The Oregon Court System consists of Circuit Courts, Tax Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. Other smaller courts in the system include Municipal, County and Justice Courts.
Oregon's smaller courts are funded by local government, and have limited jurisdiction to hear municipal violations and lesser offenses. There are currently seven County Courts, 32 Justice Courts and most incorporated cities in the state have a Municipal Court.
Oregon has 36 counties, and each one has a Circuit Court. These courts exercise general jurisdiction as a court of record over nearly every original case in the area. Civil proceedings may include dissolving marriages, child custody decisions, land ownership questions, estate administration, juvenile delinquency cases and adoptions. Criminal cases may include pretrial hearings, sentencing guilty parties to corrections and death in capital murder convictions.
Oregon's Legislature created the Oregon Tax Court in 1961 to preside over tax cases statewide. These cases may include budget laws, property taxes, excise taxes, cigarette taxes and income taxes.
The Oregon Court of Appeals was created by the Legislature in 1969, and is the intermediate appellate court for the state. This court hears all civil and criminal appeals from circuit court (except for Tax Court appeals and death penalty cases). There are thirteen elected judges that serve the Court of Appeals. In order to better handle its large caseload, the judges are split into four panels of three judges each. No new evidence or arguments are submitted in the Court of Appeals, and there is no trial that takes place. These panels of judges simply review the records and decision of the court that ruled in the case and determine if it was right and just.
The Oregon Supreme Court is the court of last resort for the state, and is the highest appellate court. There are seven justices who serve on the court. If a party doesn't like the decision by the state Supreme Court, they may petition for an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oregon's Supreme Court accepts petitions for appeals from the Court of Appeals, but does not have to agree to review the decision. Death penalty cases, appeals from Tax Court and writ proceedings are those which come directly to the Supreme Court.
Quite the opposite of many recent copyright cases in the media, an Oregon judge dismissed charges against a man for illegally downloading the movie "'The Cobbler." Although the IP address was traced back to the defendant, the judge determined this didn't necessarily mean he was the one who obtained the pirated material, mainly because he runs a foster home for adults and a visitor or family member may have downloaded it.