This is explained in greater detail in a Massachusetts Bar Association article which indicates that the Mass Bar proposed an amendment to the statute, mandating expungement of the record when the Order was vacated at the first hearing (after being issued on an ex parte hearing, which most 209A Orders are initially). Unfortunately, this legislation was not enacted by the legislature, and today the law remains that there is no statute allowing these records to be expunged.
In Vaccaro v. Vaccaro a Husband requested via Motion that the record be expunged in the statewide system after a Judge found insufficient facts to justify extension of the Order, but the Supreme Judicial Court overturned the expungement because there is no statutory authority to expunge the record. Vaccaro v. Vaccaro, 425 Mass. 153, 680 N.E.2d 55 (1997)
In Commissioner of Probation v. Adams the Court did allow a record to be expunged, distinguishing the circumstances in that case by stating “a judge has the inherent authority to expunge a record of a 209A order from the Statewide domestic violence registry system in the rare and limited circumstance that the judge has found through clear and convincing evidence that the order was obtained through fraud on the court.” In that case “fraud” consisted of a calculated pattern of nineteen false and perjurious statements. Commissioner of Probation v. Adams, 65 Mass. App. Ct. 725, 730, 843 N.E.2d 1001 (2006)
In Noble v. Noble the Appellate Court (quoting Rockdale Mgmt. Co. v. Shawmut Bank, N.A., 418 Mass. 596, 598, 638 N.E.2d 29 (1994)) further defined a “fraud on the court” as when it can be “demonstrated, clearly and convincingly, that a party has sentiently set in motion some unconscionable scheme calculated to interfere with the judicial system’s ability impartially to adjudicate a matter by improperly influencing the trier or unfairly hampering the presentation of the opposing party’s claim or defense.” Noble v. Noble, 75 Mass.App.Ct. 1121, 909 N.E.2d 59 (2009)
Unfortunately, this means that in most cases where a 209A Restraining Order is vacated at the first hearing, it is still unlikely that the Defendant can get the original Order expunged from their record. The Courts have stated that this reflects a legislative intent to give the Courts and police as much information as possible when dealing with domestic violence situations. Unfortunately, as is often the case, this information can cost an innocent person their rights, even if they were falsely accused (but can't meet the burden of proving fraud).