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Massachusetts Research Process

November 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog

 Background checks out of Massachusetts have always been a pain point within our industry. We know this is an area where time service creates issues, and most providers simply blame the Court Clerks, but we strive to provide another layer of transparency regarding the research the process.  

This post serves to provide insight to Massachusetts and challenges within this jurisdiction.

Superior Court: Superior court has computer system but it only shows name and year of case filing.

District Court: District is all docket books, and only shows name, DOB and year of case filing. All other case info must be obtained via file retrieval that is done by clerks and there are often lengthy delays due to limitations on the number of files pulled per day/runner/etc.

Non-Default District courts rarely have any sort of computer system or docket books available to the public. They are 100% clerk run.

Special cases – Courts that may experience long delays due to court process:


  • Runners drop off lists of names in a basket, clerks (about 6 of them) pick up and complete randomly—this is a challenge because runners have no idea who is working on their lists.
  • Files: Superior court has electronic files but District court still works with paper files, which means pages within files or even entire files can be missing or difficult to locate. This can cause initial delays, and sometimes files are given to runners and then they discover pages are missing.
  • Newer cases: the files for these cases can be housed in several different locations (probation office, judge’s chambers, DA’s office).
  • Last year a new clerk was hired and she got in trouble for helping court runners too much
  • New policies in the court dictate a total of 10 files to be pulled daily.
  • Clerks who are caught pulling more than 10 will be fired immediately.
  • The only exception is if one subject has more than 10 files, all the files will be pulled for that one particular subject and no other.
  • There may be days where their house volume will not permit them to pull any files at all and they will not carry those 10 files to the next day. 

***All hits must have files pulled. Court clerks are not permitted to have contact with researchers. Extended TAT can stem from clerks not pulling files on a first-come first-serve basis and our researcher often has to reorder files to increase the chances that ours will be pulled that day.


The subject is searched at Superior (done using computers that do not have IDs, only docket numbers) and the lower level (which is completely docket books).

  • Once a subject has a hit, the docket (file) is compiled by the researcher (researcher puts this person’s docket number(s) with others that need to be pulled).
  • The researcher must then wait for the docket to be pulled (documents pulled at clerk’s discretion.  There is no order to this).
  • TAT – Hampden aims to pull files for 10 subjects each day, but per researcher this goal never gets accomplished.

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