Oregon Judicial Department

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Oregon state courts include the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Tax Court, and 36 circuit courts in 27 judicial districts. These state courts are part of the Oregon Judicial Department.

The Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court is the administrative head and chief executive officer of the Oregon Judicial Department. The Chief Justice supervises the state court system, makes rules and issues orders to carry out the duties of the office, appoints the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the presiding judges of the state trial courts, adopts rules that establish procedures for all state courts, and supervises the statewide fiscal plan and budget for all state courts. [1]


Contents

Oregon State Trial Courts

Oregon has two types of state trial courts:

  • circuit courts, which are "general jurisdiction" courts, and
  • the Oregon Tax Court, whose jurisdiction is limited to cases involving taxes.

Up until January 1998, Oregon had a third state trial court called the district court, which had limited jurisdiction over smaller civil cases and lesser crimes. On January 15, 1998, the district courts merged into the circuit courts.

Circuit judges are elected within the judicial district in which they serve. The Tax Court judge is elected in a statewide election.

The Supreme Court may appoint any elected judge or eligible person to serve as judge pro tempore, or temporary judge, of the Oregon Tax Court or any circuit court. To be eligible, a person must be a resident of Oregon and have been a member in good standing of the Oregon State Bar for least three years before the appointment. Judges pro tempore stretch the Judicial Department's limited resources and cover cases where the regular judge is unavailable (for example, is ill) or may have a conflict of interest and must avoid participating in the case. [2]

Circuit Courts

Each of Oregon's 36 counties has a circuit court. In most counties, the court has its offices in the county courthouse. In a few counties, the court has offices and courtrooms in more than one location.

The state is divided into 27 judicial districts, each of which has one or more counties. State law determines the number of judges elected in each district, generally based on population and volume of cases. Because some Oregon counties have relatively small populations and caseloads, the legislature has combined them into multicounty judicial districts.

In each judicial district, the Chief Justice appoints a presiding judge. The presiding judge has general administrative authority and supervision over the district to apportion the workload, make rules, and issue administrative orders. Each district also has a professional trial court administrator to help the presiding judge manage the court's operations and local budget. Several multicounty districts have a trial court administrator for each county.

The circuit court is Oregon's trial court of general jurisdiction. This means it hears cases regardless of the subject matter, amount of money involved, or the severity of the crime alleged. [3]

Oregon Appellate Courts

Oregon has two state appellate courts:

  • the Court of Appeals, which is the intermediate appellate court, and
  • the Supreme Court, which is the state's highest court.

Judges on each appellate court are elected to six-year terms in nonpartisan, statewide elections. They must be citizens of the United States and members of the Oregon State Bar. Each court has its offices in Salem and usually hears cases in the courtroom in the Supreme Court Building. Each court travels several times a year to law schools, universities, and high schools where the court hears oral arguments and meets with students to discuss the court's work.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals are responsible for the administration of all internal functions of their respective courts. [4]

Oregon Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals, created in 1969, is the first level of appeal following trial. The court has jurisdiction to

  • hear all civil and criminal appeals from circuit court, except death penalty cases and Tax Court Appeals, and
  • review most state administrative agency actions.

The Court of Appeals has ten judge positions. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court appoints the Chief Judge from among the ten judges on the Court of Appeals. [5]

Oregon Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the Oregon judicial branch. The court has seven elected justices. They choose one of their own to serve a six-year term as Chief Justice. The only court that may reverse or modify a decision of the Oregon Supreme Court is the United States Supreme Court. [6]

Supreme Court

  • Chief Justice: Wallace P. Carson, Jr.
  • Justice: Thomas A. Balmer
  • Justice: Paul J. De Muniz
  • Justice: Robert D. Durham
  • Justice: W. Michael Gillette
  • Justice: Rives Kistler
  • Justice: R. William Riggs

Court of Appeals

  • Chief Judge: Mary J. Deits
  • Judge: Walt Edmonds
  • Judge: Jack L. Landau
  • Judge: Rick Haselton
  • Judge: Rex Armstrong
  • Judge: Virginia L. Linder
  • Judge: Robert Wollheim
  • Judge: David V. Brewer
  • Judge: David Schuman
  • Judge: Darleen Ortega

Circuit Courts

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