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Zimmerman's Research Guide



This entry is organized by branch of government.

This entry covers:

I. Legislative Branch

Massachusetts Code: The Massachusetts legislature posts a free, current, unannotated edition of the General Laws of Massachusetts.

Lexis and West publish annotated editions, titled Annotated Laws of Massachusetts. These annotated editions are available on Lexis and Westlaw.

Unannotated editions are available by subscription from Fastcase and Loislaw .

Historical editions: Historical editions of the General Laws of Massachusetts are available from Lexis (annotated, starting 1992), Westlaw (annotated, starting 1987), Fastcase (starting 2008), and Massachusetts government, academic and membership law libraries. The libraries will have print editions of the General Laws back to the earliest codifications. Some libraries likely to have historical codes are listed in the Questions and Copies section, below.

Bills and Amendments: Bills and Amendments are available online through the Bill Search posted by the General Court of the Commonwealth (186th session/2009-present). For older bills, see Massachusetts - Legislative History.

Bill Status: To check the status of a pending bill, look up the bill on the Massachusetts Legislative Tracking System. For questions, call the Massachusetts House Clerk Office (617-722-2356) or the Senate (617-722-1276).

Session Laws (a/k/a "Chapter Laws" or "Acts"): Massachusetts session laws are available from:

  1. The Massachusetts Legislature's Session Law page (1997-present);
  2. The digitized edition of Acts and Resolves (1790-1996) posted by the Massachusetts Archives.
  3. Westlaw (MA-LEGIS for the current year; MA-LEGIS-OLD for 1987-prior year);
  4. Subscribers can get historical session laws back to 1775 from the Digital Session Laws collection on HeinOnline.

Legislative History: See the separate entry for Massachusetts - Legislative History.

II. Judicial Branch

Opinions: The Social Law Library posts Massachusetts slip opinions from the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court and the Superior Court back to August, 1997; members get opinions going farther back. The Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries post links to Supreme Judicial Court and Massachusetts Appeals Court cases from 1936 to the present, plus selected lower court decisions.

Reported cases back to 1950 are searchable on Goggle Scholar. Comprehensive caselaw collections are available on Lexis and Westlaw. For information about other commercial databases, see the State Cases entry.

Supreme and Appellate Court cases are published in the North Eastern Reporter.

Dockets/Case Information: There is an online dockets/case information search available for the Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court of Massachusetts. There is an online system for the Massachusetts Trial Courts through the Trial Court Information Center too, but I was told in 2011 that only member of the Massachusetts Bar could get passwords.

III. Executive Branch

Internet links to Massachusetts government agencies are available through the State Web site. There is a central Web site for all Massachusetts Courts.

Internet links to other government agencies statutes, regulations, cases, etc. are posted by FindLaw and WashLaw.

IV. Other Useful Information

Land Records: This map links to the online land records posted by the Recorder of Deeds for each county in Massachusetts.

Legal Encyclopedias: Key Massachusetts publications include Massachusetts Jurisprudence (West), Massachusetts Practice (West) and the Handbook of Legal Research in Massachusetts (MCLE New England).

News: Leading Massachusetts news sources include:

  1. The Boston Globe - the big general circulation newspaper
  2. The Boston Business Journal - good for articles on Massachusetts companies and business executives
  3. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly which covers legal news and provides profiles of Massachusetts state and Federal judges with lawyers' evaluations, as well as biographical articles at the time of their appointment or election.

Questions, Copies and ILLs: For other questions about Massachusetts legal materials, copies and/or inter-library loans, try calling the State Library of Massachusetts (617-727-2590), the Social Law Library (617-523-0018), the Boston University law library (617-353-3151) or the Boston College law library.

See Also
Attorney General Opinions
Legal Ethics
Legal Treatises
Massachusetts Legislative History
State Cases
State Constitutions
State Court Rules
State Government Agencies
State Laws, generally
State Regulations and Administrative Codes
State Statutes and Codes

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman