Per a press release issued August 10, 2016, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has approved Trial Court Rule XIV, Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records, which governs access to court records in the trial courts. Rule XIV includes a new provisional approval within the section of the rule that governs remote access by attorneys through the Attorney Portal. See Section 5(b). Also, the Court will revisit this section later this fall.
This provisional reinstatement of remote access by attorneys is the result of concerns and objections to the recent closure of the Attorney Portal which was also used heavily by the news media. Per the new rule, licensed attorneys in Massachusetts who have registered with the Massachusetts Trial Court, will gain access to a portal providing remote access to all cases in which they have entered an appearance, and a calendar of scheduled events in such cases, subject to the terms and conditions per Court Rule XIV. Per the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's Press Release:
"The Justices asked the Chief Justice of the Trial Court to address the concerns that were raised and to make a recommendation no later than the end of October 2016 on whether changes should be made in Section 5(b). Meanwhile, consistent with Rule XIV, the Trial Court is expanding the information that can be viewed remotely through the Public Internet Portal to include searchable criminal docket information, beginning with the Superior Court. The Trial Court plans to make criminal docket information in other court departments available on the Internet over the coming months."
Regarding criminal case searches by the general public, per Rule 5(a)(2), regarding criminal case searches by the general public:
"...as a matter of policy, the committee has determined that criminal case searches will be limited to case number. Therefore, search by defendant name shall not be permitted on the internet portal for criminal cases."
Note that access to Massachusetts trial court civil, probate, family, and housing records are already available electronically to the public at https://www.masscourts.org/