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Overview of the Executive Office of the Trial Court—Office of Court Interpreter Services

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Executive Office of the Trial Court—Office of Court Interpreter Services.

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Overview

The Office of Court Interpreter Services (OCIS) within the Executive Office of the Trial Court was created on December 23, 1986 through Chapter 221C of the Massachusetts General Laws. According to its website,

[OCIS] was established on the premise that all people in the state, regardless of their literacy or English proficiency, 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. [OCIS] recruits, screens, and certifies and/or qualifies spoken language interpreters who provide interpretation services for court proceedings and related functions to make sure people have linguistic access at every step of the court process.

The document Standards and Procedures of the Office of Court Interpreter Services was developed by the Committee for the Administration of Interpreters for the Trial Court and adopted through an order from the Chief Justice of the Trial Court on October 30, 2009. It states,

Through this new edition of the Standards and Procedures of the Office of Court Interpreter Services, we seek to maximize the efficiency, quality, and uniformity of the Trial Court’s utilization of court interpreter services and to encourage the broadest use of court interpreters throughout the Trial Court.

To provide equal language access to the Massachusetts court system, OCIS is responsible for scheduling interpreters to all requesting courts and providing linguistic services to all court users and departments. Annually, OCIS provides more than 90,000 interpretations in over 113 languages. According to OCIS’s website, the most commonly requested language is Spanish (representing two-thirds of all requests), followed by Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Creole, Vietnamese, Arabic, Mandarin, American Sign Language, Russian, Cantonese, and Khmer. OCIS coordinates the services of approximately 175 interpreters, 40 of whom are full-time staff interpreters and 135 of whom are per-diem interpreters, to meet the requests of the courts. To be a staff or per-diem interpreter, a person must complete a rigorous screening process, an introductory orientation, and a mentoring program that is overseen by OCIS. OCIS is located on the ninth floor at 2 Center Plaza in Boston.

OCIS has contracted with the software company Schedule Source to provide an interpreter scheduling system to streamline the scheduling of spoken language and American Sign Language interpreters. OCIS launched the system, known as TeamWork, on November 12, 2019. According to a request for proposals issued by the state Office of Court Management, TeamWork enables OCIS scheduling personnel “to consistently and reliably fulfill interpreter requests using a comprehensive, easy-to-use scheduling tool,” and it facilitates billing and payments for per-diem interpreters. Before TeamWork, OCIS relied on Microsoft Access and Google Docs to schedule interpretations and communicate schedules to staff and per-diem interpreters.

On January 20, 2021, the Chief Justice of the Trial Court promulgated the Standards and Procedures of the Office of Language Access. This document officially changed OCIS’s name to “Office of Language Access.”

Date published: August 12, 2021
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