Massachusetts Court Records
What are Massachusetts Bankruptcy Records?
Massachusetts bankruptcy records are the official documentation of bankruptcy court proceedings held in the State of Massachusetts. Bankruptcy cases are federal legal processes established to aid persons who cannot pay their debts and allow them to start over. These cases may be filed under any chapter of the US Bankruptcy Code, USC Title 11. Relief granted under this law includes the elimination or reduction of debt, repayment of some or all debts using a payment plan, or liquidation of assets for relief. In the state, the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts is responsible for hearing bankruptcy cases, not the state courts. Bankruptcy records are maintained by this court and are mostly available for public inspection or copying on request unless exempted from access by court order or federal law. These records are also accessible through third-party sites such as MassachusettsCourtRecords.us.
What do Massachusetts Bankruptcy Records Contain?
The following information is contained in Massachusetts bankruptcy records:
- Debtor’s name
- Debtor’s attorney’s information
- Name of trustee
- Case number
- Case status
- Petition type and chapter
- Date of filing
- Court information: name of the court and presiding judge
- Financial information: income sources/statement, tax returns, etc.
- Creditor information: names, address, the amount payable
- Assets (if applicable)
- Case disposition
Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information?
Yes, members of the public generally have access to bankruptcy records in Massachusetts. Anyone can request to examine or copy these records from the federal court with jurisdiction over the case. Even so, some information on these records may be exempted from public access as provided by 11 USC §107 and 11 USC §112 for the following reasons:
- To protect an entity’s trade secrets or commercial information, confidential research, or development
- If the record contains scandalous or defamatory materials
- To prevent identity theft
- When disclosure could cause injury to a person or the person’s property
- If the record has information concerning a minor child
- Any identification information listed under 18 USC § 1028(d)
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How to Get Massachusetts Bankruptcy Records
Interested persons may review or copy Massachusetts bankruptcy records in the following ways:
- By requesting to/at any of the offices of the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Massachusetts
- Using the PACER (Public Access to Courtroom Electronic Records) site
- Through the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (MCVCIS)
- By requesting through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) (for older/closed records)
More details about these ordering processes are provided below:
- Making bankruptcy record requests to the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Massachusetts: Individuals may request to view or copy bankruptcy or adversary records, including copies of court dockets, claims registers, and court proceedings, from the court.
To inspect a record, requesters may visit the court within normal business hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Individuals who do not know the case number of a record may use the PACER terminal at the public counter in the Clerk’s office to obtain it. The Clerk is available to assist when difficulties arise in locating a record.
To copy a record, anyone may request from the Clerk’s office in the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Massachusetts offices at Boston, Worcester, or Springfield:
United States Bankruptcy Court
John W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse
5 Post Office Square, Suite 1150
Boston, MA 02109–3945
Phone: (617) 748–5300
Fax: (617) 748–5315
United States Bankruptcy Court
Donohue Federal Building
595 Main Street, Room 311
Worcester, MA 01608–2076
Phone: (508) 770–8900
Fax: (508) 770–8975
United States Bankruptcy Court
United States Courthouse
300 State Street
Springfield, MA 01105
Phone: (413) 785–6900
Fax: (413) 781–9477
Copies of official court dockets and claims registers cost 50 cents/page, payable when the requester collects the record. The court discards copies that are not collected within three days of a request. Copies of case/docket information may also be obtained from the PACER terminal at the public counter; it costs 10 cents/page.
Transcript copies can be obtained through PACER or the Clerk’s office for a fee, per the Transcript Policy. Transcript copy fees vary depending on the length of time between request and delivery to the requester, or in the case of real-time transcripts, by feeds or pages. For instance, transcripts delivered within 30 days of request cost $3.65 for originals, 90 cents for first copies, and 60 cents for additional copies thereafter, whereas hourly transcripts (delivered within 2 hours of receipt of request) cost $7.25 for originals, $1.20 for first copies, and 90 cents for additional copies thereafter. The rates for transcript requests may be viewed on the Federal Court Reporting Program page. It should be noted that real-time transcript requests must be ordered through PACER as the court cannot provide these records. Individuals seeking specific word indexes must indicate so in their requests as these indexes are not originally included with transcripts. Also, persons requesting transcripts of hearings or copies of tapes conducted in Boston, Worcester, or Springfield may find the relevant judge’s contact information for inquiries on the Case Information page. Other copy fees for bankruptcy records may be viewed on Bankruptcy Court Fees Quick Reference.
