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Understanding the structure of how legal literature is organized depends upon understanding how the three branches of government work. In Massachusetts, we can access primary source law from all three branches online.



Legislative material

Acts and Resolves:  (1997-Date)

Each bill that becomes law is given a chapter number based on the chronological order in which it was adopted. These chapters are called Session Laws and are compiled on an annual basis.

Massachusetts General Laws:
        The laws are codified, organized by subject in a website maintained by the legislature.

Judicial material

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court Cases: (1938-Date)
Also available from the Reporter of Decisions:
and in “Public Case Information”:

Massachusetts Trial Courts Public Information:

Executive Branch material

Massachusetts Executive Orders:
       Executive Orders are issued by the governor under various constitutional powers, some being “substantive instruments with the force of law.”

Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR):
      Massachusetts state agencies issue regulations, which are compiled in the CMR.

Massachusetts Legal Literature in a Nutshell: Secondary Source Law

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