OSB Professional Liability Fund

State Courts: Take Advantage of All Available Resources

May 3, 2019
by Rachel Edwards

Navigating the court system can be a challenging experience. Many attorneys find themselves interacting with the court on a regular basis, while others infrequently encounter the court system. Regardless of your experience interacting with the court, a plethora of resources are available to make the experience less stressful for you and your clients.

State Courts

The Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) is a unified state-funded system of courts in the state of Oregon, including state circuit courts (trial courts), appellate courts (Oregon Supreme Court and Oregon Court of Appeals), and the tax court. The Office of the State Court Administrator (OSCA) oversees the state court system, with the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court as the administrative head of the OJD. The OJD recently completed an overhaul of the state’s court websites, making them more consistent across the different courts, as well as making them more accessible and easier to navigate. Below are some of the resources that can be found:
  1. Attorney resources - The OJD provides a link to resources for attorneys, including links to various eFiling websites, rules, statutes, and court opinions. Some court websites also have their own attorney resources link, including the Marion County Circuit Court.
  2. Court rules - State court rules, including both the Uniform Trial Court Rules (UTCRs) and the Supplemental Local Rules (SLRs), are an integral part of the state court system. Any attorney who has faced a rejected filing has likely become familiar with these rules. Find the current rules on the OJD website. Remember that the updated UTCRs are effective August 1st of each year, and the updated SLRs are effective February 1st of each year. Also, both the UTCRs and SLRs often adopt “out-of-cycle” amendments throughout the year, so be sure to always check and verify that you are using the most current set of rules. Rather than saving the rules as PDFs, consider adding the OJD website to your favorites tab to be sure you are accessing the most updated version.
  3. Attorney reference manuals - Some courts take it a step further and develop “attorney reference manuals.” These manuals provide guidance to attorneys regarding a court’s internal practices not formally adopted by the UTCRs or SLRs. For example, the Multnomah County Circuit Court recently updated its attorney reference manual, providing guidance and clarification of court rules regarding court organization, civil filing procedures, civil case management, trial calendaring procedures, judgments, and post-judgment procedures. Similarly, some courts provide guidance regarding case flow management and explain their processes for assignment and management of cases. This guidance can give you a sense of how your case will be handled and ease explanation to your client about the process. See the Linn County Circuit Court case flow management and docket plans for reference.
  4. Consensus statements - When it appears that judges have ruled similarly over time on any particular question, it is announced as a “consensus.” A consensus statement is not a pre-determination of any question presented on the merits to a judge in an action, but it can provide guidance as to considerations by judges when making a decision. For example, both Multnomah and Washington counties have civil motion panel consensus statements available on their websites.
  5. Statewide and court-specific forms - The OJD website contains a large collection of statewide forms for use in court filings. While these forms are geared towards use by the public, they can be helpful to attorneys as well. Some court-specific forms are available, in which the court has developed a preferred form to be used rather than the statewide form. Go to that court’s website to find court-specific forms. If you are filing in the Oregon Court of Appeals or the Oregon Supreme Court, sample motions and briefs are also available for reference.
  6. Technology - If you plan to utilize a court’s technology resources in the courtroom, such as a PowerPoint presentation or video during trial, go to the court’s website beforehand and contact the court administrator if necessary. Many courts have strict requirements as to what type of technology may be used and require advance notice. 
  7. Etiquette - Before appearing in court or contacting judges, go to the court’s website for general tips on court etiquette, such as proper attire or preferred methods of contact with judges. Some courts have more specific requirements than those generally understood. For example, the Washington County Circuit Court has specific information for contacting civil and family judges.
  8. Security and parking - Also utilize court websites for understanding security protocol and available parking before going to the courthouse. This can allow for planning ahead to ensure that you and your client arrive to court on time.

Other Courts in Oregon

Other types of Oregon courts exist outside of the state court system, including municipal, county, justice, and tribal courts. For more information about other types of courts and their available resources, go to the OJD website.

Additional Resources