The Maine Judicial Branch is committed to providing equal access to Maine state court facilities and court services, ensuring equal employment opportunity, and maintaining an environment in which all people—with diverse needs and functional abilities—are treated with dignity, respect, and courtesy.
If you have a disability that may restrict your ability to meaningfully participate in court proceedings, programs, activities, or services, the Judicial Branch will provide you with reasonable and appropriate accommodations at no cost to you.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that requires state and local governments, including the Maine Judicial Branch, to accommodate people with disabilities. The Judicial Branch complies with the ADA—as well as the Maine Human Rights Act and other state and federal laws protecting equal access—and provides reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities so that they may meaningfully access the Maine state courts and state court services.
A person with a disability may receive an accommodation if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities, like walking, standing, seeing, hearing, or speaking.
The Judicial Branch will accommodate people with disabilities at no cost to them by:
- providing accessible court facilities;
- providing auxiliary aids and services as appropriate and necessary; and
- making reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures.
Access to Court Facilities
All Maine state courthouses have accessible parking, entrances, routes, restrooms, and courtrooms. Questions about courthouse access may be answered by reviewing the accessible parking and entrance information for Maine courthouses or may be directed to the clerk’s office or the Court Access Coordinator. To report concerns about courthouse accessibility, contact the Court Access Coordinator.
Service animals are welcome in Maine state courts. A service animal is a dog, or can be a miniature horse, that has been specifically trained to do work or perform tasks to assist a person with a disability. Pets and animals providing comfort or emotional support are not service animals, because they do not do work or perform specific tasks associated with a person’s disability, and will not be allowed into the courthouse.
A service animal will not be denied entry into a courthouse because of allergies or fear of dogs. The person bringing a service animal into a courthouse or court facility is responsible for care and supervision of their animal. Please see the Judicial Branch Guide to the Use of Service Animals or contact the Court Access Coordinator for more information.
The Judicial Branch welcomes people who use manual or power wheelchairs or electric scooters, and manually powered mobility aids like walkers, crutches and canes, into all areas of court facilities where members of the public are allowed to go. The Judicial Branch will accommodate other power-driven mobility devices (OPDMD) for people with disabilities, such as the Segway PT® and other electronic personal assistance devices, if the speed is limited to the pace of pedestrian traffic and the device is safe to operate in the courthouse. The Judicial Branch does not lend or provide mobility devices such as wheelchairs or walkers. Please see the Accessible parking and entrances for Maine courthouses, the Judicial Branch Guide to the Use of Mobility Devices, or contact the Court Access Coordinator for more information.
Types of Disability Accommodations Provided by the Court
Reasonable accommodations may include providing aids and services such as:
- Assistive listening equipment;
- Qualified sign language, oral and cued-speech interpreters;
- Accessible formats such as large print, Braille, digital or audio; and
- Computer Access Real-time Translation or real-time captioning (CART) services.
Reasonable accommodations may also involve modifying court practices or procedures such as:
- Moving a court proceeding to an accessible location;
- Consenting to specially scheduling a court proceeding;
- Allowing a support person to attend the court proceeding;
- Removing distractions from the courtroom;
- Scheduling more frequent breaks during a court proceeding; and
- Arranging for appearances in court proceedings to be remote.
These and other reasonable accommodations may be arranged through the Court Access Coordinator. If a request for accommodation would modify the way a court proceeding is usually conducted, the presiding judge decides what is a reasonable accommodation.
Accommodations for People who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Late Deafened
Every Maine state courthouse has assistive listening equipment for people who are hard of hearing. Every courtroom is equipped with an integrated Assistive Listening System and all courthouses have personal amplification devices (sometimes referred to as “PocketalkersTM”) for use where the courtroom assistive listening systems do not reach, such as in hallways, jury deliberation rooms, mediation rooms, and clerks’ offices. Please ask a clerk for an assistive listening device when you arrive at court.
The Judicial Branch provides qualified sign language interpreters. More information on interpreter services and other communication aids and services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing can be found on the Services Provided for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late-Deafened Individuals page or contact the Communication Access Specialist at 207-822-0703, TTY: Maine Relay 711, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Types of Aids and Services that the Court is NOT Required to Provide
The ADA does not require the Judicial Branch to take an action that would fundamentally alter the nature of its court services, impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the Judicial Branch, or alter the legal requirements in a case.
The Judicial Branch does not provide attorney services or legal advice as a disability accommodation. If you need an attorney or legal services, go to Legal Help.
Examples of requests that the courts are not required to accommodate include requests for:
- Attorney services, legal research, legal advice or legal interpretation in civil cases;
- An official transcript of a court proceeding;
- Personal attendant care such as assistance in eating or toileting;
- Personal equipment such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, and eyeglasses;
- Personal services such as transportation to and from the courthouse or lodging;
- Readers for personal use or study;
- Continuing (postponing) a proceeding indefinitely; and
- Extending the statute of limitations for filing a case because the person says they could not comply with the time requirements due to a disability.
Some requests for accommodations in a case cannot be granted by the Court Access Coordinator or clerk’s office and must be submitted by written motion to the court to be decided by the presiding judge as part of the case. Examples of these are requests to continue (to postpone) a proceeding, to change venue, or to participate in court proceedings remotely by telephone or videoconferencing. The judge may consider a person’s disability, along with other relevant factors, in granting or denying the motion.
Contact the Court Access Coordinator for more information.
Jury Service for People with Disabilities
People with disabilities are encouraged to participate in jury service and, because of the importance of jury service to our system of justice, are not automatically excused from jury service.
A person with a disability who is contacted for jury service may request a reasonable accommodation in writing on their jury qualification questionnaire or the disability accommodation request form, by calling the clerk’s office, or by contacting the Court Access Coordinator.
A person with a disability may request to be excused from service by contacting the clerk’s office and providing a doctor’s note or other supporting documentation from a medical provider to be excused from jury service. Learn more about jury service.
The Judicial Branch is committed to preserving confidentiality. Except as required by law, information and records provided as part of a disability accommodation request will be discussed and disclosed only as necessary to make an accommodation decision.
Court Access Coordinator
Administrative Office of the Courts
P.O. Box 4820
Portland, Maine 04112
Fax: (207) 776-6096
TTY: Maine Relay 711
This information is not intended to be a complete or full statement of the state and federal laws governing persons with disabilities and is not intended to be, or to substitute for, legal advice.