This is an open reply to the Massachusetts Trial Court's call for comments regarding its Proposed Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records. It is the joint comment of the undersigned individuals and organizations. Additional materials and pledges of support can be found in relation to individual signatories. It was submitted to the Public Access to Court Records Committee on May 4, 2016.

Public Access ⇒ Data Standards + API

Given that the adoption of a common data standard for the Massachusetts legal community offers the promise of increased efficiency, lower information sharing costs, and improved access to courts, we propose that the Massachusetts Trial Courts adopt a set of data standards to facilitate sharing information between the Trial Courts and other stakeholders, and that all data deemed publicly available be made accessible in a machine readable format consistent with these standards via an application programming interface (API) overseen by the courts. This would supersede the need for the Courts to create idiosyncratic user portals for various stakeholders, as described in Rule 5. It would also simplify the procedures described in Rule 3 as the use cases envisioned could be conducted over the API.


Alphabetical by institution or last name. Institutional support in bold. In recognition of the fact that signatories might have different rationales for recommending the above, we allow them to selectively sign on to and provide additional supporting materials. When appropriate, these are linked to from their signatures.