Policy on Access for People with Disabilities
The Judicial Branch of the State of Maine does not condone discrimination in any form against persons with disabilities. Discrimination against persons with disabilities violates the individuals' civil rights, undermines the integrity of the court system and the workplace, and adversely affects the equal administration of justice. In addition jury service is a right and responsibility of all qualified citizens.
IT IS THE POLICY of the Judicial Branch of the State of Maine that:
- Programs, activities, services and facilities of the court system will be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities, as required by fairness and justice as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Maine Human Rights Act;
- All employees of the court system will provide prompt, courteous and equal service to all persons including those with disabilities and report any incident of discrimination against persons on the basis of disability;
- Opportunity for jury service will not be denied or limited on the basis of disability;
- Complaints of discrimination on the basis of disability will be promptly responded to and every effort will be made to resolve all complaints as quickly as possible;
- Qualified individuals with disabilities will not be subjected to disability- based discrimination in regard to job application procedures; the hiring, advancement or discharge of employees; job training; employee compensation; or any other term, condition, and privilege of employment; and
- All Judicial Branch employees will receive training to enable them to meet the responsibilities established by this policy and to help assure their sensitivity to the needs of individuals with disabilities.
In order to advance these policies the Judicial Branch shall implement the following provisions:
- PHYSICAL ACCESS TO COURT FACILITIES
The Judicial Branch of the State of Maine recognizes its obligation to provide full physical access at court facilities and identifies the following areas of priority in providing that access during the interim period before full access is available:
- Routes of entry, entrances, and parking spaces.
- Clerks' offices, including public service counters.
- Jury deliberation space.
- ACCOMMODATIONS AND AUXILIARY AIDS AND SERVICES
The Judicial Branch recognizes its obligation to make appropriate accommodations and provide auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication and participation of individuals with disabilities who have contact with the court system. It is a high priority of the Judicial Branch to develop and promptly obtain the necessary auxiliary aids and services until appropriate auxiliary aids and services are available to every courthouse. In the meantime every reasonable effort will be made to provide accommodations and auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication and participation of individuals with disabilities in the court system.
Accommodations are to be furnished at no charge to individuals with disabilities. In most cases, presentation of proof of disability is not required. Examples of accommodations that may be provided include the following:
- Qualified sign language, oral, and cued speech interpreters.
- Real-time transcription services (CART).
- Assistive-listening devices.
- Provision of court documents in large-print and Braille.
- Audiotapes, recording equipment and computer disks.
- TTY: Maine Relay 711, and amplified telephones.
- Arrangement made to ensure that service dogs are allowed to remain with their owner with a disability at all times.
The Judicial Branch may also provide any other reasonable accommodation necessary to permit a person with a disability to participate fully in or to observe court activities.
The Judicial Branch will actively pursue the financial resources necessary and will work diligently to eliminate any and all existing barriers to persons with disabilities.
Accommodations will be available and not have to be requested whenever possible. Where is it necessary to make a request, the following procedure will be followed:
- Requests for accommodations may be made to the clerk of court where the proceeding will take place.
- All requests for accommodations shall describe the accommodation sought, and if not apparent the reason for which the request is being made.
- Any denial of a requested accommodation by a judge or duly authorized court official will be accompanied by a written statement of the reason for denial.
- The judge or other court personnel shall make whatever arrangements are necessary to reasonably accommodate jurors with disabilities, in order to ensure effective communication and participation at all stages of the jury summoning, orientation, instruction and deliberation process.
- Eligible persons who are summoned to serve as jurors may be excused on the basis of disability from jury service only if they are incapable with the help of a reasonable accommodation, of performing their duties as a juror.
Attorneys in a proceeding should notify the court as soon as they become aware that a person with a disability is involved in a proceeding and will require an accommodation from the court.
The Judicial Branch has adopted a Grievance Procedure and an Accommodation Complaint/Grievance form to implement the policy stated herein.
- A copy of the court's notice of compliance, Grievance Procedure, and Accommodation Complaint/Grievance form shall be available in each clerk's office and provided to any individual.
- The court shall make every reasonable effort to resolve any complaints to the satisfaction of the person with a disability.
Nothing in this policy shall be construed to impose limitations or to invalidate the remedies, rights, and procedures accorded to any individuals with disabilities under local, state or federal law.