The state of Oregon uses a unified court system which includes the Oregon Supreme Court, a Court of Appeals, a Tax Court, Circuit Courts and then Justice Courts, Municipal Courts, and County Courts. Unlike many states, this one does not have a District Court.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state and the court of last resort. The Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court for the state. The Beaver State is split into 27 judicial districts.
Both the Supreme and Tax justices are voted into office in nonpartisan votes, and they serve six-year terms. Circuit judges are also voted in, by residents of their district in nonpartisan elections for six-year terms.
The Supreme justice has administrative and supervisory control over all lower courts except for the Municipal, Justice, and County justice system. These limited-jurisdiction courts fall outside the boundaries of the unified justice system created by the state in 1981.
In most cases, lower court appeals will go to the Court of Appeals but some cases like those involving the death penalty, Tax appeals and attorney and judge discipline matters along with “labor disputes; prison, energy facility, and waste disposal site decisions; crime victim rights; unlawful imprisonment challenges (habeas corpus),” will go directly to the Supreme Court for review.
Most court records in Oregon will be available to the general public. However, according to state laws, some records or information may be kept private. Court records that are protected by federal or state laws will not be available. Some of the types of unavailable records are adoption, juvenile, mental health records, and domestic violence records. Additionally, the federal government prohibits things like social security numbers, personal identifying information, addresses, children’s names, Tax IDs, banking information, corporate trade secrets and other details from being included in files that are made public.
OR makes it easy for self-represented litigants to use the unified court system. They have a main navigation item on their website (or.gov) to direct users to all the forms necessary for any type of case, including family issues like divorce, adoption, child support, and guardianships. They have a section for probate and mental health issues, protective orders, civil lawsuits, and even forms for attorneys. Additionally, they have the court rules listed along with filing fees. This state also offers an e-filing service they call OJD eFile. This service is available 24/7 and allows users to file documents to the courts, pay fees and fines online and search court calendars.
Try Infotracer to find state public records fast! Our handy search tool allows you access to hundreds of court cases in this state, including Multnomah County, Washington County, and Clackamas County. According to the Freedom of Information Act and the OR Open Records Laws O.R.S. 192.410 et seq., we can offer an extensive database of property records, restraining orders, criminal records, civil cases, case information, dockets, family court issues like divorce, bankruptcies and more.
Anyone can perform a private records search without any reason or obtaining permission. Most online records will be readily available except those like juvenile records that are kept confidential by law.
With Infotracer, get instant free access to Oregon public records from all over the state. The best way to look up cases online is to use a state court records search by name. The results will include records from OR tax courts, circuit courts, justice courts, municipal courts, and county courts from all 26 judicial districts.
The number of criminal cases in Oregon courts counts to 33,978, with 33,978 felony cases.
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The Tax Court has exclusive statewide jurisdiction over all matters related to state tax law. Tax Court is a specialized court that hears appeals regarding personal income tax, corporate excise tax, property tax, timber tax, cigarette tax, constitutional property tax limitations, and local budget law issues. There are two divisions to within this court. One is the Magistrate Division, and the other is the Regular Division. Most issues start in the Magistrate Division, and if parties are not satisfied, they can appeal to the Regular Division and have the case re-tried with a new Tax judge. Appeals from there go directly to the Supreme Court.
Oregon Circuit Courts are the general jurisdiction trial courts for the state. They have the authority to handle both civil and criminal cases, domestic relations issues, traffic violations, juvenile matters, and small claims cases. Additionally, they see cases pertaining to child abuse and prevention, domestic violence, probate matters, mental health issues, adoption, and guardianships. There is one of these courts for each of OR 36 counties. These courts are the courts of record, and therefore every word spoken in these courts is recorded and saved in case of an appeal. These courts use jury trials.
County Courts are part of the “special courts” in the state. They exist in only seven of the eastern OR counties. These courts are limited jurisdiction courts, and the judge acts as the chair for the Board of Commissioners. He or she also has non-judicial administrative responsibilities are part of their job. The types of cases resolved in this court are probate and juvenile cases that occur within the county. These courts can also handle adoptions and cases regarding the termination of parental rights.
Along with County courthouses, the county commissioners also establish Justice Courts to serve each region. Although these courts are valid state courts, they are not part of the unified court system. Each judge is a Justice of the Peace and serves a six-year term. These courts hear mostly traffic violations, fish and game offenses, county ordinance violations (such as excessive noise, and loose dogs), small claims and petty misdemeanors. Justice judges can also perform weddings. Appeals from these courts go to Circuits first and then the Court of Appeals.
Municipal Courts like Justice and County are not part of the official “judicial branch,” and they fall outside of the unified court system. Many, but not all OR cities have these courts. These courts mainly deal with local city ordinance violations, animal control issues, state law offenses, parking violations, fire control issues, and general traffic violations that take place within the city limits. The OR Municipal Judges Association (OMJA) was established to help these court judges with ongoing legal education.