Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I order a transcript of a court hearing?
First, you will need to complete a Transcript Order form, which you can get from any court clerk’s office or you can download the form from this site. Next, the Transcript Order form needs to be filed in the court where the case was heard. The clerk will send the Transcript Order form to the Office of Transcript Operations and Projects or to the Official Court Reporter who recorded your case. You will be contacted shortly after your order is received for payment and estimated completion date. Download a Transcript Order Form click on the Civil and FM Matters Form link and select CV R-165, Transcript Order.
2. What is a court transcript and how is it used?
A court transcript is a written record of what was said in a court hearing transcribed from an electronic recording or Court Reporter notes by a neutral party.
It is most often used by parties seeking review by another court. For example, a transcript or an agreement about what happened in the case, is required for appeals to the Law Court. Please refer to Maine Rule of Appellate Procedure 5(d).
3. What do I need to do to start the process to get a Transcript?
Complete the Transcript Order form to the best of your ability. If there is information that you do not have, first ask the clerk of the court wherein your matter was heard. If you are unable to get the information, call the Office of Transcript Operations and Projects for assistance.
4. What information is required on the Transcript Order Form?
The Transcript Order Form contains the following information.
- Indicate if it is a Superior Court or District Court matter
- The name of the case and Docket Number
- The type of hearing requested to be prepared (for example, hearing on a motion trial, sentencing, plea, arraignment, or motion to suppress.)
- The names of any attorney(s) present
- The date of the hearing
- The Tape and Index Numbers associated with your case.
- The correct address where the transcript will be sent
- Payment information
5. Can I send the Transcript Order form directly to the Office of Transcript Operations and Projects?
No. It must be filed first in the court where the case was heard. Your Transcript Order will be docketed on the day it gets presented to the court. For a complete listing of all Trial Court Clerks’ offices, refer to the lists on this site.
6. What happens after I have filled out the form and filed it?
The Transcript Order is docketed at the court where the case was heard and then it gets sent to the Office of Transcript Operations and Projects or to the Official Court Reporter. Once your order is processed, you will be notified by mail of the cost of the transcript and the expected date you will receive it.
7. Do I need to send money with my transcript order?
No. You will receive a letter with the full amount due for the transcript. The transcript will not be started until the total amount is received.
8. How much does a transcript cost?
The charge is $3.00 per page for an original and one copy. For any additional copies beyond this, the price is .50 cents per page.
9. Why am I charged for the original court transcript but I only receive a copy?
The original transcript is always filed with the court and retained in the court file for its use. Therefore, no person is provided with the original transcript.
10. What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept cash, money orders, bank certified checks, credit cards, and attorney firm checks.
11. Can I get an audio recording of my hearing instead of a transcript?
Yes. Fill out the Transcript Order form completely, but indicate “Cassette Only” in the REASON FOR TRANSCRIPT section at the top. The first tape is $25. Each tape thereafter for the same hearing is $10. We reformat our cassettes so that they play in any cassette player.
Please note that unless a judge signs an order allowing it, an individual may not submit an audio tape in place of an official paper transcript. See Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 91 (f) (2) at: http://www.courts.maine.gov/rules_adminorders/rules/index.shtml. Unless a judge orders it or the court rules allow a different process, a paper transcript from any electronically recorded hearing must be ordered, paid for, and typed through the Office of Transcript Operations and Projects.
12. Can I get a transcript of a hearing if I was not present?
Yes, as long as it was a public hearing and you pay the fee.
13. What if it was not a public hearing, could I still get a transcript?
If you were a party in the closed hearing, yes. Even then, there may be restrictions.
If you were not a party, you would need written permission from the judge who heard the case to order the transcript.
Child Protective matters, some Family Matter cases, any Juvenile cases and Bar Disciplinary matters are not publicly available. Most other hearings are in the public domain (unless sealed or protected by the judge), and transcripts are therefore available to any requestor upon the payment of a fee.
14. How long does it take to get a transcript?
If the transcript is part of an appeal, the Court reviewing the case (usually, the Law Court) sets a date as to when the transcript should be filed. The transcript is due within the Law Court’s required timeframe and any extension granted by the Court.
If your transcript request is not for an appeal, it is completed on a first-paid first-served basis within a reasonable amount of time. In general you may expect that your transcript will be produced within 30 days.
Currently, we do not offer expedited transcription services.
15. What if I need a transcript but can’t afford it?
a. To apply for a record at State Expense, complete a financial affidavit and submit it to the court where your hearing was held. If a judge approves your request, you may exempt from payment or you may be required to pay a portion of the cost.
b. In criminal matters, the Maine Rules of Criminal Procedure provide, “Upon appropriate motion, the court shall direct that the State bear any expense for listening to recordings by or preparation of a [paper] transcript for indigent defendants. See M.R. Crim. P. 27(d). To request exemption from fee payment, complete an indigency affidavit. The indigency affidavit is available on the Forms page under the Criminal (CR) Forms link, click on the link for CR-032, Indigency Affidavit.
c. In child protective cases, the Court allows parties to obtain paper transcripts at state expense. See Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 91(f)(2).To request exemption from fee payment, complete an indigency affidavit. The indigency affidavit is available on the Forms page under the Civil and Family Matters (CV and FM) Forms link, click on the link for CV-067, Application Proceed w/o Fee.
d. In other civil matters, the Court allows parties to receive copies of the audio recording at state expense and the audio version may be used instead of a paper transcript. See Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 91(f)(2). In most civil matters the state is not required to pay for paper transcripts unless ordered by a judge. See Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 91(f)(2). In these matters, the audio recording will serve as the record. To request exemption from fee payment, complete an indigency affidavit. The indigency affidavit is available on the Forms page under the Civil and Family Matters (CV and FM) Forms link, click on the link for CV-067, Application Proceed w/o Fee.
