Guide Trial Court record retention schedule

The Trial Court Record Retention Schedule was originally published in March 1982 and updated in September 1991. While the former addressed only the retention of administrative records, the current version added retention requirements for case papers, testimony, and trial exhibits.

Record retention introduction

The Trial Court Record Retention Schedule was originally published in March 1982 and updated in September 1991. While the former addressed only the retention of administrative records, the latter added retention requirements for case papers, testimony, and trial exhibits. Certain changes and refinements to records retention requirements have been incorporated into this revision of the Schedule. These changes, together with formal instructions for transferring and retrieving records to/from the records storage centers, should further streamline records management practices throughout the Trial Court. Procedural steps remain the same for retaining, sampling, and destroying cases.

If an administrative record generated by your court is not listed in the Schedule, then the retention period should be the same as for a listed record that performs the same or similar function.

Different case types may have varying restrictions and retention periods. Attempting to identify restrictions "after the fact" has proved to be an impediment to destruction of case papers. It is suggested that courts develop systems or methods to identify or "tag" restricted cases while the case is still active, either at the time of origination or at the time of final disposition, depending on the restriction and ease of method.

If you are seeking a Trial Court record, please go to the Office of the Clerk Magistrate or Register of Probate where your proceeding was heard, for assistance.

Record retention glossary

Audit - Examination of a court's records or accounts by the Office of the State Auditor OR the Trial Court Internal Auditors. The audit period stated refers to the time period after the clearance of the audit. An audit is considered "cleared" when questions raised by the audit have been reviewed and resolved.

Extended Record - Narrative history of a case compiled by the Clerk that includes the court name, year and term, the names of justices sitting for the term, names of plaintiffs and defendants, type of action (criminal or civil), damages sought and summaries of the cases.

Judicial Archives - Managed by the Supreme Judicial Court and located at the State Archives in Boston, it preserves court records of historical significance.

Legal Custodian - Person empowered by statute with the care and custody of records, books, papers, filed or deposited in their respective offices: Clerk-Magistrates (G. L. c. 221, s. 2); Registers of Probate (G. L. c. 217, s. 15); Land Court Recorder (G. L. c. 185, s. 7); Probation Officers (G. L. c. 276, s. 85); Jury Commissioner (G. L. c. 234A, s. 72). Only the legal custodian may provide certified copies of original records.

Microforms - Generic term for media containing microimages of information (e.g. roll microfilm, microfiche, aperture cards, etc.).

Oversample - Any file over a certain thickness specified in the Schedule which is retained permanently in addition to the designated statistical sample. Such files are presumed important due to their large volume.

Record - Information in any format that documents an action or chronicles official duties or obligations (e.g. forms, papers, books, photographs, index cards, microforms, drawings, audiotapes, videotapes, etc.).

Record Series - Term used interchangeably with Record Type (e.g. civil docket books, criminal docket books, civil file papers, criminal file papers, etc.).

Record Storage Centers - Administrative Office of the Trial Court - operated sites in East Brookfield, Newburyport, and Worcester where non-current records are stored before they are transferred to the Judicial Archives or destroyed. Records may be retrieved by the legal custodian or reviewed on site.

Retention Period - Life span of a record or the minimum time the record must be kept. Clerks and judges are encouraged to retain case papers of local significance, whether or not the papers must be retained under Rule 1:11.

Sample - Portion of a record series that is retained permanently as a representative cross section of that series. Records series that are eligible for sampling and the particular cases that comprise the sample are specified in the Record Retention Schedule.

