Massachusetts law about state courts

Information about the Massachusetts and Federal Courts and their rules and procedures.

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Table of Contents

Massachusetts state courts

Massachusetts court system organization chart

Massachusetts court system organization chart

Supreme Judicial Court: The top court in Massachusetts is called the Supreme Judicial Court. It has a Chief Justice and 6 Associate Justices. Together, these 7 Justices decide on appeals for many kinds of cases, like criminal and civil ones.

Appeals Court: The Appeals Court reviews decisions made by trial judges in different types of cases. The Appeals Court has a chief justice and 24 associate justices.

Trial Court: Start here to find all other state courts. The 7 Trial Court departments are District Court, Boston Municipal Court, Housing Court, Juvenile Court, Land Court, Probate & Family Court, and Superior Court.

Specialty courts: Specialty courts are problem-solving court sessions that provide court-supervised probation and mandated treatment. Massachusetts has several types of specialty court sessions including Adult Drug Courts, Mental Health Court, Veteran’s Treatment Court, and Homeless Court.

Federal courts in Massachusetts

Court rules and process

State courts

About the Massachusetts court system
Learn how the Massachusetts Court System works and find court data, metrics, reports, policies, plans, and initiatives.

Glossary of court terms

Massachusetts court process 

Massachusetts court rules

Massachusetts Court Reform Act of 1978 (St. 1978, c.478)

Representing yourself in a civil case 

Supreme Judicial Court style manual, SJC Office of the Reporter of Decisions, 2022-2023.
The manual may be useful to those preparing appellate briefs.

Federal courts

Federal court rules

Federal courts and the public

Pro se FAQ

Representing yourself in the district of Massachusetts

Information about court cases

Massachusetts court opinions

SJC and Appeals Court docket information
Provides docket information on cases entered since January 1, 1992 in the SJC, and since January 1, 1988 in the Appeals Court.

Trial Court docket information
Docket Information from Housing, Land, and Probate and Family Courts.

Federal Court opinions

Selected reports

Court system data, metrics, and statistics

Court reports: Reports on a range of court management issues including:

  • Access to justice
  • Annual reports
  • Court management advisory board (CMAB)
  • Court management and procedure
  • Hiring and promotion
  • Diversity reports

Access to court records

Boston Globe Media Partners v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court, 483 Mass. 80 (2019)
Public access to records of show cause hearings.

Comm. v. Fujita, 470 Mass. 484 (2015)
A list of jurors must be "retained in the court file of the case and be made available to the public in the same manner as other court records; further, this court concluded that only on a judicial finding of good cause, which may include a risk of harm to the jurors or to the integrity of their service, may such a list be withheld."

Massachusetts Trial Court record retention schedule, Administrative Office of the Trial Court.
Outlines requirements for each court department.

SJC Rule 1:24: Protection of personal identifying information in publicly accessible court documents
This rule aims to stop sharing specific personal details in public court documents. This helps lower the risk of identity theft, privacy invasion, or other misuse of these documents.

Trial Court Public Access to Court Records Committee
Find information about the Trial Court Public Access to Court Records Committee and Trial Court Rule XIV: Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records.

Written information security program for non-public documents held by the Massachusetts courts (WISP)
The WISP outlines the rules for how the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, and all departments of the Trial Court handle personal information in electronic and paper records.

Selected print sources

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Last updated: April 16, 2024

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