Oregon’s Circuit Courts are the general jurisdiction trial courts for the state. They are authorized to handle both criminal and civil cases such as misdemeanors, felonies, domestic relations cases, juvenile issues, small claims of up to $10,000, civil disputes, traffic violations, domestic and child abuse issues, probate cases, mental health commitments, adoptions, and guardianship cases. They can also handle tort cases, real property issues, the termination of parental rights issues, criminal appeals from the lower courts, and other types of cases.
The state is split into 27 judicial districts with a Circuit Court in each of the 36 counties. Circuit Courts are considered “courts of record,” therefore all trials are recorded and stored in the case of an appeal. There are 175 Circuit Court judges in Oregon. The Supreme Court Chief Justice appoints a judge in each judicial district to act as the presiding judge in Circuit Court. Judges serve for two years in this role performing administrative and supervisory duties. Some of the tasks include management of the caseload, business operations, management of court personnel, budgeting and finance operations, and jury management. The chief judge is assisted by Trial Court Administrators who fall under his or her supervision.
Along with traditional court processes, the Circuit Courts are heavily involved in legislation and community activities. They have special programs to assist with the treatment and rehabilitation of offenders who suffer from drug, alcohol, mental health, and veteran’s issues. They also specialize in family court programs, juvenile matters, parental education, domestic relations resources, and help for self-represented litigants using the court system. They offer mediation and arbitration to resolve many issues peacefully. In an effort of efficiency, they provide training programs and one-trial/one day services for many types of legal problems.