Part 2: Miscellaneous and Administrative Records

Fiscal Records and Forms

1. Audit Forms

Record or Form Style Retention Period
Bail Book (Form No. FA 013) 3 years after audit and cases disposed
Bail Receipt (FA 029) 3 years after audit and cases disposed
Bank Account Reconciliation Form (FA 018) 1 year after audit
Bank Acknowledgment
(Notice of memorandum about the court's bank account (s).)
1 year after audit
Bank Letter (FA 012a, FA 012b) 1 year after audit
Bank Statement 3 years after audit
Check Destruction Form 1 year after audit
Check Stock Inventory Form 1 year after audit
Checks (Cancelled) 3 years after audit
Checks (Carbon Copies) 1 year after audit
Check Register 1 year after audit
Checks (Voided) 1 year after audit
Civil Escrow Ledger
(Records and maintains information on each account.)
1 year after audit and cases documented in ledger have been disposed.
Custodial Passbook Ledger
(Records and maintains information on each account.)
1 year after audit and cases documented in ledger have been disposed.
Daily Cash Sheet (FA 014) 1 year after audit
Deposit Slips 1 year after audit
Detail Account Trial Balance (FA 022a or FA 022b) 1 year after audit
Expenditure Journal (FA 016) (Cash Journal Expenditure Side) 1 year after audit
466C Revenue Reconciliation
(Bookkeeper's reconciliation between subsidiaries in the Budgetary Control Register and Weekly Statement of Transactions.)
1 year after audit
Internal Audit Reports
(Issued by the Administrative Office of the Trial Court after on-site review of the court's policies and procedures.)
Retain last 2 reports.
Inventory Records Permanent
Juror-Related Bills 1 year after audit
Jury Expense Authorization Form
(Authorizes jury expense payments.)
1 year after audit
Jury Expense Transmittal Sheet
(Requests Office of the State Treasurer to disburse jury expense payments.)
1 year after audit
Land Court Ledger Sheets
(Records fees paid for tax and registration cases.)
1 year after audit
Monthly Revenue Summary (FA 023) 1 year after audit
Monthly Summary Trial Balance (FA 021) 1 year after audit
Notice of Assignment of Counsel Permanent, store in case file
Notification of Account Adjustment (FA 018a) 1 year after audit
Order Form
(Requests payment for services when no receipt exists.)
1 year after audit
Outstanding Check List 1 year after audit
Probation Department Ledger Card 1 year after audit and case closed
Probation Receipt Accounting (PRA) Intake Form
(Establishes or changes an account in PRA.)
1 year after audit
Probation Receipt Accounting (PRA) Reports 1 year after audit
Receipt Control Book Log (FA 030) 1 year after audit
Receipt Journal (Cash Journal) (FA 015) 1 year after audit
Receipt Register (FA 008) 1 year after audit
Register Journal Tape 1 year after audit
Report on Unaccounted for Variances, Losses, Shortages,or Thefts of Funds or Property
(Documents losses of funds or property.)
3 years after audit
Request for Payment Form 1 year after audit if stored in case file
Request (Internal) for Refund (FA 031) 1 year after audit
Returned Check Journal (FA 020) 1 year after audit
Returned Check Notification Form
(Sent to check payer after court's attempts to retrieve
funds from the payer's bank have been unsuccessful.)
1 year after audit
Revenue Refund (RF) 7 years after audit
Revenue Transmittal Sheet (RTS) (FA 092) 1 year after audit
Revenue Transmittal Sheet for Abandoned Property Only (Transmits monies, unclaimed for three years after the release date, to the Office of the State Treasurer.) 1 year after audit
Revenue Transmittal Sheet for Unpaid Check Fund (Transmits monies, disbursed but unpaid for 1 year from date of issue, to the Office of the State Treasurer.) 1 year after audit
Revenue Transmittal Sheet - Transfer Form
(Transfers monies between two revenue sources to correct errors in reporting monthly revenue.)
1 year after audit
Small Claims Appeals Log Book
(Records and maintains information on each documented in log book are small claims appeal's "cash in lieu of bond" receipt.)
1 year after audit and all cases closed
Special Payments Check Register (FA 002) 1 year after audit
Special Payments Expenditure Summary (FA 005) 1 year after audit
Special Purchase Input Form (SP) 1 year after audit
State Audit Reports Retain last 2 reports.
Stop Payment Order (copy) 1 year after audit
Transmittal of Non-Support Payment Form 1 year after audit
Undeliverable Check Log (FA 026) 1 year after audit
Witness and Jury Stop Payment Transmittal Sheet
(Voids witness fee or jury expense previously submitted to the Office of the State Treasurer.)
1 year after audit
Witness Books 1 year after audit
Witness Fee Payment Authorization Form
(Authorization payments to witnesses; replace One-Write Witness Fee Register.)
1 year after audit
Witness Fee Payment Transmittal Sheet
(Requests Office of the State Treasurer to disburse witness fee payments.)
1 year after audit
Witness Fee Request Form or Fee Record

