Spoken-language Interpreters

For Court Proceedings

Interpreters are assigned at no cost for court proceedings. Court proceedings include:

  • Case management conferences;
  • Judicially-assigned mediations;
  • Dispositional conferences;
  • Motion hearings;
  • Arraignments;
  • Commitment and competency hearings;
  • Trial-related proceedings including jury selection, trials, sentencing, appellate arguments, grand jury proceedings; and
  • Any other court event or proceeding authorized by the presiding judge.

Court proceedings do not include court-ordered services or activities such as:

  • Co-parenting classes;
  • Driver Education Evaluation Programs (DEEP);
  • Batterer Intervention Programs (BIPs); and
  • Mental Health Examinations.

The Judicial Branch cannot arrange, provide, or pay for interpreters whose work happens outside the courthouse, even if it is related to a court matter. Counseling and community service providers generally are able to provide language access services using interpreters employed by local agencies.

How to Request a Spoken Language Interpreter

The need for interpretation services may be communicated in several different ways. However the need is communicated, all LEP individuals will be provided with interpretation services.
Some of the ways an individual may ask for an interpreter are:

  • Call or email the Communication Access Specialist [link to contact info] to request an interpreter.
  • Request an interpreter at the courthouse where the case is being held. All Judicial Branch courthouses  provide telephonic interpretation at clerk counters.
  • Fill out the Interpreter Request Form and submit to the clerk's office where your case is being heard or to the Communication Access Specialist at interpreters@courts.maine.gov.

Other Ways to Communicate the Need for a Spoken Language Interpreter

Courthouse signs

Signs in courthouse waiting areas and clerks' offices translated into the most frequently requested non-English languages in Maine tell readers that the court will provide an interpreter free of charge. This sign can be used to communicate to the clerk that an interpreter is needed.

"I Speak" language cards

Clerks' offices have "I Speak" cards in over 100 languages allowing users to "Point to [their] language. An interpreter will be called. The interpreter is provided at no cost to the court user." A clerk who realizes that a court user is having difficulty communicating in English will offer the "I Speak" card to them if a preferred language has not been identified. After the language has been identified, the clerk will contact "Language Line" on a specially-designated telephone to connect to a qualified interpreter to assist with communications.

Family members and minors under age 18 should not be used as interpreters for clerk interactions unless no other option is available. They may never be used to interpret in court proceedings.

Services Provided for Limited English Proficient Individuals

Language Line (telephone remote interpreting)

Language Line is accessed by telephone and generally is used for communications with clerks at the clerks' windows. Language Line may be used during short court proceedings as long as the judge, the parties, and their attorneys can hear the interpreter and the interpreter can hear them.

In-Person Interpreter

For court proceedings, the courts keep a list of qualified interpreters (Rostered Court Interpreters). If a Rostered Court Interpreter is not available in the needed language, then the court will contact an approved interpreting agency to request an experienced court interpreter. Interpreters will be assigned for LEP party/ies or witnesses, or parents of minors involved in juvenile actions. The court pays for the expense of interpreters. There is no cost to the LEP individual. All spoken language interpretation is electronically recorded. If a court proceeding lasts two (2) hours or longer, the court will appoint more interpreters as necessary to prevent interpreter fatigue.

  • A "table interpreter" sits with the party and his or her attorney at their assigned table and interprets between the party and the attorney.
  • A "proceedings interpreter" interprets everything said in the courtroom by the judge, witnesses, attorneys, or others.

Wireless Interpreter Equipment

Wireless interpreting equipment may be used for simultaneous (real time) interpretation during designated, lengthy court proceedings with qualified interpreters. Wireless interpreting equipment allows spoken language interpretation to be conducted discreetly during court proceedings because the interpreter may quietly interpret—from anywhere within the courtroom—into a microphone while the interpretation is heard by LEP court user(s) through headphones attached to a wireless receiver. All spoken language interpretation is electronically recorded.


Communication Access Specialist
Telephone: (207) 822-0703
Email: interpreters@courts.maine.gov
Maine Relay 711

Administrative Office of the Courts
P.O. Box 4820
Portland, ME 04112-4820