1. For What Types of Proceedings Can I Request Interpreter Services Through the OCIS?
  2. How Do I Make a Service Request? 
  3. How Do I Request a Service Cancellation or Rescheduling?
  4. What Am I Required to Do with the Interpreter Service Record?
  5. How Can a Complaint Be Filed Against an Interpreter?
  6. How Many Courts Are Served by The Office of Court Interpreters During a Typical Business Day?
  7. How Many Different Languages Does the Office of Court Interpreter Services Provide?
  8. Are All Interpreters Assigned by the OCIS Certified in Their Language(s)?
  9. How Many Interpreters Does the Office of Court Interpreters Use?
  10. What Languages Are Requested the Most?
  11. What Happens When an Interpreter for a Given Language is Unavailable?
  12. What Do I Need to Know to Work with Interpreters Over the Phone?

For what types of proceedings can I request interpreter services through the OCIS?

The OCIS will schedule and provide court interpreters, upon receipt of a request pursuant to section 8.02 of the Standards & Procedures of the Office of Court Interpreter Services pdf format of Standards and Procedures for Court Interpreter Services
(Standards and Procedures), to appear at any and all criminal or civil judicial proceedings, including the institution of such proceedings (e.g., the filing of a complaint and affidavit seeking a restraining order pursuant to G.L. c.209A or other similar proceedings).  The OCIS will not provide or compensate court interpreters for witness interviews, depositions, or other interpretation outside of a court facility provided, however, that OCIS will provide and compensate court interpreters for investigations and evaluations ordered by the court and either required by statute or by the court for trial and/or disposition of a pending matter.

How do I make a service request?

Designated Court Liaisons or court clerks will indicate a need for interpreter services via MassCourts, the Trial Court's case management system. It is presently in operation at most divisions of the District Court, Boston Municipal Court, the Superior Court, and Juvenile Court Departments. In all other situations a Request for Interpreter Form pdf format of Request for Interpreter
must be prepared by the requesting court and signed by the Court Liaison each time a court-appointed interpreter is requested, including an ASL interpreter. Such requests will be e-mailed to the OCIS at interpreter.requests@jud.state.ma.us.

In emergency situations where written requests are not possible, the Office of Court Interpreter Services may provide court interpreters and will be responsible for compensating court interpreters for providing services.  Requests for an American Sign Language (ASL) court interpreter shall be immediately forwarded to the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing by the OCIS.  Please see Sections 8.01 and 8.02 of the Standards and Procedures for additional information regarding requesting and assignment of interpreters.

Office of Court Interpreter Services
Two Center Plaza, Ninth Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Ph: 617-878-0343 (leave message)
Fax: 617-367-9293 

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How do I request a service cancellation or rescheduling?

To cancel or reschedule a request for interpreter, either indicate the appropriate changes in MassCourts or fill out and e-mail the Service Request Cancellation pdf format of Cancellation Form
form at least 48 hours in advance of any cancellation or rescheduling of a case requiring the previously scheduled assignment of a court interpreter, or as soon as possible. To request an interpreter for the new date, either submit the request via MassCourts or e-mail in a new Request for Interpreter pdf format of Request for Interpreter

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What am I required to do with the interpreter Daily Service Record?

When a time stamp is available, the interpreter’s Daily Service Record (DSR) must be stamped upon arrival.  If a time stamp is unavailable, the Court Liaison should hand write and initial the per diem court interpreter's arrival time in the space provided on the DSR.  Space is also provided for signing the interpreter in and out of the morning session and for signing the interpreter in and out of the afternoon session. Please see Section 10.00 of the Standards and Procedures for additional information regarding signing per diem interpreters in and out of court.

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How can a complaint be filed against an interpreter?

Courts can complain about interpreters using the Interpreter Complaint Form pdf format of Complaint Form
. Please inform the Office of Court Interpreter Services of any violations of the Code of Conduct for Court Interpreters pdf format of Code of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Code pdf format of Code of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters
outlines the duties and responsibilities of court interpreters, and establishes rules for ethical behavior for professional court interpreters. You may contact the Office of Court Interpreter Services at interpreter.requests@jud.state.ma.us if you require more information, or wish to discuss a particular problem.

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How many courts are Served by the Office of Court Interpreters during a typical business day?

The Office of Court Interpreter Services fills daily requests for foreign language interpreters from approximately 140 court divisions in Massachusetts, including district, juvenile, housing, probate and family, land, and superior courts.

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How many different languages does the Office of Court Interpreter Services provide?

The Office of Court Interpreter Services provides interpreters in approximately 35 languages on a daily basis. It generally has interpreters in over 60 languages on its list.

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Are all interpreters assigned by the OCIS certified in their language(s)?

Most OCIS interpreters undergo rigorous screening, introductory orientation and mentoring before being assigned to court. They are first assigned to interpret in court as Screened Interpreters. OCIS certification process requires they work for at least one year as professional court interpreters before they apply for certification. The other requirements for certification are: observation of interpreting in court, confirmed compliance with their Code of Professional Conduct, passing grade (80%) in a written diagnostic test, and passing grade (70%) in an oral interpreting proficiency exam if available. Certification is not available in all languages. Some interpreters who meet all certification criteria, but for whom no oral exam is available, are “qualified” as Certified Interpreters.

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How many interpreters does the Office of Court Interpreters use?

The Office of Court Interpreter Services uses the services of approximately 175 interpreters, of which 24 are full-time staff interpreters. For the most requested languages, the Office of Court Interpreter Services has several interpreters. For some of the other languages, there maybe only one or two interpreters available. There currently are 59 Spanish, 14 Portuguese, 5 Haitian Creole, 7 Chinese, 8 Vietnamese, 5 Khmer, 5 Russian, and 5 Polish interpreters.

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What languages are requested the most?

The most requested languages are Spanish, Portuguese, Khmer, Cape Verdean Creole, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Polish and Russian.

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What happens when an interpreter for a given language is unavailable?

What if there isn't an interpreter available for the language we need? The Trial Court has contracted with LanguageLine, a service that provides interpreters over the telephone in many foreign languages. LanguageLine may be used for intake interviews at the probation department, at clerk and registry counters, and for arraignments or other simple, short proceedings. It takes only a few minutes to set up the conference call, and all you need is a speaker telephone. Please e-mail the OCIS at interpreter.requests@jud.state.ma.us for assistance with the call number and user ID you will need to set up the call, or for additional information.

The OCIS at times contracts the services of previously approved interpreter companies in cases where an interpreter is needed in person, but none is available on the OCIS list.

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What do I need to know to work with interpreters over the phone?

Follow these simple steps: 

  • Brief the interpreter to provide context. 
  • Speak directly to the limited English proficient (LEP) individual. 
  • Speak naturally, not louder.
  • Speak clearly at a normal pace. 
  • Pause after one or two sentences. 
  • Ask one question at a time. 
  • Refrain from using technical language and acronyms. 
  • Address any clarifications. 
  • Ask if the LEP understands. 
  • Close the call.

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