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How Does the Massachusetts Superior Court Work?

The Massachusetts Superior Court is a statewide court that handles both criminal and civil actions. The Superior Court is the trial court of general jurisdiction for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and delivers justice in accordance with the rule of law. The court has original jurisdiction over civil actions above $50,000 and matters where equitable relief is sought. The court also has original jurisdiction in labor controversies where parties seek injunctive relief.

The Superior Court has exclusive authority to summon medical malpractice tribunals and exclusive original jurisdiction over first-degree murder cases and other crimes. In addition, the court has appellate jurisdiction over specific administrative proceedings and may hold sittings for naturalization in any city or town. The Superior Court runs the Business Litigation Sessions (BLS), a forum for business and commercial disputes. The BLS consists of two full-time sessions that ensure prompt and efficient resolution of civil cases related to commercial disputes and other complex cases.

The types of cases heard in the Business Litigation Sessions (BLS) include business torts, shareholder derivative claims, intellectual property, insurance coverage disputes, claims arising from corporate mergers, the sale of assets, and restrictive covenants in employment agreements. The BLS also hears matters brought by the Attorney General on behalf of classes of consumers and actions presented by private parties alleging biased and deceptive business practices.

The court has 82 justices, who sit in 20 courthouses in the 14 counties of the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Superior Court judges are appointed by Governor with approval from the judicial nominating commission and the Governor’s Council. The justices do not have fixed terms and may serve until the compulsory retirement age of 70. Justices must be under the age of 70 and must also be citizens and residents of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, respectively. In addition, each justice must be a state bar member in good standing and must have at least ten years of legal experience and training.

Old court records are maintained by the court archives, which include historical records for divorce, naturalization, name change, probate, and adoption. For current court case information, interested persons may visit the designated public access computers at the court location. The public access computers run the eAccess application and permit searches by name, case number, and case type. The search results reveal case information, including party, event, docket, and disposition details. However, for actual case documents, query the record custodians in person. The Superior Court website provides information on how to access records online.

A defendant must be tried in not more than 12 months of the “return day” (usually the arraignment date) in the court where the case is awaiting trial. Note that the time limit may be extended for various reasons, including if the defendant consents to continuances. For a defendant held in custody, any continuance may not exceed 30 days.

The following are addresses and contact information of all Superior Courts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

Barnstable County Superior Court  

3195 Main St., P. O. Box 425, Barnstable, MA 02630 

This court serves the towns and cities of Barnstable County.

Phone: (508) 375–6684

Berkshire County Superior Court  

76 East St., Pittsfield, MA 01201 

This court serves all towns and cities of Berkshire County.

Phone: (413) 499–7487

Bristol County Superior Court  

9 Court St., Taunton, MA 02780 

The Bristol County Superior Court in Taunton serves the cities and towns of Bristol County. This location only handles criminal matters.

Phone: (508) 823–6588

Bristol County Superior Court-Fall River  

186 S. Main St., Fall River, MA 02720 

This court serves the towns and cities of Bristol County. This location handles only criminal matters.

Phone: (508) 491–3300

Bristol County Superior Court-New Bedford  

441 County St., 1st Floor, New Bedford, MA 02740 

The Bristol County Superior Court in New Bedford serves the towns and cities of Bristol County. This location handles only civil matters.

Phone: (508) 996–2051

Dukes County Superior Court  

81 Main Stree, P. O. Box 1267, Edgartown, MA 02539 

This court serves all the towns of Dukes County.

Phone: (508) 627–4668

Essex County Superior Court  

56 Federal Street, Salem, MA 01970 

This court serves all towns and cities of Essex County.

Phone: (978) 744–5500

Essex County Superior Court - Lawrence  

43 Appleton Way, Lawrence, MA 01841 

This court serves all the towns and cities of Essex County.

Phone: (978) 242–1900

Essex County Superior Court - Newburyport  

145 High Street, Newburyport, MA 01950 

This court serves all the towns of Essex County.

Phone: (978) 462–4474

Franklin County Superior Court  

43 Hope Street, Greenfield, MA 01301 

This court serves all the towns and cities of Franklin County.

Phone: (413) 775–7400

Hampden County Superior Court  

50 State Street, P. O. Box 559, Springfield, MA 01102 

This court serves all towns and cities of Hampden County.

Phone: (413) 735–6016

Hampshire County Superior Court  

15 Gothic Street, P. O. Box 1119, Northampton, MA 01061 

This court serves all towns and cities of Hampshire County.

Phone: (413) 584–5810

Middlesex County Superior Court  

200 Trade Center, 2nd Floor, Woburn, MA 01801 

This court serves all towns and cities of Middlesex County. Note that this court does not accept Housing Court filings for Northeast Housing Court - Woburn Session.

Phone: (781) 939–2700

Middlesex County Superior Court - Lowell  

370 Jackson Street, Lowell, MA 01852 

This court serves all towns and cities of Middlesex County.

Nantucket County Superior Court  

16 Broad Street, Nantucket, MA 02544 

This court serves all towns and cities in Nantucket County.

Phone: (508) 228–2559

Norfolk County Superior Court  

650 High Street, Dedham, MA 02026

This court serves all towns and cities in Norfolk County.

Telephone: (781) 326–1600

Plymouth County Superior Court  

52 Obery Street, Plymouth, MA 02630 

The court serves all cities and towns in Plymouth County. Criminal sessions are held in Brockton.

Phone: (508) 747–8400

Plymouth County Superior Court - Brockton  

72 Belmont Street, Brockton, MA 02301 

Phone: (508) 583–8250

Suffolk County Superior Court  

3 Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108 

This court serves Boston, Winthrop, Chelsea, and Revere.

Worcester County Superior Court  

225 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608 

Phone: (508) 831–2000

Interested persons may also locate Superior Courts close to them by searching the online database of court locations, by zipcode, city, or town.