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 Supreme Judicial Court is Massachusetts’ highest appellate court. The court consists of a Chief Justice and 6 Associate Justices. The 7 Justices hear appeals on a broad range of criminal and civil cases.

Appeals Court: The Appeals Court reviews decisions that the trial judges from the several Departments of the Trial Court have already made in many different kinds of cases. The Appeals Court consists of 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 is intended to prevent the unnecessary inclusion of certain personal identifying information in publicly accessible documents filed with or issued by the Courts, in order to reduce the possibility of using such documents for identity theft, the unwarranted invasion of privacy, or other improper purposes."

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

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 sets forth the standards applicable to the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court and all departments of the Trial Court ("Courts") for collecting, storing, using, transmitting, and protecting electronic and physical records containing personal information."

Selected print sources

Contact for Massachusetts law about state courts

Last updated: February 8, 2024

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