COVID-19 and Court and Administrative Hearings

Reviewed October 18, 2020

In Massachusetts courts:

  1. Bring your own pen for signing documents!
  2. Bring your own mask and wear it.
  3. You may not enter the court house if:
    • You are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or you have experienced these symptoms in the last 3 days.
    • You have been diagnosed with or tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
    • You live with someone who tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
    • You or someone you live with experienced COVID-19 symptoms and are waiting for results from a COVID-19 test.
    • You should be self-quarantining.
    • You refuse to be screened.
      • Screening may include taking your temperature. If your temperatue is above 100° more than twice in 10 minutes, you may not enter the courthouse.
    • You refuse to follow the rules in the order.
  4. You must stay at least 6 feet away from everyone else while you are in the building.
  5. You must follow the signs on the floor and seats that show you where to stand or sit. The signs are to help you keep 6 feet away from other people.
  6. The judge in your court room may change the rules about distancing. You must obey the judge.

What if the court does not allow me in?

If you have a lawyer, contact your lawyer.

If do you not have a lawyer, call the clerk of the court. Find your court on the trial court's website. The clerk's phone number is in the listing for each court.

If you are supposed to meet with Probation, call the probation officer or office.

Court Hearings

Courthouses reopened to the public for limited purposes, including some in-person proceedings. But courts continue to do most business over the phone or using videoconferencing.

The Trial Court departments use the court system's COVID-19 webpage to notify the public about the kinds of hearings they will hold in person.

If you have an emergency, the court will still try to handle it so that no one has to enter the courthouse.

What is an emergency matter?

Each Trial Court issued an order that describes the emergencies in their court. Emergencies include emergency protection and harassment prevention orders, arraignments of new arrests, bail reviews, dangerousness hearings, mental health commitment orders, and care and protection orders See the trial courts in your area to see the kinds of cases they consider an emergency.

If you need an emergency restraining order, see Asking the court for a restraining order or harassment prevention order during COVID-19.

What about cases that are not emergencies?

The courts are handling some cases that are not emergencies as long as this can be done virtually. See the court system's COVID-19 webpage to find out more.

Some courts have drop-boxes you can use to hand deliver documents you need to file. But see the court system's COVID-19 webpage to learn about other ways you can file.

What can I do if I need to contact the court?

Call the court where your case is, or where you need to file your emergency case. Use the Courthouse Locator page to find the court you need and the phone number to call.

If you cannot reach your local court, call the Trial Court’s Help Line - (833) 912-6878. The HelpLine can look up information about your case and answer questions. They are open
Monday-Friday,
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you cannot get through on the phone, email the clerk of your court. See this list of email addresses on the court website.

See the courts' web page Court system response to COVID-19 for more information.

The Trial courts are

District Courts and the Boston Municipal Court

Housing Court

Probate and Family Court

See Probate and Family Court during COVID-19.

See the standing orders for cases in Probate and Family Court.

Juvenile Court

See the standing orders for cases in Juvenile Court. Some of the parts of the order are:

  • 72 hour Care and Protection hearings will be held over the phone or through video conference if you cannot wait to have the hearing until after July 1, 2020.
  • Arraignments will be held over the phone or by video conferencing.
  • 258e Harassment hearings will be held over the phone or by video conferencing, those due to expire will still be in effect until the court can schedule another hearing
  • In non-emergencies, you can file a case by using the dropbox outside the courthouse if the court has a dropbox. 

Probation Department

  • The court has changed other conditions of probation including drug testing, community service, DNA testing, and others - see the Probation Department orders.

Land Court

See the standing orders for cases in Land Court.

Superior Court

See the standing orders for cases in Superior Court.

General state court information

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or any exposure to it:
    • You may not enter a courthouse or other state court facility, including probation offices, until the SJC decides it is safe to remove the restrictions.
    • If you try to enter a courthouse or other state court facility you will be breaking the law and security will refuse to let you enter.

Courts will contact members of juries now hearing cases. Anyone with pending matters should contact the Clerks Office.

The courts urge all court users and staff to be vigilant in applying social distancing and hygiene precautions to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Pay your court fees online
  • If you cannot afford the cost of going to court, normally you would need to file an Affidavit of Indigency. Under this emergency, the court no longer requires an Affidavit of Indigency, But they may ask for proof later on in your case. If the proof is not enough they will charge you for the fees you did not have to pay.

For Emergency Closures Call 1-855-MA COURT (855-622-6878) or see the courts' web page Courthouse closures due to COVID-19.

Follow on Twitter @macourtclosings -- The court uses Twitter for one-way only communication.

Federal court

U.S. District Court: See the latest information on their website.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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