Where the original has been lost, destroyed, or otherwise made unavailable, its production may be excused and other evidence of its contents will be admissible, provided that certain findings are made as outlined in Section 1004.
This section is taken nearly verbatim from Commonwealth v. Ocasio, 434 Mass. 1, 6, 746 N.E.2d 469, 474 (2001).
“As a threshold matter, the proponent must offer evidence sufficient to warrant a finding that the original once existed. If the evidence warrants such a finding, the judge must assume its existence, and then determine if the original had become unavailable, otherwise than through the serious fault of the proponent and that reasonable search had been made for it.” (Citation, quotation, and ellipsis omitted.)
Id. at 6–7, 746 N.E.2d at 474.
A number of statutes equalize duplicates and originals. See, e.g., G. L. c. 233, § 76 (attested-to records of governmental departments); G. L. c. 233, § 76A (properly authenticated copies of documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission); G. L. c. 233, § 77 (copies of books, etc., of trust companies and banks); G. L. c. 233, § 79A (duly certified copies of public, bank, insurance, and hospital records); G. L. c. 233, § 79D (duly certified copies of newspapers made by photographic process and deposited in certain public and college libraries); G. L. c. 233, § 79E (reproductions made in the regular course of business); G. L. c. 233, § 79K (duplicate of a computer data file or program file unless issue as to authenticity or unfair to admit). See also G. L. c. 233, § 78 (court “may” order originals).