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about the archives
Judicial records are a rich primary source of economic and social history, in addition to the obvious legal content. The case files of the old Circuit Court of Common Pleas, for example, reveal much about the daily live, circumstances, occupations and concerns of citizens. Specific information about wages, salaries, business practices and other economic data is frequently found in the records of the courts; and an investigation of the case files of a single term of court may provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the inhabitants of Maine in a particular time and place.
The Archives maintains three types of court records (dockets, records, and casefiles) from all sixteen counties, beginning in 1636.
Judicial records generally consist of bound Docket Volumes, bound Record Volumes and Case Files, all of which document court actions during each term or session of the courts at all levels.
Over the years there has been no absolute uniformity in the filing and docketing practices of the Clerks of Court who are responsible for maintaining these records.
The decisions of the inferior courts and courts of general jurisdiction are not published in the collected volumes of court reports of the State. Such decisions may be reviewed upon appeal by the Supreme Judicial Court; and the decisions of this court are authoritative precedents that are binding upon the lower courts of the State. The fact, however, that a case was not appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court and reported in its published decisions, in no way suggests that the controversy was unimportant, nor that the records which document it are without research value.
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