Trial Exhibits

Superior Court Department: Rule 14

Trial exhibits are retained for 3 years from the date of trial or hearing, unless previously delivered to the offering party or confiscated or destroyed by order of the court.
After 3 years and after 30 days notice to the offering party, the Clerk may destroy trial exhibits.

District Court Department

No rule has been promulgated. The following practice is recommended by the Administrative Office of the District Court Department. See District Court Bulletin 3-84, Item 10, November 26, 1984.Trial exhibits should be retained for 3 years from the date of trial or hearing, unless previously delivered to the offering party or confiscated or destroyed by court order. After 3 years and after 30 days notice to the offering party, the Clerk may destroy trial exhibits. Courts that lack adequate storage space may opt for a shorter retention period but may do so only with the concurrence of the Presiding Justice and Clerk-Magistrate.

Probate and Family Court Department: Supplemental Rule 26

Exhibits which are placed in the custody of the register shall be retained by him for one year after the trial or hearing at which they were used, unless sooner delivered to the parties or counsel to whom they respectively belong or by whom they were respectively presented or introduced. If in doubt as to the party or counsel entitled to delivery, the register may require an agreement of parties or counsel or order of the court, before delivery. The register may destroy or discard such exhibits, but not earlier than thirty days after notice by him to the party presenting or introducing such exhibits, requesting him to remove them, nor earlier than one year after such trial or hearing.

All Departments of the Trial Court: Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:12

The legal custodian of the records shall retain original stenographic notes for 6 years from the original recording date before they may be destroyed.

Restrictions: These notes may not be destroyed:

  • Notes that the court has ordered to be kept.
  • Notes from which a transcript has been ordered but not completed

Electronic Recordation of Testimony Superior Court Department: Standing Order 2-87 (10)

The Clerk shall retain for 6 years from the date of original recording before they may be erased or destroyed. 

Restriction: Unless the Court has ruled otherwise. 

Land Court Department: Standing Order 1-88 (10) 

The Clerk shall retain for 6 years from the date of original recording before they may be erased or destroyed.

Restrictions: These recordings may not be destroyed:

  • When the matter is pending in court
  • When the matter is subject to or the subject of any appellate review
  • Where the court has ruled otherwise

Probate and Family Court Department: Supplemental Rule 201 (4)

The Register shall retain for 3 years from the date of original recording before they may be erased or destroyed.

Restrictions: These recordings may not be destroyed:

  • The matter is pending or the subject of appellate review

District Court Department: Special Rule 211 A (4)

The Clerk shall retain for 2 1/2 years from the date of original recording where a judge has presided at:

  • Any trial, evidentiary hearing, guilty plea or admission to sufficient facts in a criminal or juvenile delinquency case
  • Any trial or evidentiary hearing of a Care and Protection matter 

Retain for 1 year from the date of original recording for all other matters. 
Restriction: When a party has moved to preserve the recording for an appeal.

Boston Municipal Court Department: Special Rule 308 A (4) 

The Clerk shall retain for 2 1/2 years from the date of original recording where a judge has presided at:

  • Any trial, evidentiary hearing, guilty plea or admission to sufficient facts in a criminal or juvenile delinquency case
  • Any trial or evidentiary hearing of a Care and Protection matter 

Retain for 1 year from the date of original recording for all other matters where a judge has presided. 
Restriction: When a party has moved to preserve the recording for an appeal.

Probation Records

Records Eligible for Destruction

  • Juvenile/adult probation case folder information provided the individual has had no court activity for 10 years. 
  • Index reference cards (4x6 blue/buff/salmon) for individuals who have appeared in court shall be destroyed.

Sampling Procedures

  • Retain permanently, a 2% random sample of terminated case folders (i.e., every 50th case folder). 
  • NO sample of index reference cards shall be maintained. 

Restriction: A default is NOT considered a terminated case.

Destruction of Records

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.