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Law: QuickStart Guide

This guide is intended to serve as a starting point for finding legal information and is intended for public library users and librarians.

Newton City Hall

The Newton Free Library is conveniently located across from Newton City Hall.  

The City of Newton website has a user friendly "How Do I...." webpage  plus a 311 for Quick Help and Requests webpage for quick links.

Mayor Fuller's HomepageSubscribe to Mayor Fuller's News Updates here.

Covid-19 Resources  The city will continue to keep Newton residents informed, monitor the situation and implement CDC and MDPH guidance at the local level.

Please see our Snow Brochure HERE



Newton City Charter and Ordinances

Newton Charter: Group Petitions; Action Required


Sec. 10-2. Group Petitions; Action Required. The city council or the school committee shall hold a public hearing and act with respect to every petition which is addressed to it, which is signed by at least 50 voters, and which seeks the passage of a measure. The hearing shall be held by the city council or the school committee or, in either case, by a committee or subcommittee of either the city council or school committee and the action by the city council or school committee shall be taken not later than 3 months after the petition is filed with the city clerk. Hearings on 2 or more petitions filed under this section may be held at the same time and place and the city clerk shall mail notice of the hearing to the first 50 certified signers whose names appear on each petition at least 48 hours before the hearing. Notice by publication of all such hearings shall be at public expense. (Referendum of 11- 04-75.) 


Tip: FENCES AND WALLS: Look for ordinances about walls under the heading for fences.   Chapter 5 Article III Section 30: Fences 

Formerly under Chapter 20 Civil Fines & Misc. Offenses, Article VI, it was moved to Chapter 5 Public Buildings and Inspectional Services. 


Newton District Court

Newton District Court

Excerpt from Massachusetts Court System: In civil matters, District Court judges conduct both jury and jury-waived trials, and determine with finality any matter in which the likelihood of recovery does not exceed $25,000. The District Court also tries small claims involving up to $7,000 (initially tried to a magistrate, with a defense right of appeal either to a judge or to a jury). Fifteen of its judges serve on the Appellate Division, an appellate tribunal with published opinions that is organized in three geographical districts, and sits in three-judge panels, to review questions of law that arise in civil cases.  Read more about the District Courts on the Massachusetts Court System website.

Legal Services & Lawyer Referral Service

Ask a Law Librarian

Community Legal Education

From the Massachusetts Bar Association: "Whether you are a member of the public looking for assistance with a legal question, an attorney searching for a volunteer opportunity, or a student or teacher interested in bringing law-related education to your school, you can benefit from the MBA's public and community service programs."

Affordable Housing



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Find a Licensed Professional

Find Your Legislators

detail from the Capitol rotunda

Historic Houses

The City of Newton Planning Department and The Jackson History Museum post legal information regarding restoring and remodeling historic homes in Newton.

Historical Maps & Historic Properties

Massachusetts Government

Newton eResources

Newton Forms

Newton Governing Documents

Newton Government & Forms

Become familiar with the official homepage for the City of Newton.  A clear and detailed source of information by department plus forms across city departments.

Newton Housing Strategy



Newton Villages

Overnight Parking Ban & Options

Police Department

The Newton Police Department is committed to providing quality; professional law enforcement services to the community and recognizes that successful policing cannot be done without the support of the community. The Newton Police Department serves a residential population of over 85,000 people.Currently the department employs 139 sworn officers, 10 parking control officers,52 school traffic supervisors and 33 civilians.

Take advantage of the Silver-Alert/Wanderer Sign-up link service available from the Newton Police Department page.

Recycling in Newton

Schools & Students: Rights & Responsibilities

Snow Resources

Sidewalk Shoveling
To keep pedestrians safe throughout the City, the City of Newton now requires all property owners or occupants of a building to maintain all paved and concrete sidewalks abutting their property or business in a non-slippery condition free of ice and snow within 24 hours after snow has ceased to fall or ice has formed. Please know that the Commissioner of Public Works may extend the 24- hour compliance timeframe when weather conditions necessitate.  
For the first time, the new ordinance has teeth. Residents and business owners can be issued fines for failing to clear their sidewalk.
Residential properties:
  •     1st Offense per 365 period - written warning
  •     2nd and subsequent offenses per 365 day period - $50
Fines for commercial, institutional, or residential properties with more than four residential dwelling units:
  •     1st Offense - $100
  •     2nd Offense - $200
  •     3rd and subsequent offenses in a calendar year - $300
Fines can be issued each day until the violation is addressed.
For shoveling tips including "avoiding the second shovel," click here.

Self Help Books

Consult titles from self help legal publishers.  Watch for new editions with updated information.  Use the Legal Topics tab to find more books and links to areas of law you may need.