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Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Records

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How do Oregon Courts work?

The Supreme Court holds the highest legal power and authority in the state of Oregon. It therefore has the power to oversee and review any decisions made by the Court of Appeals, allowing the Supreme Court to resolve any important questions or conflicts regarding law. The Court of Appeals then carries out a similar function with regards to the lower courts in the state, reviewing once one party has contested the original decision. These lower courts are made up of the 36 superior and trial courts across Oregon’s 36 counties. Other tiers of court include Circuit Courts and Tax Courts.

Civil Cases and Small Claims

There are a number of differences in the structure of civil and small claims court cases, from the types of claims to the amounts of money involved. For example, the small claims court In Oregon only deals with cases in which the petitioner is looking for $10,000 or under. There are nearly 100,000 of these claims filed each year across the state. These cases can range from disputes over warranties and repairs to deposits and loans, to name just a few. The small claims court can also order the defendant into an action, such as repaying an amount of money owed. Contrastingly, civil courts in Oregon deal with cases in which the claimant is seeking $200,000 or above. There are close to 175,000 of these cases filed each year across Oregon. However, the civil court also deals with non-monetary cases such as disputes over restraining orders, property, and name changes.

Appeals and court limits

The appeals processes in civil and small claims courts are very different, as are the court limits set upon each of them. For instance, the civil courts allow pretrial discovery in cases, but the small claims courts do not. Civil court also allows a person to hire a lawyer to represent them and file papers on their behalf, where as a small claims court does not allow either of these things. Either party can appeal a decision made in civil court, however, only the defendant may contest a decision made in small claims court. Each court also comes with a different filing fee, and different time lines with regard to case completion. Civil courts charge between $180 and $320 per claim, before allowing up to 120 days for the parties to complete their cases. On the other hand, small claims courts charge between $30 and $100 per claim, allowing between 30 and 70 days for case completion.

Why are court records public?

The Oregon Public Records Law was passed back in 1973, with the latest changes coming in 1997. This law was introduced to ensure that all citizens of the state had the fundamental right to access public records. Any public record held by the local or state government can be access and copied by members of the public, unless prohibited by law. This promotes a sense of transparency, while also safeguarding government accountability.

To access records:

Main Address
Oregon Supreme Court
1163 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301
Telephone: (503) 986-5555

Courthouse Hours
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Mon-Fri

 

Oregon Court Structure
Oregon State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (541) 203-6853

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Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.

Oregon

The Oregon Pioneer Courthouse was initially built in 1869.

  • The Oregon court system consists of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Circuit Courts, the Tax Courts, the County Courts, the Justice Court, and the Municipal Court.
  • The Oregon Supreme Court was founded in Salem in 1841. 
  • The Oregon Supreme Court has 7 judicial positions each of whom serve 6 year terms. 
  • The Oregon Court of Appeals has 13 judicial positions, each of whom serve 6 year terms.

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