16. What if an Official Court Reporter recorded my hearing, how do I get a transcript?
Fill out the Transcript Order form and have it filed with the court where your case was heard. The clerk will send the form to the Court Reporter. You will be contacted by the Court Reporter as to price and completion date of your transcript.
17. Is there a different charge if a Court Reporter recorded my case?
No. The price per page for an original transcript plus one copy is $3.00. If the transcript has already been prepared, the copy rate is .50 cents per page. However, other arrangements can be made with the Court Reporter for any expedited transcript or daily copy transcripts within reason.
18. What happens to my transcript request if I do not pay the deposit to the Court Reporter or OTP on time?
No transcript will be prepared without receiving the deposit. If your transcript was for an appeal, the Law Court will be notified that no payment was received and the Office of Transcript Operations and Projects will not be providing a transcript.
19. I want to get a copy of a transcript that has already been transcribed. How do I do that?
If the original transcript was previously filed and electronically recorded, you may get a copy directly from the Office of Transcript Operations and Projects at .50 cents per page. If a Court Reporter recorded the case, contact the clerk’s office where the case was heard. The information will be sent directly to the Court Reporter. Once payment is received, the transcript will be released.
20. Can I get a transcript of just a certain person’s testimony from a hearing?
Yes. On the Transcript Order form, indicate the name of the witness you want transcribed. Be as specific as possible of what you would like. Example: Direct testimony only of John Smith. You will only be charged to the portion of the transcript that you requested. So in most instance requesting one person’s testimony will be less expensive than getting the whole transcript.
21. I have received my transcript, but it contains “Indiscernibles”. What does that mean?
Transcribing from audio-recorded proceedings can be extremely difficult. “Indiscernible” may indicate any number of the following challenges:
- Soft-spoken speakers
- Witnesses with heavy accents
- Multiple parties speaking at the same time
- Quoted materials that are read quickly
- Non-verbal interference, such as coughing, sneezing, bumping the microphone and cell phone interruptions
- Poor sound quality on the recording
22. Why do I sometimes see the notation “(Phonetic)” and “[sic]” in the transcript?
The notation “(Phonetic)” is used when the reporter/transcriber is unable to confirm the spelling of a proper name. Though every effort is made to confirm all spellings in a given transcript, it is not always possible to confirm each and every one.
The notation “[sic]” is used when an incorrect word or oddly worded phrase is spoken. This notation indicates to the reader that what is transcribed is in fact what was said even though it sounds peculiar or is incorrect. For example: Please tell the Court what renumeration [sic] you received from the company during your employment. In the above example, the “[sic]” indicates that the speaker incorrectly said “renumeration” instead of “remuneration”.
23. I received my transcript, but I think there is an error. What can I do?
In writing, submit exactly what you think was transcribed incorrectly to either the Court Reporter or the Office of Transcript Operations and Projects, using page and line numbers. The written request will be reviewed.
If it is determined that a correction needs to be made, an errata sheet will be prepared, correcting the mistake(s). The corrections will be submitted to whoever ordered the transcript. If after review it is determined that no error was made, you will be notified that the transcript stands as submitted.
24. My transcript contains a Title page, Witness & Exhibit page, and a Certification page. Do these count as a full page of my transcript?
25. Do you have any tips for speaking at a recorded hearing?
For tips on participating in an electronically recorded proceeding, Click here.
26. What if I need help with the legal part of my appeal?
Neither the Clerks office or the Office of Transcript Operations and Projects can offer legal advice. Please be sure you understand the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure and visit the Courts’ web page for self represented parties. If you need legal guidance, please contact an attorney. If you are unsure as to whether you should be represented by a lawyer you should seek an evaluation from a lawyer of your choice. If you do not know of a lawyer, you may wish to get a referral from the Maine State Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be eligible for a lawyer from one or more legal services provider listed on the this "Legal Aid Resources" page.
In most civil and criminal cases each party has the right to appeal the decision to a different court. The issues heard on appeal, however, are limited to questions of law considered in the trial court. A trial judge's decision about what the law is or whether to admit testimony is generally reviewable, but a jury's (or judge's) decision to believe or disbelieve properly admitted evidence is reviewable only for abuse of discretion or insufficiency of evidence.
Most District Court appeals are filed directly to the Supreme Judicial Court. Small claims appeals and forcible entry and detainer appeals are filed in the Superior Court.
Information about appealing a small claims case is available in the Guide to Small Claims Proceedings in the District Court.
Appeals from the Superior Court may be taken to the Supreme Judicial Court.
The Guide for Appeals to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court is designed for those who are not familiar with procedures for appealing cases to the Law Court.