It is also possible to obtain certified copies of the documents above through the court. Registered/non-registered ECF users, and other parties, may obtain these records. Registered ECF users may request up to 5 certified copies of a bankruptcy case through the ECF platform, make payment online, and certified copies will be mailed to the requester (attorney). Whereas everyone else may mail written requests for certified copies to the court where the case was filed or request in person at the same court.
All mail requests must contain reasonable information of the record (including record title, case number, case name, and filing date) and the following fees:
- $31 search fee/document and a 50 cents/page photocopy fee
- 10 cents/page printing fee (for documents in electronic form), and
- $11 for certification
Written requests must also have the contact information of the requester: name, address, and daytime phone number. Persons who want their copies to be sent back via mail may include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE).
Alternatively, in-person requests for certified copies may be made at the court of filing. Copy fees are the same as when mailing the request, but the $31 search fee is not included. Payment can be made by bank cashier’s check or money order to the Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court. The court does not accept personal checks.
- Obtaining bankruptcy record information through PACER: The Public Access to Courtroom Electronic Records (PACER) is an online platform providing public access to Massachusetts bankruptcy case documents and information. To use this site, individuals must register by calling the PACER Service Center on (800) 676–6856 within business hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Case records obtained through PACER are viewable at no cost. However, printouts of case files cost 10 cents/page. A complete list of all fees assessed on PACER is available on the Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule.
- Obtaining bankruptcy record information through the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS): McVCIS is a toll-free number which members of the public may call to find out if someone has filed for bankruptcy in court or to obtain substantial case information. Interested persons may dial (866) 222–8029 at any time or day to obtain the following information:
- Name of the debtor(s)
- Debtor(s)' attorney information
- Filing date
- Time or date of pending Sec. 341 Meeting
- Discharge date
- Closing date of a case
- General case status
To use McVIS, requesters may dial the phone number above and enter a debtor’s name (last name first for individuals and first name first for corporations, using up to 10 characters) and press #. There is no need to include punctuation marks, and it is advisable to use the total of ten characters provided.
Basic case information may also be obtained by calling the court’s case information operators on (617) 748–5300 within 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., from Monday to Friday.
- Making bankruptcy record requests to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Federal Records Center (for older records): Copies of closed bankruptcy records (case files, docket sheets, or documents) that were transferred to the federal archives may be obtained by fax, mail, SmartScan, or online, for a fee. The request form to be completed and submitted for fax and mail orders is the NARA Bankruptcy Cases Order Form (NATF Form 90). Order instructions are outlined on this form. The federal bankruptcy court in Massachusetts may be contacted to obtain the transfer, location, and box numbers of the record. Fax and mail submissions may be made to the following address:
Federal Records Center
380 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02452
Phone (toll-free): (781) 663–0378
Fax: (781) 663–0154
For SmartScan (electronic record retrieval) orders, NARA transfers the PDF format of the requested paper records to the court, who then sends the documents to the requester by email after payment. Applicable fees include $10 per order, $9.90 FRC electronic retrieval flat fee, and 65 cents/page FRC electronic retrieval rate.
NARA’s Federal Records Center does not provide record-inspection services to the public. Rather, interested persons may ask the court to retrieve the records from the FRC by mailing or faxing the Request for Case Records Form. After the FRC sends the documents to the court, requesters may review them within the court’s normal business hours. Record inspections must occur within 45 days after the court receives the records, as, after this time, the records are sent back to the FRC. However, the court may grant requesters an additional 30 days to review the records when a written request is submitted. The fee for inspection requests is $64 for a box of records and $39 per additional box.
How do I Find Out if My Bankruptcy Case is Closed in Massachusetts?
Individuals may find out if their bankruptcy cases have been closed in Massachusetts through the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS). As stated earlier, this service offers up considerable information on bankruptcy cases, including whether a particular case has a closing date. Also, the court of filing may be contacted during normal business hours for this information.
Can a Bankruptcy be Expunged in Massachusetts?
There are no provisions in the US Bankruptcy Code for the expungement of bankruptcy cases in Massachusetts. Neither does the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Massachusetts provide for record expungement under a court order or rule.