Justice courts (Oregon)

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Justice courts are courts of law in Oregon with jurisdiction within their county with the circuit court in criminal prosecutions except felony trials. They are held by a justice of the peace. These courts are outside the state-funded court system.[1] Their jurisdiction is limited to traffic, boating, wildlife and other minor violations, but they may handle city ordinance violations if an agreement exists with a city.[2] Justice courts do not have jurisdiction over certain types of civil cases, including disputes over title to real estate, false imprisonment, libel, slander and malicious prosecution.[2]

Justice courts were established in Oregon when the region was governed by the Oregon Provisional Government prior to the creation of the Oregon Territory in 1848, with the first justice of the peace chosen in 1847. When Oregon became a state in 1859, justice courts continued in every county. In the second half of the twentieth century, justice courts declined, but the circuit courts were not able to handle the volume of cases as quickly as the justice courts.

There are currently thirty justice courts operating in twenty counties, which are conducted using the mode of proceeding and rules of evidence similar to those used in the circuit courts. The court district boundaries are established and authorized by boards of county commissioners.


  1. ^ Oregon Judicial Department (2008). "Other Courts". Oregon Courts. Oregon Judicial Department. Archived from the original on September 26, 2008. Retrieved January 11, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Northwest Location Services (2008). "Oregon Justice Courts". The Guide to Oregon Courts. Court Records Free Reference and Directory. Retrieved January 11, 2009. 

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