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General Laws

Section 27A. The supreme judicial court may by rule or order provide for the disposal by destruction or otherwise of obsolete and useless papers or records which have been filed or deposited in any court of the commonwealth or in the custody of any of the clerks of the courts acting in the capacity of clerk of the county commissioners and of obsolete and useless notes of testimony that have been preserved in any such court, but subject, except with respect to such notes, to the following requirements:—

(1) Any cause to which the papers relate, if they relate to a cause, shall have been finally disposed of for more than twenty years, and any criminal complaint which shall have been disposed of by being placed on file, as provided in section thirty-eight of chapter two hundred and eighteen, and shall have remained on file for more than twenty years.

(2) No original paper bearing date or known to have been filed earlier than the year eighteen hundred shall be destroyed.

(3) Reasonable notice to the public shall be given before any such disposal is made of any paper.

Any rule or order under authority of this section may provide for the method of proof in other causes of the contents of papers disposed of hereunder, and shall govern such proof, notwithstanding any statutory provision requiring any different method of proof.

The destruction of papers relating to matters heard before a trial justice or other magistrate, or old records of notaries public which are kept in any court in the commonwealth, is within the authority provided by this section.

In any rule or order of the supreme judicial court under this section for disposal or destruction of papers preserved in any particular court or clerk’s office or storage place, the action so authorized shall be subject to the supervision of the court in which the papers are preserved and no papers shall be so disposed of or destroyed without an order of such court, and in the case of a district court, without an order of the standing justice of such district court. Exceptions from any general description of papers to be destroyed may be made at any time. In the case of the disposal or destruction of records or papers of county commissioners in the custody of any of the clerks of the courts acting in the capacity of clerk of the county commissioners such disposal or destruction shall be subject to the joint supervision of the superior court and of the chairman of the county commissioners for the county.

Any papers or records which have been filed or deposited in any court of the commonwealth may be moved to places of storage approved by the supreme judicial court. Said court may by rule or order designate persons employed at such places to be authorized custodians of all papers and records so moved. All costs related to the moving and storage of such papers or records shall be borne by the commonwealth.

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