1 year after audit

2. Budget Forms

Record or Form Style Retention Period
Expansion Budget Request 1 year after audit
Federal Grant Fiscal Records 1 year after audit and grant end
Financial Plan/Maintenance Estimate 1 year after audit
Monthly Expenditure Report (FA-01) 1 year after audit
Request for Budget Change (FA-006) 1 year after audit
Revised Financial Plan 1 year after audit

3. MMARS/Accounting Forms

Record or Form Style Retention Period
Advance Refund Input Form (AR) 7 years after audit
Batch Transmittal 7 years after audit
Budgetary Control Register (BCR) 7 years after audit
Cash Deposit Input Form 3 years after audit
Cash Transfer Input Form 3 years after audit
Certification of Services
(Invoice for assistance provided by Care and Protection Investigators, Guardians ad litem, or Court Monitors.)
7 years after audit
Competitive Bid Forms and Related Documentation (Letters of solicitation and vendor bid information.) 1 year after audit
Daily Report of Expenses for Prisoner Lunches
(Certifies expenditures for prisoner lunches.)
1 year after audit
Departmental Purchase Order Input Form (PD) 3 years after audit
Departmental Purchase Order Input Form Continuation 1 year after audit
Expenditure of Advance Input Form (EA) 7 years after audit
Expenditure Refund Input Form (ER) 7 years after audit
Fixed Assets Acquisition Form (FA) 3 years after audit
Fixed Assets Betterment Form (FB) 3 years after audit
Fixed Assets Disposal Form (FD) 3 years after audit
Fixed Assets Transfer Form (FT) 3 years after audit
Interoffice Requisition
(Requests purchase of goods or services.)
1 year after audit
Interpreter Service Sheets 7 years after audit
Intersubsidiary Transfer Input Form 1 year after audit
Intragovernmental Encumbrance (IE) 3 years after audit
Intragovernmental Payment Voucher Input Form (IV) 7 years after audit
Itemization of Services
(Attached to Certification of Services; part of the Vendor's invoice.)
7 years after audit
Lease Order Input Form (LO) 7 years after audit
Miscellaneous Encumbrance Input Form (PO) 1 year after audit
Out-of-State Travel Form (Submitted prior to out-of-state travel.) 7 years after audit
Overnight Travel Form
(Submitted prior to overnight travel.)
7 years after audit
Packing Slip 7 years after audit
Payment Voucher Input Form (PV) 7 years after audit
Payment Voucher Input Form Continuation 7 years after audit
Price Agreement Input Form (PG) 3 years after audit
Request for Advance Input Form (RA) 3 years after audit
Revenue Refund Input Form (RF) 7 years after audit
Service Contract Input Form (SC) 7 years after audit and final contract payment
Service Modification Input Form (SM) 7 years after audit and final contract payment
Special Purchase Input Form (SP) 3 years after audit
Travel Expense Voucher (CD 18) 1 year after audit
Vendor Update Input Form (VU) 7 years after audit
Weekly Statement of Transactions (WST) 7 years after audit

 

4. Payroll, Commonwealth Automated Payroll System (CAPS)

Record or Form Style Retention Period
Batch Transmittal Form Permanent
Form CN 7 years after audit
Form CS 75 years
Form D 75 years after termination
Form E 75 years after termination
Form PREN 7 years after audit
Form PREO 7 years after audit
Form PREP 7 years after audit
Form PRES 7 years after audit
Form T 75 years
Payroll Hold (PH)
(Encumbers monies for accounts payable payroll.)
7 years after audit
Payroll Refund Receipt Voucher (CD 29A) 7 years after audit
Payroll Warrant (CDP 4) 7 years after audit
Preliminary Payroll 7 years after audit

