Category Archives: Massachusetts

Massachusetts

How to Find Case Records: A Refresher

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Here at CourtReference, we get a lot of questions about court records. People want to know how to go about looking up a divorce record, doing a criminal background check, or looking up a will from the 1800’s.

Of course anyone can just Google “court records” to start the ball rolling. But if Google knows your location (and they do, they do!), the top search results will be for your area – and most of the rest will be for commercial websites that charge a fee to search. That’s why most of our questions are about how to find … Read More

What Happened at Your Local Council Meeting?

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Have you attended a City Council or County Commission meeting in your area recently? Do you want to know what is scheduled for an upcoming Council meeting or what happened at the last Commission meeting?

In a recent article in The Seattle Times, entitled “Talk of the Town,” by Nancy Bartley, Seattle Times staff reporter, cities and towns around the country are establishing new rules regarding public meetings. Cities and counties are experiencing citizens that use public comment time during meetings to discuss a political candidate, sell a product, or promote a blog. According to Tim Ford, former Ombudsman for … Read More

Housing Court

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Here at CourtReference, we spend a lot of time looking at court systems, so we get to see types of courts in some states that you may not have in your state – yet. Courts that specialize in a particular area of the law have been around for a long time. Examples are Family Court, Juvenile Court, Tax Court, and Probate Court.

But in the past few decades, courts that specialize in a single type of case have evolved. These highly specialized courts may be a separate court, or a division or program of court of more general jurisdiction. … Read More

Misconceptions About Court Records Availability

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While keeping up with developments in court systems, court records, and related online resources, we at CourtReference frequently encounter discussions about the difficulty – or ease – of finding court records online. We’ve discussed the many types of court records available online, right here on this blog; see our posts about More Court Records (Jan 2012),  What to Know Before Searching (Dec 2010), Jurisdiction and Court Records (Oct 2008), Court Records Basics (Aug 2008),  and Where to Find Criminal Records (Feb 2008).

Yet many people still have trouble finding court records. “There’s no such thing as free court records online” … Read More

Gun Court

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Guns are in the news lately. The USA is a big country with a lot of guns, some of which are used to kill large numbers of people, generating news reports. Some are used in confrontations that become high-profile trials, generating more news reports.

From Newtown CT to Sanford FL, the headlines have driven debate about guns and gun violence. The debate in turn drives more headlines about guns – so guns are in the news. But in the USA, guns are always in the news. Although the Sandy Hook school shooting and the George Zimmerman trial make headlines, guns … Read More

Non-Lawyer Judges: Justices and Magistrates

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“Justice of the Peace” is an imposing title. Almost like Justice of the Supreme Court? Not quite; A Justice of the Peace presides over a court of limited territorial and subject-matter jurisdiction, and is addressed as “Judge” more often than “Justice”. Justices of the Peace were originally English quasi-judicial officers who volunteered to preserve the “king’s peace” in their local county or borough. Important qualifications for the position were land ownership and connections with the monarchy (and later, with the Lord Chancellor and Parliament).

American colonists brought the Justice of the Peace system with them, and it persisted throughout the … Read More

Fighting a Ticket Online

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Just two months ago, we noted a recent innovation in some courts: contesting traffic tickets by mail. This is another way courts make it easier for the public to do business. For hundreds of years, every interaction with the court system required the physical presence in the courtroom of all parties involved. In just the past few years we have noted the rise of electronic filing for attorneys and then for the rest of ustelephonic appearances; video depositions; online traffic, red light camera, and parking ticket payment; and other ways of interacting with the … Read More

Boy Scout Alleged Sex Abusers

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On October 18, 2012, Kelly Clark, an Oregon attorney, released an online database of the names of over 1200 Scout volunteers accused of sexual abuse between the years of 1965 and 1985. The list was referred to by the Scouts as the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” or “Perversion Files.”

In the October 19, 2012, article by Maureen O’Hagan, Seattle Times staff reporter, entitled “Files on alleged Boy Scout sex abusers go public,” it was reported that the Boy Scouts said in a prepared statement that “the list was a way to keep Scouts safe.” According to the article, the Scout organization … Read More

School Performance Reports

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Recently the news has been full of stories about the academic performance of the education system. The quality of a school’s performance plays an important part in the quality of a student’s education. Fortunately, one of the many public records provided by states are school performance records available through their Department of Education websites.

If you are curious about the performance of the schools in your area or if you have children that will be entering elementary or secondary school sometime soon, you will probably find the information that you need for your specific state. Using our “Free Public Read More

Massachusetts Releases New Coastal Mapping Tool

The Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) has released a new coastal mapping tool that provides detailed geographic data for ocean planning, coastal development, tourism, public safety, transportation planning, and marine environmental protection. Development of this new mapping system was made possible through a partnership between the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), the Massachusetts Office of Geographic Information (MassGIS), SeaPlan (formerly Massachusetts Ocean Partnership), and Applied Science Associates (ASA). These organizations have worked with EEA on this project to advance ocean planning and management in Massachusetts state waters.

This interactive mapping tool, which was upgraded from … Read More