  • Case papers relating to actions to foreclose a mortgage under the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act shall be retained for 5 years after final disposition of the case and completion of an audit.
  • Sampling Procedure: Retain permanently 20 randomly-selected cases for each year.
  1. Public Notice Requirements
  • Thirty (30) days notice of the destruction of records shall be published in a single edition of a general circulation newspaper published in Suffolk County and publicly posted in the Recorder's office.
  • The notice shall identify the record type(s) and applicable years being destroyed (e.g. Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act Case Papers from 1969 through 1979)
  • Before its publication, the notice shall be submitted to the Chief Justice of the Land Court Department for approval.
  • A copy of the approved notice shall be sent to the Chief Justice for Administration and Management and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.
  1. Destruction of Records
  • The Recorder shall notify the Chief Justice of the Department of any responses to the notice.
  • Records may be destroyed only upon the order of the Chief Justice of the Department.
  • Records shall be burned, shredded, or torn so that NO document or paper can be restored or reconstructed.
  • The Trial Court Records Management Coordinator (617) 742-8383 x344 may arrange the pickup and destruction of eligible records.
  1. Destruction of Transcripts
  • Transcripts of proceedings may be destroyed 2 years from the date of final disposition
  • Restriction: Transcripts or microforms of transcripts of cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court shall be retained permanently. (see section 1, above)
  1. Destruction of Excess Case Papers
  • Upon final case disposition, excess case papers (e.g. transmittal letters, duplicate records) may be destroyed at the discretion of the Recorder.
  • The Recorder and the Chief Justice are encouraged to retain permanently those case records of known local historical significance not otherwise required to be retained under this rule.

Probate and Family Court Department

  1. Permanent Records: Records that may not be destroyed whether or not microfilmed
  • Docket entries and record books.
  • Records in periods when both docket entries and extended records are missing.
  • Records prior to 1900.
  • Papers or records of any cases appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court.
  • Adoption case papers or records with the exception of guardian ad litem reports and service plans.
  • Transcripts or microforms of transcripts of cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court.
  1. Record Subject to Destruction but Not Required to Be Microfilmed
  • These records types may be destroyed 10 years from the date of final disposition.
  • Pre-trial briefs and memoranda .
  • URESA (G. L. c. 273A), when Massachusetts is the responding state.
  • These record types may be destroyed 20 years from the date of final disposition.
  • Guardian ad litem reports, including those of Family Services, service plans.
  • Fiduciary account subsidiary schedules.
  • This record type may be destroyed 24 years from the date of final disposition without being microfilmed: Financial statements filed under Rule 401 of the Supplemental Probate Court Rules.
  • Affidavits
  1. Record Subject to Destruction but Required to Be Microfilmed
  • Records that are not designated as permanent under section 1 or specifically identified in section 2, above, may be destroyed 20 years from the date of final disposition such as subsidiary case papers other than the complaint, judgment and agreement, contempt and modifications complaints and judgments, including motions, affidavits, answers, etc.
  • Prior to destruction, these records shall be microfilmed in accordance with SJC Rule 1:11 s. E.
  1. Destruction of Transcripts
  • Transcripts of proceedings may be destroyed 2 years after final disposition.
  • Restriction: Transcripts or microforms of transcripts of cases decided by the Supreme Judicial Court shall be retained permanently. (see section 1, above)
  1. Public Notice Requirements
  • Before eligible records may be destroyed (except as noted below), 30 days public notice is required. The notice shall be published in a single edition of a general circulation newspaper published in the county in which the court is located and publicly posted in the Register's office.
  • Note: Since the following record types are impounded and not available to the general public, thirty days public notice is not required before their destruction - Guardian ad litem reports, including those of Family Service, and Financial Statements filed under Rule 401 of the Supplemental Probate Court Rules.
  • The notice shall identify the record type(s) and applicable years being destroyed (e.g. "Divorce records from 1945 through 1970, all of which have been microfilmed"). The notice shall also state that only parties to the case and attorneys of record may collect papers from the Registry.
  • Before its publication, the notice shall be submitted to the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court for approval.
  • A copy of the approved notice shall be sent to the Chief Justice for Administration and Management and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.
  1. Destruction of records
  • The Register shall notify the Chief Justice of the Department of any responses to the published notice.
  • Records may be destroyed only upon the order of the Chief Justice of the Department.
  • Records shall be burned, shredded, or torn so that NO document or paper can be restored or reconstructed.
  • The Trial Court Records Management Coordinator (617) 742-8383 x344 may arrange the pickup and destruction of eligible records.
  1. Destruction of Excess Case Papers
  • Upon final disposition of a case, excess case papers (e.g. transmittal letters, duplicate records) may be destroyed at the Register's discretion.
  • Registers and Presiding Justices are encouraged to retain permanently those case records of known local historical significance not otherwise required to be retained under this rule.

Microforms

This section applies to all Departments of the Trial Court. Please see the Probate and Family Court Department section for additional specific guidelines for that Department.

  1. Records Retained Permanently Whether or Not Microfilmed
  • Dockets and extended records.
  • Records prior to 1860, except Probate records
  • Probate Court records listed in paragraph 1 of the Probate and Family Court Department section of this schedule.
  1. Microfilmed Records
  • Microfilmed records, except those listed in paragraph 1 above, may be destroyed after final disposition provided the microfilm copy conforms with the Supreme Judicial Court's "Standards and Procedures for the Production of Microform Copies of Court Rules."
  1. Destruction of Hardcopy (original) Records After Microfilming.
  • Records shall be burned, shredded, or torn so that NO document or paper, so destroyed, can be restored.
  • The Trial Court Records Management Coordinator (617) 742-8383 x344 may arrange the destruction of eligible records that have been microfilmed.