I. ACCESS AND FAIRNESS
A. Will stereotypes or bias play a role in
how I am treated in court?
No. Stereotypes and bias based on race, gender,
religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual
orientation and economic status have no place in the treatment
of people or the handling of cases in the courts.
You have the right to be treated with fairness,
respect and courtesy by everyone you encounter in the legal system.
If you feel you have not been treated fairly and respectfully,
you should speak up.
In turn, you have the responsibility to treat
everyone you encounter in the legal system with fairness, respect,
and courtesy. Behavior that is disrespectful toward the court
or any individual involved in the court process will not be tolerated.
B. If I have a disability, will accommodations
be made for me?
Yes. The Massachusetts courts do not discriminate
on the basis of disability. Parties, lawyers, employees, and
members of the public are entitled to access all court programs,
activities, and services without regard to disability.
Each court has designated an employee to be the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator. Please contact
the court before your court date if you anticipate that you will
require an accommodation in order to gain access to the court
building or to fully participate in any court proceeding or service.
C. If I need an interpreter, will one be provided?
Yes. Everyone in the Commonwealth has the right
to equal access to the courts and the right to the assistance
of a court interpreter throughout any legal proceeding.
If you have a limited ability to understand or
speak English or are hearing impaired, you should ask that an
interpreter be appointed for you as early in the process as possible.
It is the judge who will appoint or accept an interpreter. The
most important thing the judge will consider is how well you
speak and understand English.
A court interpreter is a trained professional who
speaks your language and will interpret exactly what you say
and what is said to you. The interpreter will keep everything
said confidential and will remain impartial, without forming
or expressing any personal opinions about your case.
A court interpreter cannot give you legal advice,
explain things to you or have personal conversations with you.
If you require assistance completing a court form, the court
interpreter can "sight translate" the form. The court
interpreter cannot, however, explain the meaning of terms or
assist in making calculations on a form. The court interpreter
may only translate the words that appear on the form.
The Trial Court's Office of Court Interpreter Services
provides free professional court interpreters for all court proceedings.
Sometimes, it will take time to arrange for a court interpreter
and your case will need to be postponed to a date when a court
interpreter is available.