5. Procurement

Record or Form Style Retention Period
Request for Competitive Bid 1 year after audit
Request for Proposal 1 year after audit

Personnel Records and Forms

1. Appointment and Promotion Documents

Record or Form Retention Period
Application for Employment - (Form F2) Hired - Permanent
Not Hired - 7 years
Applicant Interview and Hiring Record - (F4) Hired - Permanent
Not Hired - 7 years
Appointment Documentation - (F5) Permanent
Approval Letters Permanent
Employment Eligibility Verification Form Permanent
Interview Records Hired - Permanent
Not Hired - 7 years
Job Posting Permanent
New Hire Form Permanent
Reference Checks Hired - Permanent
Not Hired - 7 years
Rejection Letters 7 years from issue date
Results of Classified Advertising - (F3) Permanent
Standard Interview Questions Hired - Permanent
Not Hired - 7 years

2. Employee Disability Documents

Record or Form Retention Period
Assault Pay Documentation Permanent
Determination of Payroll Refund and Sick Leave Charge Permanent
Employer's First Report of Injury - (Form 101) Permanent
Employer's Quarterly Report of Injuries Permanent
Insurer's Extension of 60 Day Pay Without Prejudice Period - (105) Permanent
Insurer's Notification of Denial of Compensation Permanent
Insurer's Notification of Payment - (103) Permanent
Insurer's Notification of Resumption or Modification of Weekly Compensation - (107) Permanent
Insurer's Notification of Termination or Suspension of Compensation - (106) Permanent
Internal Claim Investigation Form Permanent
Notice of Injury Report Permanent
Release of Information Permanent
Workman's Compensation Physician or Surgeon Report Permanent

 

3. Termination Documents

Record or Form Retention Period
Buy Back Forms Permanent
Employee Checkout List - (Form F10) Permanent
Exit Interview - (F11) Permanent

 

4. Unemployment Compensation Documents

Record or Form Retention Period
Appeal Documentation Permanent
Notice to Claimant of Disqualification Permanent
Request for Separation and Wage Information Permanent

 

5. Miscellaneous Personnel Documents

Record or Form Retention Period
Attendance Calendar - (Form F8) Permanent
Court Officer Weekly Report of Assignments Permanent
Department Head Comments - (F15) Permanent
Disciplinary Actions Permanent
Employee Conference Report - (F12) Permanent
Employee Profile - (F6) Permanent
Employee Request for Leave of Absence Permanent
Grievances Permanent
Personnel Transaction Form Permanent
Request for Classification Review Questionnaire -Form - (F14) Permanent
Request for New Position Questionnaire - (F13) Permanent
Tuition Remission Form Permanent

 

6. Inactive Personnel Files

Record or Form Retention Period
Personnel files of employees who have voluntarily or involuntarily left the employment of the Trial Court. Until 75th Birthday, if known, or,  60 years after date of first personnel action.

Miscellaneous Administrative Records

Record or Form Retention Period
Administrative Directives, Bulletins Retain while in effect.
Calendar (court list, daily list , daily trial list, etc.) Option of court.
Charitable Trust Report 5 years
Clerk-Magistrate Hearing Papers (not part of case file) 1 year
Correspondence - Non Case-related 3 years
Courthouse Incident Reports 7 years
Criminal Statistics Reports to Department of Correction 5 years
Docket Book Indices Permanent
Hospital Records Receipts 1 year after disposition of case
Judge's Notes or Daily Diaries Individual Judge's Discretion

Juror-Related Papers:

Juror Questionnaire
(G. L. c. 234A ss. 22 & 23)

Grand Juror Financial Questionnaire
(G. L. c. 234A s.52)

Office of Jury Commissioner Records
(G. L. c. 234A s. 72)

 

Originals (after voir dire) after final disposition of case. Counsel copies after voir dire.

1 year after discharge of Grand Jury

 

3 years

 

Marriage Petitions (without delay) Permanent
Medical Examiner Reports Permanent

 

Part 3: Case papers

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. OversampleCases 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 Type Retention 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 state 10 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.

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.

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