The Massachusetts court system is one of the oldest in the country, and Massachusetts court records date back to the 17th century. The court system is made up of three main divisions; the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, and Trial Courts. Massachusetts has seven Trial Court types and they are District Courts, Superior Courts, Municipal Courts, Juvenile Courts, Probate and Family Courts, Land Courts and Housing Courts. All cases originate in one of the seven Trial Court divisions based on geographical jurisdiction and type of case. The state has a total of 168 courts which are listed on the Mass.gov website and are searchable.
Massachusetts processes roughly 235,000 criminal cases each year. More serious cases are resolved by the Superior Court, and sentences can be more than 2.5 years. District Courts handle less severe criminal cases. During 2018, Massachusetts handled 846,833 total cases across all their courts. Of that total, 303,026 were for criminal proceedings, 74,982 were for civil cases, and 224,170 were for special civil cases, and only 468 were for appeals.
Although most court documents processed in Massachusetts are available to the general public, some information is hidden, and some records remain private. Many court records are available through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Personal information such as tax ID, social security number, date of birth, minor’s information, financial data, and home addresses are removed. Certain types of cases such as juvenile criminal cases, custody battles, criminal cases where witnesses need to be protected, along with sealed and expunged records are also hidden from public view. In any case, where a victim needs protection, those cases will also be sealed.
Filing court information in Massachusetts has become an online process in most cases. Users must set up an account with eFileMA and then they can begin using the system to file documents, forms, briefs and motions. Filing electronically is not mandatory, but the state strongly recommends it. Plaintiffs and defendants can file online and so can their attorneys. The entire paperwork system has been automated to be more efficient and immediate. Massachusetts uses Tyler Technologies as their filing vendor. There are fees involved for civil cases, and most users will pay $7 per upload of up to 35MB. Once a user signs up for e-filing, all correspondence will be electronic including email notifications.
Want to search for Massachusetts court records quickly and easily? Try Infotracer’s search tool to access thousands of court cases in Massachusetts, including those from Middlesex County, Worcester County, Essex County, and Suffolk County. Thanks to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, citizens have the right to review almost all criminal court records, civil cases, divorce, and other family matter records, bankruptcies and more!
You may conduct a court records search privately without needing permission or even a reason. All court records in Massachusetts will be available except those that have been made confidential by court-order or the law.
Try Infotracer today to get instant free access to Massachusetts court records from all types of courts in the state. Using just a simple Massachusetts state court search by name, you can review court cases online from Massachusetts district courts, superior courts, municipal courts, probate courts, family courts, land courts, and housing courts.
In 2012, the Massachusetts courts received 236,997 filings. In 2016, the number of filings increased by 186.5% and counted 679,042 filings.
|Court Type||Incoming Caseloads|
Domestic relations caseload of Massachusetts at year end of 2016 has decreased by 1.6% compared to the last 3 years.
|Year||Domestic Relations Caseload||Total Statewide Caseload|
The number of criminal cases in Massachusetts courts counts to 197,867, with 44,950 felony cases and 152,917 misdemeanors accordingly.
|Year||Criminal Caseload||Misdemeanor Caseload||Felony Caseload|
Massachusetts Superior Courts have original jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases for the state. The Superior Courts employ 82 justices spread over 20 courthouses amount the 14 counties of the state. The Superior Court rules on civil cases where the equitable relief is $25,000 or more. An example of this might be a case involving real estate. Superior Court also processes labor dispute cases, medical malpractice suits, and has appellate jurisdiction over some cases and they may become involved in naturalization sittings in any city of the state. The Superior Court also handles serious criminal cases such as domestic abuse and first-degree murder where the sentencing may be five years or more.
Massachusetts District Courts, considered to be the “gateway to justice” are versatile and handle a variety of both civil and criminal cases along with matters pertaining to housing, juveniles, mental health, and other issues. All criminal felony cases with a sentence of five years or less are processed through the District Court. Additionally, “all misdemeanors, and all violations of city and town ordinances and by-laws” are handled by Massachusetts District Courts. District Courts also resolve civil cases where damages are less than $25,000 and small claims cases of less than $7,000. Massachusetts has 62 District Courts throughout the state.
The city of Boston, Massachusetts has a total of eight Municipal Courts with 30 judges serving Brighton, Central (downtown), Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston, Roxbury, South Boston, and West Roxbury. Massachusetts Municipal Courts handle both civil and criminal cases and also has jurisdiction over some government agency issues such as unemployment compensation and firearm license appeal. Their stated mission is to be “devoted to the rule of law through the conscientious and expeditious resolution of disputes, with a commitment to restoring the human spirit through correction, education, respect, and compassion.”
The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court have jurisdiction over things that involve families such as children, divorce, child support, and wills. They also resolve issues of guardianship, adoption, domestic abuse, paternity, marriage annulment, parental rights, as well as the administration of estates and name changes. The Probate and Family Court shares some jurisdiction with other Trial Courts in matters related to family cases. Massachusetts Probate and Family Court also handles wills, estates, trusts, conservatorships and has 14 divisions within the state.
Massachusetts’ Juvenile Court division oversees both criminal and civil matters that pertain to minors. Some examples are cases that involve children, youthful offenders, the care and protection of minors and delinquency. The mission of the Juvenile Court is to protect children against abuse and neglect. Secondarily, this court division also aims to help strengthen families, protect the public from delinquent and criminal behavior and rehabilitate juvenile offenders.
The Massachusetts Juvenile Court has 40 locations employing 41 judges, and there are 11 divisions to the Juvenile Court system.
The Massachusetts Housing Court, led by Chief Justice Timothy F. Sullivan and Deputy Court Administrator Benjamin O. Adeyinka, resolves cases involving housing issues such as eviction, small claims, personal injury, property damage, breach of contract, discrimination and other housing-related matters. Code enforcement and local zoning board issues also fall under the Housing Court’s jurisdiction. Massachusetts Housing Court has 15 judges that cover the fourteen counties of the Commonwealth. There are six divisions of the Housing Court, and they are Central, Eastern, Metro South, Northeast, Southeast, and Western.
Massachusetts maintains a Land Court division which has jurisdiction over the registration of titles to real property. The Land Court also oversees foreclosures and redemption of real estate tax liens. The Land Court also hears cases involving local planning boards and the zoning boards of appeal. Along with being the superintendent over registered land offices for Registry of Deeds, the Land Court hears most other property-related cases. The state of Massachusetts has 7 Land Court justices.