Finding if a trial happened in Mass.
May 18, 2015 10:49 AM   Subscribe

A thing happened in my neighborhood and the police arrested a person as a result. My neighbors have spotted the arrestee on the streets and are assuming he's been paroled. But I can't find out what actually happened.

What I CAN find is that he was out on bail as of last September, and that a pre-trial conference had a date set. I can't seem to find out if a trial occurred, or what the verdict was. This is in Massachusetts.
posted by mkb to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What county in Mass? Every county has a website for the Clerk of the Courts. Normally you can search history and trial records there.
posted by Flood at 11:15 AM on May 18, 2015

Response by poster: Essex.
posted by mkb at 11:26 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: But I can only find searches of non-criminal proceedings.
posted by mkb at 11:43 AM on May 18, 2015

Best answer: I'd try searching the database on the site by defendant name, without specifying the case type. IANAL but have had occasion to look up trial records and these things I have found to be true: 1) the online database for the mass courts system is persnickety as all hell, and if you don't search for the exact right name/word/number with the exact right syntax, you will come up with bubkis even when the info is in there; 2) if you really want detailed info on criminal cases in particular, you will have to go down to the courthouse and ask the clerks, because the information they retain online is bare-bones, 3) the courts are broke and understaffed and back logged at every level. If you guy only got arrested last fall I'd bet $100 he hasn't been to trial yet and that's why you're not finding more info about the case. But if you really want to confirm your best bet is to actually go down to the courthouse and ask --- it's public record, they have to show you, but there's often no easy way to find this stuff online.
posted by maggiepolitt at 1:36 PM on May 18, 2015

Not sure if it's possible, but some courts have a court library that may let you search their PACER account. A lot of case stuff is tied up in a special online legal database called PACER and it cost an arm and a leg (and lawyers can afford it, but us plebes can't.) I'd check law school if a court doesn't provide any access to such.
posted by kschang at 11:40 PM on May 18, 2015

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