The Office of Court Interpreter Services was established with the premise that all persons within the Commonwealth, regardless of their literacy or proficiency in the English language, have the right to equal access to the courts and to justice, and have the right to access all of the services and programs provided in court facilities.The Office of Court Interpreter Services recruits, screens, trains and certifies and/or qualifies spoken language interpreters who provide interpretation services for court proceedings and related functions thus ensuring linguistic access at every step of the court process.
Massachusetts has statutory and regulatory standards for language access. M. G. L. c. 221 C mandates that Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals have a right to the assistance of a qualified interpreter in court proceedings. This law addresses not only the right to an interpreter but also the quality of the interpretation, and recognizes the direct correlation between accurate interpretation and a fair legal process for non English-speaking defendants or victims. The purpose of the law was to “provide the broadest possible protection for the rights of non-English speaking persons to understand and to be understood.” The Standards and Procedures of the Office of Court Interpreter Services provides guidelines to facilitate meaningful access to LEP individuals in the Trial Court. As a result of these standards, OCIS provides interpreters to all criminal and civil cases from the start of proceedings, to all non-party LEP individuals whose presence or participation in a court matter is necessary (i.e., victims, witnesses, parents or guardians of juveniles) and without cost to the persons involved.
Interpreters for court proceeding and related matters can be requested through the courts. Each court has assigned Court Liaisons to facilitate linguistic access. As the sole public accrediting authority for spoken language court interpreters in the Commonwealth, OCIS maintains a list of interpreters to facilitate access to the courts for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals. In addition, OCIS provides general access to interpreter services by making this list public so it can be used by attorneys and other legal or law-related entities that seek assistance in obtaining qualified interpreters. Interpreters for non-court proceedings can be accessed through this online list of interpreters.