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Access to Justice

Article 11 (1780)

Every subject of the commonwealth ought to find a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character. He ought to obtain right and justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay; conformably to the laws.

Precedents, Following Law, and Quotations

Clause 40 of the Magna Carta of the Great Charter of King John Granted at Runnymede, June 15, A.D. 1215, in the Seventeenth Year of His Reign:

“ To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”


Early on, keeping in mind the concept of access to justice outlined in the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, the Commonwealth’s Legislators envisioned a system of county law libraries providing free legal information to its citizens. Chapter 177 of the Acts of 1815 authorized a group of five or more lawyers in any county in the Commonwealth to “form a law library, for the use of said county.” After celebrating the 200th anniversary of this legislation, and now under the purview of the state’s judicial branch, the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries, fifteen public libraries located across Massachusetts, continue to provide free legal information.

Chapter 94, “An Act in Relation to Law Library Associations,”(1842):

“. . .any inhabitant of the county shall have the right to use the books in said library, subject to such regulations as shall be prescribed by the associations, with the approval of the court of common pleas.”


Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission: Justice is Everyone’s Business (2019) :

“The Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission is working to ensure that everyone in Massachusetts has access to the Justice they deserve.”



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